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Surgeon General’s Warning: Moral Suasion to Reduce Gun Violence

March 19, 2013

images“My only influence was through moral suasion,” said the late C. Everett Koop, America’s highest profile surgeon general, who with little more than a warning convinced a nation to rally against smoking. He made no new laws, searched no homes and attacked no amendments and yet drastically improved the health of our nation.

And therein lies the solution to our gun violence problem.

In a manner akin to the anti-smoking campaigns we have so effectively waged, the American populace needs to wage a marketing campaign against guns; Fewer Guns Equals Fewer Deaths.

No new laws need be enacted. The 2nd amendment will not be threatened. No new government programs are required. All we have to do is use a little moral suasion.

I’m sure talented individuals are hard at work already, harnessing the extensive network of progressive non-profits standing by, but don’t worry Duck Dynasty fans, this won’t be a crusade on ALL guns. If you’re a hunter, go for it. Panicked we’ll take down the 2nd amendment? Like I said before, we’re leaving laws alone. Afraid we’ll melt down your heirloom for a plowshare? Your antiques can rest easy, though keep in mind your gun is more than a piece of art, a well-made tool or a classic car. Your gun is a deadly weapon and all we want to do is make sure everyone understands that.

Here is an ad from my local newspaper last month. The Valentine’s Special at the gun range:

”Sure love is thrilling, but wait until you experience the thrill of shooting one of our new, high tech machine guns.”

Many folks, including myself, would likely enjoy vaporizing a target on a Saturday date night, but is that thrill worth the cost? Selling guns as a Big Boy Toy is the single biggest mistake we are making concerning our efforts to reduce gun violence. The more hip guns are, the more go into circulation and the more people get a hold of them who shouldn’t. I don’t know about you, but I can think of plenty of other ways to have fun. Got Sense? Get a New Hobby.book_cover

Convinced you need a gun to protect yourself? Be armed if you must, I do not know your situation. But again, be aware your choice comes at a cost greater than yourself. Perhaps you, of course, are an excellent example of a responsible deadly weapon owner, but when your friends and acquaintances try to follow suit are you sure they’ll be up to the task? If you wouldn’t trust your neighbor with your grill, would you trust him with a gun? Guns are like a prescription drug, easily abused and riddled with side effects.

I trust my friends, you say, together we’ll stop the bad guys. But you must know guns create thousands of unintended criminals who fire in a moment of anger, by mistake or simply out of curiosity. Just today a drunk kid was killed for accidentally coming home to the wrong house. I’d rather lose all my possessions than be responsible for the death of a child- no matter how guilty I think him to be. But guns don’t kill people, people kill people, you say. And you’re right, people who want to cause harm always will. But the more guns around, the more folks get their hands on one, simple as that.  Just Say No to Guns.

Wait, you protest, it’s our responsibility to defend ourselves against foreign invasion or the US government itself. Sorry folks, the romanticized days of Western gun slingers are long gone and revolution takes decades. If you think the American populace is going to give up their weekly TV show for a principled stand you better start working on your ark as well. American Idol, My Anti-Gun.

What we need is to start talking. Gun violence has become an epidemic that we’ve refused to admit needs treatment. Now is the time to show the nation guns aren’t cool (Utah has a new app for that), that owning a gun has serious side effects for yourself and the people closest to you. If you feel the need to keep firearms, fine, we’ll trust you to dedicate the appropriate time to their responsible use and storage. But do not be so brash as think you are doing the rest of us a favor. It’s time for guns to be seen for what they are: dangerous diversions. If we have campaigns against smoking, driving drunk, obesity, and teenage pregnancy then surely we can afford to use a little moral suasion to get guns out of date night.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 20, 2013 10:26 am

    I think you’ve found your career path: marketing! Those are great slogans and you’ve got me convinced. I also like this post because I learned a new word: suasion. Which is curiously similar in definition to “persuasion.” Kind of like “flammable” and “inflammable,” which actually mean the same thing. Why do we have these redundant words anyway? And at first I thought of “possum” and “opossum,” but Wikipedia informs me that those are NOT in fact the same animal.

  2. April 9, 2013 10:48 am

    There is a difference between possum and opossum?! WHAT?!

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