"my cold, dead hand"

3년 전

 I was talking to a very interesting American on Steemit just last week. It was a fascinating exchange (he had some well thought out and considered views) and we covered a lot of ground. We were rarely reading from the same page, but as the conversation developed, it became increasingly clear that we were at least reading from the same book. It was pretty cool. 

And as we talked, the discussion touched on guns. I have been here before, many times, and I tiptoed around the topic, because I know how it ends.

                                

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His first comment was to express incredulity that anyone wouldn’t want to own a gun, and was dismissive and scornful about those who might advocate taking his gun off him. He needs it for protection, you see.  

From the other people with guns. 

It would be funny, if it wasn’t for all the dying. 

The thing is, though. 

I think he might be right.
 

Cards on the table: I hate guns. I hate violence. I am a pacifist by default and by nature. And I think that we all are, when we get here. It’s our environment that makes us different. And, in 2018, America is often a violent, aggressive environment.


                                 
 

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I don’t dislike America, by the way. I am not enamoured by its foreign policy since WWII, but superpowers have always tried to police the World. This is not an American problem – it appears to come with the territory. I am British by birth (but increasingly turning native in Ireland), and the colonial history of my country is shameful and appalling.  

I have been to America a few times, and I have loved it. It’s a spectacular country, full of decent people. Some not so decent, but again, this is not an American problem. Dickheads are everywhere. 

America, though, is unique. It is an outlier, in developed Western terms. There are countries that have far more severe gun crime issues, but they are politically unstable. I don’t want to get bogged down in statistics though; I believe that this issue transcends this kind of debating. 

Gun crime in America is headline news. Again. And we all know that Florida was just the latest instance; we will be here again.  

And online, and in the real World, the same heated arguments will be repeated. And nothing will change. We all know this. These conversations are pretty much a complete waste of time.


                                  

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I realised something last week, chatting to the American fella. I live in a country where people don’t get killed with guns. It does happen, of course. There are some issues with gangland killings in Dublin, but I don’t need to worry about people with guns. 


I have no idea what it is like to grow up in a country that has a gun crime problem. And I have conclude that if I did live in such a country, my attitude towards gun ownership would be somewhat different. 

If I watched the news, and saw that day after day after day that my countrymen were being killed, then I might want to own a gun too. This thought is a revelation to me, and it strikes me that the thing that is always missing from this debate is empathy. 

People on both sides of the debate use various rhetoric, statistics, memes and quotes, but what they don’t use is empathy. 

It’s not a solution.

But it’s a start.

                  

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Empathy...that's the key @matbaker!! If everyone had the ability to simply stand in someone else's shoes and feel what they feel...well just imagine how different our world would be! Cheers!

(and I see you're a steemit blogger..hooray...me too; quite a great group of people hey??!)

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Thanks Lynne. It's hard though. I saw a gun supporter suggest yesterday that the teacher in Florida who sacrificed his life to save some children died like "cattle" and that he should have died fighting. What an appalling thing to say. Empathy is in short supply.

Yes, I am very happy to have been embraced by the Steemit Bloggers! @Jaynie is awesome, and everyone has been so welcoming.

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Wow...I've come to realise that the problems in the world can often be explained by "lack of empathy". People have forgotten how to stand in someone else's shoes and feel what they are feeling. It's so sad really...and I'm not sure how it came to be!

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Yes I know. Sometimes though, something happens to remind us of the inherent good in people. I was struck by a story a while ago. A Scottish boxer called James Murray died in the ring in the mid 90s. His father - a gruff, working class Glaswegian - said of his opponent that day, Drew Docherty (in effect, the man who killed his son):

He is always welcome in my house

...and in doing so, went a long way to removing the guilt that Docherty must have felt. He didn't have to do that. He was heartbroken and had lost his son, but in his grief he realised how Docherty was feeling, and sought to help him.

That's beautiful. It made me cry like a baby when I read it.

It's a shitty world, and we see lots of awful things, and stuff like this shows that people can be wonderful.

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I love the way you think! We need more people in the world like you @matbaker and more people like James Murray's father. That's a beautiful story. And yes you're right, the world is full of wonderful people...I'm an eternal optimist. Besides, it takes way more energy to be angry than it does to smile :) Cheers!

@matbaker totally agree with you.Being from the UK we do have instances with gun crime but not like the extreme in America.It is more to do with culture attitudes and values. If your raised with gun culture it will be apart of you.The gun culture will never change in America as the higher power just cant stop it. I hope for the future as alot of innocent people are killed but how many lives have to be taken when someone takes a stand and listens.They talk about protection but the fact is no one is ever really protected.You cannot cater for every eventuality.Like you said bad people everywhere it just depends how you deal with it and the equipment used.It is just awful when you hear about another high school shooting.Just really infuriating.Attitudes need to change for the better.We can only just hope.🤞

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Hey Pam. There have been eighteen school shootings in America this year.

How messed up is that? I was watching the news yesterday, seeing the faces of the seventeen dead, and it all feels so hopeless. 30000 gun deaths every year in America. A million people every three decades. And nothing ever changes.

I am not sure hope is going to do it.

