The gun debate continues

America has a gun problem.  It’s really as simple as that. Just look at the number of murders attributed to guns. Any attempt to solve this gun problem has to start with acknowledgment that it’s there. Then we have to set out to put the full force of American ingenuity to fix it, something this nation has done many times in the past.

Talk to people about the gun violence we have seen in the news over the last few years, and you will hear the situation play out from many different angles.  Some people say it’s been happening for as long as we’ve had guns. Others will say they are getting more frequent and more ruthless. Some believe we couldn’t do anything about it even if we wanted to. Let’s start with a viewpoint I find to be most interesting, and easiest to dismiss.

More and more people are telling me that gun control is nothing more than a government push to take away our freedoms—people believe the government hatches these ideas to enslave them.  I believe that notion is ridiculous, and here is why.

If the government wants to enslave me, then owning an arsenal of AR-15’s would do little against their well-trained and well-armed military.  Let us be honest about one thing; an armed citizenry is never going to be the force that stops a tyrannical regime in the 21st century. A rebel force beat a world superpower a few centuries ago, with the help from France that is, but that sentiment is a relic of the past. The U.S. citizens will not overpower the federal government. The only power we have over the government is democratic and it revolves around a well-informed public. So stock-piling weapons in case the government wants to force its views on you is silly.  Although it seems to make for a great political scare tactic, the gun violence that is taking so many lives is real.

Let us accept for a second that the 24 hour news cycle makes the litany of mass shooting, like Newtown and the recent one in the Washington Navy Yard, appear like they are happening more often now than before. Even if that is the case, the problem still exists now, and not just with mass shootings. Chicago looks like the wild west movie, with its epidemic of deadly shootings. Just Google Chicago gun violence and see the endless stories.  Many inner-cities face similar issues. Add all this up and a picture of a violent country starts to emerge.

This should be unacceptable in a country as accomplished as the U.S. In this country, we have seen progressive governments solve problem after problem.  The list includes the eradication of slavery; the constitutional right for everyone to vote, along with many other laws against discrimination; the muckrakers, which were reformed minded journalist who investigated corruption; the creation of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; the eight hour work days, 40 hour work weeks, minimum wage, worker’s compensation and prohibition of child labor; the protection of food and medications; the protection of wilderness, waterways and the creation of national parks; the building of roads and railroads, and the creation of public schools and provisions for student loans and grants so the poor can go to college.  And that doesn’t even come close to the body of work the progressives have accomplished.

The above list shows us that the government can create public policy that solves problems.  But, the country has done some great technological things too.

On July 20, 1969, a U.S. citizen became the first person to step on the moon. That was 44 years ago, and the technology that allowed for that to happen was advanced then, but we carry more powerful devises in our pants pockets now. In 2005 NASA launched the Deep Impact spacecraft and sent it 268 million miles to gather particles from a comet.  Imagine how precise the technology had to be to meet something that is that far away and was moving thousands of miles per hour. One second off on the calculations and the spacecraft would have missed the comet altogether.

The achievements listed in the above paragraphs exhibit a government capable of reaching for great things.  But the gun lobby has been saying for years that the guns are not the problem and that we couldn’t do something about it if we wanted to. That sounds ridiculous to me.  How many of the great accomplishment of humanity were once labeled unattainable.

The gun violence in this country is a problem that I think equals some of those solved by the accomplishments in the above paragraphs. Why can’t we approach solving it in same way? Nothing in the past should give Americans doubt that we can do it.  Whether that be by banning all guns (which I favor) or a combination of tougher restrictions and better mental health care, we have to do something. There should be a multifaceted approach to gun control, but finding it has to start with the acknowledgment that we problem.

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