Today the Senate will vote on background checks. And it looks like the measure will fail. Full details here, including the whip counts.
I understand that we have become a country where lots of people don't read books. Yes, really, half of all Americans read fewer than 6 books last year. From Pew:
All told, those book readers consumed a mean (average) of 15 books in the previous 12 months and a median (midpoint) of 6 books — in other words, half had read fewer than six and half had read more than six. That breaks down as follows:
- 7% of Americans ages 16 and older read one book in the previous 12 months
- 14% had read 2-3 books in that time block
- 12% had read 4-5 books in that time block
- 15% had read 6-10 books in that time block
- 13% had read 11-20 books in that time block
- 14% had read 21 or more books in that time block
That same Pew study looks at e-book readers. Another set of studies indicate that people don't accomplish long term retention from e-readers the way they do from paper books. Fascinating.
I believe reading matters. Dean Heller (R-NV) for example, is voting against background checks because he fears the bill will result in a national gun register, even though the bill clearly states that such a registry won't happen. The background check bill could pass if Dean Heller could read. His one vote is the difference between passage and failure.
I bring up reading with respect to the amount of violence in this country because I think there's a parallel between being violent and not reading. It's not just that elected reps don't read the legislation they're voting on, it's also that reading makes one smarter, more contemplative, less violent. Seriously - when is the last time you heard that a legitimate intellectual shot someone? Or blew up part of Boston?
If people read more books, they might read about history. Think Santayana.
There is something about holding a book in your hands, under a tree, engrossed in a story, or fascinated by science, or being so enraptured by something historical that it actually feels as if you are there.
But people don't read. And when they don't read, there are a lot of other things that go with that state of being. They often don't think things through. They don't understand how to critically evaluate data, therefore lacking the ability to separate propaganda and pablum from truth and reality.
And so we end up where we are today: possibly the most violent lawful society ever known. Crazy people shooting other people every day. And IED killing innocent folks a block from the oldest library in America. Could the solution be as simple as teaching people to read, and then finding a way to get them to read?