President Obama Still Doesn’t Get It: It’s Culture That Stops Gun Violence

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(This article originally appeared at Bold and is reprinted here with permission.)

By Rebecca Bond

On Tuesday, President Obama held his much-anticipated press conference on “Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence.”  The country awaited the draconian or heroic – depending on whose side you were on – measures. And what happened? Well, it feels like much ado about nothing . . .

The “nothing” part being Obama’s  less controversial initiatives where there is already some agreement across party lines. Figure out mental health solutions? Check. If you’re “in the business” of guns, do your paperwork? Check. Fund some Smart Tech safety projects? Sure. Hire more staff to enforce laws on the books? Big check.

There is conversely a little ado about something rising up in the culture worth talking about. We are again reminded – via the national stage of a presidency – that doing nothing about gun violence, gun safety or mental health just won’t fly with most Americans any more . . .

Almost no one today is cavalier about their children’s, family’s and community’s safety. You can’t dismissively shrug off the innocent gun victims and families who come through our social and media channels every week. “There but for the grace of God” versus “It could never happen to me,” is something that hits each one of us after these shootings.

So, what’s going on with guns, anti-gun violence, gun safety or whatever you choose to call tackling fewer deaths by guns? Well, a lot of people seem to realize this is everybody’s conversation. That could be a lot more important than Obama’s initiatives. Obama’s delivery Tuesday certainly expressed his deep frustration in what he perceives as an inability to do what’s important to him – pass legislation. Because as he learned fairly quickly, even after 26 first-graders and educators are massacred, these conversations have a history and life of their own.

However, if Obama reads press today from the gun industry and watches some of the recaps, he would be able to see there are consensus-building areas around safety and gun violence prevention. If we are going to get anywhere meaningful in prevention, we need to grab hold of some of those areas of agreement.

The gun safety conversations in this country are shifting. When the NBA unveiled an anti-gun violence message before Christmas, it was a big statement from a global brand leader that influences pop culture. Boldly entering a space with a cult-swagger and pragmatism we associate with millennial brands, essentially telling America we can all try to do something.

Having faith leaders, Teen Vogue, Vice Media, the American Psychiatric Association, along with many others, talking about solutions to gun violence, engages individual Americans of all ages, in whatever arena in the country people and brands play in.

Maybe Obama’s much ado about nothing is really about something more than political brinkmanship. Sure, the political machines and the social media dog fights are still talking around the topic, but the power of mass apolitical media and brands have attracted new – less cynical – people. These new people and brands are here because of moral conscience.

That’s where any hope of problem-solving begins. We won’t get all of the conversations “right.”  There is trust to build, talking to people about things you personally don’t like, taking a few leaps of faith testing some new ideas.

No one says you have to even like guns to discuss gun locks, urban violence or mental health. Perhaps the gun haters are far better off saying they hate guns and go from there. It’s honest and believable. But gun sales are booming and we can certainly agree that we all are against preventable deaths.

People will keep dying, and not quietly. Now it’s right in front of us in real-time similar to the way we saw body bags weekly on TV during the Vietnam war, which really fueled the anti- war movement.  We could all do our friends, neighbors and communities, a big favor by not being so quick to kill honest, apolitical efforts by dismissing everything as a bad idea.

For example, “Drink Responsibly” is a catch phrase embraced by all and Budweiser is now leading a global effort for responsible drinking. But can we develop a “Carry Responsibly” or “Hug a Responsible Gun Owner Today” message? Are those things we can all get behind?  Drunk driving used to be a big joke, now the culture has shifted after years of marketing, and it’s socially unacceptable.

I can’t say for sure what works with legislation, but I do know that culture is the ultimate deterrent, and that we all benefit from a culture of personal gun safety and violence prevention, advocated by all. Even the gun haters.

I don’t generally comment on legislation or politics. I run a non-profit solely dedicated to gun safety outside of the legislative arena. But I grew up around guns and my dad is a mortician. He says when you have cleaned up after someone who has committed suicide by a gun you never look at death the same way.

