By Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD
We, as a nation of over 300 million people do not really have a “gun problem” — whether as “protectors” of the second amendment or the “gun control people.” Instead, we have an obsession interwoven with racial tension and fears, and insecurities (the mythical “to defend myself”).
Other developed nations, especially in Europe, own almost the same number of guns as we do, except for one thing: They are not agitated, fearful for each other, with paranoia in the air of the “them,” whatever “them” may be — in this case the government — ,coming to “take our guns”, and that assailants will come in in the night, break in, and kill us with guns. (Confronting an assailant in one’s home with our gun ready is an almost non-existent phenomenon.)
This particular pervading group of irrational beliefs in our country has been promoted by political chieftains and lobbies for political gains — skillfully mixing the issue with racial tension and fear of each other. Specifically, along with the political chieftains, the gun lobby groups, especially one named NRA, promoted these irrational insecurities, which in turn are the result of racial tension. So millions of our fellow citizens are feeling insecure unnecessarily, holding their rifles — many of them having dozens – for protecting themselves from assailants that never come, while contributions heavily and thus enriching the pressure groups. The pressure groups, whether political or for power or for profit are spreading the rumors of the preposterous belief that the government indeed will take our guns away in the middle of night.
These pressure groups are spreading enormous money right and left; in fact, mainly to the right and declaring the “fight to the death” against any reasonable measures to protect us from the occurrence of family tragedies or mayhem. The resultant tragedies, 40,000 victims early, are mainly from family quarrels, accidents, criminality, and a distant last-but-socially-steering tragedies of mass shooting by lone angry ideologues — psychopaths with or without psychosis. (In fact, mentally emotionally-ill fellow citizens do not kill people.)
In my 60 years of clinical practice, with over 15,000 patients, I had only one family tragedy involving not a patient but a family member.
Screaming “Second amendment” and “only for sport,” the pressure groups keep pumping, aggravating, and creating tension of “us” against “them,” whoever us are ,against whoever them are. Tellingly, the NRA was supporting gun control when our president Reagan outlawed Saturday night specials — small guns mainly involving in crimes back then. The director of the NRA has one point, though, of Hollywood as a contributing, but marginal, factor — the latter mythologizing a wild west guns blazing. But the real creators of the national obsession are the various gun lobbies involving political power, enormous profit for self enrichment and political distribution, and enormous profit by gun manufactures. All piggy-back on our steered irrational fears.
And now some rational thoughts. Guns have only two usefulnesses: one for sport and the other to kill somebody, or living creature, whether in war, anger, in malevolence, by accident, or criminal fore-planning. We need to reduce the symbolic feverishness regarding guns by confronting the irresponsible utterances of pressure groups and political-calculating chieftains. Like European nations, where every family has guns, we should have them and leave them at that.
On the other hand, cars we all drive to work or on our errands are made to move us around, but they certainly are dangerous and can easily kill people. So we have rules. You cannot run 90 miles an hour in a 35 zone, and you cannot drive either if you are drunk or taking drugs. We all feel comfortable with these rational rules. Some similar rational rules for governing machine guns, bazookas, or — for that matter — ammonium nitrate, such as: teaching discipline in handling guns complete with fines, and education in the protocols of handling guns is needed. Devices that turn semi-automatic rifles, that themselves are unnecessary, into assault machine guns, obviously should be banned.
In the same way as a monster truck should be restricted in special exhibitions but not allowed to run amok on a regular highway, similarly assault rifles should have some rules attached. People with criminal record should not freely buy guns like people with many DUIs cannot drive But above all, we desperately need leadership for easing national tension among us promoting respect for each other, whether the other is white, blond, dark, tall, short, rather than trying to trigger each other’s tribal traits embedded in us, for political gain or profit in a country that is made up of so many diverse people, thus awakening the dark side of tribalism expressed as racism and irrational insecurities.
Along with these efforts, reasonable constraints and rules should be established . And Importantly we should also stay away from using the words “gun control” — heavy with irrational fears
Myself personally, I own two rifles for my needs in my farm where I raise black Angus, whether for killing an ailing cow I can no longer save, or a deer, or for target shooting. But then, I have other hobbies as well — like windsurfing, kayaking and scuba diving, and walking in the woods, And, no! I do not contribute money to any group enriching itself at my expense.
Copyright © 2017 by Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD
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