The times we find ourselves in with mass shootings and an excess of gun violence did not take a few days, weeks or months to evolve. It has slowly gathered speed as we became more urban and more culturally diverse.
The 2nd amendment that was added to the U.S. Constitution was not out of fear of home invasion by criminal elements as much as it was to arm local militias in the defense of our country should another foreign power like Great Britain attempt to over run our nascent nation in the late 18th century. Those living on the frontiers also needed a means of protecting themselves from marauding attacks from native Americans who were becoming threatened by western European expansion in their homeland. This notion has been lost on many gun zealots over the last few decades thanks in large part to a shift in leadership at the National Rifle Association (NRA) in the late 1970’s. But this is only one aspect of the problem that now threatens security in our homes and neighborhoods unlike any other time.
There will always be those on opposite ends of the gun issue that won’t agree to compromise but it is essential that we understand that there at least 4 distinct components to this mass shooting epidemic that exists at rates in no other place on this planet except the U.S. These are things that reasonable people can agree on and work together to achieve without fear of losing any fundamental rights. The difficult part will be to get them to coalesce in rapid order to achieve a state of sanity, inhibiting future slaughters of innocents at the hands of people emotional imbalanced for reasons that differ from shooter to shooter.
Though my politics tend to lean liberal I have learned over time that my conservative friends are not hostile about achieving common goals and need to be listened too rather than ignored completely. I myself after all was raised by a conservative set of values as a Catholic growing up in Texas.
John Wayne was a childhood hero of mine. I used to enjoy the musical version of the Lord’s Prayer that led off each morning in school. Homosexuality was an abhorrent behavior to me and as a white male I didn’t find segregation abnormal. I hunted on occasions but never owned a firearm. I believed in heaven, hell and the God of all creation and was diligently conscience that my guardian angel (I named him Raphael) was always looking over my shoulder at all times.
But the fact that my world was a tightly closed circle to things I later discovered didn’t pose the threat I thought they did was bound to come crumbling down once I became an adult, traveled and met diverse people with a different upbringing. There was no social media as I was growing up and only 3 television networks provided the news for the entire nation. We trusted our government leaders pretty much and seldom questioned authority. Drugs were a decade away in my earliest youth though smoking cigarettes was cool as was experimenting with alcohol.
Time allows us to grow and develop and in so doing we come face to face with our ingrained beliefs and are forced to change in light of new experiences, albeit grudgingly, or resist in large measure so all we had come to know is not totally lost. It is this condition we experience early that allows to us expand our often simple but sometimes harsh and inexplicable view of the world.
We can choose one of two roads. Dig in your heels and resist nearly all manifestations of change or slowly give way to a world that breaks down the protective barriers we were raised with. We all become Tevye at some point of our maturity. One way leads us to go beyond all that we held near and dear – a fearful prospect for many. The other intensifies those traditions as it blocks out and even vilifies the realities of that different world.
It is these two worlds that have now collided and created the social and political gridlock we face today. One that sadly prevents us from addressing serious issues that grow more alarming each hour, day, and month that we ignore them. The anger that both sides hold towards each other seems righteous to each and may even seem immoral at the thought of any compromise. The ultimate result if this divide continues is that we begin to diminish from the strong society it has taken us a few centuries to evolve from to one that consumes itself with the sort of chaos that has led other great nations to be swallowed up by the rising powers of their time.
I would like to take the time here then to address the serious issue of gun violence that is so prevalent across our nation and one that is now likely to kill more people than auto accidents.