The article above is as good as anything I have ever read on the subject of America’s love affair with guns. If you haven’t read it I hope you will.
We have an inexhaustible ability to tolerate the murder, maiming and destruction of our fellow citizens as a result of guns and still hold true to the mythology it has nothing to do with guns. We like to confidently assert if we would just do something about the mentally ill it wouldn’t be the problem it is.
We pontificate on and on about the failure of the mental health system to stop us from shooting each other as if it ever could or was ever supposed to. We romanticize
guns and the ethics of being tough and being strong and being free and not taking nothing from nobody. And when we hear about tragedies we know if we were there it wouldn’t happen because we would have come packing and the bad guy would be a dead bad guy.
I always wondered how someone could become addicted to drugs like heroin that seemed so obviously self destructive and whose momentary good feelings were more than balanced by the harm it did. I always wondered how could people not see.
We have a love affair with guns not unlike the way some people have a love affair with drugs. What the author above points out is that the key is to understand what guns mean to us, what they symbolize. What can be so important, so compelling to blind us to a slaughter not seen anywhere else in the world? How can we be so blind?
Guns symbolize independence, autonomy, toughness, control and other key elements of what for many are what it means to be part of being an American. Perhaps they even symbolize the ability to do justice in a world not terribly just.
Is our resistance to anything that smacks of making it harder for us to kill each other or for someone to kill us greatly different than the resistance of any drug addict to give up his high? Can you listen for any length of time to the NRA and not wonder if guns have not become a curiously American drug?
Most mass killings are people killing people they know. It is family executing family for some injury, humiliation or betrayal. How long must the innocent die to defend our infatuation with guns? If we make it easier to kill each other more of us get killed. Is there something hard or remarkably difficult to understand about that?
We would like for the problem to be the mentally ill. We would like to blame the mental health system. We would like to blame those politicians who would curtail our ability to protect ourselves from the bad guys. We would like to blame those who would impinge on our freedom or our autonomy or take away from our personal power. But I think the truth is simpler.
In the immortal words of a long ago cartoon in the words of Pogo:
We have met the enemy and he is us.