The US Supreme Court just declined to hear three cases having to do with gun laws (read more) and Obama made little or no mention of gun control in the State of the Union a month ago (here). We’re not talking again, the public debate over gun control is so alienating and offensive.
So it was that I found myself feeling alienated from my community and deeply offended in the presence of my friends. An intelligent man, with whom I have enjoyed other conversations, raged unsolicited about how “ignorant” gun and 2nd Amendment advocates were. We’ll call him Jack… for short. I was the only gun-toting, 2nd Amendment lover in the room, so I declined to respond while growing angrier the longer he continued. And he continued awhile.
What incited his rant was our local Clarksville, AR school district training and arming teachers to defend students from hostile intruders (watch video), a solution that is now being sought in other school districts (read more). Jack berated the Clarksville School District Superintendent as an ignorant man who didn’t really care about his students. Nothing is further from the truth. For the record, Dr. David Hopkins has a reputation as both an educated and caring person.
What was especially upsetting to me is that my community wherein Jack found an ear for his soapbox is normally nonjudgmental and non-confrontational in their communication.
I, like everyone else in the nation, mourned the news from Newtown, CT and have remained troubled by the many shooting incidents that have followed. My reason for both owning firearms and supporting the 2nd Amendment is that our public welfare and our democracy utterly depends upon our ability as citizens to take personal responsibility for our wellbeing. Risk management and first response training inform my view that we cannot farm out preparedness and response to government alone and expect reasonable care. The 2nd Amendment does more than assert a basic right, it asserts our responsibility to participate in both our own safety and that of our community.
Mine is not an ignorant or uninformed assertion.
Neither is it ignorant nor uninformed to assert there are legitimate risks to possessing firearms.
In the last week, there have been at least two significant studies published in this regard. The first were the projections that gun related deaths of young people are going to number more than car related deaths (article here). The second was the finding that women are more likely to experience gun related violence with a gun in their home (article here).
All of this should be given equal merit as evidence in our public discourse toward gun control that is constitutional. One flagship is that of Switzerland, which has a militia, requires service of most men, and broadly allows public gun ownership with one of the lowest rates of gun-related crimes in the world (Wikipedia).
What the NRA does not understand is that their response to gun violence with unemotional dogmatism (like Wayne LaPierre’s public remarks after Newtown) marginalizes American gun owners. What gun control advocates do not understand is that risk is mitigated by public preparedness and reasonable response, not by prohibition.
A technique used with children who are angry that gives them alternatives to violence is to teach them how to effectively communicate. Name calling is itself a violence, and it is no more productive than just not talking. Perhaps the only thing more profoundly disturbing than gun related violence is the vehement antagonism with which people in our country respond toward each other to the extent that we can no longer communicate respectfully.
Our liberty and quality of life are at risk, not because we own a gun or don’t, but because we’ve lost the ability as a country to effectively communicate with each other.