Here we are again. Another day in America, another mass shooting; this one at a community college campus in Roseburg Oregon; which claimed nine more American lives. Two days of hard research have led me to determine that there have been 265-293 mass shootings (depending on the definition and who's doing the counting) so far in the 273 days that we call 2015 AD. President Obama was right on the money when he described mass shootings in America as "routine."
The last time I directly addressed this issue and the Second Amendment in general was without question the most vitriolic rant in the blog's history. Additionally, it was a racially motivated mass shooting in a Tennessee church, among other things, which recently dictated the entire direction of my writing efforts for the last two months. I've decided to try a different tactic this go round, as I believe that public opinion has softened somewhat on the issue, as rational people have become ever more sickened by the avalanche of gun violence in America.
An appeal to reason and good sense is what's in order from me now; not an emotional tirade. Some would say it is inappropriate to speak of political issues in the wake of tragedy. Permit me to address that objection immediately by proudly and sincerely dedicating this post to the victims, families, and friends of this latest horrific rampage.
Let us reason together once again my friends
There's no need to beat around the bush here. After careful consideration I've come to a difficult conclusion. Our Constitution guarantees all Americans the rights of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Put succinctly, I believe “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” no longer promotes our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, Quite the opposite, it instead threatens them every single day.
“A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”
How free are we when more people are shot and killed each year in America than we lost in the Iraq War? How free are we when we market a backpack that unfolds into a bulletproof vest for kids? While I'll concede a well-regulated Militia may be necessary to the security of a free State, I'll argue that the highly trained, professional, dedicated citizen-soldiers of America's National Guard have performed that role heroically. These men and women are drawn straight from the ranks of our friends and families, and certainly pose no threat to their fellow Americans. To suggest otherwise is ludicrous. An armed citizenry is simply no longer required. I've heard some say that the National Guard is "different," and that in colonial times, every able-bodied male was considered part of the Militia. That statement, besides being complete historical malarkey, might make sense if we all had muskets and canons; but we don't now...do we?! That's why the militia became the National Guard.
"The first thing Hitler did was institute gun control." This statement is another completely manufactured historical inaccuracy. But, even so, where is the Hitler in England, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, or any of the other developed nations who chose to end mass shootings on their soil? And if only the bad people will have guns if you get rid of legal guns, why are there virtually no instances of gun crime in these countries? The facts don't bear up to the fear-mongering; plain and simple. The slippery slope has been shown to be non-existent in modern developed nations.
Some will tell you the tired story of the housewife who saved her family. I'll tell you about the thousands of stories where people mistook their spouses, kids, or friends for burglars and shot them dead, or the thousands of children who accidentally shot themselves or another, or maybe I could mention the 30 or so other people who were killed by gun violence on the same day as the Oregon shooting, or the 60 or so who used a gun to kill themselves that day, or quote the domestic violence statistics, accidental shooting statistics, or...
Just like you will undoubtedly hear that even more guns are the answer, or less restrictive gun laws. It would be laughable if it wasn't so deadly real. So, where does all this gun craziness in our culture come from?
Firstly of course, it's a large part of our cultural mythos; our national mythology. This is an unfortunate truth, and an obstacle, which needs to be overcome. It begins in elementary education within a public school system where manufactured tales of our revolutionary origin have become founding myths, writ nearly as large as Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan. But that's not the impetus for this latest uproar from the right; not the incentive for the record numbers of gun and ammo sales. It also has nothing to do with patriotism; the British aren't coming, the Martians haven't landed, and ISIS isn't massing on our borders.
Instead, the answer lies in some unlikely places; the 2010 census, and the 2012 Presidential election. There has been a simultaneous increase in gun sales and the decline of the white majority. After the 2010 census, when social scientists predicted a white minority in America by the year 2043, we began to hear talk of “taking back our country.” Donald Trump didn't invent the idea, he just hopped on the racist bandwagon. This talk and all this furor really ramped up when President Obama was re-elected, Gun shops popped up like mushrooms in springtime, mostly in the white enclaves of America’s suburbs and small towns. The resurgent zeal for weaponry has been fueled by the same wretched outdated brand of racism that has propelled so many social ills, for far too long now.
For this reason, gun worship and gun worshippers have finally jumped the shark in my opinion. I can tell by watching how outrageous they've become. Pictures flood my newsfeed of ridiculous citizens carrying their assault rifles around the mall, supposedly defending themselves...against what exactly? I've spent untold hours killing time in malls shopping and people watching...never needed my "assault" rifle. They don't call them "defense" rifles, do they?!
Just like owning guns isn't about patriotism any longer, the shooting in Roseburg wasn't about what the headlines will trumpet either. If only it were so simple...if only. See, I haven't mentioned the detail that the Roseburg shooter purposely singled out Christians for death. This is because I'm not interested in sensationalism; but in rational thinking and accurate discernment of reality.
When Dylan Roof killed nine people in a Charleston church in June, we didn't claim he was "out to kill Christians," even though he committed his crime in a church, and all the dead were Christians. We didn't claim this because it was apparent that his killings were motivated by mental illness and manifested through radical racism. Careful examination of the facts revealed so far in the latest shooting reveal that the killer, one Chris Harper-Mercer, had motives other than killing Christians on his mind.
Mercer, like Roof, was a self-professed conservative with sympathies towards radical groups. So far authorities have determined that his arsenal consisted of 13 guns; all legally obtained. Mercer was a withdrawn loner type with mental issues. Mercer stated publicly recently that it was apparent to him that the way to get attention was to shoot people. The first thing Mercer did was shoot the professor, and announce that he had wanted to do that for a long time. It was only then, in the rush of power from killing the professor, that his God complex really took hold, and he made everyone stand up and announce their religion. How do I know his aim wasn't specifically to kill Christians, or to take vengeance on Christians, and about power instead? First he only asked them this question/played this game after he shot the professor, and second, he still shot the people who didn't identify as Christians, just didn't kill them. No one escaped judgement entirely. It was all about exercising the power of life and death; wielding it as he saw fit. I bet he delighted at the thought that the media would eat it up and the fearful masses would make him their bogeyman.
I realize completely that taking guns away, or making them harder to get won't stop people from going crazy. But it will keep them from using them to murder thousands of their fellow citizens each year until we figure it out. And we have to keep asking ourselves the question, "What is it about our culture that produces isolated loners who inevitably lash out in deadly fashion against the rest of us?" A post from a friend of The Deconstruction Zone hints at such considerations today:
I have to admit, I've never been super pro gun rights. But today I felt like I had the realization that the guns are the tools through which people are acting out a sickness. It's like a disease. We need to quickly and completely address the underlying issues. Maybe a ban on publicizing the shooters would be a great start. Along with a huge effort to assess mental health, address mental health issues, maybe a "help I'm thinking about killing people hotline," and a shift in culture that ends the trend of isolation. I think maybe our culture is killing us.
"I think maybe our culture is killing us."
Dave ~ Thanks for your time. I hope we get to know each other better.