Seven people were murdered in Highland Park because we allow those who value guns more than the lives of the people in their communities pretend that this is fundamentally a question of Freedom. Where their bizarre concept of Freedom somehow outweighs the much more tangible freedom from random violence that everyone should enjoy, and not just those who live in affluent communities.
We get distracted, pretending that the problem is assault rifles, and while that is a problem (a BIG PROBLEM), ultimately the vast majority of gun deaths aren’t assault rifle mass shooting events. It’s people killing themselves, family members, or people they just don’t like with “normal”, “safe”, guns; to the tune of ~30,000 people every year…
We also let ourselves pretend that this is strictly a mental health problem, but naturally we do nothing about that either, because proper community health is “socialism”. That if somehow, we can figure out who the “crazies” are, and keep them from getting a gun, it will all be fine. Conveniently ignoring that there are 120.5 guns for every 100 people in the US, and that the vast majority of gun violence isn’t at the hand of someone with a clinical mental illness. But even if the “crazies” don’t already have one of the ~400,000,000 guns in the US, there is no practical regulation around limiting access to anyone. Can’t get a gun in your town or state? Freedom is across the border!
Each time this happens I wonder what it would take to convince those who resist real gun laws that maybe, just maybe, we need to change the value equation. Maybe we should value someone else’s life and health enough to lock the Freedom sticks away. How many people have to die? How many people have to lose family members? Why isn’t it already personal enough for them to feel anything? To do anything? I want to believe that everyone is capable of empathy, because ultimately all it would take to fix this is a smidgen of empathy…
Photo credit: Ed Brill
The suicide issue is often ignored.