Someone on Quora asked a question about how we reduce gun violence. Good question. Most of the answers were predictable – pass this law or that law to make it harder to get guns.
As I wrote yesterday, I think gun violence is just a small piece of something much larger. And only addressing who has guns and what guns they have and believing that will solve the problem is missing so much.
Here’s how the answer I gave to the question:
Change our culture.
I don’t care what laws you pass, if the the rest of the culture is oriented towards violence, then violence is the norm.
You could ban all guns. What about all the guns that remain on the streets?
What about the unhealthy focus we have on violence in our entertainment? We give legitimacy to violent reactions to a number of things going on in our society. We turn a blind eye when violence happens to others in society. We excuse away violence. We make excuses for it. Why on earth do we think passing a few laws would actually make a significant difference?
Want to reduce gun violence in the US – work on changing what we consider normal in the US – violence as acceptable.
How about we start by changing ourselves first – how often do we respond in a violent manner when something doesn’t go our way or someone disagrees with us or calls us out when we do something we shouldn’t? Maybe it’s not physical violence, but maybe verbal or emotional.
How about we start changing our entertainment – what we watch impacts what we think of as normal – violent movies that showcase guns and violence as the solution to problems. Sports that use violence to win.
How about we get serious about domestic violence?
How about we reform the prison system away from punishment to rehabilitation – changing people in prison instead of just seeking retribution which usually only reinforces violent behavior.
How about we seek peace internationally instead of always throwing our military around and destroying others.
How about we start calling fundamentalism (in all forms) out for what it is – angry, fearful, focused on being right as opposed to caring for the person right there.
How about we change our thoughts about politics – away from the loudest speaker who will pull the trigger to the ones who are calm, collected and full of wisdom.
How about we change policing. Why on earth do we have undercover cop cars out on the roads? To catch people breaking the laws, not to help people. It creates a habit of mistrust – the police expect people to be breaking the laws, the people expect to get screwed over.
How about we change how and what we post on social media. I have seen verbally violent posts on social media – people have come to expect this as normal.
I could go on, but I won’t.
Want to reduce gun violence – start by seeing gun violence different. It’s not an isolated thing where you can make a law and it goes away. Gun violence is part of a larger problem of a society that is addicted to violence. It’s one piece of the puzzle. And it involves people, therefore it’s going to be a messy situation. There isn’t a magic bullet solution (pardon the wording). Focusing on just gun laws is a mistake. They are only part, a small part of the solution. They need to work in conjunction with larger changes in society.