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Change? You'll Have to Do Better, Becca
Column by Alex R. Knight III.
Exclusive to STR
Becca Balint, a state senator here in Vermont who is an ardent supporter of gun control and also publishes a fairly regular column in a local newspaper, quoted Heidi Halverson – a psychologist at Columbia University – in a recent write-up. The quote itself is in reference to the fact that people fear change, but that this is also not the full picture. Here’s the quote:
“It’s also that they genuinely believe (often on an unconscious level) that when you’ve been doing something a particular way for some time, it must be a good way to do things. And the longer you’ve been doing it that way, the better it is.”
For someone who seems to be as ardent an advocate as they come with regard to using the good old-fashioned coercive force of government to allegedly “solve” problems, this is a rather strange insight to be calling attention to. And not that Balint’s advocacy either begins or ends with gun ownership – as her membership in the Vermont Senate, actions therein, and political website fully demonstrate – but since this arena of individual liberty has been the target of, arguably, the most recent and egregious of her assaults, I’d like to simply engage in a bit of rational, empirical analysis.
Guns, as we all know, do not possess reason, nor emotions, nor the capability to perform actions on their own. People must take it upon themselves to use them, in whatever way, in order for guns to do anything at all. Thus, anyone with a clearly functioning mind who wishes to further contend that there is too much gun violence in society must instantly concede that people committing acts of violence are the responsible parties, and not the guns themselves. Does the presence of or ability to obtain a gun make a person more violent or willing to use violence? Millions upon millions of guns in the hands of people all across North America and other parts of the world today, and every day, who committed no gun violence (or perhaps even other violence) says, most emphatically, No.
Having dispensed with that rather pedestrian exercise in basic logic, we might well assert that, to the extent that gun violence is a problem in society, what we have is a violent persons problem. It then follows to ask: What makes (or is making) people so angry as to engage in acts of armed violence in the first place? Government bureaucrats shooting people notwithstanding (mostly police and soldiers at war with both intoxicants and foreigners angry with having had their lands invaded – a constantly growing phenomenon in itself), why do so many “civilians” also choose to threaten, or wound, or kill others?
This could never be a complete list, and doubtless I’ll unintentionally omit things, but off the top of my head – barring the occasional momentary crime of passion inevitable to any large grouping of human beings – I can think of these reasons:
The War on Drugs, which makes illicit trade in narcotics both profitable and highly competitive amongst the more ruthless.
Unwanted pregnancies and broken homes that cause kids to grow up in an atmosphere of hostility and resentment – a condition that, along with the lure of currently illegal drugs, foments the social, cultural, and economic basis of street gangs and other violent cartels.
Adults forced to work three jobs to keep ahead of rising taxes and cost of living increases that come as the inevitable result of monetary inflation – a vicious phenomenon brought on by the insatiable desire of those in government to expand their influence and power over everyone and everything without limit, by authorizing the constant printing up of green paper to finance debt, interest, and constantly ballooning bureaucracy that never shrinks and is much less never abolished outright.
Foreign intervention that fuels the rage of “terrorists” (government bureaucrats are in reality the actual terrorists – the very definition of terrorism itself is use of violence in order to produce or promote political change; a definition they will often readily admit to without once recognizing the inherent irony and hypocrisy). The U.S. government invades and occupies their land, bombs it to smithereens, installs a puppet government friendly to the USG, oil company financiers, and campaign contributors...then labels those who choose to hit back “terrorists.”
As I stated, I could go on. But I think I’ve already established at least this: It's not the guns, or their availability, or anything else to do with them. In fact, it's just about everything but. Everything that government has either directly or indirectly done to sow the seeds of frustration, anger, and a mounting financial and social pressure cooker with no end in sight.
So instead of the kind of unanalytical knee-jerk “quick-fix” you propose, Becca – the instant impulse to use government as a ready-at-hand tool of overwhelming force to set the world right – you might consider focusing on some actual solutions. In other words, some actual change. Doing things a radically different way.
And no, it won’t be a short-term matter of blowing through a local fast-food joint drive-up window in order to curb the immediate hunger pains with junk food (if that isn’t too painfully capitalistic of an analogous image for you).
It won’t be an easy feel-good jabbering session where, at taxpayer expense, you try to get some words put down on some pieces of paper that other uniformed government employees – who aren’t giving up their guns anytime soon – will then enforce against us all . . . with imprisonment, or death, as they deem “necessary” in compelling our compliance.
It won’t be simple and antiseptic, like pulling a lever in some worthless voting booth. But it will be actual progress.
And it’s also not beyond the scope of what you do. Don’t try to use that dodge. You’re a politician. It doesn’t matter how low down or high up in the food chain you are. You bear the responsibility for the system in its entirety by choosing to participate in it. So if you really do want change – not just to pay lip-service to it – if you actually want to start fixing things, you’ll have to do one hell of a lot better. You’ll have to embrace a totally different paradigm.
You might start here, and here. You might vacate your political seat and proselytize for its summary dissolution. You might at the very least stop violating people’s liberties and using the weapon of government to marshal around lives and property that in no way belongs to you.
Change. Real change. The kind that not only are people afraid of, but also resist, because they think the status quo is a good way to do things; it’s been going on for so long.