My parents were divorced and my younger brother loved guns. He probably did target practice in his room. I told my mother recently we were lucky no one got hurt and she didn’t disagree with me. My family still lives in Minnesota, all three brothers shoot – one is a safety range officer at his gun club after his two tours in Afghanistan. But I’ve seen people do some incredibly stupid things with guns that have hurt people they were very close to – all avoidable and unintentional. Safety is not a side.

Like Lebron James, maybe we can get our game on reminding people to be as safe as they can with a gun, avoiding that one preventable tragedy.

——

Rebecca Bond is the co-founder of Evolve, “passionately promoting gun safety through innovative campaigns and mass communications.”

comments

  1. avatar Joe R. says:

    Unless you’re lying to yourself. Gun violence is the purpose of the 2nd Amendment, when your a-hole neighbors gang up on you, call themselves ‘government’ and attempt to take away your rights.

    The other stuff that happens with guns is purely ancillary. Some good, some not so good, but YES, purely situational.

    1. avatar ThomasR says:

      Yep. Freedom doesn’t come free. And no tyrant has ever given freedom freely.

      And while punching holes in paper and shooting bowling pins is really fun, training for combat to stop the threat of physical violence, with violence, is what the second amendment is all about. And while no sane person from our western christian based culture wants to kill other people, even human predators; if that is the end result of that use of controlled violence, that is part of the cost of what it takes to be free.

      I make the point about our western christian based culture, because to many cultures through history, glorying in wanton violence dealt out upon those not of your tribe was and still is in many places in our inner cities, in Africa and for many of the devout Muslim belief towards Infidels, the accepted cultural norm.

      1. avatar Joe R. says:

        I believe the 2nd Amendment to be the “threat” necessary to ward off violence, if people are attempting to interdict it that would indicate an attack NOT an elevated response to the threat.

        1. avatar Joe R. says:

          P.S. – you’ll never hear me attempting to take guns away from anyone. Including felons, guns are less dangerous than drugs, and infinitely less deadly than abortion. If you can kill someone that was created BY YOUR OWN INVITATION, from before they’re born up until even after they’ve drawn their first breath, with scissors or by just letting them die by neglect and that’s a protected right BUT YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH MY CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO POTENTIALLY HUNTING YOU DOWN AND KILLING YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE A TYRANT [using NOT JUST GUNS BUT “ARMS”], then FU.

  2. avatar Anon in CT says:

    The mental health stuff might help with the spree killers – their crimes are awful but are a small part of “gun deaths”.

    The main culprit is a culture of criminality and violence. The “gun” part is merely ancillary.

    This culture is prevalent among folks with lower socio-economic status. It’s mainly concentrated in inner cities, but not exclusively.

    1. avatar notalima says:

      I have a number of friends who are doctors and PAs. They themselves are fearful that other doctors with an agenda, or who simply don’t think people should own guns, will be reporting anyone that they can to the database.

      They are very keen at this point to see what the mechanism will be, how the records are verified, and what recourse their patients will have if they are incorrectly (or worse, maliciously) reported to the system

    2. avatar skinnednkuckles says:

      It is my belief that as long as we only talk about “gun violence”, instead of “violence”, we will continue on the same ineffective, dysfunctional path. When the conversation is limited to gun violence, it is easy to default to simple solutions: “get rid of the guns, and the violence will go away”. It shouldn’t take more than a minute’s thought and reflection for it to be clear that that isn’t going to work, but who takes that minute anymore? We have a “solution” that can be summed up in a hashtag, so Problem Solved. We are suffering from a leadership vacuum (surprise!) and no one wants to take on the true causes, or even believe they are the true causes. Many want to interpret this as a cover for disarmament and all that entails, and it may well be true. Until our free press start doing its job, and our political leaders theirs, in an honest manner instead of an ideological manner, we are going to be stuck with an empty dialog

    3. avatar mark s. says:

