Ask yourself, punk: Do I feel lucky?… At some point, it seems, Americans became enamoured, even obsessed, with the idea that guns win arguments. Guns can certainly end arguments, including those held by damaged individuals with the voices in their heads, but rebuttal is not actually what guns were invented for. Guns are tools, dangerous tools, designed for blowing holes in things (paper targets, tin cans, game animals, people) just as chainsaws are tools designed to efficiently hack large things into smaller pieces. Someone could certainly use a chainsaw to guarantee themselves a seat on the bus, but people don’t line up to buy chainsaws as a response to crowded public transit. When we hear about a chainsaw tragedy, nobody says, “If only the victim had been holding another chainsaw, that tree couldn’t have crushed them!” Nobody insinuates that chainsaw owners are more patriotic than the rest of us, or that in a proper republic everyone would be required to own a chainsaw. Nobody considers safety features on chainsaws, or regulations restricting their use, as a dangerous abridgement of their god-given rights. Maybe this would be a happier country if we agreed to treat guns as tools, and not as magical icons that guarantee we’ll be winners, at least of arguments.
Defying the White House Press Secretary, Ezra Klein at the Washington Post published a highly informative “Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States“:
… If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.
Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. “Too soon,” howl supporters of loose gun laws. But as others have observed, talking about how to stop mass shootings in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings isn’t “too soon.” It’s much too late.
What follows here isn’t a policy agenda. It’s simply a set of facts — many of which complicate a search for easy answers — that should inform the discussion that we desperately need to have….
Paul Constant posted a fowarded email from the Seattle Schools Superintendent on “how to talk to your children about the shooting“. Maybe it’s not just the kids who need it:
… It is a struggle for adults and children alike to try to comprehend why and how such a senseless and shocking incident could occur. Excessive and repeated media viewing can create increased anxiety and therefore limiting ongoing exposure is recommended. We are coordinating with schools and school guidance counselors to provide emotional support for students next week. Additionally, talking about the incident can be a healthy way for families to process their feelings and reactions to an event of this nature….
Make sure they understand your answers and the meaning you intend.
Use words or phrases that won’t confuse a child or make the world more frightening…
Give your child an honest explanation…
If children keep asking the same question over and over again it is because they are trying to understand; trying to make sense out of the disruption and confusion in their world…
Even if you feel the world is an unsafe place, you can reassure your child by saying, “The event is over. Now we’ll do everything possible to stay safe, and together we can help get things back to normal.”…
When I was growing up, almost every adult smoked. Smoking was one of the things that defined adulthood. People smoked in hospitals, even in the maternity ward. And it wasn’t that “we” didn’t know smoking was bad for one’s health — cigarettes had been nicknamed ‘coffin nails’ since shortly after they first became widely available. But eventually it became obvious just how deadly nicotine was, not just to the smokers but to everyone within lungshot. So rules restricting the sale of cigarettes (no minors, no vending machines, no enticing ads) were enacted or enforced. Explicit warnings about the many & various ways smoking kills were printed on cigarette packs. And the public areas in which smoking was restricted expanded, office by office, state by state.
There are still plenty of smokers, but the assumption that any one smoker has the ‘right’ to make the surroundings unbreathable for any number of non-smokers has pretty well been eliminated. And when it comes to changing the public debate about the “right” of every adult to own any gun and carry it everywhere, there’s this advantage over the smoking debate: As far as I know, gun ownership is not physically addictive.