The Gun Debate (or not): Can We Problem Solve?

I lead into this piece with my writing about teaching problem solving to young adults. I described my class as a “community” meaning we had a commonality. We needed to work together to solve our problems. We recognized that the problems did not go away on their own accord. The problems required our attention and efforts if we were going to fix them.

The starting point was recognizing and acknowledging a problem. Until this happened, problems were just what we lived with. Here lies a big hurdle with the gun debate in this country. We have yet to recognize the problem as a community that needs our common efforts to solve it. How can I say this? Well, the problem has existed for many years now and will continue for many more unless something is done. One group has been beyond reluctant to even discuss this challenge. Even the non-gun control pieces of a solution have been off the table and no one can point to anything and say, “We did this to try and fix this problem.” It appears some of us are willing to live with mass shootings as part of our culture as long as we can avoid any gun control. Is this a fair assessment? Well, the last 20+ years bear this out. Point to something that has been done. Name some law that was passed in an attempt to deal with the carnage caused by guns in our communities. You can’t. So, I think it is fair to say some of us are willing to do nothing. The sadder comment is that those willing to do nothing have been able to prevent anything from having been attempted to solve the gun/mass shooting problem.

The advocates for doing nothing/no change/no problem solving like to point to the 2nd Amendment and find their justification for this is the way the Framers intended it to be.

So, it looks like we cannot even launch into the first step in problem solving which is to acknowledge, admit to, and define the problem. There is a lot at stake here for those that want no change. Any change intended to address the gun problem will clearly make some changes to the way we currently view “the right to bear arms.” And this is the first hurdle we cannot jump. As a society, we have not been willing politically to make any change that will impact the “right to bear arms.” The cost of doing nothing is more of the same – more of our communities continuing to be fair game in an undeclared war against us.

I think the gun debate is framed in the larger culture war our politicians have benefitted from. The energy they stoke in a larger culture war fuels their campaigns, brings in dollars, and keeps them in power. There is the back story to all of this, money and power. I think what the NRA has done in this proves my point. The NRA/gun lobby, politicians, money, and power are a closed loop that we have not been able to break. It feeds itself and cycles along without interruption.

Divided communities do not solve problems. They cannot get to first base in the problem-solving process. The divisions/culture war that describes our society benefits some, it benefits those in power and those that benefit from close associations with power, i.e., money. We cannot identify and acknowledge a problem as a divided community. No problem solving will happen I am sorry to say. The answer to this riddle lies with knowing who benefits from the way things are. They have a lot at stake in keeping things the way things are. They will fight to keep their guns like we would be expected to fight to protect something precious. And the guns take from us what is really precious, those we love, and us.

Take care and be safe.

Ed Pirie

Published by Ed Pirie

I am a native Vermonter. I am a child of the 50s, 1951 to be exact. For much of my youth Vermont had one foot in the 19th century and one in the 20th century. The old ways coexisted with a world that was changing. We were sort of insulated in Vermont from much that was happening outside our state, but our little protective bubble was shrinking. My understanding of today has been greatly influenced by the past as the past was always part of our present in the Vermont of the 1950s and even the 60s. I am not much of a follower and like to do my own thinking. You will find my thoughts on many topics here. I value my family and a quiet existence in a very rural part of Vermont. I try to write clearly and simply. I hope you enjoy and thank you for visiting my site. Take care.

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