Thoughts and Prayers: Reality and Myths

The depressing news of yet another mass shooting in Texas (the 301st mass shooting this year alone), produced the usual reactions from both sides of the issue. On one side is a desperate plea from law enforcement, activists and ordinary citizens to do something, anything, to control the proliferation and use of guns. From the other side are activists who argue that guns don’t kill people, evil people kill people and we need more guns to protect the good guys. In this case, a “good guy” with a gun was able to stop the “bad guy” with a gun — after the carnage, which some consider a validation of their argument. That argument… in fact every argument against gun control defies facts and logic, but it hardly matters because it does not overcome the pro-gun lobby money and appeals to emotion that prevents Congress from doing anything.

Especially galling was the response of our current leadership. Paul Ryan told us that prayers really do work, oblivious to how stupid that sounds when referring to a mass murder in a church during prayer service. Trump argued that this was a mental health issue, not a gun issue, which apart from the obvious irony of him mentioning mental illness, is also just as ludicrous. Others argue that if current laws were enforced then the murderer wouldn’t have had guns. Every nation has mental health problems in nearly equal measure, but only one has a problem with regular mass murders using guns.

In other words, the same stuff from the same people, with a slight pretense of empathy.

What is needed is moral leadership in Congress. The gun culture in America is too ingrained to change significantly, and any effort to stop mass murders, children accidently killing themselves or others and lowering the suicide rate through gun control laws may seem to be doomed. Maybe if more people knew facts they would be less swayed by fear. Too many Americans who own guns are sub-cortical when the issue of gun control is discussed. They hear “reasonable, common sense measures to reduce gun violence” as a threat by government to confiscate all guns. Fear is the underlying cancer behind most of our cultural and political ills, and guns are seen by those who own them as a solution for the fear of those others who own guns. It’s insane. Most people know it’s insane, but there is a lot of money to made through fear. Right now, the fear of being a victim of a mass shooting will prompt the typical flurry of discussion in the media, and the predictable response to every mass shooting is an uptake of gun purchases.

Knowledge is a salve for fear, so I plan on taking the next week to blog on facts and logic on the issue, in the hope that anyone reading the blog will be equipped and motivated to do something to stop this maddening cycle of slaughter, outrage and inaction. Here are the most common myths:

  • Gun Control Laws Do Not Work
  • The Right to Bear Arms Was Not to Be Restricted
  • Enforcing Existing Laws Would Solve the Problem of Mass Murders with Guns

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