The Madness of the US Gun Culture

This is The Monday Line
by Denis G. Campbell

My birth country has gone starkers! Friends across Europe ask the same question, ‘are there that many guns in the USA?’ My answer never varies; ‘there are more!’

Living in a Welsh village has advantages. My kids go to school without guards and metal detectors. Kids here are just as rowdy and boisterous as anywhere else. My son had a jacket lining ripped out in a roughhousing incident. There was no police lockdown. Neither he nor the other kid involved ran home to grab a firearm to scare the other off. It was sorted, done.

There are virtually no guns in Europe. Even hunters with shotguns cradle them safely in their arms walking through fields hunting dove, pheasant and rabbit. They walk in a single line, shotguns popped safely open, they communicate, there is a lookout ensuring no one is in the area and when it is time to shoot, they snap the rifle shut and fire one shot as needed. They are not in the fields with AR-15 assault rifles spraying 100 bullet clips.

UK police (except for SWAT or other special units) mostly don’t carry firearms. They have a taser pack on their belt. When kids are spoken to by a PC (Police Constable) they move on. Compare and contrast with the US. In order to enter a school building one must navigate locked doors, buzzers, metal detectors and are monitored by CCTV cameras. That’s not enough? There are calls to arm teachers, administrators, janitors and post armed guards?

Wing nuts, urged on by FOX News and a Republican/GOP/Tea Party off its rocker, are gobbling up assault weapons at a dizzying rate. Said a Midwestern gun shop dealer to a NY Times reporter, “If I had 1,000 AR-15s I could sell them in a week.” AR-15, the assault weapon Adam Lanza killed 28 with in Newtown, Connecticut.

Gun nut rationale? ‘I’m defending my 2nd amendment rights.’ The government is once again so cowed, it will likely throw its hands up in defeat on renewing an assault weapons ban in the USA for fear of the National Rifle Assocation (NRA).

If these are ‘second amendment’ rights, does anyone understand that an amendment is something added to change an original document, in this case the Constitution?

I know I don’t want people from 235 years ago telling me how to live my 2013 life. Worse is we allow legislators and judges to look into a crystal ball to divine for their own political gain what was really meant back in 1787.

The framers of the Constitution and their ‘strict intent’ is what we hear referenced over and over again as the justification for doing nothing that was not specifically proscribed word for word in that sacred text. What? Was it carved in stone tablets by the hand of God and brought down from Mount Philadelphia by Charlton Heston playing Moses?

The framers did an excellent, thoughtful job crafting the original. Are we now to believe they gazed into the future and predicted today’s technology? Does anyone believe the framers foresaw the day where single shot muskets (which took several seconds to reload) would be replaced by semi-automatic rifles shooting 4-5 rounds a second? It’s pretty clear their only intention was to ensure a ready militia in a land without vehicles or good roads.

Now gun advocates threaten that ANY new measures could foment “The Next American Revolution?” So they recommend armed insurgency to protect their guns? Former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh “jumped the shark” encouraging dozens of supporters to “defy and or break the law and engage in civil disobedience” if faced with new gun laws. Paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson, “We may have to shed blood every couple hundred years to preserve our freedoms.”

And it gets sillier by the minute: An Ohio school board voted to arm janitors. A Utah town wants to make it mandatory for everyone to carry handguns, even in classrooms! (What could possibly go wrong?) Utah state law allows teachers to carry concealed weapons (anyone with a special permit can) without telling parents teachers in their child’s school are armed?

How did 3 million NRA members armed with an insane amount of cash (poorly spent as they won a disastrously low 0.83% of their races in 2012) get to bully 330 million Americans? Who needs an AR-15 and 100 bullets to hunt Bambi? 100 rapidly fired bullets won’t just kill that deer, it will vaporise it! Where’s the ‘sport’ in that?

And we have Bubba packing canned goods into an underground bunker planning to overthrow the government, yet the GOP House ignores him? They fight all attempts to bring sanity to the gun discussion, choosing instead to spend hours in meaningless show-hearings aimed at brown-skinned Muslim men, the convenient post 9-11 whipping boys, whilst ignore the real white supremacist militia threats from within? The lunatics run the asylum.

I’m frequently asked if I’ll live in the USA again? I answer, ‘not likely. Why would I put my kids in armed camp schools when our village and local schools focus on educating vs. handgun training?’ Why would I exchange politely flashing my headlamps to allow another to pass on a narrow roadway for the too real possibility of dying from a road rage gun? Why return to a country where up to 25% of my net income is spent insuring and receiving healthcare from the most expensive, yet 37th ranked provider in the world, when it’s free here?

Why return to a nation where in the midst of a flu epidemic, people cannot afford to lose time from work because the sick leave I had when I worked there two decades ago is legally no longer provided by their employer? And vacation is now also taboo in the USA while a month is the norm across the EU. We know that a well-rested, recharged worker does better at their job! We also don’t rush women back to work after childbirth, recognising this is a critical time in child rearing. Even Dads get leave to help out at home and be a part of the birthing and child raising process.

I moved to Europe for love. I’ve stayed 15 years because I love the way people look out for each other. But that’s derisively called ‘socialism’ in the US? So be it. Here’s my real question, why would I return to a nation that has lost its ability to care for those without means, what used to be its heart and its soul?

America was once the most caring nation in the world, now it slaps a flag and says support out troops without any real sense of sacrifice. It too is for show. And having spent 40 years there, I’m gutted by this. The cesspit of corruption fuelled by resigned voter apathy is so bad even actor Jackie Chan last week called the US, ‘The most corrupt nation in the world.’

It was not always that way. It can change in an instant. People must stop letting the wingnut with the loudest voice win. Stand for something! Otherwise… you stand for nothing.

Also broadcast as a Special Comment on World View with Denis Campbell

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Denis G Campbell
Denis G. Campbell is founder and editor of UK Progressive magazine and co-host of The Three Muckrakers podcast. He is the author of 7 books and provides Americas, EU and Middle Eastern commentary to the BBC, itv, Al Jazeera English, CNN, CRI, MSNBC and others. He is CEO of Monknash Media and a principal with B2E Consulting in London. You can follow him on Twitter @UKProgressive and on Facebook.

One comment

  1. I’d have no problem with US citizens preserving their right to bear arms, as written in 1789. Providing the arms they so vociferously protect are similar to those in use in 1789. It’s difficult to imagine how a Columbine or Sandy Bay could happen if the only weapons available to “ordinary” citizens were muzzle-loading, flintlock pistols and rifles.

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