A thoughtful comment on gun violence

This comment appears after a wired.com article about a researcher who shot six of her colleagues. It’s a response to a comment asserting that her use of a gun is immaterial, because she could have used a knife or poison. The commenter is only identified as “luis”:

I have to disagree. I’m former military, US citizen, NRA member, gun owner and former competitive shooter but I’m not blind to the gun issues; for the record I advocate gun-control, testing and licensing like HAM radio operators.

Assault with a gun and knife are two entirely different types. Guns empower a person to take on someone they perceive as more powerful. Knives are a hell of a lot more personal. Guns kill from a distance, knives are in your face. I can’t speak to the use of poisons. Finally, with a gun a person can be relatively sure to incapacitate everyone in a room, not so with a knife, club or fist. Apart from irrational this woman seemed to me racked with fear; of acceptance, rejection and life in general.

Yes, it’s people that kill other people but guns make it a hell of a lot easier and allow for distance; physical, emotional and psychological. The folks I know that carry concealed weapon when the job doesn’t call for it are ultimately afraid. They’re afraid and unsure of their ability to handle a confrontation, the gun is their security blanket. You can see it in their eyes, their posture, hear it in their voice and their choices.

A personal confrontation takes courage; the ability to manage fear and uncertainty. The gun lets someone step back and remove themselves from the situation. It’s a clean, unemotional pull of the trigger; the blood splattering is coincidental. It’s crass but the old saying “the bigger the gun (truck, car, etc) the smaller the stones” has some truth to it. The US doesn’t have a problem with guns, it has a problem with fear. Don’t believe me, try walking up to a random stranger on the street, say hello and offer to shake their hand. What you’ll probably see is fear; of the unknown, of others and of the future.

I wish who knew who wrote this, because I would love to give him credit for a thoughtful little essay.

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  • Randal Allred  On December 20, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Well, you could also consider, on the other hand, the example of Rwanda, where the Hutu managed to end nearly a million lives with machetes in the space of a week. This is not to take anything away from the intelligent commentary of your nameless quotee. But to deal with the guns, and not the gunners, is to take a very artificial approach to the problem. There are many excellent laws on the books, many sponsored by the NRA, to control guns and those that use them, and if they were ever enforced with any meaningful zeal, it would do much to improve the situation.

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