The Cling

Since we’re stuck in the modern Wild West, where glocks are the new six-shooters, how are we supposed to feel about the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history? How are we supposed to live with and think about it? Who do we talk to? What do we say? Where do we channel our anger or action? I know where I begin: Gun lovers are irresponsible and religion is outdated.

If a group of Americans are going to demand that our current gun culture exists, then that group of Americans holds the onus on reducing our 33,000 gun deaths per year. Many of those are suicides, but that needs resolution just like the other subsets of the overarching issue. Mass shooting numbers are a very low percentage of overall gun deaths, but they are domestic terrorism, and gun lovers are generally gung-ho on preventing terrorism across oceans. Why the void of voices and actions here at home?

To all gun lovers: Solving this problem is on you. You’re the ones who want the manufacturing, accessibility, and culture to be the way it is. If creating law and regulation isn’t the way to reduce gun deaths and mass shootings, then you have to come up with another one. It’s you’re responsibility, completely.

The pro-gun population prevents law and regulation because they say it won’t work. If you make assault rifles illegal, then only criminals have assault rifles. Laws aren’t preventative actions, they are responsive actions. It’s possible for a law to prevent a crime when a potential criminal is deterred by knowledge of the punishment, or in leads and investigations by law enforcement, but laws don’t definitively prevent anything. This is a very basic understanding of law. We’re talkin’ 4-year-old cognitive range here. But hey, maybe we are 4-year-olds. Our logic on guns shares roots with our logic on other major societal issues, like war and pollution. We want what we want, and we’re not too concerned about solving the problems that result.

We also want to feel the existential comfort that a 4-year-old feels. Religion does a lot of good for people who are seeking out meaning, which most people do, as they should. Our unclear existence is fascinating and scary. Religion can help with this, but no one can ignore the teachings in religious text that involve violence and murder. These are parts of the books just like the unifying, loving parts are, and people will act on both. With religion, bad apples (teachings) do spoil the bunch, because it all must be believed. The problem with religion now is that the good things that it does for people and society can be done without it (which is great news, people). Religion isn’t necessary anymore, and we can’t afford the dangers that it inspires.

So what do we do about it? Regarding guns, we vote. Ballots don’t vote for people, people vote for people. Regarding religion, we simply speak. We don’t let illogical thoughts fester in our everyday lives. It is very brave to tell someone they are wrong to be religious. You are likely to get anger or exile in return, similar to any conversation about gun laws with gun lovers. In a cultural sense, this is inertia fighting the turn. Changing culture takes a lot of strength, and we tap into that well of strength with sense, science, and sanity. It’s time to start talking universal answers and fundamental facts: What we know, what we don’t know — what we can know, what we can’t.

I know that after Sandy Hook it might seem impossible that any laws on guns will ever change. I know that the prevalence of religion in human history might make it seem impossible to imagine a society that has left it behind. Cynics on culture change feel that, instead, we leave Sandy Hook and Orlando behind, but that’s where I disagree. Sandy Hook isn’t gone. Orlando isn’t going anywhere. Every religious war and act of terror is here, stacking atop one another like pennies tossed into a burlap sack. We hold the weight. I’m not sure when it will become too heavy.

Our grip is strong.