Thursday, December 3, 2015

Daily thought: When are these people going to learn about guns?

THIS IS PERFECTLY NORMAL: Only in the United States, it is, where gun fairs are as often as comic conventions

Nothing confuses me so much as the issue of guns in the United States of America. The 355th mass shooting incident this year, the San Bernardino shooting comes just less than a week after another shooting at Colorado Springs that left four dead. This time, at least 14 were killed.

It's one of the most absurd ways to die or to lose a loved one. You may be just waiting for class to start or out buying a coffee, and out of nowhere some deranged person decided to shoot you for a reason that may not be related to you at all. Of course, you may argue that it may the same thing for automobile deaths, but for the first time in history, guns are more likely to kill you than a car. Well, at least in the United States, that is.

Besides, numerous steps and policies are being taken to improve road safety whereas for guns, it's always like a ping pong match. There will be numerous debates, flip-flopping on policies and at the end of the day, the status quo will not change much. And this is despite the most powerful person in the country saying that "Enough is enough".

But perhaps the most confusing thing is how the pro-guns people choose to argue about this. In fact I am still quite surprised that there are still a lot of pro-guns people around. Just go to any comments section of any news site talking about guns and you would see tons of people arguing about this.
Cities with the strictest gun laws are the cities with the highest amount of shooting for example.  
You need to have guns to defend yourselves from incidents like this.
It is a right enshrined in the constitution and that cannot be taken away.
Guns don't kill people. People do. 
Shootings are just part of an effort/conspiracy to discourage citizens from using guns, to take guns away from Americans. 
Even if you ban guns or make them illegal, those who will still want guns will still get them. 
If everyone have been allowed to carry a gun, these shootings can be averted.
Those are some of the arguments pro-guns people usually use to support their stand. Sometimes I wonder what kind love affair Americans have with their guns. And I wonder if these people would feel the same if one of their loved one is killed by a random gun violence. Maybe they'll argue that it's because their loved one is not carrying a gun, but I would love to see how they would respond if he/she did.

The reason why I am drawn into this whole guns debate, despite living so far away, is because how it illustrates the way our human minds work when it comes to reasoning. For many of us outside of the US, the gun debate seems like a no brainer. If our country (take Singapore for example, of even freaking Malaysia), bans gun ownership and have been doing fine all these years, why can't America do this?

In fact, many pro-guns advocates seem to conveniently ignore the countries comparison argument, choosing to focus on inter-cities comparison. Also, the argument that people who want guns will get them no matter what through illegal means kinda falls flat if you look at other countries. If it's that easy to obtain illegal guns, you would at least have several countries who mirror the amount, if not close, mass shooting incidents as the US (See CNN's report on this).

One thing that I noticed that no matter what types of arguments you use, once people have roughly chosen how they stand on the issue (ie: I support gun ownership), they tend to stick religiously  to arguments that support their point of view. For example, if a pro-gun person is confronted with say comparison with other countries, he/she will use another argument in defense (ie but it's an American right to own guns or cities that have strict gun laws still have shootings), and this argument is the one that they are more familiar with.

Eventually, the debate will usually end with a person A saying A while person B saying B. Points raised are not adequately examined and critiqued, and not matter how long the comment section goes, there's little change in the initial attitudes of the commentators. Which is why after so many incidents, you still don't see a significant amount of attitude change.

I guess the gun stakeholders (ie the corporations that make and sell guns) would have a hand in keeping the pro-gun arguments alive, but it's somewhat sad to see how simple opinions and beliefs can be maintained online, despite how we are calling for more critical thinking.

It's somewhat worrying, actually, because that begs the question: If an exchange on the social media rarely facilitate attitude shift, what's the point of online discussions anyway? Or should there be a change in how we debate online?

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