Guns, Memes, and Bumper Stickers

by Ross Decker Sr

“But you know what’s more insidious than that? Your gun control position doesn’t have anything to do with public safety and it’s certainly not about personal freedom. It’s about you don’t like people who do like guns. You don’t like the people. Think about that the next time you make a joke about the South.”  Ainsley Hayes, The West Wing

And, maybe that’s it. Maybe it’s that the people on both sides of this debate don’t like the guys on the other side. Friends on my Facebook timeline begin to post angry memes immediately after each shooting. It seems to energize them when they get to use a national tragedy to push their point of view. I’m talking about both sides when I say this. Gun supporters have no problem calling gun control people stupid.  And the gun control people never have a problem coming back with snarky insults of their own. I have always been for gun ownership but afraid of guns. I concede that the Constitution guarantees the right to gun ownership. Nonetheless, I’ve never touched one. Years ago, a friend of mine was dating a patrolman in the New York Police Department and once I saw his gun out on the kitchen table. “Go ahead,” he said, it’s not loaded. Pick it up. See how it feels.” I couldn’t do it. That was when I realized that I was afraid of guns. My friend and her cop boyfriend looked at me like I was a nutcase.

I really began to think about this after the horrible Charleston shootings. Gun control was not really an issue on my radar. But then, Dylann Roof walked into a prayer meeting and sat with a group of parishioners. Awhile into the meeting, after seeing how nice these people were, he did the incomprehensible thing and opened fire.

As I write this, the news is reporting another shooting, this one in Louisiana. A man described as a drifter walked into a Lafayette, Louisiana movie theater and began firing. One witness said, “The guy was just kind of at ease, just standing there, just shooting,”

So, it has been a long journey for me. I’ve been saddened and shocked by one mass murder after another. And, it’s moved me from a reluctant defender of the right to bear arms to a man reluctantly hopeful that Congress will soon get around to writing thoughtful, enforceable gun laws.

I can’t help but wonder why it is that people who support gun control think that condescending memes will get second amendment supporters to change their mind. That’s not the tactic that works with me. Presenting a well thought out appeal might get it done. But telling me that I am laughably stupid doesn’t make me receptive to your point of view. And changing minds is what the gun control people want to do, isn’t it? I mean, the goal isn’t just to get off a cleverly insulting lines and click “like” for each other. That doesn’t advance the cause of gun control one bit. The pro-gun control folks  might do better changing the minds of pro-gun people if they didn’t treat them as though they were idiots. That strategy draws a line in the sand and makes people dig their heels in. You may not get guns removed but at least you can feel smugly superior. But I hope that isn’t what they are truly after.

The second amendment defenders can afford to be snarky. They don’t need to change minds. They don’t need to influence others. They have existing law on their side along with a Congress that doesn’t seem the slightest bit motivated to remove gun rights. They can ride the status quo on this one. But, don’t be so snarky that you reduce the loss of human life to a bumper sticker.  If one more person says “guns don’t kill people….”

Guns do kill people. One argument I’ve heard is that blaming guns for killing people is no different than blaming cars for an accident that kills someone when a driver is drunk. But it’s amazingly different. A car is designed to transport people safely. Congress continues to pass laws requiring even more safety measures. Car manufacturers are doing many things, like accident avoidance features, to protect drivers and pedestrians both. So, when a car functions properly, everyone arrives safely. When a gun functions properly, someone dies. So no, it isn’t a reasonable analogy. Here’s a reasonable analogy, though. My smartphone won’t function without my fingerprint. Make guns the same way.

My reason for caring about this is that I am pro-life. In all aspects. I want babies to be born. I want old people like me to die while breathing their last natural breath. I want death row prisoners to live out their days in a cell rather than have their lives taken by the state. And I want children to come home and do their homework rather than be murdered at school.

I’m not a political guy. But this issue should transcend party lines. It’s not a “heart issue.” It’s not a “sin issue.” It’s a campaign finance issue. That’s the law that needs to change. The NRA owns both parties. They spread their money around to everyone. They are in every politician’s pocket and their brooding influence hovers over ever gun control vote. They produce a bumper sticker that says “I’m an NRA member and I vote.” It should say “we’re the NRA and we buy Senators.”

So, let’s show each other a little respect. Let’s agree that whether we want guns or don’t want them, we all want people to live. Something has to be done. Together we can do it. Let’s start a dialog built upon respect. We can make guns safer, We can make laws stricter. And we can certainly repeal an amendment. We’ve done that before.

But in the meantime, if your reasoning can be summed up on a bumper sticker or a meme, you probably need to sit down and think it over some more. And, ask yourself if maybe it isn’t the issue so much as it is that you don’t like the people on the other side.

Thanks for reading this. Whether you liked it or hated it, please feel free to comment. And share! Always share!