Back from hiatus, and already there is another tragedy to discuss. To paraphrase On the Media’s Bob Garfield, last Thursday, an American exercising his constitutionally protected right to protect himself from tyranny and crime, decided instead to kill some college students and himself.
As after every tragedy, every event, the news and internet and blogosphere are full of think pieces, commentary, and cries for change. Obama appealed to the media to list deaths from terrorism and gun violence side by side; they obliged.
Much has been made of the importance of gun ownership by both the GOP and the NRA, for years. They tell us we have to have guns to stop home invasions, that we need guns so the
police trained professionals government overlords aren’t the only ones with guns, that women need guns to not get raped, that domestic violence victims need guns to protect themselves, that teachers need guns to stop school shootings, that retail workers need guns to not get robbed, that drivers need guns to not get carjacked.
(For those interested, these arguments are not ever supported by data. Intimate partner violence is deadlier for victims when guns are introduced. Rapes generally turn into murders when the victim has a gun – the perpetrator tends to use it on the victim. Carjacking can turn deadly when an [untrained] hero rushes in. Having a gun in your home increases the risk to your family while only six crimes are stopped each year, on average, by homeowners with guns. Not to mention fear + lack of training + gun = accidental murder.)
On the Media had Tom Teves, of NoNotoriety, on to discuss media responsibility in reporting on these shootings; he emphasized how little a man’s name mattered, and pointed out that infamy and celebrity are almost interchangeable – to make a killer famous is to inspire future killers.
He ended by stating “when the ‘who’ starts becoming the ‘why’ you have a problem.” These shootings cannot be simply about the people doing the shooting – there is something driving them, something making our president have to express condolences for the twentieth time since he gained office.
It doesn’t matter if this shooter was “mentally ill”, or “unstable”, or “awkward”, or “unpopular.” It matters that we created the conditions in which he can take his anger and rage and kill people, and then get famous.
If you want to protect yourself from tyranny, get yourself a hunting rifle. But get it through your head – handguns and assault weapons are killing Americans daily. They are not helpful. They are deadly. If you want to protect America, start by caring about Americans.