Tonight, inside the confines of my mind, I had my last argument about gun control.
I was pretty good, I have to admit, really on top of my game, arguing, as I try to do, for moderation and a big picture view, conceding fair points and fears by the other side. I would give myself a solid B.
But then, as always, my opponent walked away, mind unchanged, and smiling, confident in the knowledge no gun control tightening of any kind is forthcoming in this country for the forseeable future–even if I imaginary-argued it til I was blue in the face.
And on that point, I agreed with my imaginary opponent.
And that is why today’s internal debate was the last. Because I am not going to be able to get gun laws changed in this country. There are 300 million guns in this country and millions of people believe their own gun is the only thing that can save them from the 299 million other ones.
And perhaps even if I could help change a law, that law might not have much impact, as has been argued, on psychos shooting up movie theaters, or warehouses, churches, malls, office buildings, classrooms, parking lots, Amish country, beauty shops, apartment buildings, and hospitals.
Or maybe it would. I don’t know.
What I know is right now, I cannot do anything to get gun control legislation tightened. And I cannot stop spree killings from happening again. I wish I could.
But I can do something to prevent more needless deaths by gun violence. And if I am serious about this issue and not just trying to win a debate, real or imaginary, I had better go ahead and do that.
OBVIOUSLY, people don’t just die in gun violence by mass murder. They also die in single shootings in our major cities every day. There have been 200 in Chicago this year alone. Chicago, a 45 minute drive from my sister’s house.
All over this country people are trying to get kids to make choices that don’t get them killed. They are trying to get them to stay in school, stay out of illegal activity and not use violence to solve problems. They are trying to break cycle of violence. And they are facing an uphill battle. (In part because of the prevelance of guns caused by unfettered selling of them…but again, I’m done with that debate…)
I believe intervention in individuals lives can make a difference and keep kids alive. I believe that everyday, there are adults who get in young people’s lives and stop them from doing things that would prove deadly.
I also know these adults are often underfunded. They are often unknown. They are often on their own because too many people with education, access, money, time, and power are not helping them the way we should be.
We hear it all the time: people write off gun violence in the city as “that’s just how it is” as “someone else’s problem” as ‘blame the gun lobby.” Do we do the same? Do I? Do you? And then do we complain about how other people aren’t doing what they could to stop people getting shot and killed?
People who hate gun violence should do (and applause if you already do) something concrete to curb it. Share time and talent or cash. We may not know exactly what to do. But, luckily, there are people out there who can let us know.
Here are some organizations to consider helping:
MISSION SAFE. …is a place that helps kids in the Bunker Hill Projects of Charlestown and in Mission Hill in Roxbury. Check them out.
A few months ago, I read about actress Sonja Sohn’s outreach group in Baltimore, Wired For Life. It uses The Wire as a jumping off point for young adults to examine their own lives and turn them around.
CeaseFire works in Chicago and other places to mediate gang violence and prevent shootings. Check their movie The Interrupters.
Don’t forget about The Boys & Girls Clubs and Big Sisters/Big Brothers Of America.
Just a short sampling. There are hundreds of others in a city near you…(Let me know if you have a favorite and I’ll post it…)
I don’t know what I’m going to do next, myself.
But, it’s got to be something better than abstractly debating points in my head, even points I believe to be true.
If you want the laws to change, I think you’re plumb out of luck.
But if you want to reduce gun violence ….well, get to doing it.
Guns don’t save people. People save people.
Or to put it better, working together, even in a climate of violence and fear , maybe we can save ourselves.
Drop as you see fit.
Thanks for reading,