Thursday, January 17, 2013

More thoughts on guns and violence

The popular saying that guns don’t kill people, people kill people is wrong.  Or misguided, because I don’t like to think in terms of right or wrong.  It’s a misguided statement.

In my endeavors to maintain a healthy mind and body, I try to eat as many fruits and vegetables as I can.  I’m vegetarian, so I incorporate all the different beans and nuts and grains and all that stuff.  I consider myself a healthy vegetarian.  In spite of this, however, my downfall is cookies.  Any kind or flavor will do, as long as it doesn’t contain alcohol, which I personally abhor.   The immediate gratification of cookies is wonderful.  And by immediate, I mean the split second that I eat it.  After that I feel terrible, even worse than before.

So anyway, I try not to keep those things in the house.  Every once in awhile, though, a box of cookies makes its way into my pantry, and I am often tempted to taste it.  That, in and of itself, is not a big deal.  But the more down I’m feeling at that moment, or the more preoccupied or angry or guilty or any other disturbing emotion I’m feeling, the more likely I am to eat the whole box.  This is probably true of many people, especially women.

Other people may have different go-to things during times of emotional distress.  We do this because disturbing emotions cloud our vision and judgment.  We can’t see clearly or think clearly or act clearly when we’re feeling bad, because those emotions get in the way, and we do what is immediately gratifying.

If I am feeling bad and I don’t have cookies in the house, then I won’t eat them.  The thought may be there, but the possibility is not.   

Similarly, if someone is feeling bad or angry, for whatever reason, their judgment is clouded.  Anything can precipitate this: an argument, the loss of a job, house going into foreclosure, a divorce, a death, etc.  If a gun is there, the thought and the possibility to use it are there.  When one is feeling distressed, all logical and conscious thought disappears as the irrational, illogical emotions flood our minds.  When this happens, people get angry.  And anger may be understood as an attempt to get something to stop.  To stop the other person from yelling at us, or to stop the intruder from breaking in the home, or to stop the bank from foreclosing on the house.  You can come up with your own examples.  But when this attempt is not fulfilled (when the person doesn’t stop yelling, or when the intruder doesn’t go away, or when the bank doesn’t forgive the loan) violence often ensues.  Not always, but sometimes.  And the greater the emotional distress, the greater the likelihood that violence will occur.

If a gun is readily accessible, then both the thought and the possibility to use one are also readily accessible.

We’ve seen too often how the combination of emotional distress and the accessibility of a gun have resulted in mass destruction of human lives.  Anybody can feel overwhelmed by disturbing emotions.  Anyone can feel angry.  It’s a part of life.   And for many, the anger causes them to do harm to others.  When the thought and the possibility to use a gun are readily accessible during a time of emotional distress, the likelihood of death by gun increases dramatically.

So guns don’t kill people and people don’t kill people.  People who are overwhelmed by disturbing emotions, who have both the thought and the possibility to use a gun, kill people.