Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gun Control or Hate Control?

So, today brought the sad news that 88 year old white-supremacist James W. von Brunn stormed the entrance the the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. and opened fire with a shotgun. He wounded a security guard who would later die from those wounds. This is a man who has long been associated with anti-Semitic rhetoric, and was even arrested and served 6 and a half years in prison for pulling out a sawed off shotgun and threatening to take members of the Federal Reserve Board hostage back in late 1981.

This tragedy just 11 days after the murder of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, KS allegedly by anti-abortionist Scott Roeder of Kansas City as Dr. Tiller attended Sunday morning church services.

Upon hearing the news today, I felt the need to write about lots of things I had been planning for this blog. Everything from racism to fundamentalism to tougher gun laws crossed my mind. Then, as I sat down to write, I found that I was struggling to begin the post. As I thought longer, I realized that these topics all shared the same theme...hate.

I think back to one of the first televised debates of the Democrat Party's primaries. Sen. Clinton was lecturing Sen. Obama about his assertion that the American public was angry. She was suggesting that he was stirring the pot and using it as a ploy to get elected. This was, of course, before the "Great Recession" of 2007-present day. I had been leaning toward voting for Mrs. Clinton until that day. Her remarks struck me as so far from the reality of our society that I felt she was unfit to lead our nation until she was able to recognize and admit that it is indeed the truth. Americans are angry.

I am angry. I am angry that President Clinton allowed his name to get so tarnished by "having relations" with Monica Lewinsky. I am angry that a special prosecutor investigating a completely different charge was able to discover and reveal this piece of information as if it were somehow relevant that he cheated on his wife, then lied about it. I am angry that we watched George W. Bush effectively "win" the 2000 election despite losing the popular vote due to our continued use of an outdated and confusing electoral college system and technologically backwards voting methods. I am angry that we were attacked so callously on 9/11, then galvanized around finding the monster who organized the attack, then ditched our search for him to start a second battlefront under false pretenses that were far worse than lying about a hummer in the White House. Someone please explain to me how Bill Clinton was impeached, and George W. Bush has never even been legally questioned. I am angry that despite what we knew, Bush was elected for a second term...seriously! I am angry that the destructive and irresponsible behavior of a select few of the wealthiest people in America were allowed to bring about an economic downturn that has cost many thousands their jobs and livelihoods. My anger, however is tempered by long stretches of optimism, pride in my family, happiness, and laughter...but that is me, what about you?

Bill Clinton was the first President I ever was able to vote for, and vote for him I did...twice. There are many people who are older than I who are likely angry at the things I list above plus so much more. Clearly, James W. von Brunn was angry, and his anger either came from or produced overwhelming feelings of hate. So, I ask, how is a man convicted of an armed act of terrorism able to get his hands on essentially the very same weapon and kill a freaking security guard? Could stricter gun control laws have stopped this man from committing this act? I think that is VERY debatable.

I do want to debate gun control...I really do, but I do not believe that is the central issue in these crimes. Rather, I think that our culture so steeped in anger and hatred is really the root cause, and something we should truly be spending our time trying to solve. What allows a person to believe so strongly that another group, be it either race, faith, or gender based is so wrong that they need to kill to solve the problem? Is it simply mental illness? Bad parenting? High-fructose corn syrup?

Obviously, I don't know the answer. What I do know is that for the billions of us on the planet who haven't and won't ever take an other's life, isn't there more that each of us can do to help prevent these tragedies? Perhaps we need to be less self-absorbed (written by the guy who regularly has his head buried in a crossword puzzle, iPod blaring music in his ears, sunglasses on as he rides the train and bus to work and back) to notice signs of trouble before they explode? Are we to believe that nowhere along Mr. von Brunn's journey to the front entrance of the National Holocaust Museum could someone...anyone have noticed something amiss and said something or done something to stop him? He was 88 years old for crying out loud! Who sold or gave this man a shotgun? Did he "saw it off" or did someone help him?

How can we work together to begin to change the culture of hatred in which so many people are simply raised? Can we do it through education of our youth? Can it be done in school, or does this have to happen in the home...or both? How about across the world? What to do about places like Korea where they quite literally have taped down a "my side/your side" line in a potentially vain attempt to avoid conflict?

Yes, this is meaty. Yes, this could get a whole host of replies blaming everything from organized religion, to separation of the classes, to battles over resources and land, but I can't wait to hear what you all think?

In the meantime, let's consider the families of that security guard in Washington, and Dr. George Tiller and hope that they have it in them to use the energy of their anger to produce something positive rather than continuing the cycle of hate.

Be well.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine


  1. Dave,
    Great questions here. Obviously, you are MBA material..oh wait..that's another blog.
    Sadly, I am not convinced our society is ready to fix this problem. Gun control (although I am okay with current laws) will continue to be where the thrust of lawmakers will look to 'emotionally' satisfy the public.

  2. I really don't think gun control is the issue. I think that hate is the issue, because if I have a gun and I don't have hate then I have no motivation to use my gun. We should address this early on. Tolerance is VERY important.

  3. Thanks for the comments...Carrie, stick around, there is more to come, and I'd love to have you follow along!