Zach Petroff | Opinions Editor
March 30, 2023
I knew at the start of the semester that I wanted to write about the prominence of gun culture in the United States.
I also knew, given our nation’s history, that it would just be a matter of time before some senseless massacre would make national headlines.
On Monday, a shooter walked into a Nashville school and killed six people. Three of the victims were children.
I am not going to pretend to know how to fix the gun violence issue that is plaguing this country. Whether it is a school, a movie theater or an amusement park, these needless and violent acts keep occurring.
Whatever we’re doing now, which is a lot of nothing, is not the answer. Americans are familiar with the script. We sensationalize, hyper-focus on minor details then politicize the suggested solutions until the matter is replaced with the next pressing issue.
Americans have also grown accustomed to the two reactionary and extreme proposals that often follows mass shootings with either a call to ban guns or the call to provide more guns to more people, like teachers.
Neither seems likely nor an effective measure to stop these horrific actions.
The solution, like many complex issues, is going to require a level of nuance, outside the box thinking and empathy from both sides.
I don’t have the slightest idea on how to severely curve gun violence without infringing on constitutional rights.
I do think that instead of rallying for quick fixes, we should perhaps take a deeper look at the road that led us to this unique situation where children are being murdered in cold blood on a near regular basis.
Let’s stop with the political talking points, take a few steps back and look at the entirety of the situation. We now, more than ever, need to have honest conversations about this phenomenon that has claimed as of Wednesday, according to the Gun Violence Archive, 57 lives in the U.S. this month.
It’s time we acknowledge that the gun culture in this country is just plain weird.
I am not referring to millions of people that own firearms, who use them to hunt or even collect them as a hobby. I am also not inferring that those who transform their personality around firearms are the reason for the increase in gun violence.
I am stating that the increased obsession around guns is bizarre and deserves exploring.
The fascination with guns has always puzzled me. As someone who was (poorly) compensated to master several different weapon systems ranging from fire-to-forget missiles to fully automatic machine guns, it’s hard for me to fully grasp the obsession that has taken hold of people across this country.
Guns are tools, used to cause varying degrees of destruction. Just like a hammer or a wrench, these weapons are designed for a very specific use to best obtain the desired result. Like any good carpenter knows, safety and knowledge are absolute paramount when working with any tool.
However, not a lot of people feel the need to have their Christmas photos with their family holding circular saws.
There is a fine line between a hobby and an obsession that is being blurred by the increasingly loud rhetoric from rabid gun owners who are quick to anger when any talk about the slightest regulation to guns is brought up.
We have allowed these pieces of metal to integrate themselves into our culture so much. The tools whose only use is to cause destruction have become such a mainstay in so many people’s lives that it feels like we’re closer to classifying guns as a utility rather than weapons of war.
To understand where we are going, we need to understand how we got here.
We need to understand how we created a society that is convinced that their second amendment is constantly in danger.
We need to understand how people can swoon over the right to bear arms, transforming into constitutional experts but couldn’t name five amendments in the Bill of Rights.
We need to understand why people feel the need to carry a weapon with them all the time. What kind of society do they think we live in if you need a firearm when you go to the local grocery store?
We need to understand why people feel so comfortable with these deadly weapons that they accessorize their firearms like they are part of a trendy wardrobe.
We need to understand why people have become so willing to quickly engage in deadly force.
We need to understand how we let aggrandizing self-serving politicians drive us to a frenzy that people are coming to take our guns.
It is heartbreaking to think that we have cultivated a society where weapons have become so prevalent. There is plenty of evil in the world, and it’s a natural feeling to want to protect yourself and the ones you love, but this dramatic calling from a growing population for everyone to be armed to the teeth at all times appears to be stemming from an underlying fear.
A fear that has managed to grip our country and blind us from any movement to stop allowing our children to be murdered.
When a tragedy occurs, it is part of the coping process to search for something or someone to blame.
There have times in my life felt that human depravity knows no bounds, yet I am reminded on a daily basis that the good vastly outweighs the evil in the world.