Thursday, July 26, 2012

Gun Violence: What's Next

Hello blog friends! I wanted to write up a post on something that's been on my mind a little as of late, considering I haven't posted anything on the matter on my Twitter or Tumblr. I know I'm due to write up the second part of my Italy vacation posts but I wanted to address this first.

As we're all well-aware, an atrocity took place at the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Colorado recently. A gunman entered the theatre and opened fire on the audience. I haven't been following the case too closely, but I am confident this man will receive an appropriate punishment. That said, the incident brings up an issue the western world has been dealing with for years: rogue gunmen putting innocent lives at stake.

I live in Montreal, and as a Canadian, I can say we too have had our fair share of these kinds of horrific events. Years ago, a man opened fire at the entrance of a local college, wounding many and killing one. A few weeks ago, a similar incident occurred in Toronto at the Eaton Centre foodcourt. It has come to the point where we can no longer feel safe attending classes, going to the mall, or seeing a movie. It seems to me there should be a solution to this. And in my eyes, this solution is simple enough.

Based on my understanding, the notion that a person needs to possess gun in order to feel safe is one that is ever-prevalent in North American society. I am initially inclined to label this phenomenon as strictly American, but I am not entirely sure that's the case. In my opinion, procuring a gun for any reason is unfathomably inappropriate. Personally, I never would... But maybe that's because my life has never been threatened in such a way that I ever had to defend myself to that extent.

Consider this story my father told me... He was discussing the Dark Knight situation on the phone with a friend of his who lives in Kansas, and in response, his friend recounted the following story. He was dining out at a restaurant one night with his wife and three year-old son, and he noticed a couple of men walk into the restaurant and linger at the entrance for a little while, watching him pay his bill. When he and his family got up to leave, the men were no longer at the entrance. As they were walking to his car, he felt like he was being followed--and sure enough, he was. Before he knew it, the two men from before were holding him and his family at gunpoint, demanding their wallets. Keep in mind he had his three year-old son with him. He handed over his wallet and the men were on their way. In response to this, my dad's friend from Kansas went out and bought a gun (legally, if that makes a difference), and took the necessary classes to learn how to use the gun responsibly. He claims that the gun would not serve as the ultimate solution should he ever find himself in a similar situation again, but rather as an "option".

My father retold this story to my aunt, uncle and myself during dinner. My aunt and uncle, initially against the procurement of guns as means of safety, were quickly warming up to the opposing point-of-view. After-all, this man's son's life was at stake. So, while a tale like this can be relatable and persuasive, I remain unconvinced.

Purchasing a gun to defend oneself against someone with a gun seems way to much like fighting fire with fire. I don't suggest talking yourself out of a situation like the above, but brandishing a gun surely won't make the situation much better. If anything, it seems to me like your opponent will feel threatened and although that may be the response you were hoping for, it might cause him to make an extremely rash decision--like attempt to be the one to shoot first. But besides all that, the entire weight of the situation now shifts onto you. If we strip the situation down to its bare minimum, we have two men standing in front of each other, bearing an armed weapon that could potentially kill. Motives aside, two lives are now being put in danger. Two men equally deserving the right to survive. The man you point your gun to is not simply a hollow being; he has a personality, he has relationships, he has a history, and prior to this moment--he had a future. Jeopardizing a person's future... Personally, I could never forgive myself.

Here's my suggestion: let's stop using guns. Let's stop selling them (first 'legally', and then we'll work on 'illegally'). Instead of telling people they need guns to be safe, let's discourage the use of guns altogether. If people believe they don't need a gun, they won't buy one. If there are less guns out in society, there are less opportunities for killing. I don't care if this opinion is naive or impossible or what have you. If someone can legally buy arms at the click of a mouse, something needs to change. Our lives are not action movies. Our lives are real and our lives are precious. We don't need guns. End of story.

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