Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Gun Control Debate Accepts the Catalyzing Tragedy As a Given

When it comes to those who go what we used to call "postal," both sides of the gun rights/control kabuki "debate" accept the death of the homicidal suicide as a given and focus instead on trying to save the suicide's potential/intended victims.  Gun rights activists want to arm everyone to increase the chances of knocking off the homicidal suicide before he can kill others.  Gun control activists want to disarm everyone the point of a one-shot blunderbuss, forcing the homicidal suicide to use the only sure shot he has on himself.

Why can't we see the homicidal suicide himself as a tragic figure, a victim of something in his own way? In almost all "going postal" instances, gun rights activists portray the homicidal suicide as an evil "criminal," even if he wasn't one before his crime.  In almost all "going postal" instances, gun control activists portray the homicidal suicide as a deranged right-wing gun-nut, even if he wasn't one before his bout of insanity.  There is no room left to view the homicidal suicide as an innocent victim-- or even as a human being-- because the crimes he committed as a result of his own despair eclipsed the life he led before.  The tragedy he owns masks the tragedy that was his.

Am I saying that we forgive the homicidal suicide for his homicides?  Not at all.  I'm just saying we should not ignore what led him to killing others to give his own death meaning: the fact that he knew with certainty that his life meant nothing to anyone.  We-- Society-- teach the homicidal suicide that he is worth more dead than alive.  Is it any wonder that sometimes he comes to collect?

If you want a much wordier and (I think) opaque dissertation that makes similar points, you may enjoy Surly's essay more.

P.S. A local gun shop here in the Bay Area told a friend of mine today that they had sold more assault rifles in the last two weeks than they sold all of last year, and they are out of stock for another four months.  Gun control "debates" are great for the gun business.