Saturday, December 22, 2012

Fear and its Consequences

We Americans are good at fear. At being afraid. At being manipulated into thinking that the boogey man, if not at our door, has obtained our address on the Internet and is on his way.

The price of this fear is a nation awash in guns. Be it hand guns, rifles or those whose very name betrays their gruesome purpose—assault weapons. There isn’t a developed nation that can touch us.

America is the firearms (and homicide) capitol of the first-world.

Since we are convinced the boogey man is at our doorstep, we rush out to buy them—the more guns the better. If one makes us safe, twenty practically ensures eternal life. Owning a gun assures us it will be within reach when confronted by a home invader.

Statistics prove differently. Like the ones which state you're anywhere between 17 and 43 times more-likely to have the gun inside your home used on you than on an intruder.

But statistics are easily-manipulated, aren't they? And numbers certainly aren't as vivid or terrifying as the images our lizard brains can conjure up when properly provoked.

Kindly ignore the fact a home invader never looked down the barrel of the gun Nancy Lanza owned—Lanza did.

But you’re different. Your gun is going to be used in the heroic slaughter of a home invader (preferably Black or Hispanic) bent on killing your children and raping your wife. You're going to put a big hole in his chest.

You're John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and Steven Seagal. Combined.

If you say so.

I am not immune to fear. I am terrified. What makes me so anguished is that even after the carnage of 2012, we are asking what to do.

Even after motor vehicle deaths have dropped to 1949 levels because of game-changing advances in automotive safety, we remain hostage to a well-organized minority who is expert at making their fear our fear.

The gun lobby reasons that if everyone has a gun, some sort of societal critical mass will be achieved. That one gun neutralizes another. That must be the reason war is such a raging success. Two people plus two guns equals stalemate.

Guess I didn’t get the memo.

And what exactly is the gun lobby's definition of "all", anyway? Do we arm the homeless? The poor? The unemployed? Or just wealthy white people in gated communities?

And beyond the NRA and the gun manufacturers and sellers it fronts, who exactly does this benefit? Morticians?

We forget we live in a society in which an ever-increasing number of people receive their idea of what is appropriate from reality TV. A disturbing number of us feel entitled to mass murder when we don’t enjoy the sex life of a rock star or the wealth of a Wall Street trader.

Or when someone ends a romance with us.

Others feel entitled when decended-upon on by a group who metes out the kind of cruelty only human beings are capable of.

Once and for all, more roads don’t ease congestion. More drugs don’t heal addiction. And more guns don’t make us safer.

If they did, we'd be the safest nation on Earth.