Guns and Culture

American society embraces gun ownership and there are something like 300 million guns in the US.  Definition: a gun is a mechanical device purpose-built for efficiently translating impulse into mayhem.  This transformation may be benign: punching holes in a paper target, or practical: taking down a deer to put meat on a table.  But it is always, always quick, and  too often the impulse is anger, hatred, depression or dismay, and then of course the very efficiency of the mayhem-machine becomes tragic.  Yes, you can kill someone with a knife or rope (or candlestick, playing the old board-game, “Clue”), and we understand suicide can be accomplished with pharmaceuticals or a leap from a high place.  But these tactics take time and time forces a measure of reflection and maybe hesitation.  Gun deaths are scary because the trigger process allows no space between impulse and catastrophe.  Confiscation is impractical; what can we do?  Car deaths were a problem; we couldn’t confiscate; society accepted seat belts.  Is there a “seat belt” for guns?  If the NRA won’t yield an inch on gun ownership, will it talk about gun deaths?  Will American culture accept a narrative of meaningful intervention?

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Bill Ivey
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