Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Control Is An Illusion

I am tired of stories like this one - Firefighter Shot, Killed Exchanging Kid's Meal Toy

On the same day that Los Angeles faced a fatal, multi-victim shooting, St. Louis was confronted with the same tragedy. Unfortunately, it is not a new or isolated phenomenon. Large cities and small towns across the country are becoming less and less strangers to such incidents. St. Louis itself has seen more than its fair share just over the last few decades. On top of the daily dose of vile acts seen during the nightly news, places once considered sacrosanct, like schools and churches, have become increasingly preyed upon by those seeking recourse through violent means. Naturally, there always exists the disconnect anesthetizing us in the belief that it only happens there rather than here. Clich├ęd as it is, we know now that if it can happen in the quaint, tranquil community of Kirkwood, it can occur in Anywhere, USA.

The problem stems from the idea of gun control. Throw the term out, because it is bogus. There is no such thing. Government can institute an infinite amount of laws to control this or that, but there is one irrefutable factor that can never be accounted for – the person holding the gun. People kill people, not the guns and bullets. The latter is only the means, and certainly not the only one, by which the former is able to occur. Therefore, the only way to have true gun control is by doing one of two things: take away the guns or take away the human beings, or at the very least their instinctual aggressive behaviors. At present, neither is realistically likely to happen. There are those who see more guns as the answer, specifically in the form of concealed ones. Certainly, it would alleviate the need for gun control with everyone in control of a gun, hidden as it may be. Yes, let's have every citizen on the streets armed as they go about their daily lives! While it might be an answer, it is the wrong answer – and a misguided legacy for future generations. Having the capacity to stop violence through aggressive means, even in the name of safety and security, is not the answer needed for ending the violence. It only perpetuates it.

Obviously, the Virginia Tech shooting is the worse incident in recent memory, despite occuring in an era touted as the strictest in terms of gun control legislation. But just look at three of the major ones to occur this year alone - and only two months into it - and try to argue that something does not need to immediately change about "gun control":

6 Dead In Shooting Rampage At Kirkwood City Council

5 Dead In Strip Mall Shooting; Gunman At Large

Former Student Guns Down 5 In Attack At Northern Illinois University; Kills Self

We consider our society a civil one, in spite of every day proof further illustrating that present-day man is just as barbaric as any of its ancestors. Perhaps we are even more so because we are collectively aware of it, only enacting rhetorical legislation that gives us a sense of control and safety – a false one at that. The United States, like a majority of countries throughout the world, was born from conflict, our forefathers using the force of arms in the name of liberty. By right under the Second Amendment, over two hundred years later the nation is still a gun culture – with no apparent end to it in sight.
Nevertheless, how many senseless shootings and innocent lives will it take before we change that culture, to the betterment of a truly civil society? Or can it not be done without sacrificing our principles, let alone our nature? The answers may come too late if we do not begin to make those changes now. Otherwise, we will continue to face similarly repeated tragedies in years to come before we have even healed from the present ones.

©2008 Steve Sagarra

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