It seems that frequently after a gun related tragedy gains national attention, there is an attempt to discuss what, if anything, we can do to address gun related violence in the United States. It’s a hard question to answer and one I have not fully formed an opinion about.
Guns fundamentally change certain dynamics of violence. For example, they allow the weaker individual to fight the stronger, they allow violence to be committed from a distance, and they allow it to be instant. It is these changing dynamics that too often go unanswered in the discussion of a tragedy. Either we mistakenly presume the gun is fully responsible for the violence, or more often, fully innocent. We can see the problem a bit better by looking at a recent gun related tragedy.
In an article about the Jovan Belcher tragedy, a former NFL linebacker for the Kanas City Chiefs that shot his wife and then himself in a murder/suicide, Fox Sports writer Jason Whitlock wrote, “What I believe is, if he didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.” The idea that merely having a gun is all that contributed to this tragedy is certainly an oversimplification, however, it also most certainly is a factor.
We hear too often: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Fair enough. But guns change how people kill people, and they change how people view killing. When someone has a gun the question of how they respond to a situation changes, for better or worse, because they have an option that they didn’t have before. These changes are what we need to be discussing if we want to be able to advocate effectively for or against gun control. We need to ask ourselves questions like whether guns make individuals more or less inclined towards confrontation.
The Sandy Hook shooting has led to more discussion about gun policy on social media than previous rampages. The Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism released a report saying that gun policy...