Changing Up -> The Death Wish

I haven’t done anything with this blog I setup for a few years now. This is a pretty big change going from a photography blog to posts discussing political issues. Last night I wrote a pretty long essay on Facebook and I guess people without Facebook access can’t easily get to it. So I’ll be posting the essay and its follow-ups here also. Here are my thoughts on guns and modern society:

The Death Wish

There is so much wrong with the state of American society today. Fiscal turmoil is threatening us all. The broken political system is paralyzed and barely able to act on any issue of significant importance. Beating the other team is so much more important than coming up with a way for us all to succeed together. And now the gun problem is brought front and center. Made impossible t

o ignore (for the moment at least) by the age of most of its helpless and innocent victims. We cannot allow this to continue to happen. Ever since Klebold and Harris attacked their school there has been a somewhat constant underpinning fear and knowledge that this type of tragedy would happen again.

The problem is guns.

Yes I know most of America probably doesn’t agree with me here. But there it is, the plain truth laid bare. So many people don’t want to put in the effort to think this through, however it’s almost 3:30 AM, I can’t sleep, so I’m gonna do my thinking out loud here.

Ok, the problem isn’t guns by themselves. I think we can all agree that a gun doesn’t move, aim or go off by itself. People kill people, yes there is a true statement. But when people commit murder most of the time they do so with a gun. I’m going to break this up into 3 primary kinds of homicide. There are crimes of passion, truly premeditated murder (for some type of gain whether money, anger or revenge) and suicide. But then there is this other weird classification that we’re all reeling from now. That of a deranged person, going out of their mind and deciding to kill everyone around them for some often inexplicable reason. I would put the likes of McVeigh into the premeditated murder column, but the Kleibolds, Harris’, Chos and now Lanzas belong in the latter. How do we stop someone that has a time bomb ticking in their heads? The simple fact of the matter is that we can’t. If you really want to take the life of another, you can find a way. The question I’m asking is why can’t we make finding that way much much harder?

The prevalence of guns in America makes the ability to carry out homicidal thoughts much too easy. Some of you are no doubt saying, well the killers could have used a knife or a club. Yes they could have, but the fact remains that they didn’t. Why? Because knives, clubs, poisons, fists, swords etc are much harder to use. They require physical strength, martial know how, and extremely close proximity. When was the last time you heard of someone hacking 28 people to death with any of those weapons?

The problem with easy access to guns is that killing someone with a gun is only just a few small steps away from having the ability to simply wish someone dead. Just think about this hypothetical for a moment. What if some researcher discovered a way to make it possible to kill other people simply by thinking that you wished them dead? Would it make sense to have that technology freely available to everyone? Think hard before you answer. I would expect by a large margin most people would think the advent of such a technology unwise. Our brains move fast and think unreasonable thoughts sometimes. I have to admit that there have been a couple of times in my life where I wished someone else dead. I consider myself to a be a pretty well regulated individual and could never envision actually killing someone simply because I was angry. If such a technology existed it would wreak havoc on humanity because of the fact that our emotions run strong and wild.

Guns are closer to this phenomenon than you realize. They make the act of homicide too easy. You can be angry, or suffer from some real or imagined threat and escalate the situation beyond reason and then if you have a gun nearby its just a matter of raising the weapon and squeezing the trigger. Especially when the person you wish dead is completely unarmed and unable to escape. Guns allow sick, damaged, angry and evil people to kill too easily. Modern technology has taken this to such an extreme it is mind boggling. It is said that Lanza fired over 100 bullets. Assuming 30 round magazines that is 3 reloads. Any idea how long it takes to squeeze off 100 rounds in an AR-15 type weapon? Including the magazine changes a determined shooter could do so in around a minute. 100 outgoing death wishes, in about a minute.

Are guns really making things safer? Ask yourself, how many times have you heard a story in the past year where someone actually used a gun to defend themselves? Now compare that to the number of murders you’ve heard about. There are something like 9000 homicides by firearm per year in America. The most common case I can think of where guns are successfully used in self defense are when small shops/stores are robbed and the owner fights back. These guys are out there alone and exposed with dollar sign targets on their backs. It probably makes sense for them to be armed. How many of those success stories did you hear of?

Technology is great, it makes so many things in our lives so much easier. Guns make the taking of someone else’s life (or even your own) far too much easier also. More guns aren’t the solution. More prepacked, preloaded little brass colored death wishes waiting for the next Zimmerman or other stand your ground nut job to instigate an altercation won’t make things better.

The human psyche is complex, sometimes irrational and occasionally flawed. It can’t always be trusted with the power of the death wish.

It’s after 4 AM now and I’m supposed to wake up in less than 2 hours, ugh. I’ll continue with ideas on how to address these problems later today.

One Response to “Changing Up -> The Death Wish”

  1. Derek, I think you have made an excellent point in characterizing the firing of gun as just one step away from the firing of a synapse. Clearly gun advocates have an unrealistic view of the amount of mental control people employ with firearms. You’re right: Often it isn’t much more control than we have over the momentary random thoughts that run through our heads. Unfortunately, your excellent analogy is unlikely to sway gun owners. Many gun fans don’t want to acknowledge that there are things in life they don’t have control over–including their own minds.

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