In our world of declining, non-renewable resources, Inertia seems to be a renewable and infinite resource on any number of issues. Those of us who love reading and learning often think education is the best tool for moving the needle on the inertia scale. Activists on any number of issues,however, would beg to differ. They are frequently disappointed with their results when fact -proliferation is their only tool. Change is hard and complex. Let’s apply this to the gun issue.
The year 2018 ended with a population of 329,093,106 in the US. The US population of guns was estimated to be larger; 393,347,000. The total gun deaths, not counting suicides was 39,773. That is more than how many die in accidents on US roads.
Now to give that context, if you combine the population of Japan, Sweden the UK, Israel and Australia you come up with 246,995,950 people who collectively own 8,804,00 guns. The total gun deaths in those countries combined was less than 1,000, way less it was 460 total deaths. Those facts are enough to make activists squirm and most thinking adults dismayed, but not enough to make the sea change needed.
The ingredients for a seismic shift on entrenched problems, need more than information. I propose a that the recipe for radical social change has to include at least the following: 1) evidence that is provable by many sources 2) a tragic event or incidents that attracts national ( or international) attention AND is intimately and inextricably linked to said evidence, 3) coalitions representing multiple voices from various political groups, gender and racial groups speaking up in a unified voice and messaging with demonstrations, speeches and in writing 4) opposing views are dismissed as being fundamentally unfounded and its ‘leaders’ exposed for being self serving in some way, either for money or power to the detriment of most people and/ or the environment. 5) A way out, direction offered to change behavior that is acceptable to most and doable by enough people to make enough of a difference 6) this all needs to culminate into a tipping point so that society that demands change 7) we then need leaders who know how to make the necessary legislative changes even at possible risk of losing their own political standing. In other words, change is complicated and we need to quit reciting facts as if that is going to work.
We have enough evidence to know that the US has horrific gun problem. We have already had enough tragic events to last us forever. We are starting to build the coalitions to expose how gun lobbyists influence politicians and have also worked hard to crush the world view that gun owners actually stop crime or that gun safety activists are after people’s guns particularly those used in hunting.
What we may need is a way out that offers a new less-threatening approach with the mantra that it will save lives. Do gun owners deserve more freedom than car owners? It’s true, car owners do not have their own amendment to the constitution, but they are free to buy whatever car they can afford as long as they follow the rules. We ask all drivers to pass a test and be insured. We ask that cars get inspected so that they are safer on the roads. We don’t prevent the manufacturing or ownership of cars, we make them safer with rules and regulations. We could even get more creative and use part of the insurance money to pay for the safety training and for follow up gun inspection for those who already own them. Even better let’s push the tipping point of this issue and insist that much of these newly generated insurance dollars go toward fully funding mental health medical coverage.
There are no losers in this scenario. No one has to lose their gun privileges, unless they break the rules. Just like we want drunk drivers off the roads, we want to try to more effectively limit access to weapons to those who are untrained and irresponsible.