rage against the machine

Do not be gentle in this, the great fight.
Rage, rage against those with little sight.
Rage against the machine.

In 2015, the Gun Violence Archive states that there were 53,711 gun incidents in the United States. 13,507 of those incidents resulted in death. In 2016, the number of incidents rose to 58,700, with 15,084 resulting in death. Thus far in 2017, at the time of this writing, the number of gun-related incidents and deaths is 54,610 and 13,775, respectively.

That’s a lot of (unnecessary, avoidable) deaths.

To get away from numbers, though, let’s look at headlines. “Missing Illinois bartender found shot dead.” “Toddler finds gun, accidentally kills playmate.” “White cop shoots black man during regular traffic stop.” I am disturbed every time I look at the news. People die from gun wounds EVERY DAY in the United States.

And yet we are silent.

We are silent until a mass shooting in Las Vegas takes place, and then suddenly the whole nation is up in arms. DO SOMETHING!! we cry — for a little while. We are angry with our government for allowing madmen to obtain guns. We are angry that these killings keep happening. But, really, we are tired. We are tired of the headlines. We are tired of bad news. We are tired of our own troubles, and, truthfully, we don’t want to give up our guns. We don’t want to do what it would take personally to eradicate the gun problem in our nation.

By now most everyone has heard about the steps Australia and Japan and the United Kingdom took to curb gun violence on their home fronts. Australia did a huge gun buy-back program; Japan requires intensive training and testing to own a gun. The U.K. banned private handgun ownership and bought back tens of thousands of guns from its citizens. In Hong Kong, where I lived for a year, citizens were never allowed to own guns in the first place. I felt safe in Hong Kong. I don’t feel safe in the United States.

Since the Las Vegas shooting, though, what have people been talking about? Sure, there’s been talk about stricter gun laws, but we Americans have this tendency to focus on effects rather than causes. Just like we still take our shoes off at airports because of one incident years ago, I’ve heard more discussion about screening hotel guests’ luggage than I have about making it more difficult to buy guns since the massacre at the Mandalay Bay.

Notice that I said “making it more difficult to buy guns.” I didn’t say, “Do away with all guns,” or “Only law enforcement officers should have guns,” or “All guns are bad.” Having lived in the South for a few years and having made many wonderful friends here, I can easily see how guns and hunting, etc. are a big part of the culture here. What worked in other countries will not necessarily work in the United States. You can’t come in with sweeping measures that many oppose and expect to find success. But surely there is a middle ground we can all agree on? Surely the reasonable gun owners in the nation would be willing to make some concessions on the kinds of guns they need to own — and the process they’re willing to go through to get them — if it meant keeping a larger majority of our nation safe? If it meant keeping machine guns out of the hands of maniacs?

Because, if we’re not, well . . .

We have no one but ourselves to blame.

(And, also, I’m becoming an expat.)

..

Below are a couple of videos I’ve posted previously on my blog talking about gun violence and the need for change in our nation. They’re worth the watch.

 

*Note: This post was originally written for my friend Sreejit, an amazing blogger who’s currently featuring other writers in his “Rage Against the Machine Month” on his blog, found here. He’s asked me to write a post for him many times, and I’ve never followed through — until now! Stay tuned for a tie-in to my last post next time. 

12 thoughts

    • Thanks, Matt. I’ve actually edited a couple spots (minor changes) since I posted this. Glad you are at least open to hearing different perspectives. What do you propose we do if not place more restrictions on gun ownership? People keep saying guns aren’t the problem. I agree with that. But if people are going to be people, and people are going to be stupid with guns (let’s face it, they are), then what solution is there?

      • I actually had a longer comment going, but I had decided against posting it.

        There’s no simple answer; but the kneejerk reaction is always going to be a bad course of action.

        In my opinion:

        1. You cannot teach people they are essentially animals and subsequently be surprised when they act that way.

        2. You cannot teach there are no consequences to actions and subsequently be surprised when consequences for an action aren’t considered.

        I know it’s unpopular to say, but human nature is not inherently good. If it were, these things wouldn’t happen.

        Asking for someone to “do something” is part of the kneejerk reaction I completely detest — along with the yellow journalism and the political maneuvering. It’s all equally disgusting to me. Like it or not, people — who are not inherently good — are going to find a way to do these kinds of things. That’s not an excuse — it’s reality. It’s not a happy reality, or a pleasant one — but it’s the product of the teachings I condemned above.

