Fear and Avoidance are not Strategies for Governance
America is in the midst of a gun violence epidemic and everywhere — from the local Salida City Council meetings this week to the Department of Justice — there is the wringing of hands over “what can be done?”
Well, there are things that can be done, but first, the government at all levels and ordinary people have got to stop dealing with this from a position of political or physical retribution. Instead, deal with this as an assertion of OUR rights to live safely and free from fear and our responsibility to each other to make that happen.
That we are at this stage is due to two realities: a growing tolerance and normalization of violence coupled with access to guns, and the failure of government at all levels to stand up to the power of the gun lobby.
That brings us to this complete fallacy: this is not a mental health thing. Every other country in the world has people with mental health issues and they aren’t having hundreds of mass shootings. The differentiating factor is gun laws; this is about access to guns. In Japan, Europe, New Zealand, Australia, and around the globe, access to guns is in check. Here guns are proliferating.
Why else do we need to report that according to the 2020 U.S. Census, the U.S. has a population of 330 million but according to Guns.com, private citizens own 434 million guns; 20 million of them are AR-style weapons.
An analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a research nonprofit, that relied on 2020 data compiled by the CDC found that firearms were the No. 1 cause of death for American children.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, as of this morning, December 6, there have been 630 mass casualty shootings so far this year in the U.S. There are only 365 days in the year.
As I write this afternoon, make that 631. The campus at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas is locked down due to a mass shooting on campus. Just before that occurred, it was reported in a news story from Texas that a new device has been created that could turn a handgun into a machine gun.
Nevada has red flag laws. So does Colorado. Yet in the recent MCE (translation — “mass casualty event”) in Custer County in a neighborhood where one of our reporters lives, a heavily-armed man is reported to have repeatedly threatened his neighbors, before shooting four and murdering three of them. The local Sheriff’s Office didn’t take his guns away.
People are hyper-concerned about gun rights — and the gun lobby and gun dealers take advantage of a massive misinterpretation of the Second Amendment. When that doesn’t seem to be enough, as in the local situation with an AR15-armed man on Salida’s downtown F Street, they throw in the First Amendment for good measure.
Well — AVV is exercising our First Amendment rights. We object strongly to the proliferation of guns, the gun lobby’s resistance to common sense gun laws, and the absolute refusal of some local governments to understand their duty to acknowledge the “alarm” — the threats to our personal safety and sense of well-being — being perpetrated on our being and our businesses.
I’d like to ask them to spend a few weeks in my office, where from my window I have to look at the AR-15 guy and hear him yelling at Ark Valley Voice.
“I am not anti-gun, but I am anti-people creating fear in our downtown,” said Councilwoman Dominique Naccarato. She mentioned hearing from other city council members who say to her, “Why are you letting this happen in your town?”
Where is the concern for the “freedom from fear” that FDR spoke of in his address to the United States Congress during WWII? Then we knew who the enemy was — and it wasn’t our neighbor.
Where is the common sense that famed Western lawman Bat Masterson showed when at the request of the town council, he cleaned up Buena Vista in the 1880s by making everyone leave their guns at the edge of town?
We regularly get press releases from the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Association jeering at efforts by parents who have lost children to gun violence in their schools, about being ‘crybabies’. They mock Colorado legislative efforts to establish three-day waiting periods or raise the age to purchase a gun to 21 while announcing lawsuits.
We are all impacted by gun violence but the solution is not more guns, or adding more shared armored vehicles to local budgets. Those of us who walk around without guns are surely showing ourselves to be braver than those whose identities are tied up selfishly with their “emotional support” guns.
The solution is recognizing that the rest of us have rights too — and every one of us has a responsibility to our community and the common good. Our responsibility as members of society implies consideration for the feelings and fears of others, and using the power of government for good. Not blindly throwing up our hands and hiding behind enforcement objections or tiny fines, or for that matter, the Second Amendment.
Editor’s Note: Most AVV staff, like Naccarato, come from families of hunters. We are not anti-gun. We agree with Naccarato.