One thing that I have noticed about the current debate on gun violence in the country is that those who argue against greater regulation of guns first response when talk of gun control comes up is to say that gun control will not be effective in lowering the rate of gun violence. They then proceed to list a variety of things that they feel may be contributing factors to gun violence. First on this list is a broken mental health system, second is the entertainment industry followed rapidly by video games. Most of these factors have nothing to do with actual guns. When guns are mentioned, the argument is made that the absence of guns in gun free zones like schools and playgrounds is a contributimg factor to gun violence.
Guns themselves are apparently not thought to be contributing factors to gun violence. In fact more guns, will very likely improve the situation; they argue. To me this all sounds oddly counter-intuitive. Guns must have something to do with gun violence. The weapons themselves may not account for the whole problem. There are no doubt numerous causes for gun violence in society. But it strains credulity to suggest the idea that the better control of guns themselves is irrelevant.
It is almost as though, when the question of guns and control appear in the same sentence those who oppose better gun control laws immediately what to change the subject and begin talking about the media or the broken mental health system. Anything but guns. They seem want to change the subject and divert attention away from guns. It as if the subject of guns and their control was simply taboo.
For those who will talk about guns, their talk is only in defense of the right to bear arms and the subject is deflected again into the need for citizens to be able to protect themselves not from home invaders and the like but from the Federal Government which, they say, has a insidious plan to disarm everyone.
In no time what should be a conversation about common sense regulation of firearms gets spun out of control. The problem of lowering gun violence is made to appear too complex to address with anything but more guns and gun control is painted as a violation of a sacred constitutional right to bear arms.
Is this “change the subject” reaction a cynical ploy to avoid further regulation of firearms or does the very mention of the control of guns frighten gun advocates so much that they are just unable to talk about the guns themselves? Perhaps, cognitive dissonance is at work here. Gun advocates see guns as good, and in some cases beloved, things which provide protection, sport or even food. Seeing guns used for bad purposes presents them with such a dissonant image that they simply, and quite literally, do not see guns as a significant contributor to gun violence and cast their nets to find a whole host of other culprits.
As a consequence, debate on effective action to limit gun violence becomes mired in all sorts of related but not central issues and talk of guns and controlling them gets lost in the shuffle.