- The CNN Guns Project explores the role of guns in the United States
- One size does not fit all when it comes to talking about guns, Granderson says
- We can't link school shootings with FBI statistics about Detroit, he says
- Until we stop searching for sweeping laws, all we have is talk, he says
Why it's so difficult to solve America's gun problem can somewhat be explained within 20 seconds of the 17th episode of "The Family Guy's" eighth season. Brian and Stewie are trapped in a bank vault and after some silly banter, which leads to a ridiculous scuffle, Stewie ends up grabbing a gun and pointing it at Brian:
Brian: Look, Stewie, c'mon you don't know how to use that thing.
Stewie: Oh really? What if I hold it sideways like a black guy.
Brian: Whoa whoa, c'mon man, take it easy, all right? I don't want any trouble.
It's the typical, racially charged bit of satire that defines the animated series, with the added irony being that holding a gun sideways is actually more of a sign of not knowing "how to use that thing" than holding it correctly. That's because aiming and thus hitting your target is harder with a side grip.
Nonetheless, since the mid-1990s pantomiming holding a gun sideways has been the default pose struck by the misinformed who want to appear intimidating and/or cool. Each time a gun rights advocate talks about the Second Amendment and hunting, I think about the sheep holding their guns to the side.
When it comes to the conversation on guns, we must remember one size does not fit all. There are at least two Americas, and one of them is likely populated with folks imitating fictional characters in gangster movies -- unaware that, reportedly, film directors instructed actors to hold the prop that way so they could capture the face and the gun in the same frame.
It's all Hollywood.
Except for the tens of thousands who are wounded or killed each year in our city streets. Sadly, that's all too real.
And by city streets I mean where predominantly blacks and Latinos live. Pretending the weekly gun violence that grips places such as Chicago and Baltimore doesn't run along racial lines is counterproductive. Just as grouping mass school shootings perpetrated by the mentally ill with gang violence is counterproductive.
Each time we link an Adam Lanza with FBI statistics about Detroit, we move further from addressing either problem. Those who are truly concerned about the regularly underreported bloodshed in urban America must resist piggybacking the media coverage that swirls around the camera-ready anomalies like Columbine.
Stewie making a joke about holding a handgun sideways has very little if anything to do with background checks or mental health care. But it does highlight the shortfalls of public education and the war on drugs.
It shines a light on whom the National Rifle Association is not advocating for, as no licensed instructor would tell a student to hold the weapon that way.
Instead of constantly searching for sweeping laws that approach all gun violence as one in the same, we need to recognize that the comedic bit in episode 17 of the eighth season of "The Family Guy" has nothing to do with Newtown. Until we get there in our talks, all we will ever have is talk.