Try as we might, the United States will never be a civilized society with so many gun deaths
Last week was another banner week for gun deaths in the United States. Did you notice how the news of a shooting in Missouri that left nine dead went virtually unnoticed? Just another shooting. Nine dead, including the shooter.
But alas, what is one more mass killing in the only civilized country where these types of incidents are routine? Our country has become desensitized to the murder of its citizens, as is clear from how many people end up dead from interactions with police. Guns have taken the place of discourse in settling issues by the simple reason, the simple fact, that guns are omnipresent in this allegedly civilized society.
The feeling I get as each and every day goes by with either a mass shooting, a deadly police encounter, another child shooting themselves or someone else because of easy access to a weapon is that American society is heading in the wrong direction.
On the same day that we heard of this shooting in Missouri, we learned of Leonard Nimoy’s passing. It is painfully obvious that Gene Roddenberry’s vision in Star Trek of a future where the people of Earth are finally at peace is never going to happen (although I remain hopeful.) We here in the United States so easily display to both advanced and developing countries that we cannot even manage to resolve the most basic issues. Guns, racism, political inaction, a financial disconnect between the one percent and the rest of us so great that it boggles the mind… all of the above and more from the country that many think is leading the way.
With our inability to address guns, it is probably time to step aside and allow some other country to take the lead on being any kind of an example to the world. Exceptional? The U.S. certainly was at some point, but that time is long gone. We’ll never get to that amazing place that Roddenberry envisioned if we continue to do nothing to enhance civilization and are only able to offer the worst vision of ourselves.
Have any of you heard tales from the Old West? I will tell you it was not a good time in our history, despite any romanticized idea that it was. It was a time when people truly did settle their differences with their guns, when men were “called out” by other men, ending with at least one of them dead. The Lincoln County War here in New Mexico was proof of how bad things could get.
There is a passage from the TV series “The Magnificent Seven” that is so apropos to what is going on in this country today. A young Chinese man whose father and uncle were both murdered wants to learn to shoot from notorious gunslinger turned lawman Chris Larabee in order to take revenge.
“I want to learn to shoot, like you,” the young man says.
“So I can be an American.”
“Learning to shoot don’t make you an American,” Larabee tells him, “but it could make you a killer.”
The young Chinese man pleads his case, but Larabee became a “notorious gunslinger” for a reason.
“I know about hate, killin’ a man because of it. And it don’t take that hate away, just makes you feel dead inside. Guns and hate, it’s a bad mix.”
How are we in the year 2015 not able to see those words for the simple truths they are. More guns brings more lawlessness. Fewer guns brings you far closer to domestic tranquility that America’s founders wrote so eloquently about. The very hard work of removing guns as an option in any dispute needs to happen.
It requires strength, bravery and fortitude from our elected officials, but that means that we, the citizens of this country, need to make it clear at the ballot box that the future of our country is important, that we think it important enough to safeguard our citizens from killing due to hate or happenstance. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is a terrible statement of where we stand on guns today in this country.
That children can get hold of a gun and shoot their cousin, sister, mother or themselves, and these events are deemed “accidents”, shouts to the rest of the world that we do not value human life the way we say we do. Talk is cheap. We need action, and we need it now.