If People Are The Problem

Last Tuesday most of us had stopped obsessing over the previous most awful mass shooting, and if you’re anything like I am, you may not remember what that was. Then, on Wednesday, it happened again. And suddenly everybody was horrified all over again. And we started the all-too-familiar pattern of grieving over something so awful.

How awful? Umpteen people killed and many others wounded, thousands directly affected and millions around the world touched in some way. A bunch of innocent people, including kids, gunned down in a public school simply for being there.

This scenario is painful even in the retelling, partly because we’ve all been through it so much, so many times, in so many variations. These days a big part of the way we cope with life is by sharing our thoughts and feelings online via social media and other venues (like this blog).

Well, here we are again.

Fifty years after Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were gunned down, one by a hunting rifle and the other by a small handgun, we’re now seeing Americans gunned down wholesale by weapons that were originally designed for the battlefield.

And fifty years later people are still offering some variation of the tired old “guns don’t kill people, people do.” One stranger online said simply “People are the problem, not guns.”

This, to me, seems like a truly ridiculous position, because it is patently obvious that a person with a weapon is more dangerous than a person without one. Some weapons are a lot more dangerous than others. People have long debated whether anyone should have certain types of weapons or be able to use them, even in war.

People with guns kill a lot more people than people without guns.

So what about the people kill people part of this? What do we do with that? Since people have always killed people, do we simply say “Oh well” and move on? No thank you. Asserting that people are killers, always have been and always will be, is not a call to action, it’s a call to resignation. There’s nothing you can do. It’s always been this way, I have a right to my gun, get over it.

Not so fast.

Whatever your position on the 2nd Amendment, it’s pretty difficult to imagine that unregulated, armed mayhem is what the founders were trying to create. For one thing, the 2nd Amendment itself acknowledges the necessity of a well regulated militia. For another, the founders laid out their goals for the Constitution in its very first paragraph:

“…to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…”

Does the above, in any way, sound like an argument for an America in which we are constantly struggling with keeping anyone safe from fellow countrymen armed with ever more lethal weapons? Will we continue to be an America that is paralyzed into inaction by a tortured reading of the very document that was intended to make us united, just, peaceful, secure, prosperous and free?

If people are the problem, we are also the solution. It starts with rejecting the view that there is nothing we can do. Solving this problem requires getting past the dodge that the problem is someone else’s to solve. Who is responsible for making this work? We are.

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