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2
May 99
Sun

Gun Debate Responses

Here’s an ultra-lengthy and ultra-comprehensive response. Thanks Jason! Lotta time went into this epic.

I know this may be a bit late, but I have to (yes, egotistically) vent some feelings about this little gun-control/high-school-massacre debate that seems to have been raging on all the E/N sites lately. Simplified, the question seems to be, “will gun control help curb the violence in American society?” One side gives their answer: “well, it seems to have helped in other countries such as Canada and Australia–granted, it may not be ‘The Answer,’ but it certainly couldn’t hurt to attempt to take those wacky killing machines out of people’s hands–after all, said machines make it tremendously easy to kill people, which, last time we checked, was kind of a bad thing. Oh yeah, and guns also tend to hurt the cute wittle defenseless animals wif their cute wittle big doe eyes and furry coats of fur that are all fluffy soft and fun to rub. So, yeah, banning guns could probably stop that, too– (Wait, omigod, what’s that, a cockroach? Disgusting creature! Kill it! Kill it! Kill it dead! stomp it NOW!!)” The other side then rebuts (cause and effect have not been working properly in my mind all evening–mere hours ago I finished reading _Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency_, and Douglas Adams tends to do strange things to me, so it could very well be that this second opinion is actually the first that has lately been put forth while the first opinion really is the rebuttal–but such technicalities, ultimately, don’t really matter, do they?): “No! If you take away our guns, if you take away our right to bare (oops, I’m sorry, bear) arms, then you might as well take away our right to urinate freely in the wind. Owning guns is a Gosh-given right that is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and taking that away would go against the law of this land. And if you start taking things like that away from us, you might eventually start taking away other efficient hurting-devices, such as my rather beautiful cutlery set filled with butcher and steak knives. Were that to happen, with what would I be expected to so carefully slice my tough little slab of venison on which I am dining tonight? Besides, I’ve grown accustomed to sleeping with little Joey beside me in bed at night. Joey? Oh, he’s m’ double barreled, sawed off shotgun.” Got it? Okay, so maybe I took a few liberties on the opinions. But, essentially, that’s how it’s been…And I have yet to really hear my opinion, this opinion–not in so many words. Here goes:

Gun control doesn’t matter. I won’t go too much into the philosophical/admittedly shaky pseudo-scientific reasoning (bear in mind the book I just finished reading, and essentially Douglas Adams’ entire body of  “cause-and-effect-deficient” work, and you get the general idea). Also read the book _Gravity’s Rainbow_ by Thomas Pynchon (if you can manage to decipher it) and you may get a better idea. Anyway, on to my opinion: I personally don’t think that gun control is terribly relevant, not in an effectual (or causal) sort of way. Yes, Australia and Canada (and other countries–sorry, I’m not up on my knowledge of various political/social climates in foreign nations) have lower crime-rates/mortality-rates-due-to-shootings. Yes, those countries have gun control. But–and I apologize to anyone from those countries who is particularly proud of their gun control legislation and is offended by my statement–but so what? Is there proof that such legislation has actually had any impact whatsoever on that society? Did gun control somehow shape the trend of nonviolence in said countries, or is gun control merely a result of the society–the society that (perhaps) already places less emphasis on violence/glorification of violence? I honestly and truly don’t know the answer, but I would be willing to bet that the latter is actually the case. If anybody has any legitimate statistics and/or proof that gun control has actually made some sort of noticeable difference in any nation’s violent crime rate, I would be interested.