      I have read all the comments and albeit I may agree with most of them I see one aspect that seems to always be glazed over or not taken seriously or perhaps ignored because of the fact that we all must examine ourselves in the mirror when confronting it . I know by viewing other comment sections on many other and diverse sites , that this position has many detractors but I am compelled to address it here .
      It may seem like a hard problem to solve to a lot of people , how do you stop a deranged nut or a religious zealot or even a political radical from going on a shooting spree ? I may be perfectly sane today and purchase a pistol and a big scary black gun completely legal , going through all the proper background checks and for self protection and then tomorrow go all whacko and start shooting dumb restaurant employees for always getting my orders wrong all the time .
      The answer is really simple , the implementation is not .The answer , culturally is MORALITY . It isn’t a denominational debate in Christianity , it isn’t about what religion holds the key or what faith one chooses to follow but adherence to it . It must be broad and across all the faiths or there is no solution that will work . Armed insurrection will only lead to more violence and evil and more threat if it isn’t accompanied with morality based common sense .
      The break down of two parent families and Bible preaching churches and Synagogues where discipline is evoked and implemented by people of conviction to principles runs parallel to our loss of direction as a culture and a disconnect as to who are we as a Nation . What are our standards and goals as a collective free peoples ? What are our laws and standards based on ? Why do we even need them ? Why is the taking of another life wrong ? Why is it wrong to steal someone’s property ?
      The willful loss of moral structure permitted us the opportunity to participate in vise that was commonly frowned upon by generations before us as being sinful and even idolatrous to God . The maturation of a society and culture that rejects vice and evil as sin is the root of our struggles we see today , in both the acts of debauchery and the governments reactions to them .
      The governments infringement into our freedoms , on the God given and Bill of Rights enumerated , rights , is a direct counter to our wayward ways , whether conspiratorial or simply reactionary . The ones we choose to protect our freedoms and our Constitution , duly elected by us , either by our complacency or thoughtful conscience are actually forced to drop the hammer , so to speak , to safeguard the freedoms we are willfully abusing .
      Our choices to wallow in the filth of pornography , to devote great sums of our time and resources into the games of leisure , entertainments of all types , movies , games , sports and all forms of technology , over feeding the hungry , taking care of the poor and widows , caring for the unwanted children , putting up with or loving and trying to adjust to the spouse that is different than us or a little moody is our choice after all , accepting a divorce rate over 50 % , throwing obscenities at people who drive slower than we like , and on and on , choices have consequences . When we allow deviate sex and scenes of horror into our homes through technology we have lost our will to maintain the culture that founded this nation . The vise we allow to impose it’s will onto our lives has us ever so quickly going down the road we find ourselves on .
      When you eliminate fear of consequence for action and debunk the idea of permanent punishment for heinous crimes and evil you will in evidently have more of the same . You can not hope humanity will just stop being human by hoping it to be so . People are by their nature sinful and craving of all sorts of vice and will do terrible things to other people when left to their own devices . This is not the ramblings of a mad man , I am not the beginning of this concept , our founders spoke very eloquently of this paradox in leading up to and after they laid the burden of freedom upon our chest .
      For the first couple of centuries here in America we had a large majority of our citizenry who balanced their lives with strong foundations in ‘ God concepts ‘, Christianity , Judaism and some other forms of worship , that led them to walk in faith that their rewards for their resistance to immorality would come after they passed from flesh to spirit . I fear that a larger majority of people today seek their reward for the here and now and many young people actually want rewarded for doing nothing at all and are willing to pillage and burn to get these unjustified rewards .
      We will not solve the problems of gun violence by taking away gun or by everyone being armed , although I will op for the second over the first if those were my only choices . We will not solve it by tweaking the types of guns we can own , fact is if you take away all guns and knives and arrows , people will just beat each other to death with tree branches or rocks and if one wants to commit a mass killing they just need to do it the old fashion way , a can of gas and a match in a crowded nightclub .
      You must address the root of the problem , you must sure up the foundation of the society before you can address the rest of the structure . Our hope as I see lays in a revival of truth , a return to empathy for our fellow man and a deep respect for a God of the spirit that will reward us after we shed the shackles of the flesh .
      I know these words seem outdated and many will object to the very idea that God is the answer to human frailty and abject failure , but it is only my opinion to a well written post .

