Welp, it happened again–another mass shooting. Mass shootings have sadly become an inextricable element of the modern day American cultural construct. It almost seems as if there’s a quarterly quota of at least one mass shooting these days. This particular shooting could be easily (and rightly) placed squarely on the shoulders of the US armed forces for their failure to deal with the obvious inordinate level of post traumatic stress syndrome overcoming the ranks of their deployed and the bi-partisan neo-con legislative agenda that seemingly feels that war is the answer–for everything!
While as a nation can do little to abate (at least not in the short term) the kind of mass shooting spree that took place yesterday at Fort Hood we at have a general understanding of why it happened. As for the myriad other mass shootings that have become common place in America the causation and rectification is far less luminous. So in the spirit of clarity I offer ten points to ponder while mulling how we as a nation can cease being number one at one of the more dubious statistics kept–death by the gun.
1. Learn the true definition of the word compromise and that in a compromise neither side gets all or even most of what they want.
In a country of 300 million plus that averages over 8,000 gun deaths per year, the reasons for these gun deaths are many and the ramifications of any acts to remedy the problem will undoubtedly have some unintended consequences to go along with the intended ones, so any debate on gun control should start and end from a disposition of COMPROMISE. Know that you cannot and will not get everything you want, so it would behoove you to stick to the changes in the law that will have the greatest impact as it pertains to decreasing incidents of gun related deaths. If the measure being bantered about generates more angst, controversy, and fractured feelings among those who generally (at least in principal) wish to see a decrease in the gun related deaths in America than that plan she be used as tool of negotiation and should not in any way be the primary or even secondary end goal.
2. Either redefine and get more granular with the term “gun control” or find a new catch phrase to represent your cause
At present the term ‘gun control’ is an anathema in US Politics. The mere mention of it in certain regions and zip codes can spell political suicide for the statesman (or woman) with the best intentions, rare as they may be.
A novel idea would be to take a page from the Republican play book on semantically cleaver titling. When they want to push an idea that’s not necessarily a popular with the people (even within their own constituency )they are rather skilled in applying innocuous names to their insidious deeds. The Iraq war was not called ‘The Kill Saddam and occupy Iraq’ Bill (what we actually did). It was called Operation Iraqi Freedom. Who can say no to freedom? Or better yet HR 3630 titled The Middle Class Tax Relief & Job Creation Act, passed by the House of Representatives in 2011–who can say no to more jobs and less taxes for the struggling middle class? Never mind the fact that this bill actually would have frozen federal workers pay for 3 years, cut unemployment from 99 weeks to 59 weeks, cut funding for the Affordable Care Act while mandating that the permit to begin constructing the Keystone XL pipeline be delivered. I’d say that that was pretty cleaver messaging. Luckily for the country such a bill died in the senate but I think you catch my drift.
Perhaps instead of using the term Gun Control, those that wish to bring more sensible gun laws to fruition should re-brand to something like The John Wayne Gun Bill. After all 100 round clips and AK-47’s were not common place when John Wayne ruled the America. It may sound dumb to some but as a country we precipitously sliding further and further behind in the worldwide education stack rankings — we are far from the brightest blip on the globe so the appeal needs to be less logical and much more visceral for it to resonate with the masses.
3. Bring some new ideas to the table.
For the last 30 years people in the gun control lobby have led the debate on gun control and for the last 30 years their failed rhetoric and stale ideas have led to a stalemate. The status quo continues to exist unabated and seemingly gets worse by the generation. No offense to James Brady or the Brady Bill that bears his name but it’s to reinvent that wheel.
For as long as we have been discussing gun control it’s amazing that no one seems to be able to think outside of the proverbial box and offer new ways to mitigate the problem. For instance the barrel of each gun manufactured has a groove pattern as uniquely identifiable as a thumb print. Before these guns leave the factory and go to market, EVERY one of them should have their ballistics tested and recorded. This will leave a paper trail and such a paper trail will no doubt deter would be shooters if they knew that it would lead to them. Of course such a measure is not a universal panacea because such a trail would only apply to legal gun owners and not the ones on the black market, but it would help however nominally to bring down the yearly body count as it pertains to deaths by the gun in America.
As for the millions of guns floating on the black market a great majority of them go straight from the conveyor belt to the streets with one single purchaser on record before ending up in the hands of killers. Far more culpability needs to be mandated for both the gun manufacturer and the straw purchasers who are in effect illegal arms traders. The tobacco industry’s lobby in Washington is just as powerful as the NRA’s but even they had to succumb to collective and class action litigation pitted against them by the affected public. The only way that the gun lobby will move is by hitting them where it hurts—their pocket.
4. Stop making the banning of assault style weapons and 30 round clips the hall mark of your argument.
The chances of these weapons being banned and disappearing from the shelves of gun stores are slimmer than none. It’s a futile battle that you are fighting and even if such a ban came to fruition, we’d still lead the developed world in gun deaths by a mile.
The mere mention of banning these guns leads to gun enthusiasts of all kinds (the good, bad and ape-shit crazy) to rush to the stores to buy them. The sales of these weapons shoot up exponentially whenever the public dialog is centered on banning them. If you truly wish to see less of these weapons on the street than you should probably stop talking about them because at present state, that’s the biggest driving force behind these guns flying off the shelves. Besides they have already long been circulating through the ether. You can’t un-ring that bell or attempt to push that toothpaste back in the tube. In other words move on–that particular battle has been won/lost.
5. Stop looking for a statement from Wayne LaPierre every time a mass shooting or major tragedy involving guns takes place.
You already know that he’s going to say something stupid and counterproductive. Waiting on Wayne LaPierre to make a statement on a gun tragedy makes as much sense as waiting for Flava Flav to make a statement on your taxes before doing them on April 15th.
