Gunned down for nothing in America

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So the story of a Florida man shot for texting in a movie theater by a retired police officer has gained quite a lot of American media attention. It’s a strange, unprompted tragedy that deserves the scrutiny- though more on a policy level than the dark humor of an individual taking the law about not texting in a theater far too seriously.

An editorial by Ana Marie Cox in The Guardian points out that this sort of unprovoked gun violence is not rare in the United States. Rather, it’s commonplace to the point that many incidents don’t gain publicity outside of local coverage. And in the case of the movie shooting, it was almost immediately overshadowed by an incident in a New Mexico middle school. Often tragic, preventable gun murders stack up and overload the system. It ends:

You keep a gun out of the argument, you will save lives. This is not hypothetical. A person may be intent on killing someone else, but it is simply harder to do with anything else. That’s why forms of homicide other than guns account for only about a third of all homicides. Someone gets angry at someone else, they may reach for a weapon. If we make guns harder to get, by requiring a test for the license, or by banning handguns more broadly, the one at hand might be far less deadly.

The gun debate in America is one of the worst-argued issues of concern, with a lot of crappy logic and willful dishonesty. It may be even worse and circular than the abortion debate. However, the fact that even basic self-evident truths are not agreed upon- American has a lot of guns, a lot of gun homicides, a lot of gun suicides, very lax training and licensing standards, a large number of gun owners use or store guns in a dangerous way (etc. etc. oh god etc.) means one thing: people will continue to be shot in contexts that would have ended differently if the shooter hadn’t owned a gun or carried it with them.