Over the last year and a half, homicides have skyrocketed. This is an indisputable fact, I’m afraid, as is the truth that most of the killers are using guns. I’m not thrilled about that, of course. If nothing else, we all know that some will try and use this to justify still more gun control that would accomplish absolutely nothing.
However, a lot of people are going out and buying guns to protect themselves. A story out of Philadelphia, though, reminds us of key work we as Second Amendment advocates need to do.
Essence, who preferred not to use her full name, was reluctant to talk as she descended the steps of the Gun Range on Percy Street in North Philadelphia. The whap, whap, whap of gunfire reverberated in the hallway as she walked down the long flight of stairs and onto the street.
She and her male companion had just exited the Gun Range, where paying customers sharpen their shooting skills. Behind a bulletproof glass, a fusillade of bullets from a wide range of rifles, revolvers and pistols explode out of muzzles and rip into paper targets.
“I’m torn,” Essence said as she stopped for a quick chat. “I know that guns are killing us. Blacks are shooting each other. But I need a gun to protect myself and my family. I’m forced into a corner.”
No, Essence, guns aren’t killing anyone.
A firearm is a tool, a weapon. It has no volition of its own. It holds no animosity or ill-will toward anyone or anything. It’s the epitome of a neutral party.
It’s not a “what” that’s killing people. It’s “who.” Essence says black people are killing one another, and that may well be true, but they’re black people and not black guns doing it.
When people focus on the weapons, they’re ignoring that it takes a person to make the decision to take a life. Yet once that decision has been reached, the choice of weapon becomes less relevant. When it comes to the devastation of violent crime, the distinction is pointless. If you talked to someone who lost loved ones to being shot and to being stabbed, they’d tell you they hurt the same.
And yet, this is obvious. It’s not tricky to grasp this basic concept. So why do so few people seem to get it? Why does Essence seem to feel guilty because she bought a gun to protect herself?
It’s because we’ve not really done a good enough job in explaining how guns aren’t the problem and never have been. Granted, we’re working against a media that’s dead set in telling everyone we’re wrong, but challenges need to be overcome. If we’re not willing to do that, we might as well take all our guns to the nearest “buyback” as part of our rollover to accept whatever gun control is coming.
The media isn’t our friend.
And we don’t need to do it by sounding trite. “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people,” might be 100 percent factually correct, but it’s almost cliche at this point and people roll their eyes over it. That’s not accomplishing a damn thing.
The sentiment isn’t the problem, but the phrasing there. People have heard it and the media has told them to dismiss it. Folks need to come to understand that it’s not the tool, it’s the tool using it that’s the problem. We have to.
Otherwise, people like Essence will be afraid to own a gun because guns are supposedly the problem.
Since those people–at least, those who think like Essence but don’t buy guns–vote for anti-gun lawmakers, the reason to address the issue should be obvious.