A handful of us in the science-skepticism-secularism blogosphere have been saying roughly the same things for a few years now about gun ownership, regulation, and safety. (Here’s 67 posts of mine on this topic. Oh, and here’s another 60 on a different blog.) While we were busy with this issue as well as other pet projects, the rest of the bloggers and writers were busy with their own important and interesting projects. But when the “Dark Knight” shooting in Colorado happened, I noticed a lot of other bloggers who had not touched on the gun issue before at all to my knowledge chimed in and started saying things. In may cases they went through the same process as those of us who had long ago begun to address gun ownership. The same sorts of pro and anti gun comments made by a roughly similar group of people wafted back and forth, arguments started general and get more specific, eventually certain roadblocks one may or may not have seen coming were encountered, and finally, everyone potentially ended up with a roughly similar knowledge base and similar understanding of the social, cultural, and political forces involved in the online version of this discussion. (Or at least, that would be the case for those who stuck with it long enough.)
But only a few of my bloggy colleagues did that, and it didn’t change anyone over to a gun-issue blogger. They went, as is appropriate, back to their usual issue.
Then Sandy Hook happened. Sandy Hook is starting to look like one of those events that changes things: a tipping point, if you will. And those bloggers and writers and more are back in the game, more prepared and more intent. A wonderful example of this relates to my friend and admireee Maggie Koerth-Baker. Maggie, who often blogs about energy issues and wrote one of the most important books ever for the general public on that topic, underwent a very important revelation that everybody who writes about gun ownership from a scientific, logical, or skeptical perspective eventually runs into: The knowledge we have to make informed policy decisions is less than adequate in large part because the gun lobby has intentionally and successfully damaged efforts to carry out the appropriate research, with the full complicity of elected members of congress. Here’s Maggie’s post: Gun lobby has opposed research on effects of gun ownership/gun laws.
I can’t tell you how happy I am that Maggie and others like her are delving into this very important social, political, and health-related issue. The more voices like her’s the better. And me saying that is NOT a Minnesota Passive Aggressive way of saying “Jeesh, it’s about time other people started paying attention to this issue that I’ve been pointing to and talking about for years… what does it take, a massacre?” … well maybe a little. But mostly, seriously, not. I am sincerely glad.
Another friend and top writer, Tom Levenson indicated the other day that he thought it was completely unrealistic to think about the 2nd amendment being changed or removed. But you know what? Six months ago it would have been hard to imagine a widespread and (potentially) sustained conversation about this topic across all known media produced or consumed in the United States. It would have been impossible to imagine a Republican Governor not signing a pro-gun law because he wants to think about its implications a bit further, or a famous conservative talking head suddenly expressing non-NRA approved opinions, or the President of the United States saying that it is time to have a conversation about doing everything differently.
So, Tom, you are probably right. But maybe, just maybe not 100% right.
Let’s be optimistic that this conversation will go forward, expand, and result in change.