Thursday, July 9, 2020
Guns & the risk of senseless irreversible tragedy
"Expect to see another rise in gun sales."
That was libertarian Republican writer David Harsanyi of the National Review, and formerly of The Federalist and The Denver Post. That sort of commentary saddens and troubles me, even as I understand the point he is making. Harsanyi's comment was responding to the violence and vandalism that came out of the George Floyd/Black Lives Matters protests in numerous cities across the county, including Denver where David and I live. Basically, he's implying that our neighbors seeing destruction near their part of town will inevitably feel like they must arm themselves against raging mobs that are sure to take over the cities and suburbs.
That's troubling to say the least, and the nation saw that mindset in action later in a ritzy private neighborhood of St. Louis' Central West End, when attorney Mark McKlosky and his wife pointed their AR-15 rifle and handgun at protesters who were marching to the mayor's house. The images of people on the verge of irreversible tragedy fascinated social media and the infotainment world for about fifteen minutes, and I couldn't help but wonder if the extreme views of people like Harsanyi and McKlosky are firmly rooted in the belief that property damage must or should be countered with deadly force. Basically, if someone vandalizes your home, would you kill them?
I don't own a gun, though I grew up around them and respect the right to possess them. However, I also fully support regulation of firearms, including mandatory training, licensing, and registration of all guns. And I do worry about people who would instinctively grab a gun to "defend themselves" in too many non-lethal situation. I carry pepper spray and have for a long time, ever since I was attacked by a loose neighborhood dog, and because I live in an area with high coyote and wildlife activity. My local police recommended it, and it gives me a reasonable and non-deadly defense against the potential threats I may face. Granted, if someone breaks into my house to assault and kill me or my family, a can of pepper spray may not stop them and standing on my lawn like Rambo McKlosky would be more of a deterrent. But I don't think that's the appropriate mindset for the type of civilized society in which I grew up.
The margin for error and senseless tragedy is too thin for people to feel like they must have a gun as the primary way to protect themselves. And there are too many collateral issues that also increase America's preventable tragedy epidemic. Not only do we know that America has a strange gun fetish and a gun violence problem, but there is reason to believe that "the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic could worsen our gun problem.
So, when I hear observations like Harsanyi's, I simply feel sad for who we've become and are becoming, and I'm troubled that an astute and reasoned thinker/writer like David believes such comments and views are the way to go.