Now, for a moment, think about American society. Frightening, isn’t it? We (yeah, I’m American) are unique in the world; we are unique in history–unique in almost every way, it seems. This, of course, includes our strange…preoccupation…with violence. Maybe we haven’t seen enough real violence in this country. (Hmm, nope–The Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, Vietnam–heck, the crime that we’re exposed to on the nightly news)…Okay, cause and effect, as I am so fond of stating, is infinitely complicated, and I won’t really attempt to precisely delineate *why* we are so fixated on violence–but let’s think about it for a moment. America is a large nation, with a federal government. The states that are represented in said federal government are extremely diverse–visit New York, then visit Dallas, then visit Nashville, then visit Omaha, Nebraska–with a rather large amount of ethnic diversity (and I’m not just talking about black/white/hispanic; even within the 13 original colonies, from the very beginning–we are a nation of immigrants–or emigrants, depending on how you look at it). And, for such a large nation, we’ve been remarkably free. We’ve accommodated vastly different ideas and great disparity in thinking over our life-span. Now, combine a number of different people from different countries with different ideas into a single nation (and even a single area) and stir it with a great big stick called Democracy. What happens? Hatred. Lynch mobs. Outright racism. The KKK. Heck, even Civil War. People respond violently toward each other when they are both threatened and free enough to respond with violence. Granted, I’m cynical–I don’t have a favorable view of human nature, and I believe that, if left to their own devices, people will be remarkably reactive to each other–and definitely violent. Still, shouldn’t America’s past teach us that violence is bad and that it only ends in bloodshed? Well…no. At some point came along this thing called “Hollywood,” and the entertainment industry soon followed (now don’t get your panties in a knot, I’m not blaming anything at all on the Media). They capitalized on our violent tendencies — tendencies that, for one reason or another (perhaps *because* of our freedom–our freedom to feel and to act out according to our nature?) are consistently not very far from our conscious mind. Somewhere along the line, they realized that violence attracts larger audiences–not to mention sex, the close cousin of violence. You follow all of these things to their logical end, and you reach 1999 when mindless action movies such as…well, any Schwarzeneggar flick, or Jean Claude Van-Damme flick, or whomever…are common place.

But does any of this “prove” anything? Does it prove why America is so violent? What about the French Revolution, what about Hitler, what about Napoleon, what about Communism? What about the Crusades? What about Ghengis Khan? Does not violence merely beget more violence? Europe has suffered, too. What of their crime rates? Why are their young people not shooting each other so much? And what about Jackie Chan, and all of those Asian Kung-Fu flicks? Why aren’t the Chinese all beating each other up all the time?

I don’t know. I *do* know that America is different–has always been different. And the fact remains–our society *is* violent. Not oppressively violent–we don’t have soldiers in the streets. But we glorify violence. No, we’re past gun control, way past gun control. Maybe if gun control had been put into effect in the early 19th century, or even earlier–maybe if the founding fathers had been less concerned with spreading freedom throughout the land (and with preventing tyranny), maybe if guns and militias were not necessary for survival in a fledgling nation such as theirs–who knows? Perhaps if the United States had not even been created, perhaps if the states had all gone their separate ways, or somehow stuck it out under the Articles of Confederation (with a mere modification to the Articles rather than a drafting of a whole new Constitution). But, as I stated earlier, I still feel that gun control is an effect rather than a solution. Gun control won’t work in our country. It will simply make owning a gun illegal. And what will that do? Smoking pot is illegal. Underage drinking is illegal. Prostitution is illegal. I need not spell it out any further, but I will. Gun control is not a solution–it *causes* nothing to happen.

However.

Gun control is hardly evil. It is absolutely not logical to say that taking away our right to carry guns is the first step to infringing on our other rights. You know, “freedom” (as defined by some–that is, freedom from governmental regulation) *really* isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. What is the end result of this “freedom?” Anarchy. Therefore, Freedom=Anarchy. Anarchy=Freedom. Um, not last time I checked. Anarchy is about as far from true freedom as you can get. The problem of American government (well, I mean, the problem inherent to the “system”) is this: how do we balance regulations and restrictions with individual liberties to allow the majority of people to lead a prosperous life of their own choosing while upholding and protecting the rights of the minority? That is the question, that is the problem. Is any sort of satisfactory answer possible? I don’t know. It seems that some want more restrictions, and want fewer restrictions. To me it seems kind of arbitrary.

So, what is gun control, really? What is it to America, what is it to the American system? Basically, it’s politics. It’s just like any other issue. Abortion. Gay rights. Welfare. Gun control (again, here I am with my cynicism) is simply an excuse for some self righteous politician (i.e., Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, whomever) to get up and preach to you. It’s an excuse for them to look beautiful and to tell you that they’re doing something good for you, something good for the country, it’s their excuse for holding their office, for holding their power. It’s the reason for their eloquent speeches that make you love them, that make you worship them. As is just about everything else these days, it seems. No–gun control is, in reality, arbitrary. It’s an emotional issue, and it helps to get votes. And, in American politics, that’s what matters.