      1. avatar 16V says:

        Thanks Mark S, Amazingly the ~10% of atheists and the ~20% who are ‘agnostic’ (which is atheism, just easier to say in front of religious zealots) are just fine without your god. We work hard, have families, take care of others, care for the sick, and all the rest. It’s not your JudeoChristianity, it’s just being a decent human being. We don’t do it to please some magical sky-daddy, we do it out of the goodness of our hearts.

        As for pleasures of the flesh, they aren’t the road to hell, merely a lighter wallet and maybe a hangover. On the other hand, your deity wanted a man to sacrifice his kid to prove his faith, and once washed away all that he created because it quit listening to him. ‘You can have free will, to decide exactly as I say…’. Just sayin’.

        As to the important part of my post, quit trying to recast the FFs and how this country was founded. Back in the days of the Revolution, pretty much all of the Colonists were perpetually buzzed. We drank a LOT back then, and after the revolution, it really took off. Partly practical (water was often dangerous) but mainly because we liked it. As to the FFs themselves, only John Jay was an actual Christian believer. The rest from Jefferson on were, at most generous deists. They believed in “some” sort of deity, to help explain what science couldn’t at the moment. It was also a way to sell the concept of “inalienable rights” to the unwashed masses. The FFs were intellectuals – Franklin spent a lot of time in a swinger’s club in London (as well as being quite affectionate with the ladies), Jefferson was for all intents an atheist, and banged one of his slaves among other nonsense. The rest are equally at odds with the nonsense you peddle as fact.

        I don’t give two good flyin’s about what deity you wish to believe in. I just care that unlike Muslims, it’s not opposed to our entire Western Civilization. I also hope you learn who the FFs really were, and how this Great Nation was really founded. Because it very much wasn’t on good manners, sobriety, piety, or behaving like a monk.

        1. avatar Garrett says:

          Great post 16V, although you both have veered pretty far off-topic.

          And you leave some clues in your post that you’ve read CH. Great man… and “God” bless him (ptp).

        2. avatar Garrett says:

          Great post 16V, although you both have veered pretty far off-topic.

          And you leave some clues in your post that you’ve read CH. Great man… and “God” bless him (ptp).

      2. avatar Bob says:

        I’m probably one of the few who read enough of your VERY long post to get a sense of what you were saying, and I didn’t read every word. TOO LONG!

        I agree with what you are saying. The solution to the problem is not going to be easy, because the problem is complex and has a hundred causes. However, it is very clear to me that gun control or expanded gun rights will not solve the problem, though.

      3. avatar Stu in AZ says:

        “Religion and morality are the essential pillars of civil society.” -George Washington

        While I do agree with what you said, I hope that civil society can stand on one pillar (of morality) on its own. Then all of us religious gun nuts can agree with all of us non-religious gun nuts 🙂

        1. avatar 16V says:

          I do also hope that all of the gun-nuts can just get along. I really don’t care who or what you believe – as long as it minds it’s business (what other people do with their bodies is up to them), and doesn’t have inherent the need to return to 8th century barbarism.

  3. avatar Fuque says:

    It’s culture that defines the answer.. ask Government loving liberals and you get the typical answer..
    Ask the gun owner, and you get his answer….
    In another hundred yrs, we will all be living in our chosen areas that support it.. or not…

  4. avatar MikeB in WI says:

    “For example, “Drink Responsibly” is a catch phrase embraced by all and Budweiser is now leading a global effort for responsible drinking. But can we develop a “Carry Responsibly” or “Hug a Responsible Gun Owner Today” message?”

    The difference between a “drink responsibly” campaign and a “don’t shoot other gang bangers” campaign is that most of us who drink are generally responsible and law abiding and don’t want to hurt others by doing something like drinking and driving. We will respond to a ‘be responsible” campaign. But a “carry responsibly/don’t shoot other gang bangers” campaign won’t have any sort of impact on those shooting each other over drug turf.
    We also already have many ‘carry responsibly” campaigns. I suspect that the author isn’t aware of them because she does not carry.

  5. avatar John Thomas says:

    im not interested in doing you any favors, bond. you and your evolve are no friends of mine.

    1. avatar John Thomas says:

      i might take you more seriously if i saw even one article penned by you directed at gun grabbers asking them to knock it off, and telling them that the average American gun owner or concealed carrier ISNT HURTING ANYONE.

      might.

