For decades people have argued that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” In other words, it’s not the guns, it’s the people that are the problem. Yes, it is the people who shoot and kill other people. That part cannot be disputed. However, it must also be acknowledged that without the guns, people would have a more difficult time slaughtering so many people so quickly, and so often in the United States of America. The U.S. Congress has finally passed a small bill that will put a few restrictions and a few requirements on gun ownership. It is historic because the Congress has not passed any type of gun legislation in several decades.
The United States is not unlike every other nation in the world as we struggle with societal problems, with mental health issues, political dissonance and struggles with domestic violence, and the disenfranchisement of entire groups of people. What distinguishes the United States from other civilized nations in the world is our “uniquely American” love affair with guns and weapons of war. No place in the world does the number of guns outnumber the population of the country except the United States of America. There is no other country that allows the language, definitions, and customs from documents that are thousands of years old to dictate the health and safety of its modern-day citizenry. The United States of America has frozen in time the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution and made it an untouchable, immutable doctrine that must be upheld as if the language were the ancient and sacred words from some Deity.
When the words “right to bear arms” and “a well-regulated militia” were written, the only citizens that were able to express an opinion or have a vote in governance were land owning white men. Most of us were not in that number until centuries and many decades had passed. When the 2nd Amendment was ratified in 1791 white women and non-white people, enslaved Black people, Indigenous people and poor people were not allowed a voice or a vote.
In 1791, the “arms” that people had the right to bear were muskets that could only shoot one shot before needing to be re-loaded. The forebearers of this nation’s constitutional government could not have had any idea, even in their wildest imagination, that 231 years later in 2022, there would be a gun, a weapon that would be capable, within seconds, of firing over 30-rounds of ammunition. That same type of weapon, with a high-capacity magazine, an AR-15 automatic rifle, can fire as many as 100 rounds within seconds and with double drum magazines which add up to 200 rounds or 150 rounds in a double drum magazine would allow the shooter to fire 300 rounds. That means within a matter of minutes hundreds of people could be injured, maimed, or slaughtered. This means the speed with which you shoot is limited only by the speed at which you can pull the trigger. All of this is a far cry from the single-shot musket that our forebearers used when they wrote the 2nd Amendment.
The words “thoughts and prayers” have become meaningless these days as we have repeated them too many times for them to have any effectiveness. We perform the same rites and rituals each time these senseless mass murders occur in the streets, the churches, synagogues, mosques, concert venues, grocery stores, movie theatres, shopping malls, baseball fields, community gatherings, spas, elementary schools , middle schools, high schools, and the 4th of July parades. There is shock and enormous grief, there’s assessment of “how things were handled”, there are numerous press conferences, there is righteous anger, denials, and recriminations, and always the public vigils and the balloons, flowers, and monuments to the slain. It has become so common and so predictable.
The jargon and discourse around mental health and the lack of money and support for our nation’s mental health epidemic are pushed by the media and the politicians and we say “no more” but we know we will be revisiting this same narrative somewhere else in the USA sometime soon because we refuse to acknowledge that IT IS THE GUNS. The major mental health concern is that we refuse to address America’s Addiction to GUNS and the weapons of War. Until we recognize THAT and rise in MASS and demand that weapons of war Do Not belong anywhere in our country, but on the battlefield of WAR itself, nothing will change.