Selective Focus


Back when I had a Facebook photography page, I used to make posts titled “Here And Now,” which consisted of photos taken within a block of my house.  It was a sort of challenge to myself to find worthwhile subjects within the same area over and over. I learned a lot doing it.

This image was taken with my Olympus OMD E5 using the 12-50 kit lens on macro setting.  I focused on the orange and then deliberately shifted it out of the center of the image, composing the photo with the focal point off center. I do this a lot, moving the subject of my image away from the center.  It helps the viewer notice everything else, especially when it isn’t in focus, and, in this case, makes for a more pleasing abstraction.

This morning I was listening to NPR’s Left, Right, and Center podcast.  They were talking of course about gun violence, and what we should do about it.  I found myself becoming more and more frustrated with the “conservative” voice.  He insisted, as right wing, pro gun pundits often do, on focusing only on the most recent mass shooting and how none of the proposed gun law reforms would have stopped it.  Unlike my photograph, his selective focus was designed to distract the listener from the larger composition. Mass shootings are the catalyst for these discussions, but they should not be the focus.  Most gun deaths in this country are caused by handguns, not AR-15 rifles, and most of them are suicides.  Guns don’t kill people, but they make it a whole lot easier to do so, even when we are talking about suicide.

Another annoying tendency of politicians on the NRA payroll is to deflect the focus completely out of the picture frame.  Imagine if I had focused on the orange and then moved my camera until the fruit was no longer in the frame.  I might get a pleasing image, but it would no longer be relevant to the subject.  This is what happens when NRA toadies start talking about mental illness or video games.  The entire world has access to violent video games.  The entire world has mental illness.  Outside of war zones, no country has an epidemic of gun deaths even approaching what we have.  The only relevant difference between us and them is access to guns. Gun control advocates need to learn to talk about the whole picture.  Too often they play into the hand of the NRA by calling for “assault” weapons bans after an incident where someone uses one to kill a group of people.

My opinion is that guns should be like cars.  You should have to have training, a license, and insurance.  All ammunition should be traceable to point of sale and purchaser. All gun laws should be national to prevent someone from buying 100 handguns in Montana, driving to Chicago, and selling them out of the trunk of his car without a background check. And those background checks should be mandatory, exhaustive, and include a significant waiting period. I think this will stand up to the second amendment, but if not, maybe we need to repeal it.

Is that focused enough?

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