      1. avatar James says:

        Hallelujah!

        At a time where every gun grabber is demonizing and vilifying gun owners as terrorists and murders, we’re supposed to find a way to come together for a rational discussion. Sorry Becky, start with your CSGV and VPC friends first. They have no/zero/zip/nada interest in coexisting with someone like me. Thanks to that, my feelings became mutual.

  6. avatar Ralph says:

    Hey, Rebecca, you left out the part about all of us joining hands and singing Kumbaya.

    1. avatar Geoff PR says:

      No part of me wants to join *any* part of her…

  7. avatar 16V says:

    A nice pile of politically correct words, but nothing of any actual substance.

    “Drunk driving used to be a big joke, now the culture has shifted after years of marketing, and it’s socially unacceptable.” Nonsense, nothing has really changed as far as the culture. We all still joke about that time we drove home and were utterly blind, we all knew “better” at the time when it was “socially unacceptable”. We all knew we could get killed, or kill someone else. What has happened is judges no longer let you walk, police no longer follow you home, and cops actually actively look for drink drivers. And it costs a fortune if you get caught. That’s what has changed.

    But what the article leaves out is that truth that must never be uttered, culture, just like everything else about mammals, is genetic. At the end of it all, propensity to violence is a genetic. Like many things genetic, it’s not a guarantee, and it can be turned off. But that doesn’t happen with advertisements, or hugs. Groups of people can be pulled from their environment at birth, given every advantage, want for nothing. They will still be prone to violence – it’s just who they are.

  8. avatar Joe R. says:

    If you’re an FFL (and good luck trying to file now if you’re not already) all of your firearms are ‘inventoried’ for the ATF – a gun registry/gun-owner registry in every sense of the word.

    If not, you can only purchase/dispose of such personal goods through an FFL.

    None of that addresses legal or illegal use of any kind.

  9. avatar Mack Bolan says:

    Its culture that causes gun violence.

    People need to wake up to the fact that the gross majority of shootings are by blacks and Latinos. Blacks and Latinos have a culture problem which encourages and enables violence.

  10. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    Violence in general is not a problem it is a symptom of issues in our society. Fix other issues like poverty, family and education and the rest will fall into place by and large.

  11. avatar Jim Bullock says:

    I will believe you are an honest broker when you bring up in your piece any one of the several legitimate arguments for citizens owning guns.

    Til then, this is one-sided agitprop with an agenda, the more disingenuous for being dishonestly couched in fake “reasonable” and “consensus-building” words.

    You want a conversation, first stop lying, no matter how nicely you word it.

    Any questions?

  12. avatar David Thompson says:

    If only there was a huge national organization with, say, five million or so members dedicated to teaching firearm safety.

    Of course, if there was the media would probably demonize them as terrorists.

  13. avatar Chris Wolf says:

    If you like your firearms, you can keep your firearms.
    The depth of deceit this guy is capable of is inconceivable to a normal American.
    Now he’s waving a red flag over our “conspiracy” of martial law — the best evidence yet that it’s coming.

  14. avatar Joe says:

    As a firearms instructor, I am all for increasing gun safety awareness and promoting better, more frequent, training. This would result in far fewer “accidental” gun deaths–thereby invalidating one of the bogus arguments that the gun grabbers rely on. There is no such thing as a gun accident, there is a combination of one or more safety violations resulting in injury. The only thing that makes me ever have any doubt about my no compromise position on the purchase and ownership of firearms is when I see someone purchasing a firearm in a gun store who clearly has no experience or training and is an obvious liability to themselves and everyone around them. The industry and lobby could really do a better job of offering free (and voluntary) safety courses to new owners. The worst thing for our position is having someone accidentally get hurt with a firearm. That only promotes the anti-gunners agenda that it is the firearm (rather than the person) that is dangerous.

    1. avatar Joe R. says:

      Joe, the worst thing we can have is people claiming they can reduce or eliminate gun deaths, because they are full of cr_p and further it is immensely detrimental if we let anyone think that we are in some way “relying” on you/them to somehow ‘regulate’ a problem. No one can protect you on an individual level. NOT EVEN YOU, Mr. Instructor. It would be safer to make telling someone that you can illegal.

