The basic difficulty in ending gun violence is, I think, the immediate reflex toward self-defensive fear in the face of that violence. Where some of us, on hearing of another massacre, will advocate for stronger gun control laws and mental health care, many others see only possible danger to themselves as individuals, and cling to guns as means of self-defense (however uncertain that means is).
It’s a difficult spiral to break free from: violence to self-defensive fear to widespread gun ownership, which leads to more violence and more fear. It’s rooted very deep in our culture, which continues to worship warrior archetypes that invariably represent and advocate violence as the primary means of male power and redemption.
On a personal level, we have to break free of fear, first and foremost. We must recognize that all life is uncertain, and that the effects of our actions extend far beyond our individual selves. We are connected root and branch to the people around us, as the tree is to the soil, and our lives are, in the final analysis, just drops of rain in the torrent. Will we nourish life with kindness and self-sacrifice, or will we, in clinging to our fear and the desire for vengeance, allow our spirits to become poisoned?
On the societal level, we must turn to communities founded on principles of openness, compassion, and nonviolence, and provide them our energy, our material support, and our gratitude. We need also in particular to turn away from the destructive greed of capitalism and its feudal hierarchies, which perpetuate enormous inequality in our daily lives and workplaces. Really, it is when every person is loved and cared for, nurtured emotionally, spiritually and physically, that individual violence and its societal counterpart, war, will finally cease. On that day we will wake up at last to the world we have dreamed; and all we must do to accomplish it is give up our fears.