Sunday, October 8, 2017

Why can’t we legislate against guns? Some observations about American dysfunction.

This image was taken from an article on CNN Politics.

Tribune newspapers recently asked me to comment on what we could do about guns after Las Vegas. April Baumgarten, the author, did a nice job (thank you April!), but I knew that given space limitations, she could only include a small portion of what I said. Here is my elaboration—an extended explanation of what I was trying to say.

We are living in extreme times. Discussing the possibility that maybe someone might submit legislation to limit a gun accessory is now considered a major breakthrough. Republicans and the NRA are suggesting that they might be open to limiting the “bump stock,” an add-on that makes a legal semi-automatic weapon operate as if it were an illegal automatic one. This is good, I guess. I hope it happens. It is just that doing so is the legislative equivalent of curing gangrene of the leg by giving the patient a new sock. It does nothing to solve the actual problem.

As much as I hope for tougher gun laws, the fact of the matter is that culturally, we are not ready to consider meaningful change. Our gun fetishism is both a cause and consequence of national dysfunctions. We are not doing what we should be as families, communities, self-governors, and citizens of the world. We are failing our own democracy. We need to change the way we think, act, and speak politically before any solution can be genuinely proffered, let alone achieved. In this spirit, I offer these observations of what we, as a country, ought to emphasize.