Monday, November 28, 2022

Fight mass shootings with education

     How to get unstuck? Say an impasse at work, where two people go head-to-head over opposing views of what to do.
     You don’t last 35 years at a company without strategies for this, and a favorite is what I call “The Third Way.” A shot of interpersonal WD-40 to get the frozen gears moving again. You want Plan A. Your boss comes along and touts Plan B.
     “That’s a stupid idea,” sticks in your throat. What to do? Insisting on your own way, telling them they’re wrong gets nowhere. But meekly submitting to the bad idea feels like surrender, and the wrong strategy wins.
     Enter The Third Way. Not your idea, not theirs. But a different approach, not as good as yours or as bad as theirs. A compromise that gets you moving again. Both sides save face.
     I thought of the Third Way after our most recent spate of mass shootings: University of Virginia, Colorado Springs, Chesapeake. Keeping track hardly seems worth the effort. The Republican solution to America’s gun nightmare is ever more guns. Arm everybody, everywhere, all the time, and let them shoot it out. We’re seeing how well that works.
     The Democratic solution — shore up the tattered framework of laws into something a bit stronger — seldom goes very far. That isn’t to say it can’t help. Our nation banned assault weapons, whatever they are, for a decade. We could again. I don’t want to underplay the value of restrictions entirely, as states with more sensible gun laws have lower rates of gun crimes. A car loving nation, we still manage to demand driver’s licenses and speed limits.
     But there is a third way that gets ignored. Not arming teachers or crafting laws but education, in the form of advertising. We gained all sorts of social goods through advertising. The public didn’t just naturally stop tossing their trash out their car windows. They had to be taught. Guns are an area where people flail in the dark. Why not teach them? Most handgun deaths aren’t murders; they’re suicides.

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  1. Hi Neil.

    At first I thought sure, education. Fat chance.

    But your argument's persuasive and tested by actual use. Cigarettes aren't the problem they used to be.

    I hope we can say the same about guns in my lifetime.

  2. Hi Neil, I think it's a terrific idea.

  3. A commenter on another blog made similar points a while back (after which of the many mass shootings, I don't recall), and I was impressed that it allowed him, a rather cynical sort, to be somewhat optimistic that this benighted nation might someday make progress against the gunnification of America.

    He referred to both cigarettes and drunk driving. I still find it hard to believe that smoking is not allowed indoors, given the staunch opposition of many of the core patrons of the bar / restaurant industry and the power of the Freedumb Caucus in this country. But somehow that legislation was enacted.

    When I was in my prime years of bar attendance, in the 70s and 80s, drinking and driving was pretty commonplace. When the idea of a designated driver came along, it was mocked by some. Obviously, anybody with a brain knew that getting behind the wheel after a night out was not a good idea, but many of us did it, anyway. However, many of us were also receptive to valid arguments and social pressure, so MADD gained momentum until it's become almost universally accepted that driving while impaired is repellent and unlawful behavior.

    Seat belts and other car safety features are another area of success. A law that you have to wear a seat belt? How did that ever get enacted against the tide of "don't tread on me" patriots who think the gubmint should be drowned in a bathtub? But those laws did make it through.

    Maybe it'll take a while, but these examples give some hope that a more rational discussion about guns beyond "confiscate them all" and "no 'infringement' of any kind, ever" might someday be successful. With this column as an impetus, sooner rather than later would be nice...

  4. These are indeed good ideas. Let's hope they happen.

  5. It is a good idea.
    Taking your cigarette comparison, after losing that huge lawsuit, the manufacturers are required to advertise the risks of smoking, often with some graphic images. Why not have PSA’s showing the damage guns create.
    I’n addition to interviewing the perps, they should also interview the family of victims as well for all to see.
    The human side to this epidemic is lost in the shuffle.

  6. I wonder how many people have managed to defend themselves with a gun. Especially in a house robbery, atttempted rape etc. If you have kids you are supposed to keep your gun locked. I would think it difficult to defend oneself if the intruder gets the jump on you

    1. Yes, and the point is that having that gun readily available makes it a threat to the family you are supposedly defending against someone who probably is never coming. Did you not get that?

  7. Be careful about casting things in absolute terms. I occasionally hear someone make reference to the bad old days when people used to throw trash out their car windows as if that were some extinct custom, like using a telegraph. But where I live, it’s done with such frequency and impunity that you would think it’s as natural as breathing. They don’t even try to be discreet about it; you can be driving down any road, broad daylight, other motorists everywhere, and out will fly the fast food detritus out some asshole’s driver’s side window. Clearly, Iron Eyes Cody’s lachrymose gaze did not penetrate everywhere.

  8. I remember an 80s image of a guy with the barrel of a gun in his mouth, who was standing in front of a piece of abstract art on the wall behind him. Maybe a Jackson Pollack, or someone like him. He had his head thrown back, and he was positioned in such a way that it looked exactly like he had just splattered the back of his head, and his brains, all over the wall.

    The image made quite an impression on me, because I have never forgotten it. It's been forty years since I saw it at my cousin's place. I've never been able to find it again...anywhere. Maybe it could be resurrected...and used in an ad campaign that is similar to the one with the eggs in the frying pan. "This is your brain with a gun."


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