From our May 13, 2013 edition
Sam Smith – I’ve been a lonely voice on the left urging a far less aggressive approach on the gun issue. It’s not a personal matter. I haven’t shot a gun in over 50 years and have never owned one. I’m the product of a Quaker education and qualify, I guess, as a peacenik.
But one of the things I’ve learned in seeking the nonviolent approach to things is that you can’t bully people into a more peaceful approach. It’s a psychological and cultural matter and you don’t change that through the vehemence of your argument or the rigidity of your laws. You must act in the manner of that which you wish to achieve.
Which is the exact opposite of how liberals have handled the gun control issue recently. .
It hasn’t paid off. Instead of an increase in gun control, we find ourselves with an increase in gun anger.
Consider this item from Think Progress:
“Almost 900 people are RSVPed for a July 4th march on Washington, D.C. where protesters plan to carry loaded rifles. In D.C., openly carrying guns is against the law. But the organizer of the event, libertarian radio host Adam Kokesh, says the march is an act of “civil disobedience” that attempts to prove gun advocates’ point in the “subtlest way possible.” The event’s Facebook invitation describes the march as a nonviolent demonstration, “unless the government chooses to make it violent”
Or consider a recent poll that found 44% of Republicans think that “an armed revolution might be necessary in order to protect our liberties,” as opposed to 18% of Democrats.
These are new and scary phenomena in American politics and the way liberals have approached the gun issue hasn’t helped.
Consider a few facts about gun owners.
– Only about one hundredth of one percent of gun owners killed anyone last year.
– A third of gun owners are women
– A quarter are black, or roughly twice as many as the black share of the general population
– About a third are college graduates
– Gun owners are politically divided much like the general population.
– Only about one in ten is a member of the NRA.
How does it help make America become less violent to treat this huge voting bloc as criminals-in-waiting who must be massively restrained?
Obviously, the issue of violence in America needs to be addressed. But stunningly lacking the current debate is mention of anything but guns. What if a group of those who do and don’t own guns came together to support the teaching of dispute resolution in public schools or restorative justice in our courts? What if this group just sat down and discovered what it is they did agree upon? They might be surprised..
I know. It probably won’t happen. But in the meanwhile, liberals could do one simple thing that would lower the heat and hazard considerably: take gun control off the national agenda and make it state by state issue. I know today’s liberals don’t like the Tenth Amendment but this is a perfect example of an issue it was designed to address – an important tribute and recognition of the cultural diversity of America and how to deal with it.