As Don Henley sang, it’s interesting when people die. That said, people die all the time, for all sorts of reasons: heart failure, cancer, medical malpractice, automobile accidents and yes “gun violence.” Let’s face it: death from gunfire is way more interesting than most other ways people kick the proverbial bucket. It’s sudden, violent and there’s always a great back story. Oh, and it’s rare. No really. Take suicide out of the mix (it’s so depressing) and firearms-related fatalities don’t even make it to the top ten in The Centers for Disease Control‘s causes of death list. So it’s no surprise that the media exploits/reports “gun violence.” The problem for The People of the Gun: we’re losing the context war . . .
Gun control advocates have a natural advantage when it comes to capitalizing on firearms-related tragedy. They can wave the bloody shirt while claiming that their disarmament agenda can stop firearms-related violence from ever happening again. How can we as a society of caring people allow guns into the hands of people who create this . . . carnage! They’re selling their anti-gun agenda with a combination of morbid fascination and moral superiority. Now how much liberty will you sacrifice?
Gun rights advocates could take the exact same tack. They could point to the violence and ask how can we as a society of caring people leave innocent people defenseless in the face of this—THIS! That’s the strategy that Alan Gottleib and the Second Amendment Foundation attempted to deploy by scheduling Guns Save Life day for the first anniversary of the Sandy Hook spree killing. It backfired because of a natural human response to violence: schadenfreude.
Schadenfreude is German for taking joy in other people’s troubles; Schaden (damage) and Fruede (joy). Mind you, the word “joy” is a bit misleading. Schadenfreude requires revulsion. That could have been me! Thank God that wasn’t me! More charitably, there but for the Grace of God go I. Humans need to be fascinated with violence so that they can learn how to avoid it. Preferably, more enjoyably, from a distance.
There’s your trouble. Gun rights advocates decrying the lack of armed defense for victims are talking about confronting violence with violence. The vast majority of people are hard-wired to avoid violence. They’d rather someone else take away the criminal’s gun than have to think about shooting a criminal in self-defense. That’s the message the anti-gunners are selling. Support us and this doesn’t have to happen.
Even though Joe Q. Public knows (in some part of their mind) that criminals will always get guns, some of them think why not pursue the gun control advocates’ avoidance strategy? What’s the downside? If it saves one life . . . Gun control laws don’t affect them. They don’t carry a gun. (Waving the bloody shirt for civilian disarmament won’t work on someone who carries a gun; they’re ready, willing and able to use violence for self-protection.)
So how should gun rights advocates deal with the civilian disarmament industrial complex’s bloody flag waving? By carrying, of course. And encouraging as many people as possible to do the same. Equally, we should go with the schadenfreude. Sandy Hook was a terrible tragedy. That could have been any of us! Anyone who wants to protect themselves and their loved ones from this unimaginable horror, to help all of us avoid it by deterrence, should carry a gun in their defense. Just by carrying a gun, not even using it, a gun could save your life.