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April 14, 2008

Conventional Wisdom

Over the years, I have learned a couple of things about "Conventional Wisdom”: 1) It is conventional—not a lot of thought has gone into it, and; 2) It is seldom wisdom.

The current conventional wisdom on gun violence is that it is an intractable problem that cannot be solved and that no one in or running for public office is willing to deal creatively with the issue.

I am constantly dismayed that people who have witnessed dramatic changes in public policy—the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dismantling of apartheid and the creation of a new South Africa, the winding down of the nuclear arms race, the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, etc.—people who have seen these miracles in their own lifetime, will look at you dumbfounded when you say, “We can have a society free of gun violence.”

Where is our vision? What is our hope? We must confront and change the common wisdom that will lead us to despair and hopelessness. We can and must envision a nation in which we are not afraid of the gun lobbyists, a nation in which we have sensible gun laws; laws meant to protect us, to protect our communities, to protect our children.

We cannot achieve what we do not first dare to dream.


  1. I would love to see a world without gun violence. But that violence would only take another form. Be it baseball bats, machetes, bombs, you name it. The problem is that humans are violent by nature.

    If you figure out a way to dispel that undesirable characteristic without infringing on basic freedoms and without drugs, you'll have my vote.

  2. Jonathan, whether or not someone believes humans are "violent by nature," we don't see why that should prohibit us from striving to be peaceful. We seek to create a better world for our children, not to embrace violence. As for America, we would be lucky if more people were using baseball bats for self-defense. They are far less lethal than firearms, which claim more than 30,000 lives each year in this country.

    Nor do we see why measures like background checks or licensing and registration requirements would infringe on any basic freedoms. Americans would still be able to own firearms for self-defense, but criminals would find it far harder to obtain guns. - CSGV