Two major obstacles to curbing gun violence in America are: the concept of good guys/bad guys as a static thing or type, and then the partisan practice of demonizing the political opposition.
When we create a world view where there are good people and bad people, and that they will both always be that thing, and then we paint our political opposition as the bad guys, there will never be any room to collaborate or compromise – ever. Because in this worldview the other political side will always have bad intentions and always be working toward bad outcomes. One will be fighting against that opposition’s assumed identity rather than addressing the issues at hand.
We cannot allow ourselves to give in to this bias, not just because it is based on a fundamental lie about human nature, but also in that it absolutely cripples our ability to improve society.
People are not fundamentally good or bad. Even the most extreme evil doer will also be capable of benevolent acts. A mafia don may both order a murder and then financially support those in need. A person who has done nothing but good, maybe even been heroic, can later commit acts of atrocity. Those who have done horrible things, might never repeat such acts but rather commit their lives to humanitarian service.
Humans are neither static nor one dimensional.
The idea that bad people will always do bad things no matter what laws we pass might be true at an incident level, as in bad things might always happen no matter the law, but it is completely untrue at an individual human level. Meaning, an individual may or may not have their actions influenced by any given law at any given time. A young man may have bad intentions and try to harm a large crowd of people at one point in his life, but if the tools are unavailable or inconvenient, requiring additional effort and a longer timeframe, it cannot be assumed that this person will maintain those bad intentions indefinitely.
Our intentions and energy level fluctuate. Anyone who has attempted to get or stay “in-shape” knows this at a fundamental level. While an individual’s actions or motivations vary through time, there may at any given time be enough actively engaged fitness minded people to keep a gym in business, though the individuals actually showing up will always be in flux. Bad things may continually happen but they are not necessarily done by a stagnant, limited, group of individuals.
Political parties are made of people. Party platforms shift and change. The idea that one party is all good or all bad, or that either party will stay whatever it is forever, is wrong. To believe as much is the definition of bias.
Such biases are magnified in the gun debate.
The safety of children cannot be managed via political tribalism.
Arming the good guys to defend against the bad guys assumes that we know in advance who is who. Disarming bad guys in advance requires the same assumption.
I do not know how much I will weigh next year, but I do know I eat less when food is less convenient. I also know that working out takes a lot of work and sacrifice and maintaining motivation over a long period of time, is hard. I usually give up. Or slack off. Because I’m a person and my mental and emotional state shifts over time.
We need to keep this fluctuation in mind when crafting policy, passing laws, voting, or in our pursuit of justice.