Let’s work for peace on earth

Before everybody signs off and, I hope, enjoys holiday time with their friends and families, I want to leave you with food for thought on the subject of gun violence in the USA. Let’s educate ourselves and put our hearts and minds and our determination into this, and find a way to save lives, so other families will be able to celebrate together in years to come.

Let’s regard with contempt the NRA’s demand that every school in the country post armed guards. I reject the idea that the country needs to descend to this — a measure not even employed in the frontier Oklahoma town my great-grandparents helped build, or at the college my mom attended in a 1950s Chicago neighborhood infiltrated by the mob.

Stop listening to a lobbying group whose spokesman literally foams at the mouth demanding guns, guns and more guns. Get the facts. Learn what’s true and what’s myth. As heinous as Newtown was, the nation’s schools are not shooting galleries. And the country is not on the verge of an apocalyptic collapse that will lead neighbors to ravage each other uncontrollably unless stopped by firearms. That’s nonsense. Crime, including homicide, is down significantly. 

Don’t just listen to me. Listen to conservative Republicans such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who notes, “I don’t necessarily think having an armed guard outside every classroom is conducive to a positive learning environment.” (No kidding.) Listen to evangelical college professor Alan Jacobs, who writes in The American Conservative:

But what troubles me most about this suggestion — and the general More Guns approach to social ills — is the absolute abandonment of civil society it represents. It gives up on the rule of law in favor of a Hobbesian “war of every man against every man” in which we no longer have genuine neighbors, only potential enemies. You may trust your neighbor for now — but you have high-powered recourse if he ever acts wrongly. […]

Is this really the best we can do? It might be if we lived in, say, the world described by Cormac McCarthy in The Road. But we don’t. Our social order is flawed, but by no means bankrupt. Most of us live in peace and safety without the use of guns. It makes more sense to try to make that social order safer and safer, more and more genuinely peaceful, rather than descend voluntarily into a world governed by paranoia, in which one can only feel safe — or, really, “safe” — with cold steel strapped to one’s ribcage.

And read this article about the NRA’s current goals and methods.

This is the most extraordinary thing about the NRA’s ideology and the climate it’s created. By the time you read this, there will almost certainly be someone who has jumped to the comments to denounce gun regulations as an infringement of fundamental liberties. It is only the presence of uncounted millions of guns, in the hands of uncounted millions of Americans—whether pointy-headed liberals recognize this as a “well-regulated militia” or not—that secures our freedom against the encroachment of a totalitarian police state.

Yet today, LaPierre got up and described the gun lobby’s vision of our future: “A police officer in every single school.” “Armed security … building design … access control … information technology.” “An active national database of the mentally ill.”

This is the NRA’s idea of a free country. Kindergarteners on lockdown. Federal monitoring of everyone’s mental-health status. Cops in every hallway.

That’s not my vision for the country, for our children, for the future. I hope it’s not yours. There has to be a better way. Let’s find it.

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