What will it take, indeed?

The spate of gun massacres in the U.S. has triggered renewed controversy and outrage. Rightly so. A friend recently wrote a nice post, “What Will It Take?” Indeed. What will it take to meaningfully address this unthinkable problem of mass violence when a ridiculously absurd amount of evidence shows a correlation to the presence of guns and gun-related deaths (of humans, not hunting game)?

Given the contentious nature of rationally-ensuing discussions on gun control (see evidence and mortal impact of gun ownership cited above), many instead appeal to mental health reforms. Given it’s easier to get a gun than to get mental health care (note a widely-circulating post by a mother calling herself “Adam Lanza’s mother”), once again the evidence calls for a different answer. In fact, the mental health conditions cited by the gunman at Sandy Hook have in fact no correlation to increased violence. In fact, mental health seems to have zero impact on violence. Out, then, go the arguments for mental health reform…at least, as it pertains to reducing these inconceivable acts of violence.

Ok, perhaps humanizing the problem will work? After all, a central principle of those seeking to educate people about the holocaust is to communicate the horrors not by raw statistics or clinical facts, but rather through the lens of individual stories. These custodians of history seek to illuminate the horror through photos, letters, and testimonials rather than theoretical, abstract facts. I’ve witnessed this at Holocaust museums in Washington, D.C. and Jerusalem, as well as the Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive devoted to sharing and extending these stories through the generations

The thinking is that no amount of facts or theory will impact people meaningfully; it is only through personal stories that people can begin to grasp the most dark and absurd turns of human behavior.

Alas, and tragically so, hoping that this insane pattern of outrage followed by inaction have cause to be concerned. Incredulously, public opinion remains unmoved by such tragedies. Studies by the Pew Research Center show that even violent public gun massacres such as the ones in Aurora, CO and Tucson, AZ have had no impact on public opinions towards how guns are obtained or regulated. And some are even calling for the press to refrain from reporting the names of the perpetrators, keeping the issue more abstract and nameless.

Thus, despite all the facts above which demonstrate our only lever to reduce such violence is gun control, the public remains wed to its antiquated notion of personal rights and loves the theory of the 2nd amendment more than the reality of the bloody impact that its anacrhonistic implementation has in today’s society.

So if not facts, if not humanity…then what, what will cause us to change this insane holding pattern of death, outrage yielding no change? Didn’t Einstein call insanity the act of doing the same thing repeatedly yet expecting different results? Isn’t there a reason the rest of the world thinks we are on another planet on this issue? (If someone told me there was a society that allowed any citizen to own a weapon of scalable destruction, I would think they were crazy too…and then I realized, it’s us).

Those who fearfully clutch at freedoms crafted in an era of escape from armed militia  in today’s world — when civil liberties, due process and judiciary checks abound (as do the firearms and bloodshed they propogate) — mystify me. Now we live in fear that the person on the bus may have a bad day and whip out a rifle. Is this fear and death worth the “freedom” to personally own a death stick?

I’m too exhausted to play this out anymore, though. so I’m just appealing to what Joe did in the movie that keeps me relatively sane as the world grows more insane. I’ve decided to talk to plants. Please join me.



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