I’ve had a lot of time to think these past couple of weeks. Also, I had a bit of time to catch up on some reading. In trying to do my duty as a citizen and keep abreast of the news I read blogs, news articles, op eds, and a few random Facebook posts. Much of the literature I read touched on gun control. I made an effort to read the arguments on both sides. I have my opinions about guns and gun control, but I do want to understand why the advocates for gun ownership have their opinion, so I read some more, talked to some friends, and did some more thinking because I honestly became more confused through all of my information gathering.
I’ll be clear, I hate guns. I do, I do, and I think for good reason, but that’s another story. Anyway, I am having a hard time understanding what the gun control advocates think gun control will really accomplish. Will a ban on assault weapons result in fewer gun deaths? It should. But, from the reading I’ve done, it seems that gun control advocates have an expectation that banning certain types of guns will reduce violence in general. I think that’s a stretch. Violence is complicated. The triggers are numerous and deep-seated and not solely tied to guns or gun control. Really, it’s about impulse control, and anger management, and a commitment to living peacefully, to start the list.
Removing weapons does not necessarily mean peace, a truce of sorts perhaps, but not peace. With or without guns we have hurdles of societal proportions to address before we can expect to live in a less violent society. Violence is everywhere – TV (and not just the programs – some of the commercials depict violent behavior as the way to resolve issues), movies, YouTube, talk shows (both on TV and radio), and in person-to-person conversations. Violence takes many forms. It is actions and deeds but also passive-aggressive behavior, and words. Words are powerful tools capable of great violence in themselves, and I not only hear violent threads from others, but occasionally from myself.
From this info gathering foray of mine, it’s was interesting to learn that many gun advocates seem to think that having, and carrying guns also reduces violence. I don’t necessarily understand all of that logic but what they claim is that carrying a gun, specifically a concealed weapon, actually makes them less likely to have an altercation. When packing a gun, they are careful about how they engage with others, and prefer to walk away from trouble rather than let it escalate. In other words, they say that because they are carrying a gun, they are more mindful of their words and actions and are therefore more peaceful.
I read a parallel line of thinking on a family cycling blog the other day. The blogger claimed that since she started cycling with her children, she’s less likely to react to drivers who make mistakes: no yelling, or flipping off because she wanted to set a good example for the children. Good for her, one step closer to peace!
In both of the above cases the adults were aware that an attitude change is required for their situation. I have neither children or guns so this made me wonder: what can I carry to help me change my attitude and help make me more peaceful. What can I pack, either literally or figuratively, to help me be less reactive and help me to think before acting out in response to things I don’t like? I’m still pondering that.
I’m also pondering if the gun advocates or cycling blogger realize that perhaps they shouldn’t just adjust their attitude when packing (guns or kids). Perhaps they could work on adjusting their behavior even when not packing. It reminds me of a friend of mine that used to get miffed when other cyclists claimed to be more careful when they weren’t wearing their helmets and took more risks with their helmets on. He believed that the helmet shouldn’t be an influence on how they handled their bikes. He thought it was crazy and irresponsible of them not to be careful ALL of the time.
Is it not crazy and irresponsible for any of us to act as if we’re “wearing helmets” when it comes to how we choose to interact with others? If we aren’t mindful of every word and action, even those meant in jest, and how they might impact someone else, are we not being careless? The problem is, most of us have great difficulty living mindfully and living our lives at the same time. We get busy, stressed, tired, etc., etc., and before you know it we’re yelling at the guy that just cut us off in traffic, or saying something we regret.
I don’t know whether or not gun control will help bring more peace to the world, but I do know that I can bring more peace to my own life, and to the life of those around me. I believe that IS where we really need to start the conversation about violence – with ourselves: our actions, words, and deeds.
I ask again: what can I pack to help me avoid exhibiting violent words or actions, ALL of the time? I’m not likely to have children at this point in my life, and gun ownership is also not an option for me either.
So, what to pack for peace? Any ideas, let me know.
PS- I’m always nervous about posting personal opinions like this on my blog. If you don’t like it, or if you disagree with anything I’ve said, I’d like to hear from you, but please be gentle. Thanks.