Saturday, April 20, 2013

Writing on Boston & on Guns - by Charlie Pierce & Gabrielle Giffords

It's somewhat remarkable to me that conversation around the Boston Marathon bombing would be completely separate from the larger question of weapons (i.e. guns) and the ease in which people can get them, but that certainly seems to be the case over the past week. While many people (myself included) closely followed the aftermath of the bombing and manhunt yesterday for apparent co-perpetrator Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the U.S. Senate voted Wednesday to block legislation strengthening background checks on gun sales.

On the subject of the Sentate actions (or inactions) were two great pieces of writing, with one from former U.S. Congresswomen Gabrille Giffords and one from Esquire writer Charlie Pierce, with Pierce more recently writing another piece that felt very much related.

The writing by Giffords was "A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip" published in the New York Times and an extremely direct and well written op-ed piece from someone in a position to write about gun violence.

From Pierce for the Esquire website the morning after the Senate inaction around background checks was "The Violence We Live With". It's a powerful essay that opines how we as American people seem to deplore horrific violence while at the same time accept that it's going to happen sometimes and not take steps that could curb it. It was a tremendously interesting idea put forth by Pierce and another Esquire piece of his published this morning had a similar notion in it to me.

"Guns Along The River: A Late Night In Watertown" was about the manhunt for Tsarnaev yesterday and exceptional writing.The thing that got me more than any other from his more recent piece was the repeated phrase "cops being cops" and Pierce writing of how capture of Tsarnaev means he can (and as he should) go to trial in our U.S. court system like any other criminal.

My thought out of this was that while the violence was much more high profile than that done by a "typical criminal with weapons", it's still violence resulting in the death of innocent people, just like the violence perpetrated by Jared Loughner in Tucson, James Holmes in Aurora or Adam Lanza in Newtown. It's a great thing that Tsarnaev will be tried for his crimes, but what will be interesting to see is whether the crimes committed have any impact on U.S. perception of violence or lawmakers reactions around violence through various means.

Would be a shame if the response is for Congressional leaders and other decision makers to either (A) accept that these things can happen and not try to look at additional ways to prevent it (basically what Pierce wrote in his essay about gun violence) or (B) put the Boston bombing in a specific bucket and try to stop that (i.e. make pressure cookers illegal). While this hypothetical option B may seem absurd, anyone that's had to pour out water or take off their shoes in an airport security line may recognize it as an approach that we've taken before.