Links and Comments: About Gun Violence

I’m narrowing in on a Provisional Conclusion that most people live their daily lives without any perspective or context about what happens in the outer world. (And, for many issues, that’s just fine. But not for all issues.)

Thus, Americans take the repeated events of mass killings more or less for granted, not to be addressed through any kind of political action, without realizing that the US is by far the outlier among nations about gun violence and mass killings.

Why is that? Because of gun ownership. What I see as a fetishization of the right to own weapons (even military grade weapons, meant only to kill people, not for hunting of self-defense), in complete disregard to the original intent of the 2nd amendment. (Militias.) Republicans and conservatives fall back on the supposed “original intent” of the Constitution and its amendments, except when it come to the second amendment, which they think justifies private ownership and display of any kind of weapon anyone wants, never mind the idea of militias, conveniently overlooked.

(Are these people paranoid? Frightened? I think so, yes.)

With the recent mass shootings in the past couple weeks, the same themes recur. Nothing ever seems to change. The victims of these mass shooting are the collateral damage for the conservative fetish of owning guns, and the occasions when some angry or insecure male (always male) takes out his rage with the easily available firearm at hand. It’s easier to buy a firearm to shoot a bunch of people on the same day than it is to get an abortion. How’s that for right to life, of the victims? The adult victims of these shootings are, apparently, less troublesome to 2nd amendment conservatives, than unborn proto-humans.

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Vox, 24 March 2021, German Lopez: America’s gun problem, explained, subtitled, “The public and research support gun control. Here’s how it could help — and why it doesn’t pass.”

With graphs and charts showing that the US vastly outnumbers other countries in homicides by firearm, ownership of firearms, and the relationship of gun ownership with gun deaths.

Again, to echo my opening statement, I’m thinking that most people simply don’t realize this. The Republican politicians who do recognize this try to dismiss American gun violence as an issue of “mental illness,” without explaining why the US should have so many mentally ill people than virtually every other country around the world (with so much less gun violence).

There’s also a video from ABC News that shows, in simulations, that people repeatedly fail to shoot an active shooter before they’re shot themselves. Discrediting a conservative talking point about the bad guy with a gun and the good guy with a gun.

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Salon, 23 March 2021, Amanda Marcotte: The NRA way of life is ruining our nation, subtitled, “Decades of gun propaganda has created a nation of sociopaths.”

The grim reality is that the entire nation is in the thrall to a minority of extremely insecure mostly white men who, drunk on decades of NRA-fueled propaganda, have decided that having the ability to commit mass murder at a moment’s notice is a crucial component of maintaining their manhood against the ever-encroaching threats from de-gendered Potato Heads and lady video game players. Most of these men claim exoneration because they don’t personally grab one of their many overpriced killing machines to lay waste to a grocery store or high school. Grotesquely, some even use these mass shootings to indulge in public fantasies about how they would totally stop an active shooter, though somehow they never seem to actually get around to doing it.

This is my impression too: “…extremely insecure mostly white men who, drunk on decades of NRA-fueled propaganda, have decided that having the ability to commit mass murder at a moment’s notice is a crucial component of maintaining their manhood against the ever-encroaching threats from de-gendered Potato Heads and lady video game players.”

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An article from 2017 but still, alas, relevant.

NY Times, 7 Nov 2017, Max Fisher & Josh Keller: Why Does the U.S. Have So Many Mass Shootings? Research Is Clear: Guns.

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So what is the bottom line? What do I personally think is the reason for America’s fetish with guns, which has enabled so much gun violence?

I think it’s mostly a legacy of how America was settled, in an era when firearms were becoming available and the wild frontier still needed taming (whereas the nations of Europe were settled far earlier, and had no frontiers to conquer). It’s a leftover of the frontier spirit, in which steadfast Europeans needed to defend themselves against the ravages of non-white indigenous natives. And it’s something about the idea of American “exceptionalism,” the notion that cultural standards that apply to the rest of the world don’t apply to Americans, because we’re so special.

I find it ironic that so many gun fanatics claim the necessity of owning guns is to defend themselves against other people with guns. Is that the condition of the greatest nation in the world, as they think America is?


So, what happens in the *long* run? The next 50 or 100 years? Major changes happen over decades and centuries, just a bit too slow for most people to be aware of them, except (for conservatives) to react against them: civil rights; health issues like seat belts and smoking (and mask-wearing during pandemics, and taking vaccines). But history, necessarily, in our global culture, will out.

Necessarily, because we’re all in this together on this planet. In another 100 years, I’m sure America will still consider itself exceptional, and still have a perverse fascination with firearms, compared to other countries. But to the degree we become globalized, and especially to the degree we become urbanized (thus relieving the impact of humanity on the planet’s biosphere), social fears will soften, and gun ownership, and gun violence, will retreat.


Personally — this I will add to my memoirs — I have zero interest in guns of any kind, and I think those who do have, if not some kind mental illness, an unhealthy fetish, a deep-seated paranoia about how they interact with the world they live in, and their fellow citizens. An exceptional nation should control the base aspects of human nature, not pander to them.

(drafted several days ago, expanded today, and could well be updated with current news and comments)

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