Another day another shooting. Am I right?
Ugh. That sounds horrible. Callous at best, sadistic at worst. It is, however, an honest assessment of American life. Not even two months since the attack at the AME Church in Charleston, and we've seen at least a dozen more mass shootings grab headlines since then.
Motivated by one form of hatred or another. Racism. Misogyny. Islamic extremism. Xenophobia. Gang rivalries. Revenge. The only other common element in these incidents is the weapon of choice: firearms.
The political aftermath of these shootings follow a predictable approach ad nauseam providing endless fodder for 24 hour news outlets to argue in the days that follow.
One side says that the appropriate response is to enact stricter gun laws. The other wants to loosen gun laws. One side wants to restrict access to guns. The other wants everyone to get a gun. Forgive my bluntness, but both of those responses are utterly ridiculous.
We can debate these opposed ideals until modern society collapses but such an endeavor would only prove fruitless. It would solve nothing while the body count increases at a rate that would discourage the most cheerful optimist in America.
We as Americans have a problem with guns. Denial of such problem is either foolish, willfully oblivious, or perhaps both.
However, it is not the guns themselves that is the source of our woes. Our problem with guns is our attitude toward guns. The idea that an armed society is a polite society is hyperbolic nonsense; apprehension and civility are not synonyms. The claim that anyone who open-carries a side arm is a nut with violent tendencies is nothing more than fear-mongering. The belief that any attempt at gun control regulation is a ruse to take away our guns is a slippery slope fallacy. Thinking that better gun control will eradicate all mass shootings is wishful thinking.
The arguments on both sides of the second amendment debate are so mired in rhetoric that everyone needs to sit down and shut up.
Our problem is one of attitude. We live in a culture that glorifies violence. We view our personal collection of firearms as an idol but no one is brave enough to admit it. We are so caught up in our own personal liberties and the pursuit of self preservation that we no longer give a damn about our neighbors. We mask our faults with weaponry and label it security.
These mass shootings are not the fault of gun availability alone. It is a cocktail mixed from entitlement issues, family dysfunction, greed, jingoism, generations of people turning a blind eye to injustice, unwillingness to support the underprivileged and at-risk members of society, and constant political vilification. Toss a loaded weapon into that volatile concoction and bad things will happen. It is inevitable.
Same thing but shorter: Our attitude problem with guns is a moral dilemma. Unfortunately, it is impossible to legislate morality.
We need to enforce existing gun laws. We might even need new laws. Still, neither of those options will solve the issue. They are nice gestures but will only serve as a band aid on a gaping gunshot wound.
If the problem is our attitude, then the solution would be a changed mind-set. What we need is a massive cultural shift. That is something that the law is powerless to enforce.
There is a funny thing about social shifts: culture can shape the government, but the government cannot shape culture. It is a one way street. Yet, in order to make those changes, it requires culture to make an effort.
If we are to fix this gun problem, it means the responsibility for change belongs to us. To me. To you. Our friends, our family, our churches, our neighborhoods. It is time we live out the biblical commands to love our neighbors, to forgive freely, and reconcile this broken world in which we live. We need to love our kids unconditionally and teach them to love others in the same way. We need to rebuke any semblance of hatred.
That is a power that belongs to individuals and if we were to wield that power, I guarantee we would see less nuts with guns killing in public places.
So, maybe – just maybe, we need a little less “F-yeah! Guns! Whoooo!” And a little more, “Why Can’t We Be Friends?”