Beyond the Talking Points: Why I am Not Writing about Guns


There have been two devastating public shootings in the last couple of weeks.  This is according to my Facebook and Twitter feeds which are full of information.  .  .except that they aren’t.  The are full of opinionated talking points vaguely rooted in information.  Be that as it may, there are still some people who don’t think social media has enough opinions about guns.  They actually (and I am not making this up) post things like, “Why is nobody talking about the Planned Parenthood shooting?  We seemed all too willing to talk about Starbucks’ red cups.”  Or this gem, “Why aren’t more of my pastor friends posting about San Bernandino?  They were all over the Paris shootings.”

If they were looking for comments, they got their wish because in minutes they had 100 comments both about gun violence and why we are not talking about gun violence.  I am willing to admit that they might have different (and more silent) Facebook friends but trust me, my feed is full enough of the talk of guns and terrorism and violence.

With that said, I am one of the more cautious ones.  I didn’t post anything about Paris or about San Bernandino or about Colorado Springs.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of opinions about all three but I am choosing to remain silent online for a few reasons.

First, the talking points are tired.  We can repeat them all we want but without further information they are useless except for badgering people to believe what you do.

Second, people are not looking for honest dialogue.  They are looking for victims to publicly annihilate.  I want to contribute meaningfully to public debates.  Free speech and public debate are part of what made and still make our country so great.  But many of us aren’t doing either.  We are looking for people to lynch.  And I don’t want to be lynched or really lynch anybody else.

Third, I all ready wrote about gun violence a couple months back and am still a wee bit proud of that post because it did come together well.  You can read it here.

So there you have it.  I don’t want to repeat tired talking points.  I don’t want to be lynched and I have all ready said my piece.

However, if I were to wade back into this debate, here are some things I might do:

One, I would try to wait for hard data.  The right wants to divert our attention to “mental illness” (except ironically, when it isn’t white people doing the shootings.)  The left wants to talk about gun control and background checks almost to an annoying fault.  But I have not seen much hard data or studies about either.  How many of these criminals would have failed a background check?  How many were diagnosed with a mental illness?  What about mental illness?  Why aren’t more of the “mentally ill” shooting people?  The mentally ill I have known would never do that.  .  .I think.  Did Hitler ever actually make the argument that the mentally ill are violent and is that what led to the Nazis killing thousands of them?  What about terrorism?  What happens when a peaceful adherent to a religion becomes “radicalized?”  Does threatening everything they hold dear contribute to that or the opposite?  We seem to think threatening to kill them is a good way for them not to kill us first.  Does that actually work?  We have no honest answers to these questions, no hard data or studies.  Part of that is because this phenomenon of one a week is pretty recent.  So we should let the researchers do their job before screaming at each other.

Two, and actually last, I would want a conversation that would do something other than form a lynch mob.  Yes, I think our politicians have a little bit of power and should be seeking meaningful legislation and the funding of good programs.  Right now I would just settle for a good group of members from both sides of the aisle agreeing to sit in a room without cameras or reporters to hash out some plan that tows a good line between all the talking points.  A man can dream, right?

The good news is that they are not alone in their power.  I have power and you have power and we can do something too.  I hope that “something” doesn’t start and stop with “buy a gun to put an end to them!” but moves beyond that to adopting the orphans, caring for the oppressed, preaching an end to violence, helping the mentally disabled and doing so much more.

All those things begin with dialog and debate but hopefully our talk leads to action.  After all talk is cheap, but a necessary first step.

But, as I said, I don’t want to be lynched so I am going to ignore the ridiculous talking points and keep posting pictures of my children doing cute things.

Here is one for you now.