Editorial: “If you slight me, I’ll kill you,” and other dangerous thoughts

If you are a human being capable of hearing and understanding basic human speech, you’ve probably heard one or more of the following almost every day of your life:

“I would kill anyone who broke into my house.”

“If someone shoplifted from my store, I’d kill them.”

“If someone tried to fight me, they wouldn’t survive it.”

“I swear I will kill the next person who talks shit about me.”

We certainly have a major issue threatening people’s lives for otherwise trivial offenses, don’t we? Most would dismiss someone saying these things metaphorically or perhaps in terms of degrees of anger that they would experience if one of these offenses occurred. However, based on the actions of several Americans lately, this may not be the case.

U.S. citizens have been paranoid about protecting themselves and their property for as long as there has been a United States, and even well before then. The British had a habit of presuming that they could go anywhere they wanted in a land they owned regardless of whether someone was already there. It is perfectly reasonable for colonial Americans to be in a state of constant anxiety and fear about having their hard earned land and property swiped from them.

But it’s 2019 now. Britain doesn’t own us anymore. Property invasions are incredibly rare now compared to then, even though they do still happen. We now have neighborhood watches, surveillance cameras, home security systems, and a large and well organized police force. However, Americans seem to still have that deep seeded fear and anxiety of someone taking their stuff or coming into their homes and that fear translates into “Anyone who slights me, my family, or my property must die.” Their distrust of anything other than their own skills and carefully curated arsenal of firearms has fed into that fear and it has led to senseless death.

If you talk to people who have this mindset, you will quickly identify some shared traits, beliefs, and thoughts between them. The first is probably the most prominent: they will almost always be 2nd Amendment defenders and have lots and lots of guns. When you ask why they have so many guns, they will most likely tell you “To defend my home and family.” It’s a noble cause, but a question will probably float across your brain: why do they need so many and excessively powerful guns to defend their home? The answer is simple. Guns make them feel safe and in control of their environment. The more guns they have, the safer and more control they have. It doesn’t matter that a decent handgun or a rifle would suitably work. And don’t worry, they will go into exquisite detail about how they would kill the asshole who made the wrong choice of breaking into their house with each different firearm.

The next thing you’ll notice that all the people of this group have in common is that they vehemently distrust the police. They do not think that people who are better equipped and trained to handle apprehending a burglar without killing them are worth anything and that their own skills vastly outshine those of the motherfucking police. This distrust stems from the idea that if the police get involved, the citizen doesn’t have total control of their space and the situation occurring in it. They are passing the responsibility to complete strangers who “don’t know as much as the citizen does.” What they don’t take into account is that the police are trained to handle these situations no matter where they occur.

Because of this distrust of putting the safety of their family and property in the hands of much better trained strangers, they also don’t trust technology that automatically calls these strangers to respond to an incident. If you suggest investing in a home security system, your suggestion will most likely be dismissed or you’ll be outright told that trusting a control panel and dispatchers and cops is not as efficient as an AR-15.

It is people with this mindset that end up shooting people dead for the slightest offense. They are constantly wound up with fear and anxiety about other people taking what’s theirs, disrespecting them, or preventing them from doing what is necessary to support their families. This mindset is incredibly problematic. Constantly distrusting everyone around you leads one to not see other people as people. One sees them as potential offenders, violators of their rights, space and property. Combine this with another trait this group of people seems to share: increased distrust against people of color. Adding to their fear of other people is the narrative in our society that black people are dangerous, brown people are sneaky and taking our jobs, and anyone who isn’t a Christian is trying to force their religious ideas upon them. All of this leads to an anxiety ridden, fearful, excessively armed person who just needs one thing to set them off.

How can we fix this problem, one may ask. It’s not easy. The most effective way would be to change the mindset of this group of people, but this would require them consenting to listening to reason and accepting evidence. You can lead the ignorant to information, but you can’t make them think. The next best solution is to remove the means in which people can kill others efficiently. This means regulating and banning certain firearms. This will definitely not make this group of people very happy at all. Not only are their sources of safety and control being taken from them, they’re being taken by the government, which is another institution they highly distrust.

This is probably the biggest social problem Americans face today. One side is looking out for the general population, one is only looking out for themselves. One is willing to compromise and not rewrite the 2nd Amendment while the other refuses to listen to reason. The mindset of “if you slight me, I will kill you” is pervasive and dangerous and must be changed. It won’t happen this generation, but hopefully the next will value human life over the loss of replaceable things. People aren’t replaceable. The fear of others must be quelled and prevented from spreading. Countless innocent people are dying because one group of people are too scared to give up a few guns in exchange for keeping schoolchildren, churchgoers, shoppers, club goers, and concert attendees alive.

Fear is controlling too many people with access to high-powered firearms and they are killing people. If the mindset of gun owners won’t change, the only other reasonable solution is to confiscate the tools being used to kill people, whether they like it or not.