By Andrew Lepore | United States
We live in a time where the fear and hysteria surrounding firearms is at an all-time high. Not only is there a growing paranoia about firearms in light of recent tragedies, but there is an ever-growing debate about the place which some firearms have in the lives of ordinary citizens.
Nobody can Deny the scope of the horror of recent tragedies such as the recent school shooting in Florida and the Las Vegas Shooting back in October. But to what extent are paranoia and hysteria reasonable? To what extent is it reasonable, if at all, to surrender privacy and liberty over to the state in the face of fear?
We face a question of not only rights and liberty; but a very legitimate debate over the effectiveness of the current gun control strategies, such as firearm free zones. For example, According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, from the 1950’s through July 10th of 2016, 98.4 percent of mass shootings have occurred in gun-free zones, with just 1.6 percent occurring where citizens are allowed to be armed.
These are all legitimate questions that can sometimes catch a chuckle from a room as if there is some stigma attached to firearms and self-defense. People too often allow either fear, emotions, or politics cloud their judgment on certain issues and gun control is no exception. But is all this hysteria justified?
With every mass shooting that takes place, more and more of the public blames firearms for the tragedy, not the psychopath behind the trigger. The hysteria and paranoia have reached a boiling point, and many firearms owners and enthusiasts are being personally targeted.
The Hysteria has even reached me in a personal way. As you can probably see, the display photo for my account as an author for this website is of me firing my friend’s AR-15. This seemingly innocent photo was anonymously screenshotted, assumingly by somebody in my school, and sent in to both the school administration and the chief of my local police station.
Because of this photo and this photo alone, in school I was required to have a meeting with the principle, security guards, and a police officer. They told me they had to follow protocol regarding the “possible threat”, and advised me to take down the photo.
They did assure me they couldn’t force me to take it down, they said it was not illegal but inappropriate. They wanted me to change it to something that “presents me in a better light”.
Of course, I don’t understand whats so “inappropriate” about a picture of me holding a tool for self-defense. They were acting like I was holding a severed head.
Regardless, I’m not taking the photo down, and I assume I may be flagged in one way or another by the school but that’s fine. Overall this is just a small but very real example of the unreasonable hysteria surrounding firearms that often affects personal lives and relationships
But is all of this hysteria justified? to the point where just a picture of a firearm is enough to get you flagged as a possible school shooter? I guess it’s a matter of opinion, but the statistics don’t back that up. In 2017, according to Gun Violence Archive.org, 346 people died in mass shootings across the country.
As compared to the number of people who have died of heart disease last year which was approximately 790,000. This means your approximately 2,283 times more likely to die of heart disease than in a mass shooting in the United States, where is the hysteria over heart disease?
These numbers are in no way to minimize the scale of the tragedies that have occurred, but simply to inject some sense into the hysteria, and the solutions that many hope to propose. Society has the tendency of resorting to knee-jerk reactions when faced with overwhelming fear, and the issue of mass shooting is no exception.
Image from Gun News Daily.