Like most, I've been ruminating over the weekend over Friday's tragedy in Connecticut, and watching the various pundits pontificate on the various issues (gun control, mental illness, violent videogames and movies) and potential solutions, many of which I mentioned in yesterday's post.
However, a crucial conversation has been missing.
Much of the discussion has been about gun rights to the point where gun rights advocates feel they are victims as well. However, what is being ignored is while we have a 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, why do so many choose to exercise it?
The purpose of gun ownership, as far as I can tell, is two-fold:
1. For hunting and sport
2. For protection
We have a strong police force that supposedly serve to protect us.
We have significant laws that supposedly serve as a deterrent to crime.
We have an insurance system that most of us pay a significant amount of money to supposedly protect us in case of loss.
Many communities have adopted neighborhood watch programs to look out for one another.
In other words, we have a strong web of support in the community that should mitigate our need for gun ownership.
Yet, estimates indicate that U.S. citizens own nearly 270 million guns, most of which, I would guess, are NOT typically used for hunting or sport.
So what is driving this passionate need to own a gun? What are we needing protection from? What is driving our fear?
For example, a portrait of Nancy Lanza, the mother of the Connecticut shooter Adam Lanza, is coming to light:
Last night it also emerged Nancy was a member of the Doomsday Preppers movement, which believes people should prepare for end of the world.
Her former sister-in-law Marsha said she had turned her home ‘into a fortress’. She added: ‘Nancy had a survivalist philosophy which is why she was stockpiling guns. She had them for defense.
‘She was stockpiling food. She grew up on a farm in New Hampshire. She was skilled with guns. We talked about preppers and preparing for the economy collapsing.’
Obviously, this is an extreme example. But, we are still going through a lost decade of economic growth. Millions of Americans have been added to food stamp rolls. Thousands upon thousands found their homes were foreclosed or their mortgages were underwater. For most, pensions and retirement plans have stagnated, been reduced, or eliminated altogether. Wages remain stagnant as well. Meanwhile, health care costs continue to rise and, if provided by the employer, employees are expected to carry a greater share of that burden.
Nationally, we are continually in crisis mode. A SHRM e-mail arrived in my mailbox this morning (cue the scary music) with the subject heading "The Fiscal Cliff is Looming." If its not handled soon, the debt ceiling will need to be raised and the nation's full faith and credit will be threatened. Social Security will go bankrupt in 20 years if we don't do anything NOW!!!!!
Yet, no one over the course of the past three days has talked about the role economic insecurity as well as the marketing of fear has played.