Once again the U.S. sends the world a gift of horrible news. As I write, two days ago the largest massacre in U.S. history was unleashed from the gun supply of a man gone mad: Las Vegas, 500 wounded, 58 dead, 1 gunman, 64 years old with…42 guns.
Let’s stop there. You read that right: 42 guns. What kind of guns? Well, 10 of them were assault rifles with “bump stocks” that turn the rifle essentially into a machine gun.
Why is this legal? Why is a civilian allowed to amass enough guns to arm a military squadron? Why is a civilian allowed to own semi-automatic rifles and “bump stocks?” Is this not so basic a question it seems rhetorical…or just plain idiotic?
Some country singers and Republican politicians have stated that they would, for the first time, be open to consider some limitations on gun ownership.
Let’s stop again: Really? Do we have to be involved in a catastrophic assault before we see the sheer insanity of the violent love affair the U.S. has with guns? Wow. Columbine; Virginia Tech; Ft. Hood, Texas; Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords; Sandy Hook Elementary School; Pulse Nightclub, among numerous other mass killings hasn’t been sufficient evidence that a policy or two needs to be changed?
And if the mass shootings aren’t disturbing enough, what about the approximately 73,000 people who are injured by guns every year and the 33,600 people in the U.S. who die every year from gun-related deaths? That’s 92 gun-related deaths every day. Why am I skeptical that policies won’t be significantly changed after even a horrible massacre in Vegas? Already the NRA’s political machinations and public manipulations spin in hyper-drive.
I know this is a U.S. problem and, thank God, not a Canadian one, but it would be naïve to imagine that there’s a super-barrier at the 49th parallel and that the problems of the dominant country don’t affect the culture of the other.
Let’s note, for example, headlines. Have the headlines been splashed with the gunman’s skin-colour and religious orientation? Hmm. I wonder why not. Oh, perhaps because he was Caucasian, of Christian heritage, and clearly pro-NRA, probably Republican as that’s the pro-gun party. Can you imagine the shrieks of outrage, the howls of anger, the venom spewed if the shooter was Black or Muslim or, God forbid, both?
The most surreal aspect of gun ownership (beyond hunting) is that it’s based on fear. A person fears being attacked so owns a gun for protection.
Is it just me, or does the U.S. seem overtly fueled by fear these days? Fear of illegal immigrants; fear of Mexicans sneaking across the border and stealing jobs; fear of the “elites”; fear of people with brown-toned skin; fear of Muslims; fear of pesky environmentalists who get in the way of economic “progress”…fear of just about everything (except climate change because of course that’s not real). Yet we know a democracy fueled by fear is no longer a functioning democracy.
The great philosopher, Yoda, succinctly describes the pattern:
Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.
May we all find ways to notice our fears and how they affect our actions. Perhaps now, more than ever, it’s important to find ways to intentionally and boldly walk paths of peace.