Gun control! My few thoughts on what we should be thinking about in the aftermath of the shootings. Knee jerk reactions blaming our favourite targets (lack of gun control, poor parenting, lack of mental health services etc…) are easy but we really should find out all the facts in this case. The alleged shooter was using a semi-automatic rifle which apparently jammed forcing him to switch guns. In Canada one can legally acquire semi-automatic rifles. I don’t know that a similar shooter couldn’t have accomplished the same thing in Canada. Did we forget about the shooting in Toronto just a little while ago?
The big question we should ask is why so many Americans shoot each other relative to the rest of the world? In Canada we have lots of guns too, we just don’t use them on each other with anywhere near the same frequency. Sometimes the appeal for new restrictive laws is just a distraction from the real problem. I don’t honestly know why Americans shoot each other so much.
A friend of mine told me that even the American military doesn’t have their assault rifles set to full automatic. (I haven’t confirmed this elsewhere). The popular theory is that our friends to the south are so trigger happy they waste too much ammunition on full auto. Is gun culture the issue rather than lack of gun control?
Like the vast majority of people on this planet I don’t believe the American constitution is a moral authority on firearms. I know American’s get all choked up about it but most of it is a few hundred years old. The original notion was that the people could resist oppression by their government. Now I don’t know what good even an assault rifle would be against the American military. In an even more absurd twist more American’s believe they have a right to have a gun than actually bother to vote. The best way to resist a drift towards an oppressive government would be become an active and politically engaged electorate. I think it is backwards to watch their government implement more and more restrictive controls and monitoring, some of which have been constitutionally suspect, while caring so much about owning guns. That is unless people love guns for some other reason. Which I think is the case.
Why do American’s love guns? I think one explanation is that Americans are more polarized than other mature democracies. They trust their government less and have less confidence in law enforcement. They feel they need to defend themselves more than a Canadian, Brit or Australian.
In the wake the tragedy many gun advocates proclaimed that the situation in that theater would have resolved itself quicker if someone else had a gun. A somewhat fanciful notion. What if 4 other people had guns and they started shooting each other in the confusion? Would law enforcement know who to shoot?
I don’t know the way forward, but I am worried about this. The societal and political discourse in America continues to grow less rational and more polarized. This could lead to more defensiveness, fear and gun conflict.