I have spent the last few weeks debating on this site, on Facebook, and elsewhere the merits of gun control and gun regulation. Much like when speaking of politics, it’s easy to pick one side or another and then vehemently defend it. What I’d like to do here has nothing to do with gun control and yet I think it’s a direct cause of most gun violence.
I used to be a much more violent man than I am today. There are a lot of reasons for that, but the thing that seriously minimized my use of violence as a solution was a quote I read from actor Martin Sheen: “Violence is an act of desperation.”
Now I don’t mind considering myself occasionally depressed, badly behaved, angry, or any number of other negative terms. But I’m rarely if ever desperate and even when I am, I don’t want to admit that I am.
And so whenever I felt like being violent regardless of the situation, I would ask myself, “Are you truly so desperate that violence is the only response?”
My point here is that violence, including gun violence comes from people who are desperate. If we want to cut down on gun violence, we need to work on making people less desperate. Like all social solutions, it’s not as simple as it sounds. That said, I think the first step is making people aware that using violence does not make you brave or smart or great. It makes you desperate.
When it comes to gun violence, it’s important to note that almost twice as many people kill themselves with guns as kill other people. There are few things more desperate than feeling the best option in your life is to shoot yourself. If we could find a way to stop these deaths from happening gun violence would be a third of what it is now.
Don’t get me wrong. There are situations in which violence is the only remaining solution. But that’s just it. It should be an act of last resort. For those for whom violence comes easy, we need to do our best to make them aware that violence isn’t strength. It’s weakness. It’s admitting you’ve either run out of options or are simply not smart enough to come up with a better solution.
Violence is an act of desperation. And I am far from desperate.