January 9th, 2013

planet

guns & violence

I wanted to write a gun entry but couldn't figure out how to word it until right... about... now.

A facebook friend of mine posted an innocent status about seeing a mixed-race couple go to the movies together and how it was nice that the world doesn't have screwed up race issues preventing that anymore. Awe. The first reply on it was "thank a veteran".

Uh... sort of... I mean sure I thank veterans for all kinds of thing but thanking veterans for racial equality is like thanking the parents of all races of children for making them, or something. Yes, you helped set the stage.

But what REALLY did it was plain old ordinary couples, and some extraordinary ones like the Lovings, who took a stand and refused to hide who they loved, even if it meant that their lives were about to get very, very difficult.

Related... sir_montag wrote this recently:

At the end of the day, everything around us depends on violence, or the ability to be violent. "All power comes from the barrel of a gun" is an allusion to this. Our society would not exist if we were not willing to kill each other to insure that certain aspects of it stay in existence. A military, a police force, a judicial system, a system of taxation, none of these exist because we all politely agree as to which ways of doing things are the best. Nope. We will kill our fellow human beings to preserve these things.


Egads.

Here's the thing... a lot of things make society great. Neighbors bringing cookies to one another. People who adopt dogs. Whoever invented salad tongs. Do we really want to believe that it all DEPENDS on violence, that deep down inside none of us would do anything if we weren't under thread of being shot? Don't we just do some things sometimes because it makes us feel kinda good? I mean, you could even rob a bank, you're not going to get the death penalty or even corporal punishment... it doesn't take THAT level of control to keep people from robbing the banks.

We watched that NRA press conference after the latest mass shooting and it was like a bad episode of Oprah's favorite things, "you get a gun! and you get a gun!" where they envision a society where we arm child soldiers to the teeth I think. That has been tried before in some war-torn african countries by the way, it never really works out well, just winds up make society really really violent, because people prioritize arming themselves above things like education.

I don't mind guns. Hey, I've been to defcon to learn about hacking computers and picking locks, so I can relate to people whose hobbies wind up being criminalized. Just because it's something that criminals do, doesn't make it wrong for everyone.

But I will confess that I know some gun owners who are kinda... creepy. Have some weird reasons for the stockpiling, like they're sure Obama is coming for their bodily fluids or whatever, or that the only answer to everything is violence, they're paranoid and angry and something about their reasons makes me nervous. And this is people I know PERSONALLY which means in the general population, they're everywhere. I should not be the judge of who should own guns. But I think, to be safe, we should avoid the "everybody must carry all the time" sort of ideas, because it gives people the wrong priorities.

Whenever we can, we should avoid thinking the pessimistic worst things about each other, and avoid thinking that violence is the only thing that can keep us in check. It's not. We just need to calm down.