Tag Archives: gun control

Deepak Chopra: What Can We Do About Gun Violence?

image1.adapt.924.high.1379353105931Our hearts go out to the many affected by this morning’s tragic shooting at the US Navy Yard in Washington DC. Twelve people are reported dead – 11 victims and one shooter – with many others injured and in critical condition. Two other suspected shooters are still on the run.

Hundreds, even thousands, of other people – friends, spouses, siblings, colleagues, and peers of those killed and wounded – are also affected by the tragedy, as well as all of us around the country left wondering once again: Why the violence? Why the killing?

It is essential now that we treat the wounded, soothe the traumatized, and help the healing process of those who lost a loved one. We mourn together in times like these.

This is also a moment, though, in which some might revive conversations about gun violence and gun control, topics we are all too familiar with and yet which continue popping up after every incident of violence. Deepak Chopra weighs in on the debate in this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well. We invite you to watch the video and add your thoughts in the comments section below.

The days to come will hold grief, mourning, and the beginning of a healing process to which we add all our love and support. Please add your thoughts and messages of support in the comments section below.

Image credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Should We Blame Crickett’s “My First Rifle” Ad for Kids Shooting Other Kids?

BJM2y68CQAI6DDKWhen news surfaced last week of the fatal shooting of a 2-year-old by her 5-year-old brother, the question on many people’s minds was how the youngster got a hold of such a weapon in the first place?

The Crickett .22-caliber single-shot rifle apparently contained one final shell that neither the boy nor his parents were aware of, the circumstances of which lead to this devastating accident. Neither the reality of the very high gun ownership rate in Kentucky (where this family lives) nor the state’s recent ban on gun control enforcement are enough to explain the tragedy away. One disturbing factor in this story, though, is that this rifle was part of a line of guns specifically designed and targeted to children. The rifle actually belonged to the 5-year-old.

Here is the commercial for the Cricket .22-caliber rifle, marketed to children:

This ad should inspire discourse and perhaps a re-thinking of the many ways the media condones gun violence in the eyes of children. But several residents of the Kentucky town where this tragedy occurred have been quick to remind the rest of the country that gun culture varies from place to place. As Gary White, the county coroner, told the Associated Press, “Down in Kentucky where we’re from, you know, guns are passed down from generation to generation. You start at a young age with guns for hunting and everything.” Another woman urged that “it’s nobody else’s business” but the that of the family and the townspeople, themselves.

Whether we consider this case a symbol in the larger nationwide debate on gun control or not, it is still a horrible event that could easily happen again. A gun is an extremely powerful, dangerous, and unpredictable weapon – especially in the hands of a child.

But what do you think? Should gun companies be allowed to market their products to children? Let us know in the comments section below!

Photo credit: From Kids’ Corner on the Crickett website

Deepak Chopra: Has America Earned Its Reputation in the World?

Army Photography Contest - 2007 - FMWRC - Arts and Crafts - The Colors EmergeEvery country has a national character that it taught to children from a young age and then becomes part of everyone’s story. In the case of America, “opportunity” is a theme known worldwide and constantly referred to when we talk about what this country means. In the same category are freedom, power, innovation – and decency. We look upon ourselves as the good guys, and we expect to be seen that way by others.

Analysts warn us that American opportunity is flagging, especially if you are poor and want to rise up the ladder. Innovation is being challenged by the Chinese, and most developed countries are just as free as America. And decency? It took a huge blow with the military adventurism of the Iraq War, a war of choice that destroyed Iraqi society, increased tensions throughout the region, strengthened Iran, and ultimately turned into a Vietnam-style quagmire, as the Afghanistan War is right now.

As a result, large swaths of the world disapprove of America, making it harder for us to cling to our self-regard as generous, charitable, moral, and decent people. Perhaps this was inevitable after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Being the only super power makes us suspect. Other nations project their vulnerability as if the U.S. caused it – look at the ultra-paranoid North Korea, whose national story consists of armed preparedness for imminent assault by American devils.

It’s hard to be the good guys when you are also the world’s biggest arms dealer and spend more money on defense than the next fifteen nations combined. But I think there’s a deeper ambivalence about decency in this country. In a decent society, do the following things happen?

  • Politics are rancorous and divisive, with each side demonizing the other.
  • In political races, the object is not simply to defeat your opponent but to destroy him.Gun violence is rampant, and attempts to counter it can destroy a politician’s career.
  • The financial sector operates out of sheer greed and takes no responsibility when its actions lead to economic collapse.
  • Corporations abandon health care and pensions for their workers.
  • The richest become richer while the poor become poorer.

