Let's start with what is right for America. For better or for worse, we are the leaders of the free world, for now at least. Yet, our infant mortality rate is higher than most, our middle class is disappearing at an alarming rate, and yes, we have the highest number of gun related deaths than ANY OTHER westernized nation. None of these are reasons to be proud, yet the pro-gun lobby is insisting that these gun deaths are incidental, something to shrug our shoulders at. After all, there are over 300 million guns floating around. What do we expect? People WANT guns. Clearly, they do. But should they? There is some deep soul-searching to be done about what kind of society we claim to be vs. what we actually are. So no, the proposals Obama threw out on the table won't end gun violence, but what it does is start the discussion that needs to be had and allows us to move away from "gun culture" as an acceptable part of society, if we want to, and bullies like the NRA can't stop the conversation anymore. Like other major issues of our time, civil rights or gay rights, for example, the change came with legislation AND a cultural shift. For too long, gun ownership has been off the table, and now it isn't. Maybe we will decide that we don't want our hallmark to be violence, and maybe we will. But at least we're finally talking about it.
Rights. Ugh. Bring up any question about our rights and you are labeled anti-American, un-patriotic. But here's the thing: I'm hard-pressed to believe that the framers of the Constitution were so narrow minded that they believed the Bill of Rights would be a holy grail, unquestionable, unchangeable, like some secular Ten Commandments we worshiped blindly. In fact, they drew up the Declaration and Constitution to fight against such mindless following of ANY doctrine. Hell, that's why they fought that pesky Revolutionary War. Sure, we have "rights", but it is reasonable to assume that there needs to be some limits on these rights on occasion. We all know the example of not being allowed to yell "fire!" in a crowded movie theater. Also, hate crimes come to mind. It is not unreasonable, un-American, or tyrannical to look at the 2nd Amendment from a nuanced perspective and see the limits inherent in it's wording. You might have a right to own a gun, you might not. Given how difficult this has been to parse out, it's time for us to look at the 2nd Amendment critically, and change it if we need to. That's not anti-American, it's smart. Let's get this figured out already.
So what should be done? Well, I believe that some of the President's suggestions will make a difference, such as required background checks and funding research on gun violence. Others probably won't, like a ban on semi-automatic weapons. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. There are a LOT of people out there who believe, truly, that they need an arsenal of weapons to protect themselves from the rest of us, that somehow, those guns will be the deciding factor between being predator or prey when the shit hits the fan. Logic shows us that this is rarely the case, that most guns are used against those who live with them in their homes, or in one-on-one crimes, primarily in urban environments where guns are prevalent. So, what is happening in this country that people feel unsafe on a regular basis, so unsafe that the need to take up arms? Part of it is the media, the 24-hour news cycle that replays a scary event over and over until we are sure it's going to happen again, to us! Part of it is lack of education-sorry, but its true. It's easy to make up your own information, and cling to it no matter what. Easier than doing research, reading, and engaging in meaningful analysis of what you are finding on the internet. But what else? We need to find out, for sure. But in the meantime, why make it easier for people to kill each other with guns? Mental health issues may play a part, but why wait to find out? Let's start making a concerted effort to get guns away from those most likely to use them on someone. Joan Walsh had a good article on where to begin in Salon. http://www.salon.com/2013/01/31/standing_up_to_gun_bullies/?source=newsletter.