by Cauf Skiviers, Cultural Inappropriation, ©2023   

(May 20, 2023) — This is not my first attempt at threading the needle of timing, aiming to publish something on the subject within the ever-narrowing window between mass shootings; while avoiding charges of negligence or sensationalism. I’m optimistic that this time I will make it to the ‘publish’ button before another sociopath makes it into the chicken coop.

In the always heated debate around gun control, one aspect is often overlooked: gun ownership is a public good. The 2nd Amendment benefits us all, regardless of personal gun ownership or our stance on firearms. Whether you draw a distinction between the individual act of ‘owning a gun’ and the diffuse, collective ‘right to bear arms’, we all reap the potential deterrence benefits offered by the prospect that ‘someone might have a gun’ to shoot back at sociopaths.

And that’s coming from someone who’s admittedly not a gun enthusiast. I’ve never owned a firearm, hunting has never appealed to me, and my upbringing wasn’t steeped in gun culture. My experience is limited to a few leisurely visits to shooting ranges, yet I still acknowledge the benefits that I indirectly enjoy due to the 2nd Amendment.

Guns are a cornerstone of free societies. Like any tool — be it books, shovels, or computers — guns amplify human potential. Which can be harnessed for both good and evil. Moreover, there’s no dichotomy between guns and books; the literary canon we cherish today was shaped by societies that held superior firepower.

Guns are a book’s best friends

Yet, the free societies that these tools helped to build, also give rise to unintended consequences that can be amplified by them. Many of these are tied to the collective cynicism that takes root in an era of abundance, when life gets to easy and people get too soft. The phenomenon of mass shootings cannot be disconnected from escalating rates of suicide, self-harm – which includes the normalisation of self-mutilation – and depression. There isn’t a gun crisis; there is a moral and cognitive crisis.

In the wake of a mass shooting, it’s tempting to place blame on fringe groups by observing the stripes of the shooter du jour (for example, ‘a trans person shot a group of kids’ or ‘a white supremacist massacred African Americans shopping for groceries’). However, such accusations often fail to withstand scrutiny, they are more of a defensive move akin to a skunk letting loose a cloud of stench, in a desperate attempt to vanish into the confusion.

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