While I appreciated the attempt at clear-eyed realism about gun violence Tom Eblen expressed in his Jan. 25 column, I suggest we go a step farther: The gun violence we see around us is not a cultural flaw or failure, but is, logically, what we want.
We’ve long thought it a bug in the system, that blame must be assigned — to the NRA, to violent media, to secularization, to bad parenting, to breakdowns in “human relations,” as Eblen would have it.
But surely it’s more practical to consider gun violence a standard feature of contemporary American life? It must be, else we’d take the same steps other nations have taken to suppress gun violence.
As rational beings making collective choices, we must see social utility in firearm deaths. I’ve no idea what that utility might be, but social scientists could ask the question: How do we actually benefit from gun violence? Are we satisfying a craving for real danger in an increasingly sterilized world? Standing for sovereignty in the face of globalization?
I don’t know, but I’d like to. And the questions we’ve asked so far don’t seem very useful.
Perhaps the most reasonable reaction to the next killing spree (shouldn’t be long now) is only to nod and remark, “Well, that’s to be expected. The system seems to be working as it should.”