A new approach to gun control | Guest View

By Jess Grant | Aug 14, 2018

One thing we can all agree on is the tragedy of gun violence. Different people will point the finger at various culprits, but the slaughter is real and much too close to home.

Liberal solutions have found stiff opposition at the legislative level, and few of them have come to pass. So to suggest stronger medicine might seem foolish.

But half-measures like longer waiting periods or bump-stock bans – difficult to enact as they are – would do little to reduce the carnage because they fail to address the underlying issues.

Where drugs are concerned, everyone understands the need to curtail the influx of imported goods. But in the current debate around guns, the supply side of the economic equation is never addressed.

That’s just bad economics. If the Democratic Party were serious about reducing gun violence at home, it would propose the outlaw of arms manufacturing in the U.S.

We know this will never happen. The U.S. arms industry is huge, with $9.9 billion in foreign sales alone (never mind domestic sales). The NRA is just the tip of the lobbying iceberg.

With Boeing, Lockheed-Martin and Raytheon in its corner, the arms industry isn’t interested in supply-side solutions to this problem. The political will, as always, must come from the people.

Another blind spot in the liberal position is a narrow definition of gun violence. In this context, it refers specifically to shootings committed by civilians in the U.S. Only by civilians. Only in the U.S.

It certainly doesn’t connect the dots between gun violence at home and gun violence abroad, nor make the connection between shootings by civilians and shootings by soldiers or sworn police officers.

“Well, that’s different!” Exactly. It’s a double standard. We teach our children that the Good Guys carry guns. They learn that justice is often delivered through the barrel of a gun.

Real life isn’t that simple. I grew up loving TV cops like Columbo and Mulder and Scully. But in some U.S. communities, the police still have a long way to go to earn that kind of trust.

The same goes for soldiers. We venerate our soldiers for their brave sacrifice abroad, rarely thinking how they might be perceived by the inhabitants of the countries we occupy.

The numbers don’t lie. The U.S.’s $9.9 billion in foreign arm sales accounts for more than a third of the $28 billion in sales by the top 10 countries. We sell more arms than the next two countries combined.

Those arms aren’t just sitting around, gathering dust. They’re out in the field, creating gun violence abroad in dozens of countries. But our media does a good job of shielding us from the carnage.

I’m not suggesting we disarm the police or army. Not exactly. But we might want to take a closer look at our culture and try to understand why we’re all so darned gun crazy.

It’s a frontier mentality, I suppose. A couple of hundred years of stealing land and fending off angry natives can really make a culture trigger-happy.

I suggest we start at the top.

I worry about somebody shooting me at the mall, but I worry a lot more about being incinerated by nuclear weapons.

If we’re serious about gun control, we might want to refocus on multilateral nuclear disarmament. To fret about handguns in a world of hair-trigger nuclear weaponry is textbook denial.

Jess Grant lives in Edmonds.

 

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