Fear

I read an  guest essay – what used to be known as an op-ed – in the New York Times about gun safety education. The author, Harel Shapira, makes the point that the class teaches people to be vulnerable, instructing them in how to shoot someone they fear.

Over twenty years ago, Michael Moore in his documentary, Bowling for Columbine, made a similar point about how advertisers and other societal forces work to make the American people afraid. Fear can operate on many distinct levels. One can be afraid to undertake a particular task. I fear one foot skating, especially skating on my left foot and raising my right.

Fear can also work on a societal level to separate groups because one fears the other. Many white people have an innate fear or at least a deep suspicion of people of color. This has led to many unfortunate events including most recently when an elderly man shot a black teenager who was lost and knocked on the elderly white man’s front door.

Once you add guns to America’s toxic fear, based on white supremacy, you have a lot of trouble which leads to a lot of sorrow and death. Harel Shapira sums up his essay, saying:

 “The N.R.A. says that “an armed society is a polite society.” But learning to carry a gun isn’t teaching Americans to have good manners. It’s training them to be suspicious and atomized, learning to protect themselves, no matter how great the risk to others. It’s training them to not be citizens.”

Hopefully, the current slew of mass shootings has convinced enough of the American population that guns are a public health emergency, and we need something to change. People who support sensible gun reform need to vote from that position and turn out of office pro-gun politicians.