      I’m a firearms instructor, when a firearm is in my hands. I don’t make people less safe by telling them I have the answers, I just tell them to get a gun and live with it. Maybe then they’ll assume all the other people they encounter are carrying them and make a better effort to protect themselves.

  15. avatar Teufel Hunde says:

    Imagine–and I know you can–the different outcome if a dozen or so women in Cologne had been strapped on New Year’s Eve, and instead of being run down like gazelles on Animal Planet they’d dished out a belly full of lead to their assailants. Sweeeeet. Cheap, too, because a handful of 9mm isn’t a patch on the cost of feeding the sons of bitches or deporting them. Catch this, Spanky! Bang!

  16. avatar barnbwt says:

    So they claim that now that gun deaths are at an all time low, the march of body bags will sway the proletariat like in Nam? Derp, and more proof these libs never see past their previous ‘victory’ in which they defeated their own nation.

  17. avatar Indiana Tom says:

    Well, it feels like much ado about nothing . . .sort of like most of Obonzo’s regime.

  18. avatar Watts' Twat says:

    There are a few proven solutions to ending or reducing so-called “gun (read: criminal) violence”. One is the Death Penalty for ALL repeat violent felons whether they use a weapon or not who choose to rob/rape or assault law-abiding citizens.

    The second is long prison terms for all first time offenders charged with committing violent crimes save for rape/murder/child molestation as they should get the Death Penalty.

    No one is to be “rewarded” with plea bargains or reduced sentences for being “bad shots” and not killing their intended victims. It’s quite simple, if you attempt to “take a life” you forfeit yours.

    If a family harbors, aids, abets, or facilitates a criminal’s escape from justice and/or other members of the clan are involved in a criminal enterprise such as inner city street gangs bulldoze their homes just like Israel does to terrorists and/or evict them from public housing, cast them out into the wind.

    All felons found possessing firearms MUST be prosecuted in the Federal system and be sentenced to a mandatory “maximum” penalty (but we all know this will NEVER happen under Obama and his attorney generals or any other Democrat as they oppose “mandatory” sentences because after all they, the penalties, are of course ‘racist”).

    The above will put an end to the recidivist population of violent criminals belonging to all races that are currently plaguing our communities and nation.

    Lock & Load bitches, it’s getting “real”.

  19. avatar A Hill says:

    I’m disappointed in you TTAG, this post feels like it was paid for – its pretty much out of Mother Jones, why would it be published here? There are times in the text where the facade nearly slips and Bond goes into full Moms Demand mode, but it seems like it was proofread to keep the “You and your hobby are responsible for the deaths of these children” as purely subtext.

    For Shame TTAG

  20. avatar Watts' Twat says:

    There are a few proven solutions to ending or reducing so-called “gun (read: criminal) violence”. One is the Death Penalty for ALL repeat violent felons whether they use a weapon or not who choose to rob/rape or assault law-abiding citizens.

    The second is long prison terms for all first time offenders charged with committing violent crimes save for rape/murder/child molestation as they should get the Death Penalty.

    No one is to be “rewarded” with plea bargains or reduced sentences for being “bad shots” and not killing their intended victims. It’s quite simple, if you attempt to “take a life” you forfeit yours.

    If a family harbors, aids, abets, or facilitates a criminal’s escape from justice and/or other members of the clan are involved in a criminal enterprise such as inner city street gangs bulldoze their homes just like Israel does to terrorists and/or evict them from public housing, cast them out into the wind.

    All felons found possessing firearms MUST be prosecuted in the Federal system and be sentenced to a mandatory “maximum” penalty (but we all know this will NEVER happen under Obama and his attorney generals or any other Democrat as they oppose “mandatory” sentences because after all they, the penalties, are of course ‘racist”).

    The above will put an end to the recidivist population of violent criminals belonging to all races that are currently plaguing our communities and nation.

    Lock & Load bee-atches, it’s getting “real”.

  21. avatar LNJK says:

    what a wimp the potus is!

  22. avatar PeterK says:

    Started someplace weird, but I do think we want the same things in the end.

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