Since America is the center of the solar system, it is impossible to not know that everyone and their mother’s, best friend’s dog’s litter’s owner’s cousin’s uncle’s extended family is caught up in the spectacle of the fact that – you paid for the whole seat, but you’ll only need the edge – we’ve had yet another moment of gun violence.
This will, of course, be met with several things:
Some people will say that this could be avoided if there was someone else with a gun to gun down the gunman so that the gun violence could be neutralized like a gun vaccine. I can’t completely ignore the logic that states “If someone has the capacity to neutralize your violence with some of their own – it does – ipso facto – reduce said violence. This, of course, lending strange credence to the notion that fighting fire with fire does not – as one would assume – create a bigger fire.
Or does it?
Don’t worry. This isn’t about to devolve into a philosophical viewpoint of “Well…I mean…maybe that really is the best solution…” Because my viewpoint on this is as abstracted and convoluted as I am, and you all love me for being. And I’ll get to what that viewpoint is…
Others will, of course, say that the answer to gun violence is more laws to eliminate guns so that fewer people can have guns and fewer people with fewer guns is less gun violence. And, from a very static, mathematical point of view – this holds true. But then…it doesn’t.
Or does it?
Don’t worry. This isn’t about to devolve into a political moment proclaiming that “We need to remove as many guns as we can from as many people as we can so that more people without guns can be safe from the fewer people who have guns.” Because my viewpoint doesn’t support that rationale, because it’s faulty in a way that I find to be eye-rollingly absurd. I’ll expand on that…
Others will, of course, point out that we have a president that perpetuates violence and racism. And others will bring up evidence that he doesn’t. And some will say that, even if he does, blaming one man for the stupidity of others is, in and of itself, stupid in so many ways that they will not dignify such absurdity with a response.
Some will say that more religion is the answer. That we have strayed too far from the holy teachings of <insert holy teachings here>, because if we all <insert religious thing here> at the altar of <insert religious construct here> we would all be <insert better world metaphor here>.
Others will point out that there are cultures that are far more secular than America and have less violence and that there are cultures that are far more religious than America and that they’re far more violent.
Others will point out that there are cultures that are far more religious than America and have less violence and that there are cultures that are far more secular than America and that they’re far more violent. <- I don’t know that this is actually a thing – if I’m being honest. I haven’t found any stats to support this notion…but I digress…someone will still say it.
We’re here now…
We’re at “later…”
I’m an atheist who does not agree with anything that precedes this sentence.
Religion doesn’t make people good or bad. Good people are good people and they help to inspire other people to be good. Bad people are bad people and they help to inspire other people to be bad. We can get into the whole world of nature/nurture. We can get into the whole, sordid idea of psychology, sociology, religion, philosophy, etc…
But I’m not going to…
And here’s why…
Too many answers hinge on a binary solution to a real number problem.
If you read that and understood what I meant – good for you. Give yourself a gold star, a pat on the back, and understand that I respect you more than you deserve.
If you don’t understand that line, then I’ll explain.
Binary is very basic. It is a system of one and zero. It is true and false. It is off and on. And it doesn’t compute for humanity.
The solution for alcohol in America was to ban alcohol – because saying “Hey, you can’t do that!” makes problems go away.
But it doesn’t.
Saying alcohol is illegal doesn’t stop people from drinking – it makes drinking a criminal enterprise. It is owned and operated by criminals. Its patrons are criminals. Saying drugs are illegal doesn’t stop people from doing drugs – it makes it a criminal enterprise. It is owned and operated by criminals. Its patrons are criminals.
Saying that guns are now illegal – in any capacity – will make it more of a criminal enterprise than it already is. It will have a greater share of ownership and operational oversight by criminals. More of their patrons will be criminals.
If you think this is somehow flawed – news flash. There are things that are illegal and people still get them. They buy them. They pay cash.
I recently watched a guy buy anabolic steroids.
With his credit card.
But they’re illegal – except where they’re not. And that place gets to make the rules they want because they don’t have to be concerned with what you want. Or if you got ripped off. Or if it’s safe. Because what are you going to do?
Call the cops?
So, if you believe that the answer to guns is “Well…simple…no guns…” Then you’ve learned far too little about that wonderfully terrible thing called history.
Humans know that things exist. They want those things. Telling them no doesn’t stop them.
Except for when it does, right?
Sure…except for when it does. Because some people won’t cross those lines. Some people are either legal hardliners or else they just fear being caught.
But it says nothing of the ones who cross lines. Who don’t care. Who don’t know anything beyond “I want this. I will find a way to have this. You cannot stop me.”
This extends all the way back to the moment not so long ago when I said that too many answers try to look at a binary solution for a real number problem.
Take every sentence between when I first said that and when I said it again. Apply it to everything that people bicker over from a legal standpoint.
You can’t flip a zero to a one and solve the problem. You can’t turn false to true and make things go away.
It doesn’t work that way, and if you don’t know that by now, then I’m sorry to be the one to break the news to you.
Fact is – you already know this. You support this same logic…when it suits you.