Wayne LaPierre works for the gun manufactures so every and any solution to gun violence will be more guns, so even as a whipping boy or poster child for what’s wrong with America’s gun culture, you are wasting your breath bringing his name up. Also, know that folks in the media when they solicit his opine or the NRA’s official statement on such tragic events as what happened at Fort Hood yesterday, they are playing a game of ratings–not bringing you breaking or worthwhile news.
6. Accept the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” adage. There is some truth to that deflective statement.
I’ve always disagreed with the above argument because it’s mostly used in its most myopic sense by the pro-gun lobby that cares more about the profit margins of gun manufacturers than they do about the carnage created by gun violence. However the fact remains that in order for guns to kill they must be powered by people– hence forth the gun control lobby needs to concede that argument to the pro gun lobby.
In concession of that particular argument, the task then should be to change the people. Just like guns don’t kill people, guns don’t create culture. People do and what the people have created is a very violent culture. From our movies, music, video games and books, to our trigger happy policemen, draconian sentencing structure and our penchant for “peace keeping” around the globe via the dropping of bombs and missiles the American culture is replete with violence. In the immortal words of GI Joe (one of the violent cartoons of my child hood) “knowing is half the battle” now that we know better it is time for us to start doing and expecting better than the violent culture that we’ve all had a hand in crafting, maintaining and perpetuating.
7. The 2nd amendment is not the only amendment to the Bill of Rights that needs redress and clarification.
On the heels of almost every act of gun violence that snatches the collective attention of the nation, the 2nd Amendment is almost always the first and last solution or excuse (depending on which side of the debate you are on) for action or inaction. This reactionary response does not speak to any of the underlying problems that lead to gun violence in America, let alone solving them.
Instead of starting with a review of the 2nd amendment it’s high time we review the parameters of the 1st amendment and the myriad ramifications of “free speech” in America. There is an awful lot of hate speak and misinformation being passed off today as actual news. There is a faction of Americans that are about 20 million strong who take the verbatim and rants from the likes of Glenn Beck , Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly et al for face value. You can blame this group of people for being extremely guile and illogical, but it’s hard to fault them for stock piling guns and ammo when they have for the last several decades been ginned up on the fear that their government (and all non-conservatives) is out to oppress them, take away all of their freedoms and guns, throw them in a concentration camps and enact reverse Jim Crow Laws. There was a time in this country where the likes of Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and other specious “journalists” and media outlets were not allowed to operate. Yelling fire in a crowded theater was not always considered or conflated with the 1st amendment right to free speech. Unfortunately today it is.
The reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine that once prevented news outlets from spuriously misleading the public in matters germane to its interest is likely never going to come back so it’s incumbent upon those who do respect the need for a well informed public to do everything in their power to combat the false messaging that comes out of those outlets. In other words be the Fairness Doctrine. The internet and social media have become somewhat of a buffer for the lies being spoon fed us in the mainstream media and the more deceit ridden outlets like Fox News, Drudge and Infowars– but that is not enough. Since we can’t rely on our government to properly police the FCC regulated spectrum that these corporate mouth pieces incessantly babble across, the only power that the people have is the power of the dollar. When Rush Limbaugh made those extremely sexist and misogynistic comments about Sandra Fluke a few years ago he started a hemorrhage of sponsors and syndicated slots that to this day has not stopped. He’s not getting dropped by sponsors and stations because he’s a bombastic flame thrower with no moral compass (that’s actually why he was hired and sponsored by these people) he’s being dropped like a hot potato because he’s becoming bad for business due to people boycotting and protesting those that underwrite his ability to hate speak. More energy needs to be put into removing these voices from the airwaves and replacing them with truth tellers.
8. Pay more attention to the social ills in society that serve as the precursors to gun violence
Some of the biggest drivers of gun related deaths stem from abject generational poverty, drug addiction, domestic violence, mental illness (diagnosed and un-diagnosed) and a lack of upward mobility–mostly due to failing school systems in failed neighborhoods. We however only wish to speak to these issues in tragic times when a mother has to bury her son, a family needs answers for a stray bullet entering their babies carriage or when the president has to console grieving families because some inexplicable gun massacre took place.
We need to be speaking about and brainstorming on ways to mitigate the plight of the people most affected by the aforementioned societal ills—before the gun violence shatters their lives—not after.
It may take a while but if as a nation we can rectify some of these root causes it will invariably affect the yearly body count.
9. Understand that Karma is real and stop being a hypocrite
Our great nation unfortunately has a long history of globally aggressive acts. It also seems married to those ways and seemingly shows no true intention of leaving them behind. It would therefore be foolish to think that those chickens won’t continue to come to the homeland to roost. Violence begets violence so if you are okay with American aggression globally you need to expect for the same kind of violence to visit our domestic shores. Live by the gun, die by the gun. If you don’t bat an eye at 13 people being wiped out via a drone strike in Yemen or Pakistan but have a super heavy heart for 13 individuals being shot in an American movie theater, church or place of business, or American military base you are being a hypocrite—even worse you are sowing bad seeds of karma. Humanity knows no geographical boundaries. We need to be more humane towards not only each other but also to the world—as a nation we have a lot of bad karma to expiate.
10. Get out and vote!
Not just every four years when a gifted gabber comes around and motivates you to the polls, but also in mid-terms, local and state level races, judgeship’s, the sheriff’s office and even your local school board (especially if you have kids). Not only should you vote, you should also learn about the political process. Know where everyone stands on the issue of gun violence and the other pertinent issues of the day. Challenge them to do more, go to town hall meetings. Endeavor to find out who they are taking money from so that you know who they ultimately work for.
Will all of this change the problem overnight? Not in the least but it’s a start.