Monday, December 17, 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary and the Call for More Guns

I, like most people, have been devastated by the news out of Connecticut on Friday. To think about the trauma inflicted upon those very young children, teachers, family, and the greater community shakes me.

There's not much that I can add about this whole thing that hasn't already been said. Some particularly important pieces I've read about it were at Feministe, The Huffington Post, and Shakesville. I also listened to a productive (although not perfect in terms of ableism) discussion on Diane Rehm's show this morning. If you're interested in how I feel about these situations in a general way, you can check out my post after the shooting at the movie theater in Aurora, CO this past summer. 

At that point in time I asked, how many more shootings do we need before we do something about our gun laws? And I shared this sobering info graphic which clearly depicts what an outlier the US is in terms of gun violence. 

It seems that following the murders in Sandy Hook, people are starting to pay attention, which makes me at least a little hopeful. Following Aurora there was a lot of discussion, but gun control remained politically unfavorable, and was not a major factor in the presidential election. However now, Diane Feinstein is promising to introduce a proposed ban on assault weapons. I couldn't be happier to hear this news. Like I tweeted on Friday, when people say that we're being disrespectful and "politicizing" these murders by talking about gun control, I couldn't disagree more. I feel that the absolute best way to honor victims of violence like this is to take a hard look at our gun culture, our propensity for gun violence, and talk about weapons bans which could concretely save lives.

And yet, in the face of all the stats, some people are calling for more guns.

You know...when we're looking our gun culture square in the face following events like this, several viewpoints inevitably arise. Some people, like me, call for control. Others ask that the laws not be changed, but we look at the way that we promote violence in general. There are others who think incidents like this mean we need to "bring God back into schools." (This viewpoint is really problematic, but not the one I will focus on right now.) 

And then there are the people who see guns as the solution to gun violence. I give you exhibit A, Ryan Muschinski, who had commented on a very popular post circulating Facebook about a teacher who lost her life on Friday: 
[Image: Facebook comment from Ryan Muschinski that reads, "Since teachers are the last line of defence (sic) for our children, maybe they should be trained to defend them instead of having no other option but to take a bullet."]
Ok, Mr. Muschinski didn't say "arm our teachers" but that is certainly the implication, isn't it? This is a path I can't even begin to travel down. It makes zero sense to me and it actually deeply scares me that this mentality is on the table and widely accepted as a reasonable talking point. The comment had 1,200+ "likes" when I screen capped it this morning, and Muschinski is hardly the first or only person throwing this idea around. Exhibit B, the Facebook group, "Arm Our Teachers." I counted 7 others like when I searched these terms. Exhibit C, conservative politicians chime in.

This is where the math just doesn't add up for me. When we look at that info graphic above (and the many other similar stats) we know unquestionably that America already has more guns. And that proliferation of guns correlates with more gun violence. It is fully illogical to assert that what we really need is more guns. On that Diane Rehm clip I linked above, one of the commentators addressed this viewpoint and discussed a scenario in which we create chaos by welcoming guns into schools. I feel like most reasonable people would agree that imagining this scenario is actually horrifying. 

I mean when we are confronted with other social problems, like the AIDS epidemic, for example, no one is saying that the solution is more unprotected sex. We have concrete data that there are ways to mitigate AIDS we use them. 

Well, we have data to back up a very clear set of conditions that have put us where we are in terms of gun deaths. The old "guns don't kill people, people kill people" mantra is a foolishly simplistic way to dismiss a very real problem. We must look at our laws. We have got to take action. And arming teachers is hardly the action I mean. I'm hoping with every fiber of my being that as Obama is entering his lame duck term, he'll take the action this country so terribly needs and changes our gun laws. 

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