Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Move past our history of violence

Kitterman lives in Ferrum.

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Did Mike McHugh of the Virginia Gun Owners Coalition actually say, "We're going to have to face down Barack Obama's federal plantation"?

Forget the mixed metaphor: Now white people can refer to the government as a plantation? Does McHugh think there's an escaped slave in the White House, Baracko Unchained, bent on payback?

I understand leaders of the National Rifle Association are afraid some limp-wristed liberals led by the most powerful black man in the world want to take their lethal toys away from them, but maybe a better analogy would be the Wild West.

Protect the U.S. in case we're invaded? Who do they think they are, Patrick Swayze?

The Founding Fathers -- many of whom owned slaves -- probably did believe only every white man should own a gun. But could they envision what their great-great- great-great-great-great-great grand-children might be doing? We may not even be here in 2235 if we don't do something to curb our aggressions.

As my 13-year-old friend Brandon once said, maybe we should only have the guns they had in 1791.

No, it's not really about the Second Amendment. Males fantasize about the warriors they see in the news and the movies. That's normal, but then they mistake fantasy combat for real combat. I bet if the U.S. had mandatory military service, the gun control issue would largely disappear.

Is it really comforting to believe that "guns don't kill people; people kill people"? They're dying just the same.

It's a generalization anyway to say that people kill people. It's more accurate to say that men kill people, so if we're really serious about stopping gun violence, why not just take the guns away from men? Let the women go armed. Save two birds by not using one stone.

There are other forms of killing people, granted: knives, clubs, even a rock. I can deal with the occasional deranged person with a rock.

It's true we do a poor job diagnosing and treating mental illness (26.2 percent of American adults). Until recently, we didn't even have a national health care plan to include those people who are arguably most likely to be afflicted: the homeless and addicted.

But those against Obamacare are also against sensible gun control.

And who are these law-abiding people who should have guns? I don't know any completely law-abiding person.

If anyone who wanted a gun could answer no to "Have you ever broken the law?" then I say fine, give her a gun. How many of our mass murderers were law-abiding until they went off? Adam Lanza, for example.

Who's left to own guns once you subtract those who have never broken the law or had any history of mental illness?

Most murders are related to domestic violence ("normal" people who snap while arguing and there is a gun handy) and urban gang violence. Make guns scarce and those rates will decline, as in other first-world countries.

Violence in America should not have either/or solutions; elementary critical thinking teaches us that fallacy. We need to make America a safer place by regulating guns and helping mentally ill people and discussing values.

What makes America great is also often what makes us the most violent nation on the planet: individual freedoms. But we are no longer a nation of a few million homesteaders battling for physical survival. We are a modern, technology-driven society of 315 million.

The inability to let go of the frontier mentality, a pathological resistance of men to accept a nonviolent form of masculinity, has made us our own worst enemies. Quite frankly, it's an abdication of civilization: We like looking at ourselves in the mirror of our ancestors until the smoke clears and instead we're looking at 20 first-graders and their teachers soaked in their own blood.

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