Wednesday, August 26, 2015

America's Addiction to Guns

Two reporters were shot to death live on air yesterday in Virginia. The man who did it was angry about how he had been treated and believed he had been racially abused. This is yet another case of how mental illness, anger, and guns don't mix. But the gun lobby in the United States wants to keep sales up at any cost. After Sandy Hook, Americans wanted some control over who has access to guns, but sadly, nothing will be done to protect people.

We also need to think about how we can prevent people who seem like they might act out violently from doing so. Cases like Dylan Roof, whose roommate said he had been planning for months. Adam Lanza had also been planning for some time, and acting erratically beforehand. These are just two examples, but also in the case of James Holmes  and Elliot Rodger  it was clear that these were disturbed individuals who if investigated properly could possibly have gotten the psychiatric help they obviously needed, and nobody would have died. These are people who should never have had access to weapons, but they did, and they acted on their mental illness, anger, misogyny, racism and hate because they were able to.

As a Canadian, I have never quite understood the American fixation with gun rights. I frankly do not understand why a nearly 250 year old document should be the basis for gun laws in 2015. Americans believe that guns are their right, but that is a gross misinterpretation of the Second Amendment, and it seems that this perception is fuelled by those who make lots of money selling guns rather than any sort of sensible conclusion.

And then there is the matter of inequality in terms of gun rights. If every american is supposed to have the right to stand their ground and own a gun, why do these laws benefit white people more? Stand your ground allows for white fear to take precedence over black lives. Also, white people have much higher rates of gun ownership, so it makes you wonder what is this whole gun rights activism really about? Is it really about asserting white supremacy and perceived safety for white communities from outsiders?

In the mean time, people are dying because the gun lobby and gun activists want to make the streets filled with guns for all. They even want to put guns in classrooms, cause that will surely end well. In my mind this is sheer madness. It's been proven time and again that less guns mean less gun crime. But in the United States it seems it is almost impossible to have a rational conversation and take some action to save lives. Even the deaths of children in an elementary school was not enough to cut through the rhetoric.

The bottom line is that anything that hurts the profits of the gun industry is a big no-no. So more people will die needlessly, and dangerous people will still find it easy as can be to get an automatic weapon. Americans might recognize that they have a gun problem, but the solution is too unpalatable for them to accept.

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