But we still face Colorado, don’t we? There are still real lives involved, aren’t there? Enforcing stricter laws won’t “bring healing” to the parents, the grandparents, the siblings, and the friends of the dead. Arguing an ultimately moot point on an E/N site seen by relatively few people won’t bring anybody back to life; it won’t reverse the trends in our society–it won’t heal what is wrong with the human race. I’m about to wax religious, but I’ll save you from that. Since Littleton, everybody has been obsessed with arguing about causes: what caused the shooting? How can we prevent it? Was it the guns? Was it the movies and the video games? Was it the society? Was it the parents? Was it the taunting and teasing from peers? But…I don’t know. Why did it have to be anything? Couldn’t this just be some sort of bizarre coincidence? Maybe this sort of thing just isn’t preventable. Maybe there are no causes, or the causes are way too complex for our puny brains to comprehend. Our country has taken its course; we are what we’ve become–a product of our past. Is there any way to stop it? Maybe some people are fated to snap. Maybe some people are just going to do that, and they come from good homes with good parents, and they’re smart and well adjusted and Christian (or Buddhist or Jewish), but they just…can’t take it. Maybe nothing causes it, maybe it’s nobody’s fault. Maybe it’s everybody’s fault. Who knows?

Of this I am certain: politics in America is/are (I’m not sure if “politics” is plural or singular) BS. What’s important is safety. Protecting people from others, protecting people from themselves–to a point, of course–is important; protecting your loved ones is important. It’s important, it really is. But if we become so caught up in protection and safety and getting our own way that we forget what it is we are trying to protect (that is, our fellow human beings), then we entirely forget what it’s all about–not safety and not protection, but love. If it were somehow possible for us to put aside our political affiliation, our political stance, for just one measly second, if we were actually to sit down and, out of pure love for our fellow man, attempt to determine a solution–mind you, not an “easy” solution or a solution that makes everybody happy and giddy, but, instead, a working solution–then, could any good come of it? Or is this just idealistic nonsense that says that people are really capable of putting aside their own selfish motives (deep inside, I’m an idealist, really I am)? Again, and everybody say it with me now, I don’t know. Simply because of my religious affiliation, I would have to say…well, no. But who am I? And what do I know?

Well, I’ll stop. You can tell I’m really bored–writing about this stuff at 3:15 on Saturday morning in the computer lab at school. You’re right, I have no life. I apologize for the length of this thing, but it’s all been bugging me a lot lately. Anyway, I like your site and everything–it’s one of the few that I try to check every day, so keep it up. And thanks for listening.

Jason

——————–

>It is part of being American. Its part of being free.
> Its called the 2nd Ammendment to our Constitution.
> “…shall have the right to keep and bear arms.”

GO TO HELL. If you think “being free” is somethign that has been put into clauses in a 200yr old document you are wrong. The men who wrote that OWNED SLAVES. Guns in their time took 90 seconds to reload and were incapable of solo massmurder. The document is their opinion of what being free is. Not the be-all-and end-all definition!! In my opinion “being american” means believing the Constitution is INFALLIBLE… well just go to hell alright, it isnt! Other constitutions around the world condemn owning guns, are you saying your founding fathers were right and mine were wrong???

>These kids were going to blow up their school and kill
>plenty of kids whether they had guns or not.

BUT A FEW LESS WILL DIE IF THE MURDERER DIDNT MURDER WITH HIS DADS SHOTGUN, IF THERE WERE GUN LAWS IN PLACE.

>You can’t stop crazy people from doing crazy things
>without limiting the actions of everybody.

IMPORTANT BIT:
true. unless you think owning a gun is a freedom worth having. fireworks have been banned for safety reasons. people accepted that. there was no huge outcry for freedom over this, so why cant guns be controlled for safety reasons??????????

>And I’m not willing to sacrifice my daughter’s freedom for
>her safety.  Especially when banning guns will not make
>her any more safe from freaks like the kids in Colorado.

Go to hell! You are an idiot ok! I’m sorry I don’t like getting personal, but when you talk of your daughters life so flippantly I just get mad! Are you saying you’d rather she had the ‘freedom’ to own a fun than was sage from being shot at school????? What if there is a “freak” in your state, at your daughter’s school who finds his dad’s shotgun and kills your daughter. How will you feel about her “freedom” then?????? If you saw a kid with his dad’s fun blow away your daughter would you truly say, “Oh well at least we live in a land of freedom???” Fricking Hell!!!ELL!!!
Phil

[Mail edited to erase all caps – Indents are referring to Schyler’s mails]

Whoa getting a bit crazy here. I think we can close up the matter here and move on… at least, until the next shooting occurs.