Tag Archives: usa

Gun Problem or People Problem

Mass shootings are an absolutely atrocious and largely unique part of our country’s culture. With the San Bernardino and Planned Parenthood attacks so fresh in our minds, we are all, once again, drawn to bickering about what the “problem” really is.

I have seen anti-gun-regulation arguments that cite examples of other violence (sans guns), saying essentially that bad people will still kill others, whether they have guns or not. One that seemed particularly off-topic to me referred to Cain killing Able with a rock.

I’m not here to argue specifically against the idea that people will do bad things. I think pretty much everyone agrees that there are plenty of people who commit terrible acts with or without access to guns.

But I do take issue with this particular argument because it is fatalistic. Almost none of the people I see making the ‘it’s a people problem’ argument are out there advocating for or otherwise supporting those ‘bad’ people.

Americans are woefully misinformed about issues of mental health. I would even take it a step further and propose that Americans are also generally lacking in emotional intelligence and empathy. We, as a culture, create and enforce systems of oppression, stigma, and self-loathing that essentially create these attackers.

So, sure, it may be a ‘people’ problem. But the people I’m talking about aren’t just the perpetrators of violence. They are the ones all around us, the people you and I become when we live in a place of competition and fear.

I think what makes me most upset about the gun control opposition is that they offer no counter solution. No gun law could possibly keep guns entirely out of public access. But I do believe that we should be treating guns like the dangerous weapons that they are. Regulating their sale and requiring a knowledge and/or skills test seems vital to me to acknowledge the power and responsibility that comes with being a gun owner. The absolute best comparison I have heard relates guns to cars. We’ve all accepted that we must pass a driving test and register our cars with the DMV; I don’t understand how doing the same with your gun is infringing on your rights in any greater way.

We need to recognize that the problem is multi-faceted. It IS a gun problem because automatic weapons kill much faster than most other weapons. It is also a culture problem, and we can’t ignore that piece of the puzzle.

To me, if you’re still arguing semantics about what the problem is, you’re a part of it. The focus ought to be on solutions that tackle both sides of this coin head on. I really believe we all play a role in this cultural epidemic, which means we all have a lot we can, and should, be doing already.

 

 

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10 Roadtrip Realizations

Well, friends, it has been a while! I have been on the road (in a car this time) for about a month now, hitting up all the best sights and scenes across the northern half of the country. I visited over 30 states this summer, and the craziest part? It isn’t even over.

This trip could be about fifteen different blog posts and still not cover all that has happened, but I will start with a basic, list-form summary of things I’ve learned since transitioning from trail vagabonding to road vagabonding.

1) Hipsters do exist everywhere! But they are the sore thumbs most everywhere outside of the Pacific Northwest.

2) KOA campgrounds are a big thing. A really big thing. I had no idea just how many families grab the RV or trailer in the summer and join these pop up trailer park communities. The ones we camped in had live music, board games, pools, lakes, cook outs, and lots of other camp-like activities. It is almost like burning man but very different.

3) Just because you could buy fresh fruits and veggies on the road, it is harder to keep and eat them than you may think. I wanted very much to make salads. But most times, I realized that if I did buy spinach, I’d likely end up eating it out of the bag.

4) Did you know almost all campgrounds prohibit all alcohol? Well, I knew that once, but I forgot about it. Let this be your reminder. We never had anyone ask or check up on us, but it was slightly disappointing not to be able to chat up the neighboring campers over a bottle of wine… Just kidding–that was just what Parker would have done. I mostly was just paranoid the whole time.

5) Regarding speed limits: for most of the heartland, 10 MPH above the limit is normal. In Nevada and California, expect to go 15 MPH faster. In Oregon and Washington, average about 7 MPH over. On the east coast, you probably won’t ever get to go the speed limit. But in Canada? The limit does not exist.

6) When traveling with someone who may be heteronormatively assumed to be your partner, people will be more friendly and card you less for drinks. They may also ask when you are getting married.

7) Driving through and/or parking in cities can be made a million times easier with GPS and a budget to pay for parking in a garage.

8) Being a constant traveler puts you on the fringes of the “normal” world. You encounter so many people going about their typical days, grabbing lunch, heading to work or class, walking their dogs, and you are just an observer. It is a fascinating position to be in, with no routine, no normal. You feel like a masquerading outsider. A spy on the human condition. Except that a lot of times, you realize that you like being on this side of the glass a lot better.

9) Seattle has the best coffee, Chicago has the best live music, Austin has the best hipster cowboys, and New York really does have the best bagels.

10) Home may be where you feel most yourself. It may be somewhere you feel familiar with. It may be where your family is, where your friends live, where you grew up, where you fell in love. What I really know now, is that home may be a very big place.