Guns

USHB_slide_roseburgIn yet another in a seemingly unending series of school shootings, tragedy visited our nation yesterday once again.  The victims this time were residents of the Roseburg, Oregon community.

You’ve watched/listened/read the news.  You’ve been on social media.  You know how the response mechanisms go.  The way we process this is all too familiar.  Shock and prayers. The naming of a shooter.  Word from the President.  Debate over gun control and Second Amendment rights.  And then?  Back to the status quo until someone decides to kill again.

Well, that’s nonsense.  Whether liberal, conservative, or moderate–we can agree on that.

It has been said that to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results is the very definition of insanity.  And yet that’s exactly what we collectively seem to do as a nation.  Agree with his politics or not, the President’s words ring true: “Somehow this has become routine.  The reporting is routine.  My response here at this podium ends up being routine.  The conversation in the aftermath of it.  We’ve become numb to this.”  He went on to note “This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America.”635793217376156758-AP-Obama-Oregon-School-Shooting.1

Whether you are urging fewer gun laws or (with the President) more restrictions, you would essentially agree with that last statement.  We are a nation that is meant to operate under the rule of law, and as such our laws matter.  But, after 142 school shootings since the Newtown tragedy, we still seem to be limping along without much action.  Where’s the new direction we need?

Nothing changes as both sides dig in their heels.  There’s an interior logic to both positions, granted.  I see what each is trying to say.  I understand and sympathize when many citizens call for more gun control and restrictions.  If we are indeed (as I’ve heard mentioned) the only developed country with this much gun violence, we need to think about that.  I see that point of view.  But I also have a good friend who is a gun owner and has helped me understand his perspective.  And I can’t deny that, when I hear stories like Roseburg and then go to teach at my college, I’d feel safer if all of my colleagues and I were carrying weapons.

On a national scale, though, neither “side” is being fully implemented.  Instead we hang in some in-between area, with inconsistency and its results the name of the game.  No bold change on either end seems to happen, and nothing changes.

140723-bookclub-waldman-submitted Something does need to be done.  That’s a statement that gains credence with each and every massacre like yesterday’s.  I know there’s a fear that the wrong decision could make things worse, of course.  I see that.  But we’re in a situation where it is really bad right now, and to be honest, guns and politics are one of those issues where it can seem increasingly difficult to sort through competing and proliferating facts and arguments on both sides.

So then, here’s a stark proposal born from grasping at straws: what if instead of doing nothing we just picked a perspective and went with it for the common good?  What if, for instance, we gave a gun to every law-abiding citizen and required every teacher and professor to be armed?  Maybe that would help decrease the Newtowns of our day.  What if we deleted the Second Amendment and restricted firearms accordingly?  Maybe that would help limit these tragedies too.  Not everyone would like these solutions, but at least it would be doing something instead of standing by while the long list of masscres continue.

I realize in my attempt at some kind of Realpolitik arising out of my frustration with our current situation, I’ve created what could be a nasty Internet debate.  Please be kind and remember: I offer what I do because I’m weary of what happens in our nation with such tragic regularity, not because I’m trying to be a political ideologue.

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2 comments on “Guns

  1. Donald Kimball says:

    This is why I’m a big proponent of localism – we can act in ways we see fit based on each locality. The U.S. holds many cultures, and to think one solution will work for every area in the same way lacks the nuance. People in their own areas know best what is needed for them, and that way federalism can demonstrate the most effective methods for areas. If NYC tries relaxing gun laws and it seems to reduce violence, maybe Chicago would follow suit – or if Seattle banned concealed carry permits and it worked, Portland could do likewise.

    Of course, I know where I fall on this issue, but I think it would be fair for states, counties, or cities to make their own decisions.

  2. It’s so odd to me. Gracie grew up in Roseburg and we actually spent quite a bit of time hanging out the Umpqua Community College.

    Also, I really appreciate your post. Just sayin’.

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