Although I believe in the individual’s right to own the means to defend himself, I want to say that I do not believe that the reason that there are so many violent shootings in the USA is that too few people own guns. Nor do I believe, that the main problem is that people do not receive enough mental health services. The chief problem is that we are sick to begin with.
The main cause of violence in America is that America has a culture of violence. It is everywhere — in our movies, cities, laws, and homes. It is not the weapons themselves nor any admiration for the weapons that is responsible for our worship of violence, but the fact that almost everyone believes that conflicts of interest are inherent to human interaction. Today, violence and destruction are more deeply seeded in our culture than ever before in the history of America. It is instilled in us when we grow up in violent households, go to violent schools, face violent peers, and experience the politics of violence as adults.
By “violence” I do not refer primarily to crude physical violence, although there is still plenty of that. I refer to the violence done when any parent, schoolyard bully, teacher, policeman, preacher, government bureaucrat, or politician says: “you must do this or else.” I refer specifically to the philosophical worldview implied in that statement: that human values inherently conflict with each other, and therefore men must extract values from each other by force.
The only thing necessary for the violence to end is for people to recognize that there is no conflict of interest between rational men. Everyone, from parents to businessmen to judges must accept the fact that men should and can gain values from each other by voluntary exchange rather than force. We must fully accept, integrate, and apply the simple idea that force is not a moral or practical means to gain the cooperation of other people.
If we raised our children to believe this for the first few years of their life, the violence in our homes, schools, laws and foreign wars would end.