Meeting in the Middle
I try to steer clear of non-gaming related politics on this blog mostly because I hate when people dabble in topics they are ill prepared to discuss intelligently.
I remember after 9-11, many of the technology related blogs I read came out with amazingly ignorant positions on what the US should or shouldn’t do in the wake of such a tragedy. I can appreciate one’s desire to express themselves but I’m not sure what is being added to the collective debate when someone who couldn’t find Afghanistan on a map suddenly positions themselves as an expert on what the US should or shouldn’t do there.
Stick with what you know.
But, after seeing some of the reactions to the shooting in Newtown, I thought I would share my somewhat unconventional views on them.
I’m a proud veteran of our US armed forces. I served three years in the US Army in Germany during the Cold War era and was called back into service during the first Gulf War (though the war ended before I was ever deployed).
I’ve fired so many weapons I’m not sure if I even remember them all. M16’s, M60’s, RPG’s, anti-tank weapons, hand guns, etc. I’ve also thrown grenades and rigged claymore mines, as well as other explosive devices.
I also believe in the Second Amendment to the US Constitution that guarantees the right of citizens to bear arms. I’ve spent countless hours explaining the reasoning behind that right to many a European who has wanted to educate me on America’s gun culture (despite never having been to the US).
So, I probably own a garage full of weapons, right? Nope. I don’t own a single gun. I have never owned one as a private citizen (and, technically, I didn’t own any of the weapons I used in the military).
And the biggest reason I don’t own a gun is that I don’t want the responsibility of owning a gun. I understand that owning a weapon requires more than the ability to purchase one.
Responsible gun ownership includes storing it safely, making sure it is in proper operating condition, keeping access to it away from people who may not handle it responsibly, and making sure that I never handle it under the influence of drugs, alcohol, anger, carelessness, depression, or any other mental state that might cloud my judgment.
When I weigh the pros and cons of having a weapon in my home, I’ve decided that I don’t want those responsibilities. If I want to enjoy firing a weapon I can rent one at a gun range or borrow one from a friend who has chosen to accept those responsibilities.
That point of view might change in the future as my circumstances change but, then again, I may never feel the need or desire to own a gun.
The point of the above is to show that I’m neither a gun nut or a peace-loving hippy. I don’t think taking guns away from everyone makes any more sense than arming everyone. They’re equally absurd solutions because they’re equally unrealistic.
But, to some degree, that’s the point of those arguments. They’re not designed to be solutions.
It seems as if politics in the US has come down to two groups taking polar opposite positions and then refusing to give an inch.
On one side you’ve got people who seem to think that if we just made guns illegal things like what happened in Newtown would never happen. On the other, you have people arguing that if the other students or teachers had been armed they could have stopped the shooter.
Both so-called solutions are silly. If you understand anything about American culture you know that disarming 350 million people is completely unrealistic. Similarly, arming everyone and allowing them to either openly carry or concealed carry a weapon is equally unrealistic.
Since the two sides are so far apart in their positions, it’s not even worth trying to reach a compromise and thus nobody has to actually solve the problem by coming up with a solution through compromise. Both sides falsely paint these as the only two options and the only way forward being total destruction of the opponent. For you to win they have to completely lose. And for them to win, you have to lose the battle.
But what about all of the sensible alternatives in the middle? Actually, what about all of the alternatives that actually do reduce gun related deaths while still preserving the right of responsible gun owners to continue to own guns?
One of the hallmarks of a healthy society is one where people make compromises for the greater good. Nobody can win a stalemate.
I won’t pretend to be smart enough to have the right answer to this issue but I do know that the current state of discourse is the wrong path if anyone is actually interested in less tragedies like the one that happened in Newtown.
But, I don’t want to end this on a gloomy note so thanks to a retweet from KevMath, I’ll end this on a note that shows what can happen when we pull off the blinders and focus on what’s really important.
— Ike Barinholtz (@ikebarinholtz) December 15, 2012