There is nothing worse than feeling helpless.
Humans are hard-wired to hate the feeling of not being able to affect or control their environment. They hate it so much, they will do anything — and I mean anything — to not feel like that. Despite he vociferous protestations from owners and users of firearms, guns do not make you safer; they only make you feel safer.
How do I know this? Several ways. On the one hand, there is actual evidence showing that more guns produce more gun violence. Japan, Australia, UK: practically no guns, practically no shooting deaths. Ah, but this is Amurica, the land of the free and the home of the heavily armed, not to mention the venue for increasingly frequent massacres of innocents.
More telling, though, is the lengths to which gun proponents go to disavow these facts. When asked point blank, the vast majority of them deny that they want to use their guns to hurt or kill people. They just want to be able to “if they need to.” Listening to them contort themselves around the circumstances that would qualify as “needing to” would be amusing if it weren’t so chilling. IF they were attacked by a crazed assailant, and IF there were no way to summon appropriate aid in an expeditious fashion, and IF they were unable to resolve the situation any other way (retreating, talking the guy down, etc.) then and only then would they use their weapon (equipped with the most lethal ammunition possible, because it MAY not be possible to stop the guy without killing him).
I’ve heard responsible gun owners opine that they are ever so much more patient and careful in potentially hazardous situations just because they know they have a weapon, and are so very cognizant of the responsibility required not to loose its awesome power. So just knowing that you COULD blow someone away if you “had” to somehow gives you greater skill at dealing with the situation?
Here’s another take on this, from Canadian journalist Neil MacDonald:
Jason Chaffetz, a Republican congressman from Utah, proclaimed on Sunday that the real problem underlying these kinds of incidents is the mental health issue: “I am a concealed carry permit holder. I own a Glock 23, I’ve got a shotgun, I’m not the person you need to worry about.”
Well, sorry, congressman, but you are certainly one of them, at least in my (admittedly Canadian) book.
If I understand properly, you live in an urban area, and carry around a .40-calibre pistol with up to 17 bullets in the magazine, capable of firing up to five a second, just like one of the pistols the Connecticut shooter toted.
In other words, you pack the means to kill more than a dozen people in moments if you choose, and we just have to trust you to be sensible and hold your temper. [emphasis mine]
Time after time, shooting after shooting, guns have never been the solution. I’ve heard more than one gun advocate boast about how if only he’d been at that theater in Aurora/Virginia Tech/Columbine High School, by God the outcome would have been different.
Although by definition no one can know for sure, the chances are pretty overwhelming that no, the outcome would not have been so much different; it almost certainly would have been worse. Yet because the vast majority of those gun owners will never be in that precise situation — right time, right place, right lighting, right angles (well, correct angles), right equipment, etc. etc. etc. — they will never have the chilling opportunity to realize that no, their guns cannot protect them. Hence, they will always continue to believe that their guns make them safer, which makes them feel less helpless.
We all feel terrible in the wake of the Connecticut shooting. Our pain is composed not just of shock, grief, and anger, but of a helplessness so profound we hardly know what to make of it.
Rational adults recognize that there are certain situations we can never control. There will always be tragedies of one kind or another. The trick is recognizing which courses of action will rationally lessen our helplessness, and which provide nothing more than the illusion of control.
By the way: in response to some of the comments to my two previous posts (and presumably this one), know this: I may deplore your politics to the very core of my being, but I can still respect you as a professional and cherish you as a person. It’s entirely up to you to decide whether or not you can reciprocate.