I pride myself, as you presumably do, in possessing the unique qualities which distinguish us from all other animal species: the ability to think logically, to use reasoning to guide our actions, to be methodical and not jump to conclusions, to assess the consequences of our actions before acting and not to allow our emotions to take over and dictate how we behave.
Question: How well are we able to use these abilities during the extremely stress-ridden times that we are living through now? Do we have the fortitude to withstand a barrage of messages whose aim is to make us fearful and not be driven to jump to conclusions? Are we able to stop ourselves from believing emotionally driven positions without studying the facts?
Do we have the courage not to allow ourselves to be stampeded by a crowd mentality that is whipped up by sound bites, catchy phrases or millions of dollars spent on bombarding us? Here’s a real life example: I, like many others, am alarmed by the scourge of gun-related violence resulting in indiscriminate mass murders at schools, colleges, movie theaters and less the sensationalized gun-related murders that occur daily.
After the tragic murders in Aurora, Colo. there has been a renewal of the debate whether it is more important to protect our second amendment rights or to ban assault weapons that allow gunmen to kill scores of people. The most used argument by the National Rifle Association, is stated in the motto “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” Most Americans, according to polls, buy the NRA argument and are more concerned about protecting the right to carry weapons than in gun control. My rational mind, on the other hand, concludes we would be better off if we outlawed people instead of guns; especially if we will not seriously control the availability of weapons.
My conclusion is based on the dangerous positions of people with great influence upon public opinion. Here are two examples: U.S. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin defended the Second Amendment and gun rights, saying the following about large ammunition clips: "There are magazines -- 30-round magazines -- that are just common all over the place, and you simply can't keep these weapons out of the hands of sick, demented individuals that want to do harm. And when you try and do it, you restrict our freedoms."
According to Mitt Romney, "There are -- were, of course, very stringent laws which existed in Aurora, Colorado. Our challenge is not the laws, our challenge is people who, obviously, are distracted from reality and do unthinkable, unimaginable, inexplicable things,"
What am I missing? Simple logic tells me that if we had kept the assault weapons ban and put in reasonable restrictions on the sale and availability of large ammo clips, which are useful only for killing mass numbers of people, there is at least a reasonable chance that fewer people would have died in Aurora.
The notion that there is a constitutional right to own an assault weapon, or that it is a terrible curtailment of freedom to be blocked from buying thousands of rounds of ammunition is thought disordered.
This brings me back to the question of whether we actually possess uniquely lofty human qualities or whether our ability to reason is woefully unreliable and riddled with distortions.