The title here is a quote from Virginia Satir, and it attempts to explain insanity, so things make sense. I think Satir believed everything was explainable according to the laws of nature and psychological dynamics of the individual, their family, and the society around them. Given that, I’d like to explain today’s insanity: the murder of at least 10 people in a grocery store in Buffalo, NY.
Here’s the premise: America is free because we have guns. Following that logically: More guns means more freedom. Bigger guns mean bigger freedom. To hear people talk about it, guns — owning them, shooting them, shooting them at people — are central to the identity of the United States. It’s in the bill of rights, for goodness sake!
For those who think guns aren’t for shooting people, the second amendment says, “a well regulated militia”…. Militias aren’t out shooting squirrels, or tin cans, or paper targets in the backyard. The protected part of gun ownership is for revolutions — most notably that big one in 1776. We could not have defeated the British if we didn’t have guns. Yes, that part is true. It worked then and so it should work now,
That’s the premise and it’s why we are in this insane predicament. Here’s where it wrong: Just because guns were needed for a war then doesn’t mean that we needed them after that. Yes, wars pretty much require guns. But what if we’re not having a war? Do we need them then? No, we don’t. We can have them. We have the right to “keep and bear arms” according to the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Guns, though, are for war.
If we’re not at war, we don’t need guns. Furthermore, we have the right to keep and bear arms. We don’t have to have them, but we can exercise that right. In legal ethics, there’s a huge difference between a law that says “must” and a law that says, “may”. The right to guns is a “may”.
So, as Virginia would point out, we now have choices. Assuming we’re not at war, there’s no need for guns. And even we are at war, we don’t have to keep guns and use them. We can do something else. We can make rational decisions, assuming of course that we are rational in our use of them in those appropriate circumstances. Implied here is that irrational people aren’t rational enough to make choices.
And yet, Congress, a few years ago, passed a law that said specifically that insane people can own guns. So Congress is making irrational laws that don’t fit the situation. Perhaps we should get rid of that law, because it doesn’t make any sense. Or perhaps Congress is making irrational laws because they are irrational, at least around guns, anyway. I’m not saying it’s true, but it would explain a lot.
On the topic of irrational, let me share a parallel between my work as a therapist and our country’s love for guns. Years ago, I worked with a man who used all kinds of drugs, including marijuana when it was illegal. On the day that it was decriminalized, I drove to his house, and he was smoking a joint. He yelled, “Hey! It’s legal now! I corrected him. “You know that’s still illegal. They just decriminalized it and with your criminal record, you might want to watch that”. He replied, “That’s the same thing”.
It’s well known among alcoholics that St. Patrick’s Day is a day in which “you’re (almost?) required, by law, to drink.” Of course, New Year’s Eve, drinking is also required by law, but then it’s champagne. I suspect that, because the dynamics are the same, the quest to own an AK-47 because they’re legal might indicate that the United States has an addiction to guns. In any case, there’s a tendency toward a love for weapons of war that’s far beyond necessary.
Then, of course, there’s the logical fallacy that killing someone else makes you more free. If you’re defending yourself from being kidnapped, killed, assaulted or raped, it keeps you free. But, if those things aren’t happening, you’re already free. The gun doesn’t make it more so.
So, I could argue all day about gun manufacture, weapons of mass destruction, knives, mental illness, and any other distraction that people attach to guns, but the problem might be that the premise is wrong, I don’t know of any other country that wrote into its Constitution that you get to have guns. Maybe we need to reconsider the need for that part of the second amendment. Maybe we need to think of arms as being for warriors, not civilians. Maybe we need to think about just how addicted we are, or how guns in a time of peace make no sense. Or maybe we just need to realize that we have choices.
Resisting With Peace,