Sunday, August 5, 2012

More Carnage in America - Bill Moyers on Gun Culture

Gabrielle Giffords vigil, 2011
"Now at least 12 are dead in Aurora, Colorado, gunned down by a mad man at a showing of the new Batman movie filled with make-believe violence. One of the guns the shooter used was an AK-47-type assault weapon that was banned in 1994. The National Rifle Association saw to it that the ban expired in 2004. The NRA is the best friend a killer's instinct ever had."
Jared Loughner
I grew up with it, just as I grew up with television.  Guns, guns, guns.  Westerns and gangsters, toy guns my brothers received for Christmas, on and on.  The romance of the gun.  Today, not even a month since Colorado, yet another young man (and it's always a young man) has taken his lethal arsenal and destroyed the lives of many in Wisconsin.  I felt like copying Bill Moyers' recent article about gun culture as I feel, once again, great sadness that nothing is ever going to be done about it, except that the President will have to rush around the country regularly making speeches to decimated communities.  I also have to refer to an early article I wrote on this blog about violence and gender imbalance, the "elephant in the room" that virtually everyone, including Bill Moyers, ignores when speaking of the continuing carnage.  "We" does not, overwhelmingly statistically, include women, children, or men over 50.
James Holmes

The NRA fights, and pays handsomely, for the right for any vicious psychopath to easily buy a weapon of mass destruction in the neighborhood store - so how come the rest of us, like sheep, just passively accept the carnage, year after year, hoping that it won't happen in our town, that it won't be our wives, children, grandfather.........

The NRA's Dark Gun Culture
By Bill Moyers
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, July 23, 2012

The United States has emerged to become the most violent nation on earth where millions are equipped with lethal weapons to massacre brutally as many people as they wish. In spite of its military might, the US government cannot do anything about it since it functions under the ruthless thumb of the National Rifle Association (NRA) whose sole objective is to boost by all means the business of the weapons’ industry.

You might think Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President of and spokesman for the mighty American gun lobby, The National Rifle Association, has an almost cosmic sense of timing. In 2007, at the NRA’s annual convention in St. Louis, he warned the crowd that, "Today, there is not one firearm owner whose freedom is secure."Two days later, a young man opened fire on the campus of Virginia Tech, killing 32 students, staff and teachers. Just last week LaPierre showed up at the United Nations Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty here in New York and spoke out against what he called "Anti-freedom policies that disregard American citizens' right to self-defense." Now at least 12 are dead in Aurora, Colorado, gunned down by a mad man at a showing of the new Batman movie filled with make-believe violence. One of the guns the shooter used was an AK-47-type assault weapon that was banned in 1994. The National Rifle Association saw to it that the ban expired in 2004. The NRA is the best friend a killer's instinct ever had.

Obviously, LaPierre's timing isn’t cosmic, just coincidental; as Shakespeare famously wrote, "The fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves." In other words, people. People with guns. There are an estimated 300 million guns in the United States, one in four adult Americans owns at least one and most of them are men. The British newspaper The Guardian, reminds us that over the last 30 years, "The number of states with a law that automatically approves licenses to carry concealed weapons provided an applicant clears a criminal background check has risen from eight to 38."
Every year there are 30,000 gun deaths and 300,000 gun-related assaults in the U.S. Firearm violence may cost our country as much as $100 billion a year.

Toys are regulated with greater care and safety concerns. So why do we always act so surprised? Violence is alter ego, wired into our Stone Age brains, so intrinsic its toxic eruptions no longer shock, except momentarily when we hear of a mass shooting like this latest in Colorado. But this, too, will pass and the nation of the short attention span quickly finds the next thing to divert us from the hard realities of America in 2012.

Reliance on Arms Leads to Self-Annihilation
We are after all a country which began with the forced subjugation into slavery of millions of Africans and the reliance on arms against Native Americans for its Westward expansion. In truth, more settlers traveling the Oregon Trail died from accidental, self-inflicted gunshots wounds than Indian attacks - we were not only bloodthirsty but also inept.

Nonetheless, we have become so gun loving, so blasé about home-grown violence that in my lifetime alone, far more Americans have been casualties of domestic gunfire than have died in all our wars combined. In Arizona last year, just days after the Gabby Giffords shooting, sales of the weapon used in the slaughter - a 9 millimeter Glock semi-automatic pistol - doubled.

We are fooling ourselves. That the law could allow even an inflamed lunatic to easily acquire murderous weapons and not expect murderous consequences. Fooling ourselves that the second amendment’s guarantee of a "well-regulated militia" be construed as a God-given right to purchase and own just about any weapon of destruction you like. That's a license for murder and mayhem and it's a great fraud that has entered our history.

There's a video of which I'd like to remind you. You can see it on YouTube. In it, Adam Gadahn, an American born member of al Qaeda, the first U.S. citizen charged with treason since 1952, urges terrorists to carry out attacks on the United States. Right before your eyes he says: "America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely, without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?"

The killer in Colorado waited only for an opportunity, and there you have it - the arsenal of democracy transformed into the arsenal of death and the NRA - the NRA is the enabler of death - paranoid, delusional, and as venomous as a scorpion. With the weak-kneed acquiescence of our politicians, the National Rifle Association has turned the Second Amendment of the Constitution into a cruel hoax, a cruel and deadly hoax.

Memorial for Gabrielle Giffords, Tucson, 2011


Valerianna said...

Great article, thanks for this....

I know there is such complexity in all of this, but what I come back to again and again is the need for real, intense initiation for young men. One that truly takes them to the edge of risk so that they get to FEEL it and choose life. I deeply believe that this is part of the solution. But, of course, that can only come after major cultural transformation, so it seems all I can do is keep dreaming it.

Lauren said...

I think that your observation is profoundly true, Valerianna. Joseph Campbell talks about that in his "Power of Myth" series with Bill in virtually all traditional cultures there are rites of passage to help boys become responsible men within their cultures. Interesting that he notes that the rites into womanhood are very different universally as well.

We have by and large, as everyone knows, lost our "rites of passage" not only as young people entering adulthood in a society, but as peoples within the great cycles of nature, of Gaia. I believe, as you comment, that the issues are very complex, but I think the chaos and violence of our time is related.

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

An army vet...white supremist...I'm sure gun sales will spike in wisconsin and elsewhere now, just as they did after the colorado shootings. Bowling for columbine should be required viewing in all schools.

Lauren said...

I wish that were true my friend. The issues are complex, but at root, it has to do with patriarchal culture, with "power over" brought to it's ultimate extreme.

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