Gun Violence and the Fantasy of an Armed Citizenry



In the wake of the Newtown massacre, an increasing number of gun-rights activists have been calling for more Americans to walk around armed. For instance, Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America says:

"Gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands. Federal and state laws combined to insure that no teacher, no administrator, no adult had a gun at the Newtown school where the children were murdered. This tragedy underscores the urgency of getting rid of gun bans in school zones. The only thing accomplished by gun free zones is to insure that mass murderers can slay more before they are finally confronted by someone with a gun."

We talked about this in the wake of the Aurora, Colo., shooting this summer, how some people have this superstitious belief that more guns would magically solve the problem of gun violence.

But I'd just like to point out that in this case, we don't need to hypothesize or fantasize about what would have happened if the shooter had come across a lawful gun owner before he started shooting. Because in this case, the very first person Adam Lanza came across that day was a lawful gun owner who had put in major time at shooting ranges, someone who was about as prepared as a civilian can be for something that might require a violent response, and he killed her and took her guns to an elementary school.

I don't know what should happen in response to the Newtown massacre. I don't know what the right course of action is. But I do know that I'm tired of hearing about this shit, and I'm tired of these responses that sound more like pie-in-the-sky fantasy.

A gun is a tool, a machine. It doesn't bestow on the person holding it magical powers. Owning guns and knowing how to use them didn't make Adam Lanza's mom safer. And I'm sick and tired of everyone trotting out their "But if only more people had guns, we'd all be safer" nonsense. It's a fantasy.

And I am also sick and tired of "well, let's just get rid of guns" or "let's just lock up all the crazies before they can hurt anyone." People with mental illnesses are many times over more likely to be the victims of violence than to commit it. And the "let's just get rid of guns" overlooks a very basic and obvious fact: Guns are widely available and easily accessible to everyone in this country.

And women don't do this. Not even women with mental illnesses.

As the conversation now stands, it reminds me a lot about how we talk about rape in our culture, where it's somehow the responsibility of the people being raped to avoid it or to defend themselves against it, because the men doing it are just some incomprehensible force of nature who cannot help themselves.

There's something wrong here, but, as usual, we're arguing over how to make unpleasant symptoms invisible instead of trying to figure out what's going wrong and fixing it.

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