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Common Ground

So, I've been thinking about this mass-shooting thing.

There's a few things I think are self-evident, that apparently aren't.

1. I have a lot of friends who own guns, and who have shown me every evidence of being responsible gun owners.
2. I have a lot of friends who do not own guns, who have also shown evidence of being responsible people.
3. I think that all of my friends are good people. In fact, I think most humans are good people.
4. I think demonizing gun owners and demonizing gun non-owners are both bad things.
5. I think we all agree that mass shootings in peacetime are terrible, whether they happen in schools or malls or places of employment or homes or parks or any other place.
6. I think it is morally bankrupt to say, "So, America has more mass shootings than anywhere else in the world, excepting only places actively at war, and I'm OK with that. Let's keep everything exactly the same and watch the killings and their aftermath on the nightly news." (I also think it is morally bankrupt to act like it's OK while saying it's terrible. Doing nothing is, essentially, acting like it's OK.)
7. I do not think any of my friends are morally bankrupt. In specific, I do not think responsible gun owners are morally bankrupt.

Therefore, I believe the gun owners and gun non-owners in this country can find a common moral ground to address this terrible problem.

I know we cannot eliminate all murder or even all mass shootings. But look at the numbers! Mass shootings in this country have gone from rare to commonplace. That is evidence that we, as a society, have screwed up!

Perhaps we need to shift the conversation from "guns" to "violence". What makes a person more likely to be violent? How can we address the things that make a person (whether otherwise mentally healthy or mentally ill) more likely to be violent?

Another thing to look at is responsibility and awareness of consequences. What makes a person able or unable to behave responsibly? What prevents a person from being aware of consequences to his behavior? Maybe more importantly, what makes a person stop caring about consequences?

Empathy is important too--punishment doesn't stop crime, we have more people in jail than ANY other country in the world, and we still have plenty of crime. But a person realizing in the moment that his or her behavior will hurt somebody else, and caring enough to not want to do that--I've seen that stop a lot of people from acting on an angry impulse.

But addressing these basic lifestyle issues is hard--a lot harder than chanting pro- or anti-gun slogans.

But we have, over and over, led the world in succeeding at doing hard things. And we are not a morally bankrupt people.



( 38 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 10th, 2015 05:38 am (UTC)
I do understand and agree that a gun in the hands of a violent person is enormously more dangerous than fists or knives or a sword.

However, addressing that simple issue isn't simple. Obama doesn't have the power to come for people's guns. It would require a constitutional amendment to change that.

I would personally be OK with banning guns, if it could be done, but I am certain that the American people will not vote to amend the constitution so we can do that. I mean, we couldn't even pass the Equal Rights Amendment and 51% of us are women!

So I will push for stronger common sense regulations, for gun insurance and gun licenses and so on. And I will push for a societal change even harder--for gun owners and parents and everybody else to teach responsibility and to teach empathy, for people to have food and clothing and shelter so they aren't desperately angry and hopeless all the time, and so their brains can develop and work properly. I will push for teaching people that everyone should be treated with respect and no one should be bullied. And so on.

And really, fashioning a better society would have other benefits too. It would be worth doing even if we were merely trying to end knife violence.
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Oct. 10th, 2015 02:42 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 9th, 2015 11:40 pm (UTC)
I'm not anti-gun, but each of these incidents moves more people toward a willingness to amend the constitution, so I'm thinking responsible gun owners will have to come up with something along the lines of concessions, possibly something that would prevent sociopaths from obtaining arsenals, even if that inconveniences responsible gun owners.
Oct. 10th, 2015 05:21 am (UTC)
I'm hoping for gun owners to come up with and strongly support some common-sense regulations, but I also want to see gun owners address their own culture, which has made it more common to hear gun owners say "you'll take my guns over my dead body" than to hear them teaching about gun safety, about responsibility, about empathy, and so on.

Why do I hear more about the right to bear arms than the responsibilities a person takes up when they choose to own a weapon designed to kill human beings?
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Oct. 10th, 2015 12:25 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Oct. 10th, 2015 02:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Oct. 10th, 2015 02:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Oct. 11th, 2015 05:59 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 10th, 2015 04:16 am (UTC)
What makes a person more likely to be violent?

Why are all mass shooters men?
Oct. 10th, 2015 05:18 am (UTC)
I don't think they all are men, though the vast majority are.

Not all men are violent, and not all women are pacifists. There's other factors that matter. We need to identify and address the ones that we can, somehow.
Oct. 10th, 2015 11:46 am (UTC)
A factor that is so common--last I heard 70 out of 71 mass shooters were men--probably should be examined.

The only thing more common is, of course, access to guns.

The other factors that seem to make a difference are a history of violence and substance abuse.

Personally I think the key is the way guns have been marketed as providing safety from crime and proving adulthood/competence/power.
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Oct. 10th, 2015 02:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Oct. 10th, 2015 12:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Oct. 10th, 2015 02:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Oct. 10th, 2015 03:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rowyn - Oct. 10th, 2015 01:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Oct. 10th, 2015 02:58 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Oct. 10th, 2015 03:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 10th, 2015 05:30 am (UTC)
I'm not a gun owner or enthusiast, but I support responsible gun ownership. I find lobbying against closing the gun show loophole unconscionable, but that's the only significant change I think we need in the laws as they're written. We need to do a lot more about enforcing them -- people who are already not allowed to have guns can get them very easily through straw purchases, it's totally illegal but pretty weakly enforced.

