Ross: The real problem of gun control isn’t the law but the culture

Apr 24, 2023, 7:17 AM | Updated: 10:02 am


An attendee holds a sign calling for a ban on assault weapons during the Moms Demand Action Gun Violence Rally (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

(Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

Washington is about to get a ban on high-powered rifles, and with that ban comes the promise of a vigorous court battle to repeal it.

But suppose that the real problem isn’t the law but the culture?

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Politico published a piece Sunday that concluded that the reason some states have more shootings than others has more to do with the local culture than the local laws.

The article says that in states that were colonized by cultures with a history of slavery, or cultures based on a medieval concept of personal honor, a higher percentage of people get shot dead. Whereas, in areas colonized mainly by merchants where success depended on deal-making and compromise, a significantly lower percentage of people get shot dead.

The theory is based on numbers published by the CDC showing the region with the fewest fatal shootings per capita is the New York Metropolitan area, which was originally settled by Dutch merchants. Whereas the regions with the highest gun deaths are the Mississippi River Delta and the Deep South, colonized by people who valued their honor above all else.

Bottom line: while gun violence may be far worse in the red states than in the blue states – it’s not because of gun laws. It’s because of the persistence across generations of the cultures of the people who moved into these areas.

To borrow from diversity terminology, guns are their truth.

And gun laws simply reflect the culture that already exists. In cultures where compromise is the norm, the gun laws are tough; in cultures where you’re raised to believe that getting cut off on the freeway is a personal insult, the guns flow freely.

So does this mean passing gun laws is a waste of time?

Not necessarily. I think the laws could help encourage the inevitable sorting process that happens in any nation that gets big enough.

There’s no sense in pretending we’re all going to agree on when it’s okay to shoot people.

And I think the fairest way to deal with that is to sort ourselves into shooting cultures and non-shooting cultures. Some people are never going to feel safe in a place where, for example, it’s okay to march through town with your Bushmaster XM-15.

And others will never feel safe without their Bushmaster XM-15, their Springfield Armory M-21 sniper, and the Uzi 9mm, to name just a few of the 62 models banned by the new state law.

And over time, the gun-friendly people will migrate to Idaho, and the gun-shy people will gather in martial arts dojos and yoga studios, and this will no longer be an issue.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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