For 5 years when I was an adolescent and teen, my family lived in the community of Newtown, Connecticut. My mother maintains it is her favorite of all the places she ever lived and I have many happy memories from our time there, as well as four very good friends. So when I met someone who was looking to move her family including three elementary school age boys to Western Connecticut, I went to bat for the town enthusiastically. This was in 2009.
They did end up settling there and in spite of the fact that I live two hours away, this woman and I became good friends. You can imagine how I felt on the horrible day 3 years later when I heard the initial news that there had been a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown.
I contacted my friend immediately; no, it was not the school her children attended, thank God. But there was no relief that day for any of us as the news slowly painted the picture of what had actually happened. The sickness and grief I felt, most of us felt, were overwhelming. How had this happened? Why had this happened?
We will never know why, but we have a very clear picture now of how.
VOX magazine updated an article in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando stating that since the day that 20 tiny children were murdered in an elementary school that should have been a nurturing safe haven for them, our country has been host to 1,000 mass shootings; a mass shooting being defined as 4 or more people, not including the shooter.
The article also pointed out that while Americans make up just 4.4% of the world’s population, we have 42% of the civilian owned guns.
Looking at this statistic made me think about the fact that of the over 1.6 BILLION Muslims that live on the planet, less than a million of them are affiliated or linked in any way to ISIS, the Taliban and Al Qaeda combined. Meanwhile, of the 322 million Americans, the most recent statistic I could find about membership in the NRA put it at 5 million and counting.
Am I comparing the NRA to terrorist organizations? At this point, frankly—yes.
According to the VOX article, 1,140 people in this country have been killed in mass shootings since Sandy Hook in 2012; this of course being a drop-in-the-bucket compared to the 13,200 people who died of gunshot wounds in the U.S in 2015 alone, a figure that EXCLUDES suicides An additional 26, 800 were wounded.
Since 9/11, which was 11 years earlier, 94 Americans have been killed on US. soil in Jihadist terror attacks. So how about if we keep the Muslims and deport the NRA?
The gun culture in our country is as insidious and sickening as the rape culture; the tactic of “blaming the victim” is pervasive. Just like I shouldn’t have to dress or behave in a certain way NOT to get raped, I should not be forced to carry a gun NOT to be shot. We say very loudly that “rapists” are the 100% cause of rape; can we also admit that gun owners are the cause of shootings?
This logic that “guns keep us safe” is absurd propaganda. I want you to imagine the scene in that Orlando nightclub if one or more of the patrons ALSO had a semi-automatic weapon on hand, brought along “just in case of attack”. Do we really think that would have gone better? Is the idea that we should ALL have guns to prevent gun violence not empirically ludicrous? I’ll tell you how to stop the shooting: STOP THE SHOOTING.
The NRA has become a dangerous organization that wields its influence over lawmakers and law-abiding citizens to create a cult of violence. I am in no way suggesting that there are no legitimate reasons for a person to own a gun. I am flatly stating that there are no legitimate reasons for ordinary citizens to own assault rifles, though. And I am also saying that the process to get a gun should be strenuous. A gun is a vehicle of violence, even when used in sport. It has the power of destruction and that power should only be conferred on people who are willing to rigorously vie for it and pass a multi-faceted system of checks.
Children in elementary school; people at a movie theatre. Churchgoers attending a bible study; police officers. A Jewish Center, a Sikh Temple. Planned Parenthood.
These are just some of the victims and locations of homegrown terror attacks the U.S. has endured since 9/11. We are killing each other at an exponentially higher rate than all other groups on the planet combined are killing us.
So here is your takeaway: WE ARE THE PROBLEM.
We are both the perpetrators and the victims of a vicious cycle; the U.S. firearm homicide rate is 20 times higher than the combined rates of 22 countries that are our peers in wealth and population. And as the cult of the NRA continues to weave its spell of guns = safety and public figures continue to whip up a culture of fear that somehow makes “the other” the aggressor, and “us” the aggressed upon, this number has nowhere to go but up.
Guns kill people. People with guns kills people. And the citizens of the United States of American possess 42% of civilian owned guns.
Who is the real enemy here?
Image Credit: Original image “Bloodbath” by Stephen Thomas. Text added.