Guns and America
As a liberal, the default position has long been to be for gun control. Here’s why I don’t think that’s actually the right answer.
1. Guns are not really the problem. How do I know this? Because in Israel, everywhere you go there are people with semi-automatic weapons, because everyone has to serve in the army, and soldiers are frequently seen just hanging out in public places. Yet they don’t have the same kind of epidemic of mass shootings that we have. They’ve learned to be responsible with guns. Moreover, the one stat I remember most clearly from Michael Moore’s documentary Bowling for Columbine is that Canada has more guns than we do – yet again, they don’t have the same epidemic of mass shootings. That means that our proclivity for violence and mass shootings is less about the guns, and more about US. That’s just the uncomfortable truth. Now that we’ve said it, let’s try and deconstruct it. Why are we such a violent, hateful nation?
2. Pragmatically speaking, Democrats and liberals benefit from dropping gun control from their platform, or at least de-emphasizing it. Because Americans love their guns, and they don’t like being told what to do. And since guns are not really the problem, it’s not helping anything to push for further gun control. See #1.
3. This doesn’t mean I support the NRA. I think they’re just about the sleaziest, most disgusting special interest group in America today. They prey on people’s fears and oppose things they SHOULD support, if they were really about promoting the “right” to bear arms – like gun responsibility classes and bans on clips to allow people to fire off a dozen shots at one time. They’re a corporatist tool of the gun industry, and don’t really care whether it’s terrorists or hunters who are buying their guns.
4. Let’s come back to #1. Why are we such a violent, hateful nation? It’s not because we have our roots in slavery and imperialism – lots of countries (hell, MOST countries) were founded on slavery and imperialism, yet have settled into a day to day reality that is less violent. And it’s not violent video games and television and movies – that’s a symptom, not a cause. So what is it? Why are Americans so prone to mass shootings and murder?
This is the real question we should be asking ourselves.