Well, it’s happened again. The seemingly daily issue of mass shootings in America has reared its ugly head once more, this time at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. Nine dead and several others injured by a gunman who was later killed during an exchange of gunfire with police.
Still, countless mass shootings and more than 15 years after the Columbine tragedy, the issue of gun control in the United States is just as polarizing, if not more so, than ever before. With many Americans, when you begin talking about the issues of gun violence and even remotely suggest tougher gun laws, it’s like you have insulted their mother, their sister, and their favorite football team. For many, guns are as embedded into the American culture and are as vital a part of the American identity, if not more so, as all of the other rights protected in the Constitution, such as freedom of speech or religion. Taking away or limiting gun access is akin to asking many Americans for their left arm.
In terms of gun control, I would consider myself fairly moderate. I’m definitely not an advocate of taking away all guns, but I think our laws could be tougher and there are certain weapons, such as assault or “assault-style” rifles, that I don’t think belong in the hands of the average Joe. The average Joe could very well be a psychopath. I don’t believe that gun control is an end-all solution to the problem of violence in America, but I think it would help.
I have fired guns before and I did enjoy it. I understand their appeal. What I don’t understand is why many Americans seem to become so personally threatened when the issue of gun control arises. It strikes me as a fear of being powerless. A fear of tyrannical rule by the government or of being victimized by someone. If the government takes away some of our guns, then we are powerless against the inevitable intrusion into and dominance of our lives by the police, military, or the guy down the street.
These are all valid concerns and fears, but where I tend to disagree is in seeing guns as the core source of power in government. I see guns as a way for the government to protect its power, but I see that power exerted in many other, far more subtle ways. I am personally far more concerned with being told what to think or what to believe, or falling for the illusion that the people are in control in the first place. More importantly, I don’t feel empowered by guns. Somebody is always going to have more or bigger weapons. There is a certain point where I stop worrying about this. For myself, the need to feel physically powerful is outweighed by the desire to attain personal peace and to live a life that has impacted others in a positive way.
Photo credit – www.freedigitalphotos.net – vectorolie