Each of these bullet points represents a trend, and the trends aren’t in the direction of decency. The rest of the world is appalled by things we take for granted, like the existence of 300 million assault-style weapons in private hands. What’s more appalling is the lack of morality shown when a gun-happy minority leads the rest of society around by the nose. The most heartbreaking thing about the Iraq war was to see how decent and trusting our soldiers were, how much they cared about helping the Iraqi people, and yet how horrifying the circumstances they landed in.

Reality exists when illusions are shattered. It’s time to reach a state of untainted decency that America can be proud of. The trends I listed are well known. They are causing a deterioration of trust and social justice. No one can reverse these trends except us. Who will speak up for this? Our leaders are tentative and intimidated, a sure sign that decency has lost its hold.

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photo by: familymwr

Gun Control Is About the Silent Majority

shutterstock_54879526In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, a minority issue has come before the majority.  In a democracy the majority passes the laws. In a democracy dedicated to justice, the majority is careful when passing these laws to protect the rights of the minority.  Gun control, now as in the past, defies democratic rule. An intransigent minority has a stranglehold on making the law and blocking reform.

It’s worth making such basic points, which everyone knows, because a silent majority has been acquiescent in the culture of violence that everyone is decrying now.  The phrase “silent majority” was invented in the Nixon era to ignite widespread resentment against the anti-war movement, a rise in crime and drug use, and general permissiveness.  It gave permission for scattered, unfocused anger and resentment to come together. For anyone on the left, this was moral chicanery, a way for right-wing politicians to exploit the underside of social antagonism while wearing a mask of pious rectitude.

It’s time to test if there is a silent majority that is willing to come together for issues that stand for a healthy moral sense – not social resentment and “values” issues that revolve around prejudice and reactionary religion.  In his speech last week on gun safety, President Obama rightly said that incidents like Newtown reveal a complex issue, where guns are entangled with issues over mental health, the Second Amendment, police safety, school security, and more. But he was also right in saying that complexity isn’t an excuse for not acting.

The public has become lax over the past thirty years.  The shock of the Newtown shootings has suddenly created a shift. According to the latest CNN poll, 62% of respondents favor a reinstatement of the ban on assault weapons, and the same majority would support a ban on high-capacity ammunition clips.  But opinions don’t create action when an entrenched minority wields political power. The NRA is doing what it has always done when the public gets aroused by a mass killing – they lie low for a while, wait for the outcry to die down, and then move in to make sure that Congress is still under their control.

We need to strip away us-versus-them thinking on guns, which only leads into endless arguments over personal values.  The gun culture in this country is implacable. They have no interest in compromise. Sensible gun laws galvanize their paranoia. On TV one hears the prevailing conspiracy theories: guns are needed so that individual citizens can protect themselves when an oppressive government turns on its citizens. Take away assault weapons, and it’s a slippery slope to taking away all guns. And so it goes. Guns don’t kill, people do. Every family needs a gun to protect itself from home invasion.  A majority of Americans don’t buy into these arguments, but they silently acquiesce to them.

Grief and shock should lead to an aroused majority that doesn’t aim to change gun culture but simply to exert the will of the country.  In 1996, Australia reacted to the crazed killing of 35 people in Tasmania by passing stiff gun control that included buying back semi-automatic weapons. Australia has a Wild West culture that dates back to its frontier days, and so there were plenty of semi-automatic weapons out there. The buy-back amounted to 600,000 weapons. The same thing needs to happen here.   We can’t shrug our shoulders once more, using “culture of violence” as an excuse for doing nothing. The rights of the minority have been tolerated too far when that minority stands for intractable intolerance itself.

 

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What We Will Need to Heal After Today’s Tragic Shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School

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Our hearts go out to the victims and families of today’s shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. The Associated Press have reported that 27 people, including 18 children, were killed today by a shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School. This sunny Friday, just a week and a half before Christmas, has turned into a day of devastating tragedy.

In times of great pain and loss, many questions arise. Why do such horrific things happen in the world? How could someone commit such an atrocity? Why couldn’t the children, at least, be spared? Today’s shooting also gives rise to debates about gun control and the 2nd Amendment, as we saw was the case following this summer’s shooting in Aurora, Colorado. These are important discussions to have, important questions to ask. And in a country that averages at least two mass shootings a year, a revisiting of gun control laws is imperative. But, as a White House spokesperson said, today is not the day.

Today, and in the days, weeks, and months to come, the families of the victims are going to need our love and support. Now, more than ever, is a time for community, a time for reaching out our hands and being there to hold the ones who are grieving. We wish Newtown, CT, and all those who have been affected by shootings this year, peace and healing. Remember that you are not alone.

Resources for dealing with loss and grief:

Spiritual Solutions – Dealing with Loss

Facing Death

The Deeper Meaning of Death

Dealing with Grief

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