I, like many others, were saddened last week by the news of the shootings in Roseburg, Oregon. It didn’t take long before I was also angered by the rush of extremist responses over guns. It seems that for many people, the battle over gun control took precedence over grief and empathy. And like many others, I have followed the news reports fairly closely as facts are revealed. While I have seen countless rants about gun control and the 2nd Amendment, I haven’t seen one person examine the issues at hand, to try to determine what, if any, types of gun control could have prevented a wacko from killing people.
What I saw was this: As soon as the news made the rounds, people all over the country rushed to their side of the gun control issue, like kids choosing sides at dodgeball, and began hurling meaningless slogans at each other. There has been no meaningful discussion, not that it would be of any help to the victims and families. I’ve not heard one thing that I haven’t heard since LBJ was in office. I remember, because when I was a kid I had a political ad hanging in my room that showed LBJ, LadyBird and Hubert dressed as gangsters, with the slogan, “When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns.”
That’s as far as the discussion has gone in most circles.
Now, common sense tells you that taking away guns from the honest, sane people won’t stop the evil, crazy people. It also will tell you that if crazy people don’t have guns, they can’t shoot anyone. Common sense will also tell you that you can’t stop crazy people from doing crazy things. I did some research, and it seems that the claim that there is a knife attack in England (who has gun control) every 4 minutes, and the rate appears to be climging. And as we’ve seen here and abroad, it’s incredibly easy to build a workable bomb. You can find plans online.
Laws will dissuade reasonable people from doing evil things. They won’t stop the unreasonable. I don’t have a firm position on gun control. I believe in the 2nd Amendment, but I think background checks are an obvious necessity. Do some gun control methods work? Is it possible to enact some gun controls but still protect the 2nd Amendment? I don’t know, because people are too busy yelling to really examine the issue. I’d like to find out, wouldn’t you, even if it doesn’t agree with your current belief?
Human beings need to pick sides, to join tribes. One of the aspects of tribalism is to adopt a position of “I’m right, and you’re wrong” (cue “For What It’s Worth.”). Some call it “polarization,” but it’s simply resorting to a tribal mentality.
For a tribe, tribal identity is everything. This in itself prevents meaningful dialogue. For anyone to really get anything done, they have to be willing to risk their tribal identity and start thinking for themselves, entertaining new ideas, and going in new directions. This is the case with nearly every major issue in this country. Tribalism is preventing any meaningful work from getting done, and it’s costing the country in ways that can’t even be quantified.
And it makes me angry. But then, I always hated dodgeball.