On guns, sort of...
The Barest of Things
Tempted as I may be, I am not about to dip my toe into the raging gun control debate. I am certain my views on the subject are far too “gun luvin’” for the “guns are scary and if you like them you hate children” crowd. At the same time, those that view the 2nd Amendment as the word of God and defiantly buy another gun every time a Democrat is elected to public office would probably see my views as a left wing assault on their American values.
Truth is, as long as the hyperbolic extremes in this country dominate the conversation, no meaningful solution or compromise will ever be up for discussion. That may or may not explain why there has been no significant gun legislation in the U.S. since the National Firearms Act of 1934. Just for the record, that is the one that regulated the sale and possession of fully automatic weapons, effectively ending the criminal use of said guns since the days of Al Capone and Bugsy Siegel. We could probably look to that law as a guideline for how to regulate something while preserving its legality and achieving efficient results in the process but that seems like too much trouble in these divided times, doesn’t it?
Instead, I just have a question.
The current boogey man of the moment is the AR-15, the semiautomatic version of the military’s M-16 automatic rifle. Available to the public since 1964, it was designed in response to the Commie’s preferred battle rifle, the AK-47, which was invented in 1949. Both of these weapons were available to consumers in an era where, as my Dad frequently recalls, “the ROTC kids would bring their rifles to school, keep them in their lockers, and nobody thought anything of it”. The idea of a school shooting was totally unheard of and the real fear was the threat of the Russians starting World War III. Subsequently, kids were taught how to properly hide under their desks to survive the impending nuclear holocaust because they really thought a lot about their desks in those days, apparently.
Today, mass shootings are far too commonplace and the biggest thing we have to fear from the Russians is their irresponsible use of Facebook, something which roughly half of the Americans on Facebook are guilty of anyway.
My question is, simply, what changed?
The guns, like them or loathe them, have not. You pull the trigger and the gun goes boom, same as always (and for more than 50 years now with these weapons in particular). It is the people with the guns in their hands that have changed and I want to know why. I remember coming home from class in college and turning on the television to find out every single channel was live on the scene in Columbine where 12 innocent children and a teacher were massacred. Now these occurrences are just another news bite mixed in with whatever Trump tweeted and something a Kardashian exposed (spoiler alert: it’s a tit).
How have we, as a society, become so apathetic to violence in general? When did teenagers, adults, and religious zealots alike become so obsessed with going out in a blaze of glory and taking as many innocent lives with them in the process? How have we become so divided as a nation that there are only two sides to a single issue and name calling is the knee jerk response to anyone with a different point of view? You are either a liberal hippie snowflake or a conservative white supremacist and you better pick a side, by God, because this is America in 2018, dammit.
I do not have the answers to these questions and I am unsatisfied with the ones I have heard suggested over the years. We lack proper Christian values, it’s the video games, it’s the music, it’s angry white males… those all seem like self serving explanations to one’s own cause, if you ask me. I am not Christian, I have shot plenty of people in video games, I have plenty of Wu-Tang Clan on my iTunes, and I am white-ish enough I suppose but, all of this considered, I have never considered the taking of innocent lives as a reasonable solution to anything, nor has anyone that I know.
Culturally, socially, whatever, something bigger is at play that has changed the whole mindset regarding the value of a life and human decency in general. Guns did not change anybody’s minds but people changed their minds as how to use them. All I am asking is… why?