America – Stopping Neighbors from Killing Neighbors Part 2


If we were serious about stopping the epidemic in America where neighbors kill their neighbors, don’t you think we would exhaust all potential solutions? You would think so, yet we don’t.

 We can blame politicians or the NRA but that will get us nowhere. We can start by questioning some of our underlying assumptions about the problem that actually exasperates the epidemic. These are assumptions that protect the status quo and stymie solutions. Let start with the assumption that most of us accept as true.

People kill, guns don’t.

 This assumption supports the argument against doing anything to strengthen existing gun laws. This argument ignores the role that guns, particularly high magazine rifles and assault weapons, plays in killing people. Having said this, let me take a stab at exposing this supposes truth for what it is – a roadblock to solving the killing epidemic.

People do kill other people. People kill themselves. I believe this truth to be self-evident though unfortunate. As the title of this blog says, we have to stop neighbors from killing neighbors.

The problem with this argument is that it is premised in an “either/or” belief. It has to be either people who kill other people or guns. The possibility that both people and guns kill is ignored which leads to the conclusion that all solutions to the killing crisis must center around people, not guns. This is a very clever ploy by the NRA to divert efforts away from imposing any limits on guns or their killing capability.

Unfortunately, the either/or way of thinking on this topic is wrong and destructive.

In his seminal business book, Good to Great, the author Jim Collins, demonstrates the limitations of “either/or thinking.” He labels it, “The Tyranny of OR versus the Genius of AND.”  Simply, Collins demonstrates the constraining problem-solving capability when we approach a problem from an ‘either/or’ perspective. We get handcuffed in a way that limits creativity and, in the case of companies, limits their success.  

So, what does “The Tyranny of OR versus the Genius of AND” have to do with the belief that People kill, guns don’t?   If we embrace the genius of AND, that both people and guns kill, we are able to aggressively pursue solutions from both perspectives. Given what is at stake, doesn’t it make sense to do this? I certainly hope so. But instead, we act in a way that assumes that this is the new normal and we are powerless to do anything about it.  Instead of attacking the crisis, we try and minimize it by arming educators, turning our schools into hardened fortresses, and training our children to weaponize school supplies.

I am sorry, we can and must do better than this. We cannot accept this as the new normal or we are doomed as a society. This mentality is the equivalent of giving up, admitting defeat, and working around the solutions that are there right before our eyes if we chose to see them.

We are better than this but by buying into the assumption that ‘People kill, guns don’t,’ we are protecting the status quo of neighbors killing neighbors.

Another assumption or belief that protects the status quo is that the 2nd Amendment, our right to bear arms, is an absolute, some say, God given right. This belief in so strong it ignores, maybe accepts, that seeing our neighbors and children slaughtered is the price we pay to protect ourselves. I will take up this assumption next time. Until then...

Be well,

Bob Stapleton