An insightful essay…

… that should be required reading for all on both sides of the gun debate. Some excerpts from “The Psychology of Guns” by Dr. Joe Pierre, written in 2015 after the Umpqua Community College shooting in 2015:

Another mass shooting, another call for more gun control. And yet, if the past predicts the future, those calls won’t go far and will probably even spark a rise in guns sales, as they have after many of the recent mass shootings in the US. If more gun legislation is really “common-sense,” then why doesn’t it happen?

To understand this, it’s necessary to understand the psychology of guns and gun owners, rather than falling into the familiar trap of blaming the National Rifle Association (NRA), Republicans, and Congress or writing off individuals who are wary of legislation as crazy “gun nuts” who don’t care that children are dying from gun violence. In keeping with this goal, I will refer to the two sides of the gun debate simply as “pro-gun” and “anti-gun” instead of framing this as a liberal/conservative or Democratic/Republican divide. In America, this divide – like so many hot-button issues these days – is split firmly down the middle. The most recent Gallup Poll indicates that 42% of Americans have a gun in the home (the General Society Survey puts this number closer to 30%) and 52% want guns laws either kept as they are (38%) or made less strict (14%). Over the past 25 years, the number of people who want more strict gun laws has decreased from a high of 78% in 1990 to the 2012 low of 44%. This despite the fact that “active shooter incidents” have increased since 2000, although gun homicide in general has decreased significantly in the past two decades.

If there’s any chance of reform in gun legislation, legislators and “anti-gun” proponents are going to have to understand why the “pro-gun” half the of country owns guns, likes guns, and sometimes invokes the NRA slogan “I’ll give you my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead hands” when the issue of gun control comes up. Here are 3 answers to that question: . . . 

It’s worth reading the whole essay to find out what his three reasons are, and his three proposals toward a more civil debate and realistic steps to a multi-pronged solution for an intractable problem.

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