The day I got the first note from Huffington post that I can henceforth blog for them, I was ecstatic - and scared. I wanted to write on topics to provoke thoughts, and provoking thoughts would undoubtedly provoke emotions and opposition too. Thus the fear. But after my first piece, I realized that no matter how much the fear, I will have to keep writing. My pieces won't be perfect, and my heart will be beating faster as I penned the pieces on topics like these, but even if they provoke thought and resonate with just one person, it will be worth it. So here I am, devastated this morning by the news of the Oregon shooting, venturing to write on gun violence.
I am not here to put forward novel thoughts or radical solutions to tackle the issue. I am not capable of doing so, and I also believe all that needs to be said has been said. And although ground breaking out of the box measures might be thought of one day; the currently debated measures can be good enough. They just need a chance to be proven effective. I just wanted to collect and list out all that has been already said -- in comments to online articles, news channel talk shows, and twitter arguments -- and my simple, maybe naïve, counter arguments. When working on a difficult project, seeing everything laid out on a paper helps me have an epiphany. A common sense epiphany; that might be otherwise missing, pointing out the collective ridiculousness and redundancy of the arguments. So here is my list in an attempt to provoke the same.
1. Guns don't kill people -- people kill people. So Gun control is not the answer.
Yes off course!! But then, nuclear weapons don't kill people either, and neither do military grenades. People do. But we still control and limit access to weapons of mass destruction -- not because they themselves have personified power -- but the extent of damage that can be caused in wrong hands, or even in the right hands, erroneously, needs them to be restricted. So yes, I can inflict damage if I want to even with a fork, but my chances of killing nine people, or even one before I can be impeded is slight compared to if I had an assault rifle. More the power to inflict damage more dangerous the item becomes and therefore need to be restricted.
2. There can be mass knife attacks -- or chemical weapons, or pressure cooker bombs -- if guns are taken away.
The redundancy comes in already -- the above response applies again.
But also, possibly not. It is well understood and documented that the harder the impediment becomes in a moment of impulsive thinking -- the lesser is the probability of acting on that impulse. My Alma Mater, Cornell, in 2010 put high fences all around its gorgeous gorges to prevent the high number of campus suicides that had occurred in the past semester. Did that mean that the really desperate and determined souls couldn't find a mean to end their lives anymore? No, but it did mean that some lives -- those of the ones having a terrible, impulsive, moment of despair - were saved by limiting access. Someone very close to me jumped off a building 10 years back and now spends his life paralyzed from spine down and bed-ridden. Every time I talk to him on the incident, he still expresses with a regret that can't be described in words: if only someone had pulled him back... had stopped him from going to the roof that day...
Also, just because we can't prevent one problem, mean we shouldn't try to prevent any?
Why is it that common sense is thrown out the window when we put forward these arguments boldly? Even on national television?
People die on accidental flight crashes -- but should we allow guns on flights too since we can't prevent all disasters anyways?
3. Don't target guns -- target mental illnesses.
I strive hard to not judge, but I somehow feel the ones putting forward this argument either doesn't understand the complexities associated with mental illnesses, have never had close association with mental illnesses -- or choose to act ignorant and defiant on the topic to serve some other agenda. As someone who has had personal and close family struggles with mental illnesses, have spent hours and hours with counselors and psychiatrists - it infuriates me to think that people talk of tackling mental illnesses as if they are as well understood and curable/addressable as a sore throat. The grey zones -- the spectrum, the unknowns, the frustrations of having no solutions -- how do I even begin to explain why there is no way sequestration is possible based on screening for mental conditions?
4. The way to prevent gun violence is more guns.
First of all -- NO, I don't think so (and all the mass shootings point to that). Because even if I had a gun, when taken by surprise by a mass attacker, I will most probably not be able to successfully counter. I will also bear the risk of inflicting more harm!
My weapon of choice; might not match automatic assault rifles in velocity and efficiency. And common sense gun laws don't ask to restrict all guns -- but only the ones with so much power of devastation that even having means of defense (including a gun) will not give me a fighting chance an event of surprise attack. And no -- handing me an automatic assault rifle too will not be the solution either! Because the chance of accidental collateral damage will just go higher.
Self-defense theory works in home against an invader, but how is preventing assault rifles and background check preventing me from that right in any way?
5. Criminals will break laws any ways.
Yes, they will. But we still need to make it harder and harder for them. Circling back again to the points of ease of access and incremental improvements.
And the latest one -- heard on CNN against the President's statement on gathering data by background checks: such a statement is jumping the gun as we don't know all the facts yet for the latest Oregon shooting. Thus we if it could have helped. OK agreed. Let's wait for the facts specific to this case then. But if they do come out to indicate tighter scrutiny for handing out guns could have helped, will we act then? Will we take a chance on trying the things that seem so easy, so sensible, so simple that when jotted down together, the arguments against start to look more -- not less -- ridiculous?
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