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MailTribune.com
  • Shooting our mouths off once again

  • It's time for a serious, rational, constructive, inclusive discussion about guns.
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  • It's time for a serious, rational, constructive, inclusive discussion about guns.
    Yeah, good luck with that.
    Not the guns part; most everyone has opinions one way or another about exactly who has the right to own precisely what type of weapon. It's finding the serious, rational, constructive, inclusive discussion that will be difficult.
    Americans don't do that anymore ... if we ever did. For this, we only have ourselves to blame — proving, yet again, that Pogo was ahead of his time.
    We'll get back to blaming people in a moment, for that is truly what this divided-we-stand nation does best. First, however, let's learn something from history — in this case, something we learned as schoolchildren.
    Don't just do it in your head ... show the work on paper.
    There hasn't been a simple solution to a complex problem since Dick Sargent showed up one September to replace Dick York as Darrin, and millions of "Bewitched" fans said, "OK."
    So when you hear quick on the draw politicians or pundits or letter-writers spout knee-jerk reactions to tragedy faster than Samantha twitched her nose, realize that they haven't done the work on paper.
    Train teachers or administrators in the proper use of firearms and have them packing in schools? As anyone who has served in the military or law enforcement will tell you, it's one thing to know how to shoot a gun ... it's another thing entirely to be able to pull the trigger when the time comes.
    One stray bullet from a "trained" school official and a Pandora's Box of consequences will descend faster than a liability lawsuit.
    Armed guards protecting schoolkids and moviegoers and mall shoppers? Do we want them in restaurants as well, as every table will have a steak knife? How about stationing them inside bars, monitoring your right to pursue happiness by dulling your senses in case you then get behind the wheel of a car?
    Why not ... as long as someone else pays for it. You know how agreeable folks are these days about shelling out a few extra bucks.
    But it's not just those who would throw immediate, impractical solutions at ancient problems who need to treat this with a bit more common sense.
    For instance, there's the "Let's give anyone who wants the right to bear arms an 18th century musket!" crowd. Please, it wasn't funny in the 19th century, it's not funny now.
    Just as freedom of the press never envisioned the Internet or 24-hour cable news networks, the right of the people to keep and bear arms never envisioned semi-automatic assault rifles.
    Come to think of it, there's not much separation between partisan screaming matches on TV and blowing Bambi away with an AK-47.
    Some events, such as the murders in Newtown, Conn., are beyond our ability to understand them. And we only make it worse by resorting to the blame game.
    Blame video games. Blame the mentally ill. Blame the Bill of Rights. Blame the political lobbyists. Blame those who frustrate peaceable gun owners by mocking them. Blame technology. Blame restrictive gun laws for making sure only "criminals have guns." Blame loose gun laws for allowing almost anyone to own a weapon. Blame the media. Blame the politicians. Blame the stubborn stupidity of those who don't agree with you.
    That's 11 places to point to right there. We're out of fingers, and we've yet to look in the mirror.
    Last month saw the release of a public service announcement featuring Hollywood types asking people to think about the issue of gun violence. Followed up, of course, by a YouTube mash-up of the same PSA intercut with violent scenes featuring those same actors and actresses killing characters in their movies.
    That it was an easy point to make doesn't make it any less valid. But it shifts the argument once again to the battle over fiction and reality, and the causative effect of one on the other, and how today's society — with its addiction to media stimuli — is forcing itself toward a cultural shift in which the spilling of one drop of blood is symbolic of one side of the gun debate being right (or wrong), depending on which "expert witness" which cable news channel brings on to reinforce the political views the network wants to drum into our heads.
    The argument becomes about the argument. About the obsessive need to be right ... about something ... and, more importantly, for someone who disagrees with you to be wrong.
    Meanwhile, 20 children in Newtown, Conn., are still dead.
    Gone from being the kings and queens of our future to the pawns of our present. We owe their memories more than using them to win a political duel. We owe them a legacy of shutting up, peaceably assembling, resisting simple sound-bite solutions and coming to a serious, rational, constructive, inclusive solution to an issue that defies logic.
    And for that to happen, we need to do something the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School will never have the chance to do.
    We need to grow up.
    Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin can be reached at rgalvin@mailtribune.com.
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