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I know mat.I seen the mother of one of the victims.She was distraught.She will never get her daughter back all because of the easy accesibility of firearms.Its like a right of passage in America.Here you turn 17 you can learn how to drive, Turn 18 can buy your first alcoholic drink.But in America coming of age here kid have your first gun! I really do get people feel like they need protection but to what cost.Just glad it isnt as bad in UK.Maybe this is why we have diff views and take upon it.

IT'S MONEY, MONEY THAT MATTERS, and nothing less or more!
They (Gun&Weapon Lobby) want sell!
They make profit with every bullet, with everyone who is killed by guns, because more people want buy guns!
But that's only the small part of their profit. WAR ! There is the biggest profit for them.
Short before or short after the next big crash, the next big war will start, 100%.
IT'S MONEY THAT MATTERS for them, nothing more.....
sad
Zanonisquid.png

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Money is certainly a factor. It always is.

It's more complex than that, though. The reason that so many people want to carry a gun isn't money. It's because they think they need it. Or they have a right to it. Or they like it. Or something else.

The whole thing has so many layers.

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yes, sure the more they fear, the more they want buy guns, the more profit THEY make.
And their president want the same, he wants to make the Profit great again, not America

Nice write up.

I'd add that while countries with the UK have gun violence it is small because of a number of factors: law, being an island and population size.

The last one is perhaps most critical. You simply are not dealing with the vast numbers of socioeconomic inequality that we are here in America. Take essentially all of Europe and attempt to balance out under a single government...oh wait, the EU is trying to do that. And it gets messy.

I don't know the official numbers of gun crime or deaths in all of Europe though. Any estimates or official statistics? It think it is important to note that while we have a high rate of gun deaths in America, statistically there are issues here that are resulting in FAR larger numbers of deaths that are not getting the political attention guns do. That is unfortunate.

Short answer: guns aren't going away in the US. Here's a link to the article I wrote for anyone interested in getting more perspective https://steemit.com/guns/@mdf-365/economy-of-the-gun

Thanks for connecting with me regarding this topic, it definitely requires a rational and less hyperbolic mindset to sort out all the components.

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Hey.

You know, the factor that has very little to do with this is the one you cite as most important : population size. I have to say I am a little surprised that a thoughtful poster like yourself would make such an error.

The UK, where I grew up the population is obviously less than the US, but density wise, it is far, far higher than America. If the suggestion is that more people equates to more violence (an incorrect suggestion, if it is), then America should be one of the most peaceful countries on the planet.

You then say that:

You simply are not dealing with the vast numbers of socioeconomic inequality that we are here in America

Are you sure? To start with, if you think that is the factor, why cite population as being the most "critical" aspect? These are two separate things. And secondly, are you sure about that statement? It sounds like an assumption to me. A quick Google suggests that the US might (this is very complex) have greater inequality, but the differences are far from stark between the two countries.

I don't know the official numbers of gun crime or deaths in all of Europe though. Any estimates or official statistics?

What do you think? You'll have to cut me a little slack this morning, as I am laid up with flu and am not in the cheeriest of humours , but if you are serious about discussing this critical subject, then you need to up your game. Of course such statistics exist. And the comparison with the US really demonstrates that America is an outlier in terms of developed western countries. The gun death rates are vastly higher. Vastly.

statistically there are issues here that are resulting in FAR larger numbers of deaths that are not getting the political attention guns do

You might be right. Then can I ask that you put some meat on the bones here? You are alluding to something, but I don't know what. Is it America's opiate problem? Whatever it is, I do agree that it warrants attention, but I am not sure what is has to do with this debate.

I am very happy to discuss this complex topic, and I do apologise for my brusque response, but I find you a little frustrating because you are clearly an intelligent poster, but you are relying too much on unqualified opinions and your instinct. There is a wealth of information out there, and you need to start using it!

BTW, the EU is patently not trying to run Europe under a single government...

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I am not saying larger population leads to more violence, I'm speaking about Economies of Scale. The countries of the UK are not dealing with the inequalities spread out over such large geographic regions. Because of the density, it is perhaps easier or more cost effective to serve the underserved. The overreach of our federal system and the imbalances it faces are not reflected in any single country or the EU as a whole.

Correct, the EU has to deal with stronger levels of national autonomy than any states within the US. However, it still has a considerable number of gun deaths - though less "violence": old data http://www.flemishpeaceinstitute.eu/6700-deaths-firearms-eu-each-year

Hey, if you can do google searches for one thing, you can do them for another. None of this is opinion...in my opinion :)

I have no narrative, only observations. Get over that flu

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We all have a narrative, Michael. Everything is subjective, pretty much, and we are all at the mercy of how we have developed and what we have experienced.

I am happy to accept that America has its own set of challenges, but trust me, there are an awful lot of "underserved" people in the EU. There are a lot of inner-city problems and poverty. I have to say that I don't understand the point you are making here with respect to economies of scale. That's not to say your point is invalid! I genuinely don't understand the distinction you are seeking to make here.

The source you cited says that 1000 people are murdered by guns in the EU annually. That's 1000 in a population of nearly 750m people. America, by contrast, has 10000 murders in a population of 325m.

That's a gigantic difference, I am sure you would agree.

I have a feeling that we probably agree more than we disagree here. We seem to be making heavy weather of it, though!

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The divide is too big between us to continue this conversation effectively

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That's disappointing, but if you don't see any mileage in talking then it is pointless to try.