While it hasn't exactly gone viral, it has become widespread, going places I didn't know existed. A few people didn't get it. Some thought I was actually advocating the scenario I described (did you motherfuckers not understand the fucking word "horror?"). Others thought I was crying about them damn Democrats in next year's election. I was only called an ammosexual once.
But one person (who I had a rather nice side discussion with before he got nitpicking and douchey about it) wanted to hear my thoughts on how we ~solve~ the problem of gun violence.
Now, my knee-jerk response to this is usually to point out that active shooter incidents, while increasing, are still so statistically insignificant that they're on roughly the same level as powerball jackpot wins, our violent crime rate has been cut in half over the last 20 years as our numbers of those carrying concealed has more than doubled; and of our remaining gun-related homicides, the bulk are being carried out by a professional criminal class that are much more interested in killing each other than anyone else.
...Then I ask if we weren't fixing the problem well enough or fast enough?
But since I have a request, challenge accepted.
Now, in identifying solutions, one must both identify the problem and realize one's limitations.
In this case, the problem is gun violence (though it's already decreasing from what we are doing).
Our limitations are what we are unwilling to do in our society. Looking at the last 30 years, we are expanding firearm access to the lawful rather than decreasing it. The second amendment is going nowhere.
Nor will we wipe out poverty or culture clash, with all of the capacity for violence those bring. We have already decided as a society that the benefits outweigh such liabilities.
Which still leaves us with the problem of gun violence. I, on the other hand, am addressing violence in general, rather than focusing on a weapon or even-tighter applications of said weapon.
Stage one is to learn, know, and accept violence as a force of nature. It has been with us since the dawn of time. It has useful and disastrous purposes. And it is how we channel, use, and treat that force that determines our relationship with it.
Fortunately, we have an example in how we dealt with another force.
Fire is both useful and disastrous. In our earliest days, it warmed our bodies and cooked our food. Psychologically, it was our first weapon against the night we feared.
Later we harnessed fire's power. Our civilization grew in the light of cookfires, then forges, then furnaces.
But even as it built, fire consumed. It brought deaths from smoke in the air to flames in the flesh to collapsing buildings around us. We died in the flames from malice, and from accident, and from negligence.
Across the centuries, we burned. London, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, San Francisco, the list goes on.
And so humanity fought back. We knew early on that fire could not be eliminated. But it could be controlled, diverted, contained, and fought.
We fought not with extinguishers alone. We fought with departments and extinguishers and alarms and building codes. We fought with some things that were worse and later abandoned (remember asbestos?). We enlisted a godsdamned cartoon bear in a drill instructor's hat and used him to teach our children. We had drills. We have mnemonics (stop, drop and roll, anyone?). We fought that force on multiple fronts.
And so the great fires that destroyed cities no longer happen.
3,275 people were killed by fire last year (NFPA).
We will not eliminate a force of nature. We can contain. We can control. We can direct. We can prevent. But we cannot eliminate. And to think so is folly.
Violence has been with us since the beginning. It has ensured our survival. It has defeated those who would subjugate or annihilate.
And yet, it has run rampant across the globe. It has wiped out families. Cities. Nations. Empires. It has let the strong prey upon the weak.
And so we controlled it. Channeled it. Contained it.
We told our children stories of what violence was for. How villains used it. How heroes did. We told of when it was needed and when it wasn't. We taught how the big bad wolf didn't stop trying to eat little red because he had an intervention, he stopped trying to eat her because some hairy blue-collar fuck that told off-color jokes and farted a lot put an axe through it's hairy skull.
(And yeah, we pointed out there's times when kindness, cleverness, submission, and trust saved the day instead. That's why there's more than one fairy tale. I never said this shit was easy or convenient.)
And then, in living memory, we fucked up.
We told ourselves that we had controlled violence so well, we could eliminate it. We didn't need it anymore.
We were as foolish as someone who thought they could destroy fire by eating raw food.
And to this day we are suffering for it.
We will not eliminate gun violence. Ever.
But we can control it. Channel it. Mitigate the damage.
And we can do so in the multi-stage ways we attacked fire. "Good guys with guns" won't do it alone. But good guys with guns mixed with drills and alarms and police training and children's education. The NRA uses a cartoon eagle to tell kids about gun safety. Why is there not a poster of that feathered fuck in classrooms across America?
We need to teach that the fire warms as well as consumes again.
We need to show that violence can solve some problems even as it can cause more.
And we need to acknowledge that there always will be deaths at the hands of others.
I never said a solution was cheap. Or easy. Or convenient.
Only that it's possible.