It is a sad day in Georgia when churches, temples and mosques have to put signs outside their doors to prevent people from bringing guns inside.
The new “open carry” law strikes at the very foundations of civil society and the norms that hold our country together. Carrying a gun in public is itself already a threat to others, a sign that the person carrying that gun not only seeks to defend him or herself but also goes around looking for an excuse to use it. The politics of paranoia sow seeds of destruction that will harm innocent bystanders, prevent community building and increase suspicion of others.
I personally think that advocates of “open carry” have seen too many action movies where a good guy with a stubbly beard saves the day by brandishing a high-powered weapon. In this typical American fantasy, guns restore order and right wrongs in a black-and-white moral universe. The costs to innocent life are left out of this fantasy, as are the tacit and explicit racism and misogyny of gun culture. As a truncated version of the Second Amendment is held up as an idol to be worshipped, lives are lost every day in the streets, and, increasingly, in schools and shopping malls.
Too many politicians, cowed by the National Rifle Association, apparently will do nothing to stem the tide of guns flowing into our country, and will eschew even the most commonsense regulations that would keep guns away from those who would use them to terrorize innocent children and hapless bystanders.
The new law seems to go one step further, actively encouraging almost anyone to carry a gun almost anywhere. Since our politicians have abdicated their responsibility, now ordinary citizens must speak out against this insane gun culture before even more atrocities happen in the name of personal liberty.
To gun enthusiasts who may be reading this letter, please leave your guns at home and make sure that you have secured them properly. By doing this, you may save your own life or the lives of your loved ones. Think long and hard about your hero fantasies before you get involved in a situation beyond your control.
Guns don’t make us safer. Bonds of friendship, citizenship and kindness do. To have a more peaceful society, we must live that peace every day in all that we do.