Over the last two days, I have been thinking about this entire issue regarding gun violence. As many of you know, I am progressive on many issues. Yes, I might be right-wing on a couple of issues (which are issues I keep to myself and don’t publish on this website), I am very left-wing on others. Gun control is one of those issues. Maybe being a Chicago native has forged my opinion on gun control, but I have never seen the reason to even own a gun.
I have always said that the problem with the United States is that we have a culture surrounded by guns. Others say that it is violence, but I disagree. I feel that if there were less guns, there would be less violence. Basically, guns equates to your average violence on steroids.
If we look at the United States, we are pretty much the only country that buys guns just to have them. We collect them and stockpile them so that we have a vast “collection” of guns. No other country in the world has this type of culture. For some reason, Americans “need” guns for “fun”. That in itself isn’t a reassuring thought.
Let’s look at the top gun owning countries. Behind the United States is Serbia. Many of these guns were supplied during the Serbian wars against Croatia, supporting the Serbs in Bosnia, and the conflict in Kosovo. Therefore, many of these guns are military issued. And, as we have seen with the genocide done specifically by the Serbs in all of these regions, they seek the use of a gun for violent means. The next country is Yemen. Again, a violent society which just recently overthrew their government in the Arab Spring.
Switzerland is next. Of course, this is the example pro-gun people use as “responsible gun owners”. But there is a little more than meets the eye. First, service in the Swiss military is compulsory for all able-bodied males. At that time they are issued a SIG 550, which they can keep after their service. Second, there are strong gun regulations in Switzerland. In order to use your gun in public, you need permission from the Swiss government. Also, carrying permits are usually own giving to those that require it, like members of a security firm. Therefore, if those that are pro-gun want to talk about Switzerland being responsible, we should strongly consider adopting their very strict gun control laws as well.
Next on the list is Cyprus, which is basically in an on-going dispute. Next is Saudi Arabia, and I think we know how they interpret the law. Next is Iraq, enough said. Next is Finland, which actually has the third most amount of school rampage deaths over the last five years after the United State and China, while having very relaxed gun laws. The trend isn’t promising.
Still, even with this trend, there is one very, very important thing to look at when understanding gun ownership. In these other countries, many of the firearms are provided by the military and are controlled by strong regulatory standards. In the United States, an overwhelming amount of firearms are privately purchased. A Swiss citizen might have owned the same gun for over 40 years. An American usually goes down to his local gun shop and stockpiles weapons for his or her own obsession with guns.
One way to confirm this “gun culture” is the fact that people are always being scared into having their “guns taken away”. Year after year, those that are gun advocates create this fear about guns being taken away. Yet, it never happens. This fear, in turn, leads to the stockpiling of weapons yet again. Other countries with high gun ownership do not do this. Yet, the gun supporters do this so that they can keep the idea of the gun culture in the minds of the average gun advocate.
This leads me to my next part…American have always considered guns “part of their heritage”. On my Facebook page, a number of people have already defriended me because of my strong position on this issue. In their arguments, they say that guns are part of what makes us Americans. Again, this isn’t just very sad, but very scary as well. I am an American and have been for 39 years (since the day I was born). I have never owned a gun and never plan on owning one. I have never felt that I have ever needed a gun. But, most of all, as an American, I have never thought that I needed to have a gun to be an American. It isn’t a requirement in order to be a supporter of “American heritage”, yet the gun advocates want people to think that it is.
Still, gun ownership is just part of the gun culture in this country. Let’s look at Florida. We became famous earlier this year because of the Trayvon Martin murder case. The passing of the “Stand Your Ground” law made Florida look like the knuckle-dragging neanderthals of one of the most gun happy cultures on earth. These legislatures pass these laws, which make absolutely no sense whatsoever, just so that using your gun in any circumstance is perfectly legal. I am wondering when we will return to the wild west and start advocating that settling disputes should be done by a duel.
During this entire article, I have not talked once about violence in regards to the shooting. As far as I know, James Egan Holmes, the Aurora shooter, Jared Loughner, the Gabby Giffords shooter, and Steven Kazmierczak, the NIU shooter, never showed any type of violent tendencies before their shootings. While the act of committing a mass murder is in itself a violent act, we aren’t entirely sure that anything regarding a violent culture contributed to these killings. A lot of the people that commit these mass murders usually don’t show any tendencies to violence in the past, or have contributed violence to their killing. As much as the gun community wants to blame video games and Marylyn Manson for their behaviors, nothing has been proven to make this the case. It is just a smoke screen.
Overall, it isn’t the violent culture of our society. I could argue that the United Kingdom is more of a violent society than the United States purely based on the fact that they feel that fights, brawls and hooligans at soccer matches is considered “normal”, while we don’t display that type of violence here. Rape, which I think we all can agree is an act of violence, has the highest rate in Sweden, doubling the United States’ rape rate. Yet, we don’t see massive gun murders in Sweden, even though it has the third highest gun ownership in western Europe.
The fact is that guns are, as the gun advocates admit, a part of our “culture”, “heritage” and “tradition”. These three words alone show that the gun is actually the issue, not the violence, as was shown in the last paragraph. We look at the gun as the “end all” of every dispute or argument. If progressives can finally come to the realization that we can debate this issue purely on fact (which is what we do with every other issue), then we can finally see some common sense laws passed in regards to guns in the country.
Tomorrow, I will be writing Part II, which deals with how the NRA diverts the gun debate.