There’s a funny thing about human beings. Rationality is only one of many factors in our decision-making and often it is not one of the most important factors. If it were, there would be no gun control debate. All of the available evidence points to a safer, happier and freer society when guns are restricted. But, for people who don’t see this, no amount of arguing will change their minds. We can’t count on politicians to change things. Politicians are mostly very cautious. They just don’t make courageous, unpopular decisions. So, how does anything ever change? The best tool at our disposal is shame.
I know people usually think of shame as a bad thing. However, like anything else, shame is not bad in and of itself. It is only bad when misused. When a crime victim is made to feel shame, that is bad. When the mentally ill are made to feel shame, that is bad. But, when someone has done wrong, that person should feel shame. It is the best way to get people to correct their behavior. If bullies felt shame, that would be good. If shoplifters felt shame, that would be good. If we truly want change, we need to shame the people who fail to see reason.
Look at the civil rights movement. Politicians did not wake up, see the light and decide to change things. Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King and many others shamed our country into action. It is clear that we need something similar now. We need Representative Giffords and the poor, innocent people who attended her speech to be gun control’s Jackie Robinson. We need the poor, innocent people who just wanted to see a movie in Aurora, Colorado to be gun control’s Rosa Parks. And, we need the poor, innocent children and their caregivers in Newtown, Connecticut to be gun control’s Martin Luther King.
We need to show that we are better than this. We can no longer let the NRA and their supporters have their say and respond with, “Well, they’re entitled to their opinion.” Every time we hear that garbage, we need to remind them that it is garbage. We need to remind them of the poor, innocent lives that we have lost. We need to remind them that the only way to bring sense to senseless tragedy is to do everything in our power to make sure it never happens again. Since they have done wrong, we need to shame them. Getting them to feel shame is our only hope for change.