Our grim culture of killing continues.
The month of June saw a new high for single shooting massacres with more than 100 people killed or injured in Orlando. The details are always the same. A shooter, who legally purchased guns including a semi-automatic rifle, shot, wounded or killed multiple people. In the end, it was the victims’ own fault for not all being armed. Let’s not forget that by being gay, the victims may well have deserved this or may have brought this ‘wrath’ upon themselves.
A true history of the gun in America shows its origin as a tool, like a shovel or a hammer. Nothing more and nothing less. In many homes, it was used to procure food. In the more unsettled parts of the future nation, it was a defensive tool against outlaws and Indians. As civilization progressed, the percentage of gun ownership fell as an unneeded tool. To keep their business growing, the gun manufacturers became adept at selling to the government and to developing new markets abroad.
Here at home, general sentiment following both the First and Second World Wars was very anti-gun. Guns were not needed by the masses to secure food and there was little support or sympathy for tools of war. There was no anti-hunting or anti-sport gun sentiment, any more than there was any anti-horse sentiment. Tools for hunting or target practice were fine. Tools for killing people were not.
Perhaps the popular TV show “Mad Men” might have been even more interesting if it had chronicled how the gun manufacturers used advertising to create a new mythos and demand for guns. In looking to sell us a product we did not need or want, advertising created a history of the gun as a noble instrument integral to the history of America—from fighting the Revolutionary War of Independence, to subduing Native Americans to conquering the enemies of freedom on foreign shores. Ultimately, the advertising industry was able to parlay a concern over rising crime in the 1950s and 1960s into a vision of the American male as a gun owner, keeping his family safe through his gun ownership. They then jumped on the anti-government bandwagon of the 1980s by adding a fear that the government secretly wanted to take away your guns.
Nothing feeds upon a desire to buy more and more of something than the fear that it will soon be unavailable. The fear of scarcity is a powerful way to motivate us to value more and buy and hoard more of anything. Every veiled threat of a march or legislation against guns leads to spikes in the sales of weapons and ammunition. The 1990s added a macho twist; it was not just the number but the kind of guns that were important. Real men needed military grade weapons, semi-automatic pistols and rifles. Little boys who did not want to grow up could now play with the same weapons they were unwilling to carry in real defense of their country. Inside of each of us was a Rambo just waiting to burst out and in need of his own personal arsenal.
In the 2000s, we became more gender neutral as guns became a family thing. What better present for a girlfriend or wife than her own weapon or two? Like cigarettes decades before, guns were marketed as the exemplar of an independent and liberated woman. And don’t forget our children. Before, a BB-gun might have been the rifle of choice for our pre-teens. Today, shooting classes for pre-schoolers are available because it is never too early to start packing real heat.
From 2005 through 2015, more than 300,000 Americans were killed by gun violence in the U.S. Mass shootings — as measured by four or more people shot, regardless of total fatalities — have taken place in nearly 100 metro areas over the past 12 months. Over 750 children were killed by guns last year. Guns are so commonplace that children younger than three have gotten hold of guns and shot someone at least 59 times so far this year, more than once each week. The only countries with higher death rates from guns than the U.S. are Iraq and Afghanistan. Even Pakistan is safer to live in. Yawn.
In short time, Orlando will be a receding memory. The gun manufacturers will have deflected all thoughts of treating gun ownership with even the same amount of common sense that we do to owning and driving a car. Until other business groups in America decide our current gun culture is bad for their business and unite to oppose it, we will get just keep getting more of the same.
Submitted by Craig Donovan