While I agree with parts of Jeffrey Ian Ross' recent commentary on gun violence, I do not agree with his conclusions about how to address it and live with it ("Ending mass shootings: It's not just about more or better laws," Sept. 22).
I agree that enacting gun laws can curb the number of guns out there and the amount of gun violence. I also appreciate the poke he takes at the logic and culture of violence in America — that maybe we accept violence as "American" and part of our "freedom."
Mr. Ross also correctly points out the power of the gun lobby in America, an industry connected to the massive international arms trade as well. We are the most violent of all developed countries by far, not to mention also having the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world.
But his conclusion is that we need to teach people to reason, because the law isn't going to change. I am all for teaching reasoning, but I feel that in the end, this is the same argument as the gun lobby's and our leaders': "You can't change gun laws in America, so try to live with it. Learn to duck and cover."
He points out correctly that anyone can run over people with a car and that it's important to understand that we could die at any time. But this isn't the same issue as gun violence. It's the same thing told to people living in high-crime neighborhoods — nothing will change, nothing will help, so adopt a philosophical attitude and focus on yourself. We'll do a "20/20" episode on your courage.
But there doesn't seem to be a "big change in attitude" coming — and even if it did, it would have to face powerful opposing interests. Saying there's a big change in attitude seems a bit like giving a well-meaning, hopeful pep talk at a school before encouraging kids to join an "anti-violence, personal responsibility" campaign.
We are a very violent nation, and in order to change there will have to be change from the ground up. Noam Chomsky, along with others, believes that the vast majority of Americans are much more to the left of the government, and he sites poll numbers to show it. This is why the news has to have sympathetic stories on gun violence — because so many people are upset about it.
If this is true, and I believe it is, it means that the democratic will of the people isn't being served but rather subverted. There are powers that want to keep things violent, keep incarceration rates up and keep people in poverty that disproportionately affects minorities, and they spread disinformation, influence and money keep society that way.
Opinions about guns that make the news are very confusing and contradictory. Historically, when the Black Panthers showed up at a government building exercising their right to bear arms, or when Malcolm X encouraged African-Americans to join gun clubs, there was a major change in legislation, veering in favor of gun control.
I can read one newspaper article about a state allowing people to "open carry" as a constitutional right, and in the same paper there will be shock and outrage when a kid is found with a shotgun in his trunk at school.
If "gangs" have guns, that's bad, but if non-gang people are openly carrying guns it's OK. It seems it's not always the case that "people kill people, not guns," but what we do know that access to guns increases the chance of mass slaughter.
A better resolution would be for us to teach Americans that they can and should be heard. We need intellectuals and leaders to help us understand what is actually happening in our country, and to compare it with other countries so come up with more creative solutions.
But I suspect that this will not happen — that just as our leaders can't figure out the "unsolvable, unfortunate" problems of the poor in this country they won't ever figure out the connection between gun violence and the massive ownership of guns.
Instead, the main message will be don't organize, don't protest and focus on yourself and your family —which leaves us all powerless.
Alex Rediger, BaltimoreCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun