The genie is out of the bottle

And we can’t put it back in there. In the wake of another school shooting, the predictable reactions from all sides have continued. The pro-gun people have pointed at the ghoulish media coverage of the events as the cause, and the anti-gun people have blamed easy access to firearms. Meanwhile, the majority of America forgot about it entirely because the royal wedding was on the next day, and these white kids weren’t rich with well connected parents.

Was that a little too cynical for you? Sorry, but the truth hurts. It’s been 11 years since the Virginia Tech shooting, and almost 19 years since Columbine. You know what we’ve done? Passed a ridiculous assault weapons ban that didn’t really ban anything, and written a bunch of hand-wringing editorials about how to “solve the school shooting problem.”

I’ve got sour news for you, Jack. There are two reasons you can’t “solve” school shootings. The first is that because there’s not one consistent thing that causes school shootings, and until we get a bunch of weird psychics floating in a pool of goo predicting all crime, we’ll always be reactionary in our response to violence. The second reason is a bit harsher and you’re not going to like it: no one cares. Sure, pro-gun advocates care, because the last thing we want is to see kids dying. I’m sure that anti-gun advocates care as well, because the last thing they want is to see kids dying. But the average American doesn’t care about gun violence.

Oh sure, they care in the sense that they don’t want to see kids dying and crying on CNN, but they don’t care enough to actually do anything about it, because that sounds a lot like work. Why get involved when it’s so much easier to pop another Cheeto and flip the channel over to the royal wedding or the Voice, man isn’t Blake Shelton dreamy? Caring takes work, and it takes investment, and people just aren’t invested in anyone’s lives outside of theirs. We have created these perfect cocoons made out of HBO and Facebook where it’s easy to let the news hit and bounce, and facts are pretty much irrelevant. You want to “solve” school shootings? You have to make people care.

How do you do that? People have to have skin in the game to really care about stuff, and yet most parents and most of middle America looks at these shootings and thinks “oh well that won’t happen in my school.” To be fair, they’re probably right. Despite how the media portrays it, your children have a much better chance of dying in a car crash than they do because of a school shooting. But that’s not the point, the point is how do you convince the average person that they do have skin in the game?

I honestly don’t know. I don’t have kids myself, so I can’t speak to that. What I can speak to is the title of this post, and two things that aren’t going to change. Two genies that are already out of the bottle. The activists on both sides love to point fingers, but the things we’re pointing at aren’t going to change. There are 300 million guns in the US, in the hands of 100 million gun owners. The sheer logistics involved in confiscating those are mind boggling, and pretty much impossible without large scale military mobiblization. You think Deputy Bob is going to go to his next door neighbor and take away his bird shotgun? That’s cute.

Of course, the media genie is also out of the bottle. As pro-gun advocates, we can point out that the media’s coverage of these events is only promoting more of them, but that’s not going to change. The networks need to make money and since America doesn’t really care, they’re going to feed the masses what they want: ghoulish coverage that basically looks like a scoreboard for mass murder. We can’t change that without a massive change in the way most people consume their media. Like I said, the genie’s out of the bottle.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t measures that can be taken. I’ve always been a proponent for safe storage of firearms, especially when you have a minor child in the house. Maybe safe storage laws are a good idea, and something that should be looked at. Maybe the media can reach deep down inside of themselves and remember ethics, and stop turning these murderers into celebrities – maybe it’s time for some reasonable regulations on the press. But again, you won’t see anything happen until people who aren’t actively involved in the issue care about it. Until then it’ll be remain the pro-gun advocates and the anti-gun advocates firing salvos back and forth trying to win hearts and minds so they can make the changes they want.

8 Comments

  1. Really, safe gun storage laws? Isn’t murder against the law? Aren’t Schools, GUN FREE zones? How are those laws working? Media Sensationalism certainly does nothing to aid in preventing these horrible events. But there are other common denominators in many of them.

    1. Actually yeah, I like safe storage laws. I think it should be illegal to allow a minor unauthorized access to a firearm.

      1. Personally, I don’t need Regulations aka Laws to use COMMON sense. And for those that do, the laws typically don’t work; since they don’t go door to door to enforce them (it’s not what we want either).

      2. I think that’s already the law. (At least in FL, if not the US) When buying a retail firearm in FL for the last 10+ years, I’ve had to sign a thing acknowledging it.

        1. That’s weird. I used to run a gun store in Florida and there was no legal requirement from the federal government or FDLE to make people do that.

      3. In principle I agree with you. I think guns should be locked up — though for a different reason: to prevent an easy theft. However, here’s the thing: I know plenty of people with kids — teens to be exact — who keep their guns locked up. The kicker is, they also allow their teens access to the gun safe. Now, there are legitimate reasons for this. The parents may have judged their teens as mature enough to understand and respect proper gun usage, yet still want their children to be able to defend themselves in a catastrophic situation (ie, a home invasion where the teen is home but the parents are not). And for sure, we definitely have seen reports in the news about minors defending themselves with guns at home, so this isn’t exactly an uncommon phenomenon.

        In the case above, I think a safe storage law runs counter to what is best for the individual gun owner and his family. Some gun owners will decide that their kids aren’t ready yet for access to the safe, but for others, it only makes sense to let all competent family members have access to the home-defense weapon. It should really be up to the gun owner to decide.

        Gun ownership is both a right and a responsibility, and for that 2nd part, we need to ensure that people be as responsible as they can through safety campaigns and common sense gun mentoring/outreach to fellow gun owners. But I don’t think it should be up to the state to be nannying people around about that — and definitely shouldn’t be up to a bunch of hoplophobes to dictate to us how we should be responsible gun owners. Gun owners themselves have a record to be proud of — negligent shootings and deaths are at a hundred year low according to the NSSF.

  2. How about safe gun storage for everyone? (“Man shot after gun hidden inside oven goes off”) WKBN First News 27, Ohio) He placed it there for safekeeping, but didn’t tell the other occupant. Who used the oven as… an oven.

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