Ok. Maybe more guns is the answer.

I am not really a gun person. I work to remain curious and ask questions in most situations. I am pretty sure the quickest way to not learn anything is to imagine I know everything, so. . . in light of the latest mass murder in California, what if we try to look at this differently?

In my experience, whenever there has been a mass shooting in this country, one of the first things said is, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” This is usually followed quickly by gun proponents of all stripes with words like these: “There should have been someone on site with a conceal and carry!” Or this, “more guns are the answer, everyone has a right to protect themselves!”

I would switch that around a little bit. I believe everyone has the right to feel safe. Personally, I’d like to do that without a gun, but, lets consider the more guns scenario more fully.

Have you ever been in a slow check out lane and watched the temperature rise as tempers get out of hand? What if the register clerk isn’t just slow or the store isn’t just pathetically understaffed (profits are down and it is the Holiday season after all). What if the clerk is an ‘idiot’ or what if the person making the purchase didn’t grab an item with a tag? Do you trust the players in this scenario to remove their projections, judgements and fears of the moment and manage the inconvenience or grievance with respect and courtesy?

Perhaps you were out driving over the recent Thanksgiving Holiday. What was your experience driving? We had snow here in Minnesota, it slowed traffic and brought out an amazing number of educated, experienced adults that seemed to forget how to responsibly navigate automobiles. I witnessed arm gestures, angry shouting and dangerous driving. I verbalized a few angry words myself.

Reminds me that my father once had a dispute with a man in over a parking space at a mall. Dad took the space and the man got out of his car and made a threatening gesture. Richard, the man who raised me, loved to tell how he leapt from his vehicle and wrestled with this stranger until had got him in a head lock and rammed his head into the van. True story, but, you would never have suspected this of Richard had you known him.

I’ve mentioned a couple common, mild situations, but, our culture and these times are anything but mild or common. What if someone has lost a job, their home or a loved one? What if betrayal or deceit are involved? Couple that with the rudeness, self-absorption and disrespect that have become the currency, not only of public discourse but our political arena. Where can this go from here?

My point is simple. To suggest that the answer to America’s systemic cultural violence is, in fact, more weapons is to endorse an underlying idea that I believe is fundamentally and impossibly wrong. It requires a belief that not only would everyone carrying (and concealing) such weaponry had taken considerable training on the responsible and accurate use of the weapon at issue; more importantly, it suggests that they as individuals could handle their own fears and emotions, judgements and projections in such a way as to discern the ‘truth’ of a situation and bring it to an efficient and responsible conclusion.

What are the chances that a person, even a responsible, emotionally stable, committed gun enthusiast with dozens of hours of weapons training and practice is going to make the right decision in a dangerous, high-stakes crisis when clearly even our own law enforcement professionals are having a difficult time? Next to zero in my judgement.

Not only that, lets make it personal. Having watched the news this evening, it was reported that a five-year work associate of Farook, the man who led the latest mass murder in California, had no clue who this man was, nor his capacity to do harm. I have to ask. . . how well do you know your friends? Your family? Your self? Are you prepared for each of your friends and family to carry? Would you trust them to?

My suspicion is that when it comes down to it, the words are rhetoric. The argument is not well-considered. Perhaps it is time we stopped hiding, as a culture, behind the notion of mental illness or even ‘terrorists’ as the root of the problem of violence in America. Perhaps its time we got the mirror out and considered what it is about American culture that idolizes, foments and inspires violence. Are you ready to take a look in the mirror?