Can we talk about DOING SOMETHING about guns?
I am, to be clear, just a little old lady who never messed with weapons of any sort beyond a couple of curiosity-type visits to rifle ranges and a youthful flirtation with archery. But still.
At last count (according to a recent ABC News report,) 9,870 Americans have died from gun violence this year. It’s probably more by now, since people are shooting themselves or each other at an alarming rate. The rate at which one person is shooting a bunch of people is somewhat more alarming. The Nashville school tragedy was the latest of the 130 mass shootings this year counted by the Gun Violence Archive. Since then: Kentucky.
Isn’t it all worth talking about?
I don’t mean talk as in making a speech or broadcasting your great thoughts into the wind; I mean talk as in having a conversation. An old-fashioned civil dialog: you tell me stuff while I listen, I’ll respond with more stuff while — hopefully — you listen.
A lot of people just talk about “Second Amendment rights.” Well, okay. Those guys who wrote the second amendment a few centuries ago were, of course, talking about “well regulated militias;” apparently James Madison wanted to be sure state militias could defend themselves against the feds.
Fast forward to 2008, and more guys (on the Supreme Court, in DC v Heller; Ginsberg was among the dissenters so it was all guys) expanded that to mean everybody has a right to handguns for self-defense. Seems a stretch, but here we are.
Could we talk about my right to enjoy a latte without being freaked out by that guy with a gun on his hip v his right to swagger round bearing arms?
Shouldn’t it be okay for little old ladies to talk about how freaked out they are by guys packing heat? Thank heaven I don’t live in Florida, where now, apparently, just about anybody any time can pick up a gun and carry it anywhere he or she (women & girls packing heat at Starbucks also freak me out) feels inclined. I would write a book on this but it would get banned, so why bother. Then there’s the congressman – I wiped his name from my conscious memory – who suggested parking tanks at schools.
I do not believe we are helpless. Or that tanks will make our kids feel safe. I do not believe, as TN Rep. Tim Burchett does, that there’s nothing we can do about guns because “criminals are going to be criminals” and Congress is “not gonna fix it” (though so far he’s right on that) or that we need “a real revival in this country” rather than gun control of any sort.
I know revivals. I’ve been to a bunch of them. I promise you no revival is going to reduce gun violence, or even the sheer number of guns that freak out little old ladies.
I do not believe, as does TN Rep. Andy Ogles — he who posed for a Christmas photo with his happily armed family — that it is “ridiculous” to blame guns for those dead children and adults in our latest school shooting. (Unless there’s been another school shooting since Covenant School.)
Why can’t we talk about mass shootings? And doing something to reduce them? For instance:
You can’t have mass shootings without guns to shoot masses. Most of those shooters are not criminals — or at least, they weren’t criminals until they picked up a gun and started killing people. Most of those guns are assault weapons designed to kill a whole lot of people. I know people who hunt, many of whom are very dear to me; I don’t know anyone outside of the military who has an assault weapon. Or who thinks we should all have access to one if we take a mind to.
Could we just talk about assault weapons? Then maybe we could talk about why anybody needs one and why they shouldn’t be banned. When assault weapons were banned, fewer people got killed. Maybe that’s worth talking about.
If we can talk, we can find common ground. I don’t think any of us really love the fact that tiny children are learning mass shooter drills before their ABCs. We could start there.
I may be just an unarmed little old lady, but I am not stupid. I do know that talking — just having civil conversations without shouting and getting angry — is not popularly done any more.
But we CAN. Maybe we need to try harder.