Quit bitching and start listening

I see and understand the outrage after each mass shooting. I feel a sliver of the pain those parents go through when they lose a child, and I can’t imagine the full force of the pain they feel. I hope I never do.

I also want to solve gun violence problems. In all honesty, I know we can do better as a nation. If that surprises you given the nature of this blog, then you haven’t really been reading. Now’s your chance.

Immediately after a publicized event, the public goes into screaming mode, complete with threats and eyes rolling back in their sockets. They demand “something” be done, and lay out the usual suspects of useless solutions. They rebut any criticism of those proffered nuggets as “not doing anything” and “valuing guns over the lives of children”. What they never, ever do is listen. They bitch, but they don’t listen.

When the GC crowd gets mad, they roll out the same laundry list of useless laws and bans. When those laws are not accepted outright, immediately, and without discussion, they blame the GR crowd for being obtuse, obstructionist, and intractable gun-loving child killers. It never occurs to them to listen to the concerns of legal, responsible owners because there is no such thing in their minds. Those who support gun rights must be willfully complicit in every shooting death, whether murder or suicide or accident. They have to see gun owners as ignorant freaks dancing in the showers of blood spurting from warm bodies, twitching in piles behind crates of cartoonishly large guns.

They also can’t comprehend that they are making the legal situation worse. The way politics is supposed to work in this country is through discourse and exchange. Gun control advocates do not want discourse; they want their solutions imposed right the fuck now. They are literally not capable in the moment of anger of anything other than rage. And they want that rage to continue. They want you to be enraged and incomprehensible because when they appeal to that raw emotion and make you feel it, you are unlikely to actually listen, let alone think. They want you to be just like them.

Because if you don’t view “the enemy” this way, then you may have a moral obligation to participate rather than parent. And that works against the hate and anger.

Of course, many gun rights advocates don’t want to listen, either. They reject proposed solutions out of hand because they’re tired and also angry. They’re tired of hearing the same demands over and over without getting a voice in return. They’re angry that the only proposed solutions only further restrict lawful ownership while completely missing any criminal activity. In short, they’re done with the bullshit of being preached at by people who don’t actually know what they’re talking about.

The brutal fact of the matter is that we are a representative republic built on democratic ideals. That means we are obligated to make an effort to listen to opposing points of view, opposing ideologies, and opposing values. Listening is not capitulating. The country was always meant to work towards equality, and that means no single group gets to dominate, no matter how righteous they think they are.

When a solution is offered to the public and large portion of the public takes issue with it, modify the fucking solution. Listen to the concerns and listen for opportunity to compromise. By saying there can be no compromise, you are preventing any solution. Some pieces will never be accepted, but some pieces will. Simply screaming more loudly and demanding your own solution without discussion is what children do.

So, if you favor gun control and get mad about how nothing is being done, if you can’t believe someone criticizes or rejects your favorite solution, start asking why. If you truly want something done, stop demanding your square peg be hammered into the round hole. Start by agreeing to a goal, and listen to why your solution may not actually meet that goal. Not all criticisms are valid, not they’re not all excuses, either. Rejecting criticism out of hand means you’re not really interested in the goal, just your solution. It means you just want salve for your bitching without the burden of being held accountable for the goal not being met.

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