Don’t agree with abortion? Ban it. Problem solved…except that it isn’t. Not really. It just becomes a criminal enterprise. Ran by criminals who cater to criminals. But hey…at least <insert happy ending platitude here>.
And yet, you will see an attack on what you believe in. You will see a problem that others approach with the solution of “Just ban it…” and you will go, “No! It doesn’t work that way! It just becomes a criminal enterprise and anyone who uses their services becomes a criminal as well!”
But people love to believe that their position is unique and beautiful. Their fight is the good fight. Their war is the righteous one.
But you are fighting real numbers with binary solutions.
Real-life has complicated numbers. Decimals. Integers. Positives and negatives.
Binary is simple.
Binary is clean.
I love binary. I really do. But if you think you can apply it to humanity as a whole, then you – again – have a weak grasp of the last many years of human history.
You really do.
It’s all there.
We’ve been writing it down.
If you choose to ignore that, it doesn’t make you wise – it makes you ignorant. And if you think that your personal binary solution is the silver bullet for the werewolf of American gun violence, then you’re living in a land of beautiful delusion.
Side note: please share whatever you’re taking. I’d like to try some.
So later after later is here now.
All my rambling condensed to an actual point.
And you might be thinking, “You know, it sounds to me like you’re saying that you don’t have a point.”
Well…yes and no.
My point is that there is no easy solution. But, by that same standard, I’m prepared to tell you a wonderful fact about humanity that holds true on a very firm statistical basis.
1.) The more educated people are, the less prone to senseless acts of violence they generally are.
-> Someone will now point out someone who is wicked smart AND a lunatic/criminal/serial killer/assassin. And I’m sorry, but that’s called implying the exception is the rule. If you think that makes sense, then please brush up on your understanding of statics, bell curves, and outliers. If you think you get to call a mulligan on this because you can think of a handful of cases leveraged against the population of the world then math was clearly not your strong suit.
2.) The more financially stable people are, the less prone to senseless acts of violence they generally are.
-> Same thing as above. Someone is going to find the anti-Bruce Wayne and go “Oh yeah?! What about <insert name here>!” Please spare us your inability to grasp how numbers work.
And that’s it.
If you look at the world and you go, “What makes a place safe?” there are two things.
And they keep showing up.
Educated people who are not impoverished tend to do a better job of “playing well with others.”
And why is that?
Well, it’s actually very simple. So simple that it’s almost binary – except for that whole…implementation…thing.
Smarter people tend to think about what they’re doing and what it means and who it affects and why they should and shouldn’t do what they’re doing…more.
And people who have something to lose are less likely to risk losing it.
People who are uneducated are less likely to have – what I call – mechanical empathy.
Empathy – of course – is our ability to put ourselves in the shoes of another. For people who are very emotional, this is just “a thing that happens because it’s who they are”. But for people who are not as emotional, (yup…I’m one of those people…) there is (what I call) mechanical empathy. I don’t feel for you. I don’t care about you. You’re some person who works job A to pay bills B, C, D, E, and F and you live in location G and came from location H and whatever else..
And I don’t care.
But I understand that you suffering isn’t good.
And that more people suffering is bad.
And that I don’t want to be the cause of that.
And that when I fuck up and people suffer, I understand the consequences of that and what they mean, and why. And it’s not emotional. It’s mechanical. Numbers adding up and I can go “This isn’t good…”
And when I fuck up – because I do…because I’m human…I learn from that. And I do better next time. And even better after that.
Additionally, those with nothing to lose…well…they
When you cross-pollinate those terrible flowers…that’s bad for everyone.
Now…if you’re thinking, “Oh…okay…so…you have some liberal concept of…”
Let me stop you there.
I don’t care about your politics.
I don’t care about your religion.
I have friends that I don’t agree with politically and I have friends who I don’t agree with in regards to religion. And I would never try to “pull them over to my side” because they’re still good people.
And that’s what’s strange to me – the fact that I – even now – can honestly say that, yes, people are…believe it or not…inherently good.
And if you want a binary decision to help guide yourself…or an entire country…on their way to a place where pulling a trigger isn’t a solution to every situation under the sky, how about we start right there:
People are inherently good, and maybe we should treat them accordingly.
People believe different things, but that’s okay because we’re all – inherently – on the same side.
People are different and that’s an absolutely wonderful thing and people don’t get told that often enough.
Because if I had to really sharpen this whole narrative into some kind of an actual point, then it’s this: the world suffers when we stop treating people like people, and when we feel like we have nothing that matters, then we act accordingly.
If that thing is god or your favorite red pen, I don’t care.
If that thing is your best friend or the flying spaghetti monster, I don’t care.
Because shit like this is a real number problem.
And it’s weird.
And we can’t just flip a switch and make it go away.
It doesn’t work that way. And if you still don’t get that, then you need to work on your understanding of world history, basic human psychology, mathematics, and statistics.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll become more educated and push us all closer to a world that’s less violent in those educational pursuits.
<insert witty closing line here>