I think we’ll all agree that common sense is not all that common anymore, but that it does seem to dictate that we need more ‘common sense’ gun laws. A known member of ISIS should not be allowed to walk into a store and purchase an assault weapon, nor should a person with a diagnosed mental illness.
On the other hand, to think that stricter gun laws are the answer to violence in America is overly simplistic. It’s much more complicated than that. Our problem is cultural and deep-seated. Although we are all horrified by its real-life manifestations, Americans love violence. It’s a recurrent thread in the fabric of our history, our movies, our video games, our literature, and so on.
I recently watched a short video of a very famous actor denouncing the Las Vegas massacre, and only a few nights previous I had seen a movie in which that same actor gunned down at least fifteen people. Similarly, one of my favorite authors regularly posts on Facebook in favor of strict gun laws, but his books are grotesquely violent. As a writer, I am guilty of it myself. A little shoot’em up, a knife fight or an explosion all make for a more exciting story.
Our favorite sports are violent contact events. As a people we often advocate violence as an answer to foreign aggression and civil disobedience. We even have a president who tweets threats to annihilate an entire nation of twenty-five million people.
So, what is the answer? I honestly don’t know. But I do know that whatever we do, it is going to take more than new gun laws, and it would be foolish to depend on any legislation (or legislators) to transform things. This problem is something that each and every one of us owns a piece of, and it’s up to us to change it.
It begins at home, and it’s going to take a generation, or two. Be very careful about what you say to your children and grandchildren, and how you say it, and, especially how you speak to each other and what you say in front of them. It is likewise your responsibility to monitor their books, video games, movies, and activities. This is not censoring – it is simply good parenting – and in doing so you will also be giving them something that is essential to what kind of adults they will become: your time.
We have to teach our children, and our grandchildren, something that many of us are lacking in today’s America – empathy. They are our future. Make the change in yourself today, and they will change the nation tomorrow.