I have a message to many of my liberal friends, and it concerns safety.
I think that we all agree the the most important aspect of safety is education. Time and time again we have seen that repressing knowledge of a subject in an effort to curb it doesn't work. In fact, it is likely to worsen any existing problems associated with that subject. Take sex and sexuality for instance. We have all seen the damage done by disinformation and repression haven't we? The religious right fought to keep people ignorant for years. We often attribute homophobia, abuse, unwanted pregnancy and untold other sexual dysfunction on lack of knowledge and understanding. Education can curb those problems pretty well. If we gain a better understanding, we can improve the situation.
Alcohol and drugs too. A misunderstanding of mechanisms of addiction coupled with repression and lack of education have brought about significant and serious problems in our society. The more we understand about these subjects, the better we are able to educate against some of the pitfalls of misuse of alcohol and drugs. I have noticed a wonderful trend lately toward education and understanding and think that has and will continue to have a positive impact on crime and many of the social problems associated with the stigmatization of drug use. Education and understanding are keys to integrating potentially dangerous human drives and desires into a peaceful and cooperative society.
Not to mention that we should be pretty much free to do what we want with ourselves. It should be assumed that we are intelligent enough to navigate our way through these potentially difficult and troublesome problems with a little education.
Why can't we do this with guns?
There are those, in some of the more liberal circles, who think we should have massive restrictions on guns and gun ownership. They don't even like to talk, or I suspect think, about gun ownership. Some are probably even a little phobic about guns. Why is that?
I think it is, like most irrationally strong fears, derived from ignorance.
Why isn't there a push for a mandatory gun safety class in schools? If we educate children about guns and speak honestly to children about the uses and dangers of guns, why can't we improve our gun violence problem in this country? If every child in every school had to learn about guns and their safe, basic operation, couldn't we eliminate some of the accidental shootings? If we use our gun safety class as an opportunity to talk about seriuos injuries and death, could we help them start to understand the implications of gun violence on themselves and their families? Maybe we could even reduce some of the fetishistic nature of guns by removing some of the mystique. And if a teacher does see someone who responds in a peculiar way about guns, wouldn't that be nice to know?
I can't really see a downside to this idea. If we continue to just shout for restrictions, we will drive a further division between ourselves and some people who may be more like us than we think. And continued to anhance the forbidden allure of guns to many of those same people who are least capable of handling the responsibility of gun ownership. Most responsible gun owners could be very liberal in some respects. We need to support gun rights as long as it is accompanied by gun education. Lets use knowledge and understanding to help solve the problem instead of letting repression and fear exacerbate it.