So far, we have discussed the human propensity for violence where guns are used as implements to enable one to carry out a violent act and we’ve considered whether the violence would be lessened if we were to try to take away guns from members of society. But perhaps we should have started with the basics. What is a gun and what is its purpose?
Simply put, a gun is an implement that projects power downline. It doesn’t matter what caliber or how many rounds it holds or fires per minute, it is a device that enables the user to reach out and project power. To see someone with a gun is a realization that person is capable of projecting power in a line-of-sight circle around themselves. Thus, a gun openly carried is a symbol of potential power. When carried by a law enforcement officer it is a symbol of authority ceded to that officer through the social contract of the will of the citizenry and their desire to be protected. When, however, that gun is drawn and pointed it is no longer a symbol of authority but becomes a implement of the power a gun affords the user.
Some will define a gun as a tool, as in a tool for law enforcement officers, a tool for hunters to use in their hobby, a tool for target shooters to demonstrate their skills. For criminals it is a tool to exert power over others to carry out a nefarious act. Thus, the gun returns to being a symbol of power. The power of the armed over the unarmed. The power to coerce. Staunch defenders of the Second Amendment believe that the possession of a gun may well protect them against the unwarranted intrusion of the government into their lives by allowing them the ability to project its power. Thus, the defense for not changing the Second Amendment is it is a codified expression of the power of the people over the government and possessing a gun is, to many, the physical symbol of the meaning of the Amendment. Not having that symbol of power over government concerns them.
Governments have passed many laws concerning guns as tools, hobby implements, collector’s items, ownership, use in general and just about everything else and yet we still have a “gun problem.” But the two things Government seems not to be able to correct are the human propensity for violence and the desire to exert power over others. In the past the U.S. had some modifying cultural influences in its churches and educational institutions but with the secularization of society those influences have been swept aside and we no longer have enforceable codes of conduct. In fact, we now have an anarchical structure of general society wherein new groups are forming and within those groups there is a call for the general repudiation of all things past including codes, mores, and morals. No positive ideas are being offered as substitutes for the discarded codes and we are on the event horizon of a social black hole threatening to devour all that has been considered good and upright.
Now, consider as an example that the use of guns as implements of the expression of power is prevalent among certain ethnic and age groups; think Chicago, Baltimore, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Detroit and such. When you look at what government has done to the individuals who comprise these groups you may have a better understanding of the problem. A paternalistic government emasculated many of the men in these groups causing them to be removed from their families, in some cases because they were incarcerated but mostly because benefits for children were not available if there was a father in the house. As one of my characters expresses in the novel “Breakfast with Faulkner,” “We don’t know who to fear more, those who see us as a threat or those who would treat us like children.”
Make no mistake, it was government usurping the authority within the family that exacerbated the problem. With many diverse elements within society pushing secular agendas any pretense of religious restraint fell aside and those emasculated individuals begin to look for visible ways to assert their masculinity and to redress their loss of power. They took refuge in gangs where, oddly enough, there are codes of conduct which are enforced and a hierarchy of control. Take away their guns and they will find other implements with which to demonstrate their power. But taking away their guns will be about as easy as stopping the flow of drugs which they sell on the streets and it was long, long ago that President Nixon declared the war on drugs. We have been fighting that war far longer than the “War” in Afghanistan.
Another way of some of these socially emasculated men express their power and authority is by fathering many children by multiple mothers. This has resulted in the violence of terminating unwanted pregnancies and male children who grow up without role models other than those they see on the street corners and in the fast moving cars from which semi-automatic weapons fire erupts. Just as black children and teens die on the streets from violence there are five times as many abortions for black fetuses than caucasian (says the CDC.) The pro-lifers who oppose abortion are actually supporting increasing the black population in the U.S. In fact, failing the alternative of abortion over the past three decades the black population of the U.S. today would be more than 25% of the total population instead of 13%. Those who support abortion are actually keeping the percentage of black Americans from growing. How’s that for a stick in the eye?
Governments (read local and national) have also done nothing to manage the ever growing (ever growing because of the exponential growth of population in the U.S.) epidemic of mental illness in the country. All the branches of government have made it policy that the concern for individual freedom over the safety of both the afflicted individual and other members of the society is paramount. The lashing out of the mentally ill isn’t that much different from the lashing out of the societally emasculated. Both are responses to government failing to do its job of addressing the real causes of violence instead of attempting to remove the implements of violence. On the one hand the paternalistic approach of government towards an ethnic group created, and then exacerbated, violence in the U.S. while the refusal to take a paternalistic approach with the mentally ill continues to exacerbate the violence problem. The real problem isn’t guns anymore than it’s bricks, knives, brass knuckles or baseball bats, it’s government, and government is supposed to be you and me.
The rise and collapse of empires over the millennia of human history prove the points that humans have a propensity for violence and a need to control their (individual, tribe, nation) environment. Unless and until those in government understand the real problem, little progress will be made in controlling the violence in the U.S. Historically, government responses have been like a doctor treating someone with cancer saying, take another pain pill and call me next week. Unless you treat the causes of violence you will not stop or slow it. Talking about guns is like talking about changing the weather. Oh wait, we think we can do that too.