Mass shootings, despite the amount of media sensation, are very rare. If you really want to move the needle on overall gun violence, you need to stop the idiotic war on drugs which gives the criminals so much money and also fuels their internal arms race.

If mass shootings -- rather than overall gun violence -- are your priority, you should be massively increasing funding and support for mental health services. I can't point to studies that say this, but I feel confident in asserting that people who have a good working relationship with a mental health professional don't become mass shooters.
Oct. 10th, 2015 05:47 am (UTC)
"Mass shootings" according to the FBI definition of a single shooting with four or more victims, have happened every single calendar week (and usually more than one a week) during President Obama's presidency, according to statistics gathered by Rachel Maddow's MSNBC crew. I shared the link on Faceook.

That does not qualify as rare, much less very rare.

I certainly agree with ending the failed war on drugs and with increasing funding for and access to mental health care.

I think these mass shootings need to be highlighted, but personally a person shot dead is still a person shot dead, regardless of how many others were shot by the same killer at the same time. The mass shootings are an opportunity to get enough people motivated to change things, but I'm not willing to focus on them to the exclusion of other gun violence.
(no subject) - tigertoy - Oct. 10th, 2015 06:08 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Oct. 10th, 2015 07:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ankewehner - Oct. 10th, 2015 07:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - catsittingstill - Oct. 10th, 2015 11:50 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Oct. 11th, 2015 06:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Oct. 10th, 2015 03:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - Oct. 10th, 2015 12:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 10th, 2015 07:40 am (UTC)
Here are some ideas:
Stop teaching
a) that violence is a good solution to problems (for example, stop starting wars. Or, hey, how about holding police accountable for out-of-proportion violent acts? If the official authorities kill at will, why wouldn't too damn many people get the idea killing is OK?)
b) that violence is cool (glut of violent action movies and other entertainment)
c) that going on a shooting rampage is going to get your name and, if you're white, sympathetic comments about you all over the media. I really like the idea of media referring to a shooter as "some arsehole" or "some pathetic loser" and if they need to humanise anyone, talk about the lives of the victims instead.
d) that white males are entitled to having everybody else be subservient to them. (Seriously. How fucked up must a society be for an 11 yearold boy to have learned that the appropriate answer to a girl refusing him something is to shoot her dead? For the latest example of THAT kind of shooting.)
e) that being macho is good. Boys and men being taught that having feelings other than "angry" and "horny" is feminine and therefore despicable contributes to them developing mental health issues and then not seeking help.
Oct. 10th, 2015 03:06 pm (UTC)
I like all of these points.
Oct. 10th, 2015 09:09 am (UTC)
Thank you for writing this. I feel like the main problems are lack of responsibility, and lack of awareness of and caring about consequences, and I really want to see some positive change in those areas especially, but I agree that changes are needed in other areas too.

Sometimes I wonder if things will ever get better. I believe it's possible to make these changes, but progress is so slow and so difficult that I can't help feeling discouraged much of the time. Seeing things like this gives me some hope, though.
Oct. 10th, 2015 03:12 pm (UTC)
We have to band together to demand change.

We need some catchy slogans. "Friends don't let friends drive drunk" drove a huge societal change in attitude about drinking responsibly. Before that, many people would dismiss stupid behavior and explain it away by saying, "he was drunk". The drink was blamed, and the person was let off the hook.

After the sea change in attitude, there was a huge reduction in drunk driving, and I stopped hearing "he was drunk" as an acceptable excuse for other stupid behavior as well.

We need some catchy slogans to help make a sea change in attitudes here too!
(no subject) - soundofsunlight - Oct. 11th, 2015 01:09 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - wyld_dandelyon - Oct. 11th, 2015 06:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
Oct. 10th, 2015 12:42 pm (UTC)
Just out of curiosity...
How did you feel about the McDonald's coffee lawsuit?
Oct. 10th, 2015 03:23 pm (UTC)
Re: Just out of curiosity...
I'm not sure how that issue connects with this one, but,

To understand that lawsuit, you have to know things that the (corporate owned) media didn't bother to report.

1. At the time McDonald's had a rule about the minimum temperature that coffee must be served at. It was very hot. It was, in fact, hot enough to cause third degree burns.

2. McDonalds knew this fact, since previous customers had received third degree burns, including some men who had their precious private areas burned through their pants and underwear.

3. McDonalds refused to change that policy, and continued to insist that all coffee, including coffee served at the drive-through window, must be served at this unsafe temperature.

4. The old lady in question was behaving in what would ordinarily be a safe manner. In true old-lady fashion, she was not driving at the moment of the spill, but had pulled into a parking place to enjoy her food in an undistracted manner.

5. The old lady had to have multiple reconstructive surgeries on her thighs and private area due to the extent and seriousness of the burns.

Given these things, I do think that McDonalds did indeed knowingly endanger her and their other customers and that McDonalds did deserve an enormous punitive ruling against them, which they received.
Re: Just out of curiosity... - msstacy13 - Oct. 10th, 2015 04:02 pm (UTC) - Expand
One other thing, Ma'am... - msstacy13 - Oct. 10th, 2015 04:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: One other thing, Ma'am... - wyld_dandelyon - Oct. 10th, 2015 07:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 38 comments — Leave a comment )


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