Reposted from February 20th, 2018.
It’s been noted on social media: When children in Sandy Hook were massacred by semi-automatic fire America had a choice: do something or do nothing.
The implications for the latter would be grave. To do nothing after school children were shot dead would make a lasting statement: the most heinous crimes against the most vulnerable would be widely tolerated and accepted.
Result? No substantive change happened. (Or has happened since.)
By making few systemic changes after Sandy Hook meant Americans would be accepted every ensuing mass shooting on school children or otherwise.
There’s no shortage of ideas of how to deal with the problem of gun violence in the US, (and no, adding more guns isn’t the answer.) I have only one contribution to make.
From a Canadian to my American friends:
America has a sickness called “gun culture”.
The mind boggling statistics for mass shootings in America–it leads every nation on earth by a country mile–should be reason enough to enact change. About 33,000 Americans are shot a year. More than 8500 have died from these gunshots. [Source] But no changes are imminent. Even having a conversation about gun culture is difficult. Gun proponents attack any notion of reform using the oft cited replies ranging from, “let the families grieve”, “arm the teachers”, the stupidity of “guns don’t kill people,” all the way down to, “it’s my 2nd Amendment right”. The answer to proponents: add more guns, arm more people, protect my 2nd Amendment rights.
The belief that the current state can’t change is patently false. The facts are more guns = more gun deaths, and a LOT can be done even while protecting the anachronistic 2nd Amendment. Yet public opinion remains entrenched over another polarized topic of American culture.
If Sandy Hook didn’t change minds what will?
When the President smirks at the idea addressing immigration woes is “shoot them”, then you get El Paso,
When white conservative churches as a whole have nothing to say about growing violence because it is a factor to uphold white supremacy.
Look at the culture.
The NRA holds staunch support because it’s built into the identity of so many Americans. To some, losing their gun rights is akin to losing a piece of themselves. This is partly why killing school children has little affect on overall reform sentiment. (**2019 addition. Having said this, the chief avenue to make lobby groups like the NRA suffer is to vote with your feet. Meaning your $$$. The NRA has been suffering from a cash crunch which IS a demonstration whatever is being done is working. There is hope.)
A Part Solution to Gun Culture
As a Canadian, we simply lack the fetishization of guns. I could buy an AR-15. But that gun is a restricted weapon. It’s hard to get. Only a few thousand are sold every year. More importantly, Canadian culture lacks a strong undercurrent of militarism. Few people actually want, let alone think, to own a gun, let alone a semi-automatic rifle. Fewer guns along with a national identity that largely rejects gun ideology makes for a Canada with a fraction of gun violence including exceptionally few mass shootings.
America’s gun problem won’t change until the fascination and celebration of gun culture wanes. The country won’t benefit from a new direction today, it’s a shift to change culture tomorrow.
When will this happen?
Demographics are shifting which is a source for future change. Much like the fall of the white Protestant church, immigration and demographic shifts (led by increased power of minority voices), coupled a dying Baby Boomer generation, gives rise to new opportunities for the next generation of voices to be heard. And let me tell you this, I believe pro-gun culture in America IS declining. All of the mass shootings in elementary schools IS taking its toll. And the next generation of voices ARE creeping through.
Emma Gonzalez’s instantly historic speech got the nation to stop and listen about gun reform. Now she’s taking her message to Washington D.C. in the hope of making Parkland America’s last mass shooting. pic.twitter.com/7p069Wy7dA
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) February 18, 2018
So many questions with so few answers despite growing death tolls.
How much longer until measurable changes happen? Perhaps a generation or two? When will the church en masse confront the idolization of guns in their own congregations? Doing so would help usher in changes today faster. When will gun restriction changes arrive? Although unpopular for gun lovers it would have an impact today.
Not only today, but culture shifts today are permanent investments into the lives for the NEXT generation to live without a fear of being shot at school.
That in itself should be reason enough to lead change.