The shooting of nine people in a black church in Charlestown, South Carolina raises once again the god-awful issue of what to do about gun violence and gun control. Yes racism was a prime factor and undoubtedly so was the poor mental health of the shooter. As a result, the familiar bromides that we need to do more work on race relations and better mental programs are being offered once again. What sensible person could possibly disagree with these?
Personally, I've had it with the old remedies. I'm tired of mourning the innocent victims of another senseless act. We need to break out and try other things.
All the logic and rational talk in the world are virtually useless against racists and rabid gun proponents. (Obviously they are not useless for more rationally minded people or else why write this?) What we need is direct action. We have push hard against culture that is so deeply immersed in fear, guns, and paranoia that it's lost its very grip on sanity.
More guns only lead to more fear and paranoia. If more guns were the answer, then we'd be the safest nation on the planet! Instead, we are the nation with the most mass shootings. Indeed, other Western industrialized nations actually have more crime than we do, but since we have vastly more guns, our crime is generally more lethal.
The best model I know for changing society are the civil rights protests of the 1960's. Young people were literally willing to put their lives on the line by going down to the South and staging sit-ins at restaurants and other public places. As we know, a number died as a result.
The paradox is that one has to be willing to die for less gun violence!
We need to have mass, perpetual sit-ins outside of gun shows and in front of the NRA headquarters in Washington, DC. for as long as it takes to de-gun this society. No other Western industrialized society in the world allows the amount and kinds of guns that we have.
I also want to stir the pot by proposing that other countries impose a tourist embargo on the U.S. Why come to a country where one's life is constantly threatened? While I don't expect that this alone would remove the over 300,000,000 guns in the hands of private citizens, perhaps money will finally get our attention. If rational logic doesn't work, then we have to hit people where it hurts!
The point is that the time for talk is over. Until we are ready to put our bodies and our pocket books on the line, we'll just have more and more mass shootings!
Ian I. Mitroff is Professor Emeritus from USC. He is a Senior Investigator in The Center for Catastrophic Risk Management at UC Berkeley. He is President of Mitroff Crisis Management. His most current book is Dumb, Deranged, and Dangerous: A Smart Guide to Combatting Dumb Arguments.