Another day, another headline detailing senseless gun violence. Such violence is not just an urban thing – though a 93 year-old woman here in Baltimore was caught in a crossfire that left another wounded and a third dead. It is not just a mental health thing – though a emotionally disturbed man did murder two journalists live on television. It is not just a cops and robbers thing – though Louisiana mourned the loss of not one, but two fallen officers in the span of one week.
Sleek, precise, and lethal, these machines hold the imagination of America captive. Guns and the perpetual debate over the Second Amendment have led to a stalemate whose victims we see in the papers each day. Both sides of the debate refuse to compromise and America as a whole cannot seem to decide on how to move forward in legislating gun use.
Maybe a non-American with a fresh outsider’s perspective can lend some clarity to the debate. Whether you feel you should bear arms, an AK-47, a drone, or just a pocket knife, watch Australian comic Jim Jefferies’s commentary on American gun culture. (Really, really NSFW)
While Jefferies makes helpful reminders about mental instability and guns as well as remembering the common good, his most intriguing and helpful point covers pride. I and so many Americans were raised on steady diet of action movies where shooting from the hip at bad guys always yielded good results. In that fantasy we maintained lethal control over our domains in the face of evil. We were the saviors of our own and others’ life, liberty, and property.
But we are in trouble as a nation when equipment used for healthy sporting activity and hunting leads to blind adherence to a dogma of defense. This dogma reinforces a rugged individualism that lies somewhere between hubris and paranoia. Do we really think we’ll take out those burglars? None of us are Liam Neeson, so let’s take a deep breath and call 911 instead. Do we really think that the government is spying on us and that we need to defend ourselves against Obama? Considering the kerfluffle with the NSA, the government probably is. And Google definitely is – just look at the advertisements in Gmail. But brandishing our new Walmart rifle and reciting the Second Amendment isn’t going to repel Obama or King George III or Kaiser Wilhelm or ISIS.
What will protect us? Teams of professionals, the safety and rescue personnel who are trained in matters of life and death. Let’s leave confrontations with firearms to them so we can outgrow this proud mindset where we think we can valiantly defend everyone and everything we hold dear one clip at a time. Like the bumper sticker should read, “Guns Don’t Kill People / Pride Kills People.”
Cover image courtesy Flickr CC user dagnyg, found here.