I do not like guns. I do not own a gun, and would be quite happy living in a world where guns had not been invented. Bows and arrows suffice quite well for any needed hunting. That said, I find myself in the strange position of disagreeing with the anti-gun lobbyists, whose opinions range the spectrum from denying guns to citizens, to creating a barricade of regulations, to holding manufacturers and sellers of guns responsible for what owners of guns do with those guns.
A maze of restrictions and regulations will do little to ameliorate the situation we seem to have developed over the past decade of guns being used by people, insane, criminal or otherwise, to murder innocent children and adults. On the surface, it might seem that the regulations will keep guns out of the hands of violent people, but in actuality, whoever wants a gun badly enough will manage to get one, through the underground, by theft or by some other means. The history of getting around prohibited items by criminal means attests to this. It would need to be a more draconian regime than has heretofore existed to eliminate guns by enforcing regulatory means. I think most of us would not like to live under such a regime.
A stronger step, taking guns away from private citizens (except, perhaps, from registered hunters) also creates more problems than it solves. Assuming that it can be successfully done (draconian regime??), that would leave guns in the hands of the police and the military. We have already seen examples of what happens when the police are armed and the populace are not. Those examples have been quite prominent in the news. History shows that an armed military and an unarmed populace tends to end in those guns being used to enforce martial law. Well, then, some might say. Let’s take the guns away from the police and home-based military, too. Are we willing to have the police and the military at home equally deprived of guns?
The problem with such solutions seems to be one of “who will bell the cat?” Who will be the first to give up weapons? After all, if we are not ready to fight back, someone may well attack. It is a problem of human attitudes towards one another, and towards life generally. We are competitive, untrusting, and determined to get the best for ourselves, irregardless of how we do that. In such a milieu, disarming some while arming others does not seem like a very good idea.
So, not having a ready solution, we turn to another option – the scapegoat. We blame the gun manufacturers and the gun salespeople for the situation of murderers using guns. Yes, we cite background checks, done or not. Background checks are good, but even if they are religiously done, it is not possible to find out through them who it is that is inclined to kill people. SOMEONE, we say, has to be accountable and pay the price for others’ suffering. So we create a scapegoat, and push for the punishment of the scapegoat.
We are not thinking of what really needs to be done. The underlying assumption of a society in which guns are perceived to be needed either for aggression or defense needs to be altered. The idea that one cannot prosper without the equivalent loss to someone else needs to be changed. The idea that one cannot be good unless someone else is bad, winner unless someone else is loser, needs to be debunked. The thought that bullying shows strength needs to be shown for the false idea that it is.
Granted, this is a tall order. Things have become quite complicated since the days of small towns where people could leave their doors unlocked. But, if that level of trust existed once, certainly it can again, if people are willing to embrace it. The addition of more regulation, attempts to police such regulation, or even attempts to make guns scarce will not work. The creation of scapegoats will not work. I do understand the pain of those who have suffered. I do not believe that this is how the human experience was designed to work. However, the creation of scapegoats will serve only to postpone awareness of the real problems, and further delay steps in creating a less violent world. Each of us, in our own small way, needs to start now to create more trust, compassion and sharing with those around us. May we succeed in that endeavor.