And that's really the point: Laws can't fix what we have broken. We have learned to love our guns and we have to learn to unlove them. Wal-Mart ( WMT), Cabela's ( CAB) and other retail outlets can't be entirely blamed for making weapons as easy to stockpile as canned goods. If we didn't have an insatiable appetite for them, Walmart stores wouldn't sell them. The National Rifle Association's well-publicized suggestion, in the wake of the Newtown, Conn. shootings, that we arm teachers to keep children safe from gun-wielding intruders is being taken seriously by a large segment of the population, entertaining debate on a point many would have assumed to be a joke even 30 years ago, as if it were now somehow reasonable. That alone shows the degree to which we have, as a nation, come to accept the inevitability of guns in our lives.
So let me point out: There is no inevitability. There is only culture and culture can be changed. In fact, inevitability is on the other side of the logical inequality: Trust is greater than fear. Trust comes through cooperation. Guns breed fear. They break down cooperation, break down trust. No one who carries a gun is free from the fear that they might be called on to use it or that it might fall into the wrong hands. That is the fear of a responsible gun owner. Your gun can fall into the wrong hands. You do have the capacity to shoot someone by accident. Your weapon can be taken from you and used against you or someone else. A gun is an awesome burden. No matter how disciplined you are, if you aren't afraid of those negative outcomes, you are simply not being realistic, you're not being responsible. A gun does promote a sense of strength, a sense that you and your family are powerful and will survive an attack. Apart from being incredibly selfish and fueled by fear, that's quite possibly false. Many armed people die all the time. But that's not the point. The sense of strength that comes from gun ownership, whatever else it might be, is not peace of mind. Peace of mind comes from letting go of fear, cooperating with one another, admitting that we are dependent on one another, working together.