ByMatthew Holker, writer at
I love a good storyteller, so obviously I love books, T.V., and movies. And I'm smarter than I look (or so I've been told)
Matthew Holker

In the wake of another senseless tragedy, my heart goes out to the families and the community that have suffered such terrible losses. I cannot imagine their grief, and I never want to. My eyes well up just thinking about it, from the other side of the country with no personal connection to the victims. I know that their pain is too intense for words to describe, and that it will not soon diminish. I am truly sorry for them.

I am further disheartened by the fact that I see this deplorable incident is already being politicized by both sides. They have begun trotting out all the familiar rhetoric about guns, pro and con. The politicians and pundits have that conversation sewn up, and it hasn't gone anywhere substantial for centuries. I will leave them to their discussion about guns. I want to talk about knives. Bear with me, I promise it will make sense.

Where I am from it is legal to own any kind of knife you want. What you can carry on you in public and how you can carry it is left for individual cities to decide. We have a good mix of densely populated urban areas, suburban areas, and rural areas with a lot of space dedicated to agricultural and natural resource harvesting.

Where we're from, kids get their first gun at 12
Where we're from, kids get their first gun at 12

As a rule, as you get closer to major cities, you have to have smaller knives. In more rural areas where there are many more hunters and outdoorsmen, it is legal and common to carry machetes or similarly sized blades. It would probably get left in the truck if going to a movie, but that's not the point.

I'm not suggesting there could be a one-to-one solution drawn between our local knife laws and national gun laws. I don't even claim that our knife laws here are perfect. The point I am trying to get across is that compromise and understanding are the two things that made it work.

Where we're from, kids get their first gun at 12
Where we're from, kids get their first gun at 12

The people in our cities had to understand that people in rural areas were different, and that they could and should be left to their own devices on the matter. Our rural communities had to understand that city life was different, and when you're in urban areas you have to abide by a different set of rules, which includes leaving the machete at home.

That's why it worked for us with knives, and from what I have seen, that is what is getting in the way of all progress on gun violence. So long as one side is shouting for the farmers and the other side is shouting for the city-folk, neither one will be willing to back down an inch. Both sides will keep shouting over each other and getting nowhere.

Good advice.
Good advice.

Until we can -- all of us -- stop being pro-gun, and stop being pro-gun control, and start being anti-murder first and foremost, this cycle will continue. We are going to have to stop shouting for our side and start talking to the other one. It won't be comfortable, and it won't be easy, but it is long past time that we got over ourselves and found a serious solution to this insanity.

I'm inclined to think that Lafayette, Louisiana would agree with me. So would Chattanooga, Tennessee and Charleston, South Carolina. So would dozens more cities, being victims of mass shootings in just my short lifetime. Eventually the sheer number of families, communities, and cities that have suffered the same fate will grow to be overwhelming. My ambition is to stem the tide of this epidemic before it comes to that.

Gun violence is a real problem in this country, and it needs more than a lip service solution. If we really wanted to fix it, if we really tried to see eye to eye, I would never have to write another headline like this again. That is perhaps the greatest tragedy of this most recent attack: most of us are already resigned to suffer through countless more of them.


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