Over the past few weeks, if you’ve been near a TV, newspaper, computer, or another human being, you’ve probably heard of multiple gun-related incidents: Colorado, Wisconsin, New York and Maryland; twenty people have been killed, and an additional eighty-two injured. Now, if you’re privy to this, chances are it was through the internet, which has turned into a war zone on forums and comment boards as the subject of gun control is being brought up. More specifically, you have some folks claiming that our policy is too lax, you have some who claim it’s their God-given right to bear as many arms as they can carry, and finally, and most especially, you have a certain group that is positive the government is behind all of this, obviously.
Now, it’s hard for me to approach this issue without sounding like your stereotypical college liberal with some neo-hippie life outlooks, but I am, so I may just very well come across that way. You’ve been warned. Both an idol and favorite comedian of mine, Bill Hicks, incorporated gun violence into his act, and though this specific routine is a little outdated (it’s from 1991), I think the message is still applicable due to the recent shootings: he points out that in 1990, deaths (homicides, suicides, accidents) due to firearms in the U.S.A., where owning firearms is legal, was in the ballpark of 23,000. He then compared that statistic to the United Kingdom’s –– where it is impossible to obtain a license for a handgun and the police don’t carry firearms –– whopping 14 gun-related deaths. Due to his profession, Hicks may have been blowing things out of proportion, so to check more relevant statistics, we can look to the FBI’s crime statistics, as relayed by the Guardian, that state out of the 12,996 murders in 2010 in the USA, 8,775 involved a gun. Not as horrifyingly large a number as cited by Mr. Hicks, but we’re not throwing suicides and “accidents” into the mix, either. Regardless, I think all of us who can read can agree that the presence of firearms leads to more dead people than their absence does.
I think it is also important to look a bit closer at these recent incidents, so that we can try to piece together a common factor. The Aurora shooter is a former neuroscience Ph.D. student who had allegedly received in psychiatric treatment. In Wisconsin, the perpetrator was an involuntarily discharged US Army vet and an active white supremacist. The incident in New York arose after a workplace dispute, and the father of the 15-year-old shooter in Maryland claimed his son had been bullied. The only major similarity between all the shooters is that they’re white and male, so I don’t know if anyone could sit down and claim that they’ve figured what makes folks snap and shoot up a local grocery store. No one knows, and no one will ever know.
So, the outlawing of guns in the USA will never happen, and I understand that, because they’re already ingrained. Hell, you don’t even need to register your firearm in Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association’s website, but maybe that doesn’t matter, whether they’re legal or illegal, abundant or not. I know it’s a bit too idealistic, but wouldn’t it be nice if we lived in a society where fear and anger didn’t run amuck to the point that you wanted to take a shotgun to a school? I think if we really want to change, that’s what we need to focus on: the elimination of fear-mongering. For all his flaws, Rodney King posed one of the most simple and essential questions when he asked, “Can’t we all get along?” Get rid of the fear-induced rage and hate, and then maybe, yeah, we can, but then you wouldn’t have news media, because that’s their job.