We have many ways of killing another person. We can stab someone. We a hit them with our hands and feet until they are dead. We can push them off a tall building. We can hit them with a rock. We can put rat poison in their food. We can put hydrofluoric acid on their table and floor. We can run into them with a car.
But by focusing on the method of death, we seem to have trouble differentiating those mentally ill people who in some way think that killing is a necessity, from the majority of people who would suffer some sort of remorse if they did kill, even accidentally. By focusing on what we use to kill, we seem to lose the opportunity to debate whether killing is the best way to solve problems, and on the way wether we might be doing harm by teaching violence. By focusing on the fact that some tools can be used to kill, we elevate all weapons into tools. By focusing on the tool to kill, we lose the opportunity to debate how we can help those that want to kill.
I think we must separate the way we kill from why we kill and the devices we use to kill from from the machines we use our lives. We must separate the behavior that results in a death from the act that resulted in the death.
For instance, a car is a useful tool. It allows us to transport our kids efficiently, bring stuff home from the store, drive though to get our food. It can be used to kill another person. But that is not it's purpose. Some think drugs, like alcohol, are a tool. It can help us relax after a hard days work, help us relax so we can sex, and encourage strangers to have sex. It can dull the pain so we can live. If we consume too much alcohol, and then operate a car, it can again result in someone's death.
So the first question I will posit is this. If I kill someone with my car because I ran a read light when I was on my phone, is it different from if I ran the stop sign because I was intoxicated. Some would say yes. I would say it would depends more on behavior than the phone or drugs. if one is always intoxicated, if one is always on the phone, then an argument may be made that such a person has no regard for human life, and therefore needs medical help. In any case it was not the car that killed, but the inhumanity of the human.
And this is not going where some people might assume.
I have known people who are always looking for a fight. If someone looks speaks to them in a disrespectful manner they want to fight. Violence is their solution to all problems. Some of these people carry guns. One person told me that he went into the city his gun was always cocked on on the seat of his truck in case any urban people got in his face. Other's have told me they have a conceal carry license so that they can shoot the perp if they ever walk in on a robbery at a store. Others have told me they have a gun in the house so they shoot someone who enters the house without permission.
The fact that these people are willing to kill people does not surprise me. In the US violence is a viable means of solution, and guns are the preferred tool. No what surprises me is, like someone who is on the cell phone all the time or drunk, they seem so willing to kill. It is like killing someone in cold blood is sinful, but given the excuse they will jump at the opportunity. To shoot someone just to see how it feels, just to watch them die. Like the drunk or the cell phone user, they many not have the opportunity to kill someone, and deep down they may in fact hope they don't, but they are prepared if they do.
In my mind we have an epidemic, not an epidemic of gun violence, but an epidemic of people who think violence is the best way to solve problems. For instance my friend who carry's a gun to the city. I think the best solution to his problem would be therapy to help his self esteem so he does not get so hurt when someone talks back to him. But his solution is to kill. I often think that those who are willing to kill to protect possessions might need more lesson from some of the world's religions in which possessions are often not prized above life, in which, again, self esteem and hubris does not prize one person's existence above anther's, but again killing is the preferred solution.
Like many others, I am amazed that that ritualized fighting is considered family entertainment, but ritualized fucking is considered off limits.
Which brings us to the story of the day. We are I'm shocked, shocked to find that kids have been murdered. I mean we have done everything we can to make the violence stop! We put v-chips on the TV. We rate violent movies PG-13. We charge large sums of money for prize fights. We even teach peaceful means to conflict resolution in schools and churches! Yet when someone is troubled, when they have a problem, they still think that violence is the solution. We have tried nothing, and it hasn't worked.
So we are going, to again, try gun control, the ritualized response in which we blame a symptom and hope the problem goes away. Sure, if one believe that violence is going to solve problems, then the gun control argument is relevant. Keep guns away from dangerous people, and the rest of us can use them safely to solve the problems that crop up in everyday life. For instance, you are walking down the street and someone asks you for you wallet. This mentally ill person is going to shoot you, or stab you, or hit you, so instead of giving them your wallet, you shoot them. Or that is the fantasy. In the experience of me and my friends, they mugg you from behind, or stab you, take you wallet, and are out of range before you can get a shot off.
Guns, the tool of deterrent. The symbol of violence as the solution.
Here is my final question. Does carrying a gun in the city have any other purpose than encouraging violence as a solution? Can it be used for any other useful purpose? Again, I don't know. In my naïveté I don't see gun control as a solution. I don't see violence as a solution. I see a solution in valuing people over things. I see a solution in valuing lovemaking over warmaking. I see a solution in creating genuine self esteem over carrying a weapon.
My hope would be that we acknowledge that some people are mentally unstable and need help. My hope is that we realize that those who need to carry a weapon at all times and, in some way, hope to have the opportunity to kill, are not normal and need help in understanding their urges. We are at a crossroads. We seem to be reaching an understanding that financiers who are willing to destroy life to make a dollar are not healthy people. I would hope that we would understand that people who are paraniod enough, narcissistic enough, greedy enough, to think their problems trumps other people lives are also not healthy people.
However, I am a realist, so I know we will continue to argue about guns, and those who want to kill, no matter how, will be free to do so. I also know that many are going to say those who go on rampages are not solving problems, but I think they think they are. The suicide bomber who thinks they are saving the world. The lone gunman who is trying to bring attention to his grievances. The child who just wants to be heard.