Monday, March 25, 2013

On the Subject of Many Serious Things

I was pondering much of the recent news and had this thought - our approach to gun control is like our approach to rape. I have been following with sadness the story of the attack and gang rape in India, but certainly US news has been full of rape (and sexual and street harassment, which are certainly not the same, but I have to wonder if the same behaviors cause this assumption that some people are objects and not people).  And in the wake of a number of prominent shootings the discussion of gun control has come up. 
And in both cases there seem to be a group of people who's solution is to restrict potential victims. So, females (and yes, I know males can be raped, so far I have not seen similar suggestions for males, but I would love to be wrong about this) are supposed to travel in groups, remain alert, wear appropriate clothing, try not to be out too late, try not to be alone, or be secluded with strange men.  And some people have suggested that people misusing guns is a people problem, and the solution is to have more guns out there so that when people misusing guns show up, someone trustworthy with a gun will be there to stop them.
Now, obviously the analogy breaks down at some point.  Rapes that do not happen are pretty much impossible to prove or predict.  And there is fairly clear evidence that generally trustworthy people with guns, known as cops, often do end mass shootings. 
But as a country, and as a culture, I want to live in the world where I do not assume that everyone approaching me is a potential rapist I must guard myself against.  Sure, this does not mean I'm going to skip around, all alone, money hanging out of my pocket, nose in a book, and wait for the world to improve on my behalf.  But I also don't want to see every school armed to the teeth.  Nor do I wish it to become commonplace for people to experience airport level security everywhere they go.  I know that ship has sailed at some schools, even ones in DC, but I wish for that to become the norm. 
Sadly, I do not have the solution to either of these things.  Hopefully with more discussion we will come up with better approaches to both.