It's all the topic on the news today, as the Senate holds hearings on gun violence.
It is a long running, ongoing and endless debate. It incites fear, strong emotions, even paranoia.
"Your guns are killing our kids!'
"Don't take my guns away!"
"The second amendment protects us from an evil government!"
I always love this one. As if the weapons provided for by the second amendment could stand up to tanks and rocket propelled grenades. The government has bigger guns, folks. Your weapon is the ballot box.
We haven't come up with the answer because the answer is complex, and it costs money.
First there's the issue of mental health care. We don't have enough, we don't reach the ones who need it, and our psychiatric wards are most often the streets. More care requires more money, and more money means higher taxes. We don't like taxes.
Parenting is an issue. Kids aren't supervised, advised, or even loved enough. Paying attention takes time and energy. Many adults don't have enough of either. Poverty plays a role here too. We could use more family services, but more services require more money. That means higher taxes, and we don't like taxes.
Law enforcement is an issue. People feel the need to have guns for their own protection because police response is too slow or non-existent. Those guns usually end up killing the innocent. We have gun laws on the books now that are not being enforced. But more law enforcement requires more spending. More spending means higher taxes. We don't like taxes.
But, contrary to what the NRA's Mr. LaPierre says, it is the guns too. There are too many in circulation. Gun shops can't keep up with the demand right now, as fear mongers drive gun rights folks to buy more and more. They are stocking up on large quantities of ammunition too. It's scary.
Confession time - I was member of the Junior National Rifle Association when I was in high school. I took rifle lessons. It was fun to shoot guns. I was good at target shooting and had medals to prove it. I also grew up in a family and a community of hunters. The meat helped to feed our family.
Nobody I knew needed an assault rifle and multiple round clips for hunting, though. It is supposed to be a sport after all. Why does anyone need these now?
When my kids were in high school they lost a good friend to suicide. The young man was a talented athlete and a gifted student. He shot himself with his own .22 rifle. Nobody ever knew why, except that perhaps he had a fascination with death. With a gun, taking his own life was just too easy.
Recently a young man was interviewed from prison, where he will spend all of his productive years. He killed another young man because he was roughing up his brother. He wishes now he had never had a gun. It was too easy to kill, and he destroyed his life as well as the one he took.
We are an armed society. Are we really safer because of it?