10.23.17 | Our Gun Culture

It's a mass shooting that gets all the attention, of course, as it abruptly shatters the natural order of things. It arrives like a cannibal joining the picnic and calmly starting to eat the children.

Then comes the tabloid kabuki: the images; the statistics; the "Ts&Ps"; the whys; maybe the fatuous talk of closure as the horror eases into policy discussion. And, finally, the debate. The same damn debate.

Let's don't shout but let's discuss. Why is a term like bump stocks even in our vocabulary? The whole subject will itself strain our capacity for empathy, a topic we entertained a few sessions ago. 

A good starting point would be Peggy Noonan's post-Las vegas piece, "The Culture of Death -- and of Disdain (attached at bottom). Her words were not calming. Americans have guns because they're fearful. She then ups the ante by adding, "fearful -- and for damn good reasons." Thereafter comes the parade of horribles such as collapsing cultural infrastructure, failed leadership, drug gangs, racial tension, Mark Zuckerberg look-alike robots stealing our jobs . . .

I read her essay as describing a citizenry mindset (that's where the empathy part kicks in) more than (necessarily) a reality as she gives a nod to readers of Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" but, in this case the mindset becomes the relevant reality.

Is that what this is all about -- a siege mentality taking hold of our great country -- actually more of a plague mentality, something that comes from within? You (the elites, per the view, know nothing of what we are dealing with and, by the way, we don't trust you with our freedoms. We certainly don't believe you (and your government) can protect us. We'll do that ourselves, thank you. And we won't go down without a fight. Wow. Is that where we find ourselves in U...S...A?

It's through this lens that we grope for some common ground on the question of gun rights/restrictions. The answer will reflect a lot about how we collectively regard the whole idea of community as we contemplate the nuanced meanings of our united states.

Steve SmithComment