One of the things that I particularly enjoy about writing a weekly column is the opportunity to write about pretty much any subject. This autonomy is the result of a curious mind, a trusting editor, and the fact that I’m really an expert about so little.
Indeed that is one of the tricks of what I do. I pick a subject –– sometimes frivolous, sometimes serious –– ask a few “what if” questions, and then leave it to you to draw your own conclusions. In short, every time you read my column, the expert analysis I’m seeking is yours!
This time is no different. Brace yourself. Today, we are tackling the difficult subject of gun-violence.
On the heels of the May 26 mass shooting in San Jose, California, which claimed 10 lives, and the Volusia County, Florida incident, where a 14-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy shot it out with police, a pandemic of gun violence tugs at our hearts and chews at our resolve for answers.
Those answers remain lifetimes away, I believe, because like bad Jeopardy! contestants, we just keep asking the wrong questions.
Mass shootings dominate our fears. Shootings at schools, shopping centers, FedEx hubs and churches jolt us. But they are only a well-sensationalized portion of the annual killings. The 2013 Investigative Assistance for Violent Crimes Act defines a mass shooting as a killing with at least three deaths, excluding the perpetrator. That means that the vast majority of mass shootings are likely to occur in the home with people we know. There have been 225 mass shootings so far in 2021.
A chorus of voices question why government doesn’t stiffen gun control legislation to curb the killings, even advocating an outright ban on certain “assault” weapons.
Evidence is, stricter gun legislation doesn’t correlate to less violence. More to my point, why should the number of people killed have a greater value than a single life? A single shot, after all, started WWI, and 40 million people lost their lives by war’s end.
Woven into the Second Amendment, I see little progress being made on trusting government with solving the crisis.
Some say we can’t stop gun-violence, period. They suggest that wanting a gun is hard-wired into our DNA. Aided by the fact that most perpetrators of gun-violence likely are male, they believe the gun takes the form of some Freudian attraction to power, authority and even carnal desire –– a link between the barrel of a gun and its sexual symbolism. So what. Overcoming our human desires is a great deal of what living in a civil society is all about. We surely can’t use instinct as an excuse to stand pat.
Is the genesis of gun-violence in what we believe? Ideology plays a role. But unraveling that tangle will just be a waste of time. We’ve had mass shootings from white supremacists, supporters of BLM, followers of ISIS and from folks that were stiffed for incorrect change when buying a dime bag of meth.
No, the only question that I believe needs to be raised is this:
How can we help people feel significant?
I don’t care what percentage of shootings occur in the home, occur in the workplace, occur on the streets. I don’t care if a person was shot with an AR-15, a Ruger Blackhawk, or a flintlock. The underlying reason people use guns to solve things is because they have lost their feeling of significance.
Whether you feel unimportant because your nation is oppressed, because your job sucks, because someone less deserving is better off than you or because your girlfriend dumped you, it is the wellspring of this anxiety that causes violence.
Owning a gun is a very quick way to ease that anxiety. A gun makes people listen fast. Brandishing it, even quicker. For $50, you can obtain a stolen Glock G19 off the streets. In less than a half hour, your importance –– real or perceived –– within your society skyrockets. You don’t have to spend four years in college. You don’t have to look for a great job. You don’t have to wait your turn.
Point a gun in my face, and I guarantee I’ll consider you significant!
We have created a society where getting respect is more important than earning respect, and that is not a failure of government, it is a failure of culture –– of families, of neighborhoods, even churches.
Until we teach ourselves that significance and power are not the same, gun-violence will continue and worsen into the future. Indeed, an entire generation may end up wondering why the American flag is never at the top of the flagpole.

John O. Marlowe is an award-winning columnist for Sagamore News Media