Like with every issue that America faces today, when the issue of gun violence is brought to the forefront of conversation, it is treated as a stand-alone subject, unconnected to the chain of issues that plague America and the communities within.
When a shooter walks into a bar, shoots dozens of people, and then kills himself, the conclusion is mental illness, and the conversation ends. When a cop shoots an unarmed black man, the conclusion is the cop was doing his or her job (or for the more “woke” advocates, the cop was racist), and then the conversation ends. That is, at least, until another mass shooting happens, and another black man gets shot by a cop.
But in truth, simply diagnosing the problem as “an obsession with guns,” or blaming “gun culture”, and advocating for the disposal of all guns from civilians is, in my opinion, an unjustly superficial statement regarding a problem whose roots run far deeper than the surface level.
When the media sensationalizes a mass shooting, and capitalizes off of the attention they receive from the public, the rhetoric surrounding the incident seems to rest on the cushion of understanding that this is the gravest form of violence we face today and is therefore the most important issue that needs to be solved. By doing this we actively, willingly, desperately turn a blind eye to the reality that America was born in violence. America thrives off of violence.
America has become the dominating empire of the modern world by continually perpetuating, and supporting violence on a global scale. Where does the government siphon off its largest budget? The military.
What do some of the most powerful industries in America thrive off of? War.
Who do we glorify when we know full well that we have been on the wrong side of every war after World War II? Our soldiers.
How can we, as a country, drift through these realities and expect none of the repercussions of such a society be pointed back towards our own citizens, in the form of daily gun violence? What did we think was going to happen when we actively militarized our domestic police force, using Israeli soldiers to train them? How do we expect to peacefully thrive on land we know to be stolen from a people we continue to, to this day, oppress and silence?
The reality is, the gun is a mere atom in the ever-growing organism that is this country’s addiction to violence. Economically, corporations capitalize off of it. Politically, we allow people to rise on the rhetoric surrounding it. Culturally, we cling to the Constitution to justify it. Historically, we glaze over every crime committed against the natives and the Africans in order to idolize the necessity for it against the British. Every media platform jumps with elation at the news of another violent episode in America because their opportunity for higher ratings allows them to pour money into their pockets, as they carry out the ever-meticulous task of saturating every news frequency with the drama that violence provides.
Violence seeps through every level of American society. It is the foundation of American culture. I don’t mean to be the skeptic, but when someone looks me in the face and tells me that the solution to the problem of mass shootings is to take all the guns away from the civilians, I can’t help but think that’s simply like trying to use a bandaid to try and cure cancer.
I admit to the possibility of being wrong, and I hope that a brighter future exists where our children don’t have to face the irreversible trauma of witnessing gun violence. But I do not believe true progression can be achieved unless we are willing to address the violence we perpetuate on every level of our society.
I don’t know what the solution is, but I firmly believe that acknowledging the problem is the first step in the right direction.