My View: Solving the issue of American gun violence (opinion)
With the recent shootings in Orlando, the attack this week on the Istanbul airport in Turkey and the attacks in Paris back in November, these acts of violence are all too common. They force us to think about our safety, and they unfortunately cause us to cast blame.
It seems like just yesterday I penned a column about the Charlie Hebdo shootings and how those shook my professional community, one of free speech and journalism. Now, once again I am writing a column about violence. It seems like we are stuck in a spiral.
Violence has been with us for as long as humans have existed. One could argue that nearly all of our technological innovations come from the need to improve our methods of killing one another. It is part of our history, part of our present and likely a part of our future.
We are lucky. We don’t look out our windows and see violence every day. It is not something we are accustomed to. We have a strong police force and for the most part our citizens respect the rule of law.
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So when violence occurs in our backyard it is that much more shocking. The United States today is secure and relatively safe. As a nation we have faced our fair share of violence. Our history is rife with it. From mass shootings, to riots, to battles and to terrorist attacks, we have seen our fair share.
We are removed from most acts of violence. We read about them in the paper, see the occasional video of something awful, but in most cases it is relegated to movies, television and games. As lucky as we are to live when we do, we must not forget that we live in a world where not everything is as clear-cut as it can seem from our perspective.
When we are faced with violence it is easy for us to cast blame, to seek out a reason for why someone would take the action of killing another. We blame guns, we blame religion and we blame every possible reason for why these things keep happening.
The reality is that there is no single cause. People are complicated, culture is complicated, and it is not as simple as pointing to a sign or symptom and claiming that this must be the cause.
We must be careful where we cast blame. Blaming a group of people for the actions of an individual is not beneficial. All that does is create more opportunity for hatred to grow. What we need to do is look for the reasons why this continues to happen.
Guns are not the cause of violence. A gun is a tool, albeit a tool made to kill, but a tool nonetheless. Guns do not kill people. The person pulling the trigger is the one who is doing the killing. The reality is that we have an issue with mental health in our nation. We make it too easy for people who really should not be armed to have access to weapons
However, we must be careful to not impede the rights of the American people. As citizens of the United States we have rights and protections afforded to us. We have a right to make our own choices, to speak freely and to practice whatever religion we want. We are protected by the concept that we are innocent until proven guilty and that we can operate and live our lives in security and relative freedom.
We are missing the point when we claim that we must make it harder to buy guns legally. If someone has the intent to kill another, he or she will find a way to do it. People who will follow the laws are unlikely to be the ones killing.
What would help is a better system for addressing mental health and a better method of preventing violence from occurring. How we do that without impeding the rights of our citizens is a tough question. With concerns of privacy and for better or worse a culture that prides itself on freedom, this is a challenging issue.
I sincerely hope we can break free of this routine.
Ben Rogers is the co-general manager and advertising director of the Sierra Sun and North Lake Tahoe Bonanza. He can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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