(Published 18 February, 2013 in CharlestonGrit.com) Awarded Blog of the Week
There’s been much in the news recently about guns and gun violence. By now, all the viewpoints, arguments, and rhetoric are out there for all to consider—moms, politicians, celebs, they’ve all weighed in, and the nation is listening. But I noticed there was one viewpoint curiously and suspiciously absent.
Nobody talked to the Gun. This is America, after all, and if guns are alleged to be violent, we should at least try to get the viewpoint of the perpetrator. Being a psychiatrist, I’m familiar with interview procedure and felt I could do a reasonably fair job of being non-threatening to the Gun. I really wanted to understand how guns feel about being labeled “violent.” More so, I wanted to know the answer to the perplexing question—are guns actually violent?
Here’s what he had to say (I refer to the Gun as “he” as he does not want his name battered about all over the Internet)….
On Family: To make the Gun comfortable I asked first if he could talk to me about his background. He replied that there was no abuse, and added that the owner that adopted him has always treated him well. They would go target practicing together. His owner always took him with him as a companion when leaving the home. The owner kept him clean, well-oiled, and safely hiidden. He felt very secure and appreciated. I thought to myself, unlike humans who do suffer abuse, this gun seemed stable and clearly not looking for an opportunity for “payback.”
On Life in the Spotlight: Guns are well aware of all the recent publicity, he said. To be sure I wasn’t being misled by a grandiose or delusional gun, I asked him to provide me with something relevant from recent news pertaining to guns. He said, sure: the number of homicide victims in the United States from 1990 to 2010 had trended downward from 25,000 victims to 10,000 victims per year. I checked his source and deemed it credible: the U.S. Department of Justice. The Gun went on to say the last time the homicide rate had been this low was prior to 1970. Yet, while the homicide rate dropped, gun ownership greatly increased. He opined that “an armed society is a more polite society.”
On President Obama: I figured any gun could have remembered one specific statistic. So, I asked him for additional relevant information. The Gun asked if I had paid attention to President Obama’s State of the Union speech. (Of course I had. How else would I know if this gun was just blowing smoke?) He went on to quote the president: “Our actions will not prevent every senseless act of violence in the country…. Indeed, no laws will perfectly solve all the challenges I have outlined tonight.” In fact, I remembered President Obama saying those words.
But then the Gun went on to quote the President at a speech he gave this past Friday which I had not read or heard: “There is no more important ingredient for success, nothing that would be more important for us reducing violence than strong, stable families, which means we should do more to promote marriage and encourage fatherhood.” The Gun said he really thought the president correctly identified a root cause of violence in society in that speech. This gun was clearly a “thinking gun” as opposed to a “smoking gun.”
I found myself starting to like this gun. You see, for many years I, too, had concluded the absence of strong father roles was a significant contributor to sociopathy and criminal behavior. Imagine my surprise to hear this same opinion from a purported perpetrator of violence.
On Guns’ Role in Violence: The Gun provided other statistics which seemed to substantiate his point that guns in general were being “framed.” For instance, he pointed to statistics from The Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Homicide was not included in the top 10 causes of mortality in the United States. However, suicide was included as the #10 leading cause of mortality with 1.5% of total deaths. Accidental death accounted for 4.9% of mortality. According to the Gun, these statistics reveal that human stupidity and mental illness is rampant and together, both account for 6.4% of total deaths in the U.S. (CDC stats)
The Gun also pointed out that homicide of all types (not only gun related) was 0.4% of total mortality for whites and 2.7% for blacks. This, he stated, would underscore President Obama’s plea for responsible fathers and intact families, especially as it pertains to the African American community (more than 55% of black children in live in single parent households; in 91% of those, the single parent is the mother:Politifact).
On Humans’ Role in Gun Violence: I wanted to see more of what motivated the Gun, so I said, “As all of us share a responsibility to make the world a better place, what do you do in this regard?” I was astonished to see the Gun totally break down. He sobbed uncontrollably. Handing the gun a tissue, I asked in a compassionate voice what this emotional abreaction was all about. He confessed that although he felt he was quite adequate and competent in his own abilities (does not malfunction, shoots accurately, effectively accomplishes its mission), he was terrified of being “misused or abused.” The Gun stated, “Essentially, all us guns are at the mercy of our human handlers.”
After he composed himself, he asked: “Do you know what it’s like to not have control? Do you know what it is like to have to depend on others to make the right decision for you? We guns feel totally helpless and maligned. It’s stupid humans that abuse us for their own criminal or emotional agendas.”
On the Solution: Asked how we can fix this, he responded, “I hope every well-meaning person in the world can adopt a gun. Doing so will limit the harm that can be done by emotionally disturbed or criminally inclined people that have somehow gotten control of one of us.” What else? “I’m pleading with all gun owners to keep their guns safe from children and criminals by using secure but quick-access storage.”
At this point, I felt the Gun had done an admirable job and was pretty emotionally spent. I expressed my appreciation for his willingness to engage in the interview and promised I would do my best to spread his viewpoint as it pertains to guns’ role in violence. I also reiterated I would respect his privacy and not release his name….