Here we go again

I went to the funeral of one of the kids that died in Newtown, CT. It was a colleague’s son. I've been to the funeral of another colleague who killed himself with a gun. I watched on my birthday as events unfolded in Orlando, while discussing the issues surrounding weapons with the people around me. I’ve read stories of dozens of other mass shootings. And here we are, another one. This time the deadliest in US history.

It’s only a matter of time until the matter is politicized. Pro-gun advocates will come out and say banning guns isn’t the answer. Anti-gun activists will say “how much more proof do we need”. They’ll both go back and forth and cite a seemingly endless list of reasons:

  • Guns cause crime
  • People kill people
  • Mass shootings are on the rise
  • Increased regulation will only affect law-abiding citizens, not criminals
  • Rates of gun violence have been inversely proportional to rates of gun ownership
  • 67% of all homicides in the US are gun-related
  • If you take away Detroit, LA, NY and Atlanta the US has one of the LOWEST rates of homicides in the world
  • Australia’s gun deaths plummeted after they increased regulation
  • Switzerland gives a gun to every citizen
  • 2/3 of gun deaths are suicide not homicide. Taking away the weapon will lower this
  • It’s a mental health issue. We should put more money towards that
  • Even one gun death is too many
  • Correlation does not equal causation
  • We should have background and mental health checks
  • That’s imposing on people’s privacy, and wouldn’t help since someone else can buy the guns for them
  • We should ban assault weapons
  • Let’s keep things in perspective
  • We should only ban high-capacity magazines
  • High capacity magazines can be changed in seconds

On and on we go. Exercising our 1st amendment rights while preserving the 2nd. Then next mass shooting comes along and it starts all over. Why?

The most obvious one is money. The gun lobby is a powerful force in Washington D.C. This is why you’ll see a lot of outrage from your elected officials but never really anything concrete. The President called it “Pure Evil”. He’s going to visit and survey the site as a symbolic gesture. I’m sure other politicians will soon come out with strong but meaningless gestures of sorrow and affection. Such gestures are easy ways out, especially when the tragedy is far away.

America is a large country, geographically speaking. It’s easy for us to see a mass shooting as “happening over there” and to “those people”. It’s easy to start a fundraiser and send some money. You’ll feel like a good person. Like you did something. Then you go about your day. Maybe talking to a few colleague’s about how fucked up this one was. But you go on about your day. After all, the shooting in Vegas isn’t as consequential as that work deadline you have coming up. There’s nothing you can really do. This selfishness also comes out in another more troubling way.

We have an emotional attachment to firearms. Guns are cool. No matter your stance, holding and shooting a gun is an orgasmic experience. The sheer raw, unadulterated power of shooting an automatic weapon sends endorphins through your head and adrenaline through your body. At least that was my experience when I got to shoot such weapons in the military. Then again more recently at Battlefield Vegas. But that gun-loving part of me isn’t worried. There’s no threat to me realizing my lead-based erotic fantasy.

There are an estimated 88 guns per 100 people in the US, the weapons industry that employs approximately 220k people and the NRA is an immensely powerful gun lobby. We have no chance of outlawing weapons as a whole. Our chances at enacting any kind of make-sense reform are slim to none. We're as bad at dealing with mass shootings as Europe is in dealing with terrorist bombings. So sit back, relax and wait for the next one. You can always send your thoughts and prayers. Unless, of course, you're the victim.