Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Gun Arguments Are Based on Faith, Like Religion

The last couple of days of vigorous political exchange (on my Facebook page, especially) has convinced me that we're dealing with more than political philosophy here. For the most ardent gun defenders, this is a religion, a new, separate fundamentalist religion that allows for no subtle shades of truth. The issue is yes or no, black or white, all or nothing.

The mere suggestion of background checks, limits on magazine size or on the number of rounds that can be fired in 30 seconds sends shock waves through the gun adherents. Placing blame on the NRA brings responses of astonishment and explanations that Congress is at fault. Mention that the NRA owns congress--which is pretty completely documented--and gasps of astonishment follow, even though many of these people generally despise congress.

The debate--if that is what it can be called--is frustrating as is any debate with faith because fact and faith do not argue well. Gun ownership is based on faith, which is based on propaganda, which is based on gun sales, which hangs on a fearful public wanting to buy more and bigger guns with every atrocity. It is religion because it is based on nothing but faith, the belief that they are coming to get the gun owners. Fear and faith will get you right where the gun argument stands: no chance of compromise, increasing sales of guns, a wider divide in our democracy (or oligarchy, actually).

And so it stands. I'm not sure this impasse can be broken. It would be simple enough: require liability insurance on every gun in America. The insurance industry would then run its own background checks on gun owners (creating a mountain of new jobs), charge the owners according to their potential for misusing the guns and refusing coverage for the unstable. "Good guys with guns" would get off easy, bad guys not so much. Gun advocates will argue that bad people will still get guns and, yes, that's true. But not so many will get them and they will not be readily available for everybody who has a bone to pick because he saw two people of the same gender expressing affection.

Most of the people involved in our worst atrocities would likely not have been mass killers had there been controls on guns. But will the gun people ever even consider that? It's a matter of faith, after all.

(Photo: www.faithandaction.org)


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