As always, our hearts and prayers truly go out to all the victims of gun violence and the families and friends connected to them. And those hearts and attendant prayers continue on an ongoing basis. The grieving process is long and hard. The memory will be permanent. And the killing continues.
The Constitution of the United States promises to “insure domestic tranquility.” It is a core value and goal of the document found immediately in the Preamble. It is just as much a part of the Supreme Law of the Nation as are the Seven Articles in the document and the Twenty-seven Amendments to the document since ratification in 1789.
The intersection of powerful semi-automatic weapons with mental illness, racial, ethnic and religious bigotry, criminality, and an American culture of guns supported by the arms industry, National Rifle Association, and to the surprise of some, Hollywood and video games, is a deadly nexus in American life that reaches its tentacles into every community and the lives of every single citizen.
The culture of guns in America now makes the promise and legal responsibility of our government to ensure even a reasonable level of safety to the public untenable. Discussing this as “an issue” or letting us have a “conversation” on guns is not needed. It is, in truth, a positive impediment to solving this problem. The now almost daily acts of mass gun violence and the thousands of individual deaths due to guns every single day make that a moot argument.
We know that the United States has more than twice as many guns per person as any other nation state in the world. Consequently, it is not hard to grasp that we have the most gun deaths—and by far of any nation.
No American would say that the 58,000 names on the wall marking the dead of the Vietnam War are inconsequential. Yet just less than two years is now needed to exceed that death toll from domestic gun violence alone. 32,000 and more persons die through the agency of guns in this country each year; just over half from suicides and a growing number where powerful firearms and people who are in an unstable or hateful emotional state meet.
If the young man who had shot his way into that elementary school in Connecticut or the one who did so in a movie theater in Colorado, or a parking lot in Arizona, or a Chicago street corner, or a religious house of worship in a Wisconsin suburb, or Virginia Tech, had had to do what they did with fists or knives or even old fashioned single shot muzzle loading rifles and pistols the death tolls in these horrific incidents would have been greatly reduced. Many more people would be surviving these acts of violence that have dogged humankind with the presence of illness and evil in this world since the inception of time.
The next time a State government or the Congress votes to cut needed funding to support our families for food, housing, and healthcare in times of distress, or to reach out and deal with mental illness and with those suffering from feelings of human prejudice, we must tell those representatives that they are casting a second vote with unseen and deathly hands for more mass shootings and dead children and grieving families and communities.
The next time you buy a ticket to a Hollywood movie where a man wielding a gun confirms their manhood, or increasingly womanhood, and self-worth, or where guns on television are seen visually and verbally as the final arbiters of our social problems, we do real harm to ourselves and communities.
Real initiatives to restore social spending and to even extend it, along with reducing the number and power of firearms available to American civilian citizens are now becoming more vital than protecting Second Amendment gun rights as some sort of absolute right or license to contribute as we wish to a culture obsessed with guns and gun violence.
The Second Amendment and its basic protections will always remain. Hollywood will continue to churn out films and television where drama and conflict are present and fiscal responsibility will continue to be measured against public need. Taking gun rights away, censorship, and wasteful social spending are not required nor are they wanted.
But the status quo ante ended with the shooting in Connecticut Friday morning as far as Struggles for Justice is concerned. The first reaction of so many Americans should have been “enough! This must end now!” It must have been a huge straw that broke the largest and strongest of Camels’ backs.
We won’t be able to eliminate gun violence or suicide or violent deaths in the United States. But we must act now to do the obvious things.
First, a re-instatement of the assault weapons gun ban and limitations on the sizes of magazines our guns have outside military bases, law enforcement and gun ranges properly supervised needs to be put in place.
Second, full and up-to-date background checks nationwide in a common system shared by mental health professionals and law enforcement.
Third, there must be the will and actual outcome to see significant increases in social spending, to support our human infrastructure that is crumbling even faster than that of our material one.
Fourth, voluntary changes in the games we play and the films and videos we watch. The visual images laid down along our brain’s neural pathways need to be counterbalanced to a much greater extent by ones showing creative–non-violent means of overcoming human adversity and human conflict.
When the Second Amendment is in conflict with the Constitution’s equally great promise to “insure domestic tranquility,” the most important need of any government to protect the public safety, public safety must be consulted fully and the overdependence on an obsessive culture of guns must end. Actions not words are what are needed now.