Monday, April 16, 2007

The Time for Reckoning is Nigh

We got our wake-up call today in Virginia. On both sides the noise machines cranked up - and promptly missed the point.

We need to have a national discussion, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be just about guns. That is naturally going to be a component, especially in the wake of this tragedy. But they are only a component.

We need to have a national discussion, and we need to deal with unpleasant realities. But we need to be talking about the underlying social dynamics that are fueling this pathology.

Let me make a deal with my brethren on the right – you stop talking about arming every Tom, Dick and Harry in the country so we can have contagious gunfire erupt on a regular basis because we have encouraged a vigilante culture, and I will try to keep my side from going nuts and trying to ban all guns.

You gotta get a muzzle on those calling for arming teachers and nurses and doctors and butchers and bakers and candlestick makers. Guns and adrenaline are a dangerous mix. A father shot and killed his daughter who was hiding in the closet. An international student with spotty English knocked on the wrong door looking for a Halloween party, and was shot and killed. Just last week an FBI agent was killed by friendly fire. In all of those instances the shooters were responsible gun owners, and their lives have been forever altered. A bullet can not be called back. As bad as today was, everyone I have talked to from the trauma bay and the KCPD has agreed with me - it could actually have been worse.

You give us background checks at gun shows and close some loopholes, and I will do my best to convince my compatriots that more and more restrictive gun laws aren’t the answer. They never have been. Only insane people keep trying the same thing over and over, and expect a different result. Unless you are insane, try applying some new thinking. Please.

Everyone needs to accept the fact that we are a gun-saturated society, especially my fellow lefties. They are everywhere. Are you going to bemoan that fact, or are you going to try to find some way to deal with it? I vote we do the latter. I’ll give you fifteen minutes to get your hand-wringing done and your sleeves rolled up.

On the other side, you need to admit that social policies and programs are important. Education and awareness are how you prevent things like this in a gun-saturated society. Gun violence is a symptom, but it is not the disease. I don’t have a diagnosis, but that just means we need to keep testing. Do you give up when you are sick and your doctor doesn’t know right away what is wrong? No, of course not. Apply that same thinking to society and let’s try to solve some of the problems we face.

And for God’s sake, don’t declare war on anything. That kind of thinking on the societal level is likely a part of the problem.

Screaming at each other isn’t going to accomplish anything. Guns are not going away. Getting our collective heads around that is as good a place to start as any.