Let’s Talk About the Way We Talk About Guns

From the inception of Good Mythical Morning, we’ve intended for the show to be decidedly apolitical. This wasn’t to be a platform to discuss the issues that divide our country. Instead, it was a place for some good, clean fun. While people watched us struggle to stomach animal testicles (not exactly good or clean but apparently fun), they were being given a break from the weighty stuff. This was about coming together to watch one middle-aged man make a peanut butter hairdo for his middle-aged best friend. That’s the kind of thing everyone can get behind, regardless of political leanings.

None of that has changed. We have no intentions of our show becoming political. We will never go from lighting bowling balls and birthday cakes on fire to burning current or past presidents in effigy. That being said, a select few times we have decided to raise the voice of our show to address an issue that — while controversial — we feel transcends politics. This week, we did just that.

A few weeks ago, we were contacted by the father of Bailey Holt, one of the students killed in the Marshall County, Kentucky high school shooting on January 23rd. Bailey’s dad told us that she was a fan of GMM and watched the show everyday. He asked if we would wear #MarshallCountyStrong bracelets on the show. We were honored to be asked and proud to wear them. We also expressed our solidarity with the students taking part in the March for Our Lives this weekend.

This didn’t strike us an especially controversial thing to say. After all, supporting kids who are hoping to move the needle on gun violence seems pretty reasonable. Add to that the fact that this issue is personal for us. Not only was Bailey a fan (or Mythical Beast as we call them), but I’ve got two kids attending public schools, while Link has three.

Alas, our decision to take the occasion of a fan being murdered on her high school campus as an appropriate time to address the issue of school gun violence was apparently too much for some people. Yes, acknowledging a victim of a school shooting and expressing support for a student-led march demanding that something be done to address gun violence was enough for some individuals to declare their intention to never watch our show again.

It’s worth mentioning that I’m a gun owner, and I was taught responsible gun ownership when I was a child. I hunted with my father and operated my own shotgun when I was twelve years old. And, as fans of our show know, I have a borderline paranoid obsession with the apocalypse and have every intention of being armed if things really hit the fan. All that to say: fears of our show becoming a mouthpiece for anti-gun leftist propaganda are likely unfounded.

Furthermore, I’m all for healthy debate. I’m not troubled by genuine discourse about the efficacy of gun control or the proper interpretation of the second amendment. What concerns me most isn’t the dialogue. It’s the toxic and destructive nature of the conversation. Case in point: after choosing to vocalize our support for students who are demanding that their political leaders do something to help create a safe environment for them to learn, we were met with tired and unproductive cliches like:

“Guns don’t kill people, people do.”

“This isn’t a gun problem, it’s a people problem.”

“Stick to entertaining, not politics.”

“These kids have no idea what they’re marching for.”

“These walkouts and marches accomplish nothing.”

That’s just a handful of examples of the ideological rhetoric that’s been spewing from keyboards lately. I’m honestly surprised that so many people are resorting to these platitudes given the utter ridiculousness of such sentiments after a moment’s consideration.

Sure, guns don’t kill on their own, but they sure as hell allow people to kill stunning numbers in short timespans. It seems self-evident that we’d want to make it more difficult for dangerous people to have them. As for celebrity opinions, they may sometimes be uninformed, but the people who are so quick to tell celebrities to stick to their craft and keep their politics to themselves are often the same people who voted for a reality TV star for president. In regard to the students marching this weekend, they’ve demonstrated an ability to speak more intelligently and eloquently about gun violence than most of the politicians who are tasked with offering solutions for it. And, anyone claiming that walkouts and protests don’t accomplish anything are encouraged to crack open a history book.

Complex, pressing issues don’t deserve trite slogans. Effective policies usually don’t fit on bumper stickers. And real progress (in this case, progress being fewer kids being shot at school) is not going to come by simply responding to any hint of dissension by pulling out your back-pocket party line proverbs.

The thorny nature of the debate around gun violence in our country is precisely why we need to lower our defenses and engage in a meaningful and productive dialogue. We’ve got to stop acting like children in order to solve a problem that’s killing children. They deserve better.

Bailey deserved better.

This is not a time to dig deeper into an ideological trench. This is not a time to tell people with influence to be silent. This is not a time to demonize people who have different ideas about solutions to problems that affect us all. This is not a time to question the motives of students who are literally marching for their lives.

This is a time to stop being an asshole.

This is a time to work together for change.