        To me, it’s ultimately more irresponsible to put ones head in the sand, teach people they’re animals, that truth is whatever you want it to be, that no one should feel pain or hurt or depression or any of hundreds of other unpleasant emotions, and there are no consequences for actions.

        Government is never the answer to a problem. Government is a hindrance to anything that doesn’t further government control. (Which is the purpose of arming the citizens in the first place). And Government has a vested interest in disarming the citizens for that very reason.

        You’re right: It’s a people problem. But the solution to the problem requires morality, convictions, personal responsibility, and whole slew of characteristics that have all but become extinct — or marginalized — in our society.

  1. A well reasoned post Jess, of course, living in the UK I can’t even begin to understand the USA thing about needing a gun, especially in light of the statistics, it just is incomprehensible to me. I’ve heard and read a few discourses along similar lines, but never heard or read anyone making sense of the other side of it. Perhaps that’s because they can’t.

  2. Well done. I completely agree that most gun owners in America are reasonable and agree with reasonable restrictions on ownership. The problem is that their voices have been drowned out by the extremists who run the NRA and other “pro-gun” organizations … and their money.

    My view is that people can have whatever gun(s) they want to protect their home, but once they cross their property line, we must have clear and thorough restrictions in place. As far as I’m concerned, anybody who isn’t a cop who has a gun out on the streets is a bad guy. I want to make sure that people can hunt though and I struggle with how to carve that out in my world of “cross your property line” restrictions, but I’m done with the way things are now.

    And what makes it worse is that where we are at is based on a completely distortion of the 2nd amendment.

    This has become an issue that is likely the most frustrating for me as the massacres and crazy people with guns become more and more frequent. Crazy people … and there’s another issue that is at the core of this as well and that we seem incapable of addressing.

    • Yes, the whole thing is disheartening. When appeals to reason don’t work, and emotion doesn’t either (people are losing their lives, for crying out loud), I don’t know where else to turn. Thanks for reading and commenting. Sorry for my late reply!!

  3. Oh Jess….
    I will quote Trump…
    It was a good gun in the hands of a good guy that stopped the violence in Texas…
    Or Charlie Daniels – I love my family, love my country, love my guns and that’s the way it should be cause this is merica!
    Never take guns and ammo from Americans – just figure we have the largest freestanding army in the world…
    Now go watch the original Red Dawn!
    It is not guns – it us a godless sick society.
    Love ya
    Hoss

    • Ohhh Hoss. I figured you would say something along these lines… I know it’s us. I do. I know it’s not the guns. And I’m not saying take them away. I’m not. I’m just saying let’s do something to reduce the chances of someone who should NOT have a gun getting his or her hands on a gun. That’s ALL!
      xoxo

  4. As a Canadian who has lived among most people who don’t own guns nor want to, I have a different opinion: It’s actually more psychologically freeing not to own a gun when living in most urban areas. Because if you live a society where there is strict laws on gun ownership and accountability, and hardly anyone owns a gun, then you yourself have less need/obsession to own one.

    Sure living in the Arctic with polar bears and little barriers, one needs to know how to use a gun properly, store it safely, etc. That’s all.
    As for hunting,that’s not a huge majority. Not anymore. I mean hunting for food. Not game trophies which is a total waste of an animal.

    • I agree with you, Jean. I really do. Unfortunately guns are a huge part of the culture here. I know many people who go out and target shoot for fun on the weekends. Others hunt — for food and trophies… Culture aside, there is a sense of entitlement here that may never be shaken. “I exist, therefore I have the right to own a gun,” is the general thought process. I don’t understand it, but neither reason nor the loss of life seems to sway people of this mindset. I’m at my wit’s end.

      • Just last weekend we went to suburban newish indoor farmers’ market. My friend pointed out the wing…where there is gun targeting shooting range for practice.

        She did not understand my surprised (saracastic) remark that one would tend to find this in Alberta…and we’re in a big city of 1.2 million. Not Hicksville. You would not find that in any city in southern Ontario. A practice shooting range in those areas would be in an industrial area or similar.

        The gun registry was abolished by the Conservative party when they were in power. At that time, all the CAnadian police chiefs across Canada were furious at this loss of info. I believe there is something afoot, where by the federal govn’t trying to do something different. SInce you lived in Asia, I believe that has probably strengthened your views. ..a good thing actually.

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