Now showing: another “dark knight” of the soul

black gun on red field

As American as apple pie

This is a blog about creativity. If ever there was a need for creative thinking, it’s now…

Another shooting, another show. Another show of horror. Another show of voyeuristic interviews, armchair psychoanalyzing and political sanctimony. Another show of reductive arguments about gun control. All running in a never-ending loop until something else captures our attention. That’s what the National Rifle Association is counting on: our short-term attention span and even shorter-term ability to think critically or act courageously in response to gun violence. NYC Mayor Bloomberg had it right when he called up Messrs Romney and Obama to “stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it…”

The numbers speak for themselves. According to the Brady Campaign, in one year, guns were responsible for 9,484 deaths in the U.S. Yet, as study after study has shown, there’s “little appetite for stricter gun laws.”  A 2011 Gallup poll found that 45% of American homes own a gun; 55% of those surveyed did not support stricter laws and 53% said they were against making assault weapons illegal.

Full disclosure: I don’t get guns. I don’t hunt. I don’t do target practice. I’d be the world’s most inept vigilante. I don’t agree with the current interpretation of the second amendment. But for civil argument’s sake, I’m willing to engage with those who think differently—because we must all work together to get a fix on our fatal attraction to guns. Because the old tropes are not working. They are not keeping us safe.

An idea: when unusual or uncustomary purchases appear on your credit card, you will often get a call from your credit card company checking to see if these charges are legitimate. What if we had a central clearinghouse that tracked guns and ammo purchases and when someone seems to be buying a small arsenal (even legally as the alleged killed is said to have done), local police authorities are notified and some friendly, careful, proactive investigation of the purchaser is done before the inevitable disaster occurs.

It may well be that such a policy would violate the buyer’s civil liberties, his or her right to bear arms. But consider the moviegoers in Aurora. And the thousands of others who have lost more than their civil liberties to guns.

Maybe this is crazy. But it’s a start. And we owe it to ourselves and the memory of all the victims we claim to honor to come together and put an end to the all-American gun show.

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