I know its one of the things you are sick of hearing about, isn't it? I understand. I am even sicker of it than you are, because as a 911 operator I hear about this stuff all the time. But this week's Theme Thursday challenge is to write on a controversial subject, and this one has been on my mind for a long time.
We had another gun tragedy in our city recently. A four year old boy was riding in the back seat of his father's car when a gun went off. No one is quite sure if he found it and was playing with it, or if it accidentally discharged where it was laying in the car. But either way, a four year old is dead.
Working in law enforcement in a mid-size American city, we see crimes involving guns on a daily basis. Heart rending tragedies like Newtown are rare (thank goodness) occurrences. What we see daily though are the homicides (often drug or domestic violence related), the robberies, the fights, the non lethal shootings. Not only do they wear away at the victims, they wear away at the first responders, and they wear away at all the people of the communities these crimes happen in.
Its a cliche to say of a controversial issue like gun violence that there are no easy answers. There really are no easy answers though. There are constitutional issues, and privacy issues, There are fiercely drawn lines here.
While I believe there are practical steps that can be taken to make our society safer (no one really needs huge clips in civilian life, everyone should have to have a proper background check done before purchase, and so on) I don't believe we "take away guns" from people. I don't think it could be done if anyone wanted to. But there is something that I think is being overlooked that should be considered.
A comment we often hear in relation to gun violence goes like this: "If people didn't have guns they would commit their crimes some other way. They would use a knife or a rope or their bare hands". And that is true of the person who is bound and determined to commit a murder. But there are two things to consider with consider with this argument. One is that most killings are committed on the spur of the moment. If the weapon is at hand, the killing doesn't take place. The other is that these other methods require a lot more proximity to the victim. You have to get up close, confront your victim, take a chance of being harmed yourself. You cant have a drive by strangling.
Recently in our town a woman was shot and injured while driving in her car. Apparently she was shot on the spur of the moment by someone who objected to her flashing her lights at them to get out of the middle of the road. Does anyone think they would have been able to throw a knife into her car as effectively?
Consider cars and bikes for a moment. We don't have the same rules for riding a bike as we do for a car, even though both are vehicles that share the road. That's because the possibility of doing serious harm to anyone but yourself on a bike is relatively slim. Cars on the other hand, can create tragedies in the wrong hands. So society sets certain rules for the safe usage of cars. We have traffic lanes, speed limits, licensing of drivers. Because we recognize that cars have unique dangers.
Its the same with guns. The capacity for harm and the ease of use, make guns uniquely dangerous weapons.
I don't know what the answers are. But I do know we have to recognize and understand all the dangers of guns before we can have the discussion.
This post is part of Theme Thursday, a group of bloggers writing weekly on the same topic. To see what others have to say on this topic, or to link up yourself, please click on the button.