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America's Gun Problem

The gun used in the Buffalo supermarket shooting of 13 people, 10 of whom died.
The gun used in the Buffalo supermarket shooting of 13 people, 10 of whom died.

Americans love their guns, and that’s a problem. Gun ownership has reached epidemic proportions and there’s no sign of it slowing down. Gun owners will proudly brag about not just owning a gun, but owning multiple firearms. There are more guns than people in the United States. Firearms have become the leading cause of death among teenagers, surpassing automobile accidents. And the numbers keep growing.

There are still far too many who cling to their guns, claiming their Second Amendment rights and even falsely spouting that the right is “God given”. They use the phrase molon rabe, which is Greek for “come and take it”, state the Charlton Heston comment that they will give up their guns when they are pried from “My cold, dead hands” and fall for the lie that Democrats are “coming for your guns” every Election Day.

The number of guns that bear the “Made in the USA” label has more than doubled in the past forty years. Since 1986, American manufacturers have gone from just over 3 million to as high as 11 million. Not coincidentally, gun manufacturing peaked at over 11 million in 2016 and 2020 when Democrats were elected president and the NRA ramped up their “coming for your guns” rhetoric.

As if the manufacture of new guns wasn’t enough, there are also ghost guns for the DIY enthusiasts. These untraceable weapons are shipped as a kit that the average person can easily assemble. Lacking serial numbers, these are impossible to trace. There is even a method of making these lethal weapons using a 3D printer. So, pretty much anyone can own a firearm that doesn’t even need to be registered.

However, a majority of firearms in America aren’t new ones. They are passed down from family member to family member, typically when the previous owner dies. While laws governing this practice vary from state to state, for most it’s simply a matter of re-registering the weapon under the new owner’s name. It’s unclear how many actually follow this procedure, so there are potentially millions of unregistered guns out there.

So yeah, America has a gun problem. Some might call it an addiction. And like many addicts, the first step towards recovery is to admit you have a problem. Unfortunately, this is something the gun-loving right is unwilling to do. Like any addict, there are seemingly endless rationalizations for their obsessive need to possess multiple firearms.

There’s the “good guy with a gun” excuse, whereas they view themselves as the hero, gun at the ready to save helpless citizens from some rampaging marauders. They see reports of yet another mass casualty shooting and opine that, “If only I was there”, fantasy.of coming to the rescue much like Ralphie in the annual airing of A Christmas Story. They see this as the solution to the slew of school shootings because they propose arming teachers to protect students by engaging in a shoot-out with an armed intruder.

This was sadly put to the test in the most recent supermarket shooting in Buffalo, NY. An armed security guard was killed when he was unable to take down the shooter due to his wearing body armor. So much for the “good guy with a gun”.

There’s the “guns don’t kill people” defense where gun nuts present the warped reasoning that the person using the gun is actually at fault. Whenever there is an incident where people are killed with something other than a firearm, they will childishly call for outlawing whatever means the killers used, such as a car or a knife. They conveniently ignore the fact that, when these are used for their intended purposes, they are harmless, whereas the intended purpose of a firearm is to inflict bodily harm onto another living being.

Mental illness is often cited as a reason behind mass casualty shootings. So when Liberals call for more gun control, Conservatives are likely to counter with a cry for more attention to the mentally ill. They will point to laws already on the books aimed at preventing the mentally ill from purchasing firearms. Unfortunately, these excuses are usually after the fact. Indeed, in many cases the shooter hadn’t done anything illegal up to the moment they pulled the trigger.

So while addressing mental diseases may be the answer, it might be to the wrong question. Instead of asking if the shooter was mentally ill, perhaps the question should be, isn’t the obsessive need to own multiple firearms a sign of mental illness itself?

And finally there is the “It’s in the Constitution” justification. Gun rights activists insist that the Founding Fathers were endowed with such foresight that they could anticipate the invention of modern weaponry, therefore the Second Amendment should not be open to interpretation. They conveniently ignore that, as written, slavery was legal, voting rights were only given to landed White males and the fledgling United States was only a narrow strip on what is now the Eastern Seaboard at the time it was put to paper, or in this case, parchment.

The Constitution has been changed many times over our history. Yet, any attempt to alter the Second Amendment in favor of making it more difficult to possess firearms would surely be met with armed resistance. And isn’t that the point? Aren’t we being held hostage by mentally unbalanced individuals who see their rights being more important than those who view things differently?

Yes, America does indeed have a gun problem. And until those afflicted with this addiction are willing to admit it, it won’t be going away any time soon. It could spell the end of our democracy.

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I know so many people who own guns and the numbers are increasing. People I never thought would have a gun have them now. They are fearful believing that they will need to protect themselves one day. This is such a complicated issue and a very sad one!

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