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Violence Control

January 15, 2013

In the aftermath of our latest school shooting atrocity, everyone is talking about guns. Here's my opinion: I would be much more excited about a nationwide campaign to reduce all kinds of violence than one to "stop gun violence." The latter is politically impractical, probably impossible and, even if achieved, would only change the weapon of choice. 

Mankind has suffered mayhem for millenia. Take away their guns and angry young men will turn to explosives, chemicals, and other weapons. Reducing the extent of each episode (the number of victims) would be too little, too late. And once the monsters turn to explosives (like in Oklahoma City) or chemicals, the extent of each incident will increase, not decrease. Besides, it's simply not possible to take away all the guns. The citizens who would turn in their guns aren't the ones we should be worried about. And no amount of future sale limitation will prevent maniacs from getting hold of whatever guns they need to commit mayhem. 

Although I do support a ban on assault weapons and on very large clips even for tamer guns, I do not suffer the common delusion that that measure alone would reduce the number of gun massacres. It wouldn't even reduce the numbers of casualties because there are so many bullet-spraying guns out there now and for the forseeable future. It would take decades of police state tactics to significantly deplete the national private arsenal of guns that are available to those who would use them for ill. 

I believe it would actually be more practical to change the American ethos, our communal psyche. That is also a tall order but one that I believe is achievable. It will take time, just as it took time to sink to our present low. Since the 1950s (which I barely remember myself) we seem to have changed from a nation weary of war, dedicated to freedom, respectful of society and relatively comfortable with our lives as individuals and families into a nation that worships the self, promotes violence and tolerates, even tacitly encourages, a dark underside of society. Ours has become a Frankenstein society that may soon become its own undoing unless we act now. This was a long, slow, potentially reversible transition and reverse it we must, even if it takes the next half century. For a while we heard some positive language from the White House about addressing violence in the media and mental health in the real world and that encouraged me, but the conversation had just begun and now appears to be in stasis. But until we cure the mass mental illness of America, no amount of gun control will have a significant impact on the problem.

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