So lately my social media platforms (I’m guessing yours too) have been dominated by debate around guns sparked by the events in Sandy Hook. It has broken down primarily to two sides, I’ll call them pro-gun and pro-control. People have brought up other factors, but I’m not addressing that for a moment. — note: I’m just going to use the word ‘gun’, I’m not going to try and use specific names, because current gun classification is a horrible mess and a part of why previous gun control has been equal parts hated and ineffectual.
My Truth is Better Than Yours
(aka: I have more anecdotes than you do, na-na-boo-boo)
On the pro-gun side, I am seeing people refusing to even admit that a fork is less dangerous than a gun, refusing to admit that gun control doesn’t have to mean repealing the 2nd amendment. All the while being as fast as possible to post any positive news around guns or against regulation they can find (this one time a citizen stopped a killer because he had a gun, this other time someone stole a gun and used it even when they couldn’t get one legally).
On the pro-control side, I am seeing people refusing to accept that there are times when guns were helpful, refusing to acknowledge that mass violence at the hands of guns is rare, and being quick to counter-post things that show guns are bad (there already was an armed guard at a mass shooting and it didn’t help, this one country with less people and less guns has less gun murders).
I’m not saying either side has a better leg to stand on, what I’m pointing out is that at this point the discourse has devolved to people ignoring or deluding themselves about facts. FACTS. Everyone in America knows that a gun is more deadly than a fork. Just like everyone knows that, all other things being equal, a gun that fires 30 rounds without reloading is more deadly than a gun which fires only 6, or 8, or 10. Everyone in America knows that guns in the right hands have been used for positive and worthwhile things. Just like it shows very plainly through statistics that mass killings are not a leading cause of death by guns.
Again, these are just facts, they don’t fully define a problem or a solution. But both sides are so entrenched, that they feel admitting a fact may belie their principle, and therefore their position. This is an impossible way to solve a problem.
Your Solution is Worse Than My Problem
(aka: My logic sucks so hard I’m being logically fellatious)
People are being almost as quick to offer problems as they are solutions. On the problem front I’ve seen “We can’t talk about it now, too soon”, “Guns kill people”, “People kill people”, “More kids die from drowning, lets regulate pools”, “Mental Illness is the real problem”, “Bad parenting is the real problem”, “Video games… The Media… The Politicians… The NRA… Your Mom… is the real problem”. On the solution front I’ve seen “No more guns, none at all, it works in other places.” “Free and mandatory mental evaluations and help for everyone.” “Bring back AR bans.” “Put more people with guns in more places.”
Unfortunately a lot of the problems, solutions, and arguments being proposed use faulty logic to support a biased position. It almost seems that having “my side’s solution” or “my side’s problem” being chosen has become more important than actually preventing deaths. They are riddled with red herrings — ‘other things are more deadly than guns, so why even talk about guns?’, ‘now it is a time for mourning, gun control talks are inappropriate’. Diverting attention away from guns doesn’t help us move forward, and just because society has other problems, the level of gun control (up or down) is still allowed to be a problem. Or slippery slopes — ‘Once we start regulating guns, next Obama will overturn 2nd amendment.’ ‘If we put an armed guard at a school, we’ll soon be in a police state.’ Violent weapons are a spectrum (from a fork all the way up to a nuke), and pretending that placing a line in that spectrum is impossible, is ignoring the fact that we already have limits all over it. Regulations and enforcement is also a spectrum, so pretending that there can’t be a balance is ignoring the fact that our government is constantly adjusting those balances in all areas.
My Counter-Proposal Nicely Augments Yours
(aka: So LET’S FIX IT)
Everyone knows this is a complex issue and that any potential solution will be difficult to theorize, let alone implement. You can’t snap your fingers and get rid of all guns from bad people. We can’t always anticipate the anomalous mentally ill person who will become massively violent. You can’t give everyone a gun and hope it works out better.
These gun debates, and what is happening in Congress today mirror each other on a level that I guess should be expected. After all, we are the ones who elected those people in the first place. Everyone is more afraid that giving an inch means losing a personal principle, than they are afraid of never fixing a problem. So we have elected people that will add one more to our side, because that other side is entrenched and crazy. Look at the fiscal cliff debates now. There is almost a consensus across the whole nation, and even within Congress itself, that the tax cuts should be extended for lower and middle class Americans. And yet, they can’t get that passed, because they will lose that as leverage to hold another principle hostage.
We have come to the point in public discourse (and as a result, in political discourse) where the end goal isn’t a better outcome, it is a mark in “my groups’ win column”.
Maybe if we start having more positive, beneficial discussions with our friends, trusting no side of an issue comes purely from malice, trusting that we actually are all the same group with similar goals, and trusting that understanding and compromise doesn’t mean losing — then we can move from digging trenches against each other, and actually begin plowing ahead together.