Dear President Trump,
Are you following Oliver North’s statements about school shootings being a product of “our culture of violence” and we shouldn’t blame guns? Do you see any problems with that logic? Like maybe that the ubiquity of guns, our overly literal interpretation of the Second Amendment, and our unwillingness to value life over campaign monies from the gun industry are facets of said culture of violence? You can’t separate these crucial bits out from the sick reverence we have for violence. You just can’t; it’s all of a piece.
I absolutely agree we’ve all been brainwashed and benumbed by nonstop images of overt violence in videogames, movies, TV shows, and news coverage. But let’s get real. Do you and yours truly (be honest, this is important) think the answer to our violent culture is to continue allowing virtually unfettered access to violent means? I call logic fail on this.
One of the most frustrating things I’ve had to accept over the years as a psychologist and someone who puts a lot of stock into data and pattern recognition is that we absolutely suck at predicting future violence at the individual level. We are terrible at it. We can unpack violence after the fact and see the signs we should have spotted and things we could of, should of done to stop whatever tragedy occurred. Yep, we are good at that. But we can’t reliably predict who among us is going to f—ing flip and decide to take dozens of the rest of us out.
So, if we are to collectively accept the reality of this painful collective limitation, the logical thing to do is limit our collective access to violent means. At the VA we routinely work with Veterans to limit their access to weapons even if there isn’t an imminent concern about their safety. We ask them to make sure their guns are locked up with the ammunition separate because we don’t know who is at risk of doing something impulsive. If we want things to change, we have to reckon with our limitations and take actual, practical steps to decelerate and reverse the culture of violence we are perpetuating and this includes limiting our collective access to guns.
May we be safe from guns because guns do kill people.
May we be happy to deal with the whole reality of our culture of violence.
May we get that each of us being healthy and alive is more important than anyone owning a gun.
May we not stop agitating and making our voices heard until we get woke.