“How did things ever get so far, I don’t know,” Vito Corleone says to the heads of the five families in the epic movie “The Godfather,” trying to make peace after his son is brutally gunned down.
Art resembles life. How did we ever get so far in society — exchanging agendas for solving real issues? It’s gotten so outrageously off track that we must make a peace like Corleone — one that is effective and lasting.
What am I referencing? The gun debate.
While the debate rages on, those on both sides of the argument use their agendas to distract us from the real problems and their possible solutions.
The pro-gun folks demand the preservation of Americans’ right to keep and bear arms without further restrictions. It’s a defensive posture, out of need, but it lacks focus promoting reasonable solutions — such as bolstering enforcement of existing laws and closing any remaining loopholes for criminals to access weapons. Efforts to address gun violence and empathy toward its victims are rare among these advocates, especially the largest pro-gun organization, the National Rifle Association.
Staunchly anti-gun crusaders want fulfillment of an America with no weapons whatsoever in the hands of private citizens. Make no mistake, they mean to disarm us and believe they will succeed one restrictive legislation at a time. They will challenge the Second Amendment and any other rights that get in the way of their agenda.
Removing guns, or, as in the case of a possible ballot measure in Oregon’s November election, limiting ammunition capacities or banning certain weapons because of their cosmetics, will do nothing but make us more vulnerable and exposed to those who would harm us. It will not curb the kind of violence we have witnessed for decades. It’s not the device — be it gun, bomb, motor vehicle or airplane — that kills, it’s the individual behind it.
Arguing over gun control will only force us further down the abyss and away from solutions. We’re so far gone I believe we qualify for a re-classification of our species from Homo sapiens (wise man) to Homo insanianus, or Homo ignoramus — but clearly not Homo sapiens. We have become a species not of thinkers but of believers.
Let us, in Oregon, set the example for our country by dealing with the real problems, asking the hard questions, coming up with solutions and putting those on the ballot.
Like mandated seat belts and laws to curb drunken driving, change will take time. But let’s start now to identify and deal with the underlying root issues — basic right from wrong — and stop the atrocities that have occurred throughout the decades. They will continue unless we put considered thought into our problems and do something about them:
1. Provide adequate funding for health care for those in need, especially advancement of mental health programs and facilities.
2. Ensure enough jail space to incarcerate criminals and provide funding to operate at full capacity.
3. Provide adequate and responsible protection for public places such as our schools, including metal detectors and surveillance systems.
4. Promote an early alert mentality among our citizens to report when something seems suspect. “If you see something, say something.”
5. Encourage programs that teach our children the value of life and their parents the importance of responsible parenting.
Let’s lose the agendas and instead work for a peace that we desperately need.
Like the conclusion of “The Meeting” scene in “The Godfather,” be that person who can say: “I swear, on the souls of my grandchildren, that I will not be the one to break the peace we have made here today.”
Steven Saslow is owner of Rosebud Media LLC and publisher of the Mail Tribune and Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.