Gun advocates read off the same tiresome script whenever a shooting occurs: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” “The shooter was mentally deranged,” “My Second Amendment right is sacred,” and “The gunman acted alone.”
Truth be told, people shooting guns kill people. So what if the shooter was mentally deranged. Aren’t we all a little when we get scared, angry, intolerant, or self-righteous? The second amendment was ratified in 1791 dealing with circumstances back then. It’s 2012 now and handguns keep increasing in number and power. What makes sense today?
But the most delusional statement coming from the NRA and gun people is, “The gunman acted alone.” No, a gunman never acts alone.
Take the Bo Morrison case in Slinger, WI. Adam Kind, a homeowner complained to police about a noisy party in the garage next door. The young people heard the police were coming and they fled in every direction. Morrison hid in Kind’s enclosed porch to avoid getting caught. Kind loaded his gun and shot Morrison once in the chest, killing him. Because he was protecting his family and home, he was not arrested for destroying a human life.
Kind did not stand on that porch alone. He had company—the guests of honor being Governor Scott Walker and the Wisconsin state legislature, who recently passed a concealed-carry law followed by a castle doctrine law. In effect, they told Kind he could have a gun on his person and secondly, he could/should use it if he felt threatened by a person on his property. Also on Kind’s porch stood 48 other states with their gun supporting laws. These laws have created a national blanket of justification for Adam Kind as he loaded his gun and shot an unarmed 20 year-old.
There were more on deck. In his ear he heard the NRA telling him he has a right and a duty to carry a gun to protect his family and property. And the NRA brought along its own guest to the party on Kind’s porch—the gun industry. They lobby with the NRA for any legislation that makes it easier for them to build and sell more guns. They nodded approvingly as Kind’s gun went off in Slinger.
What happened on Kind’s property fit into a larger national and international scene where tribes and nations’ have grabbed for natural resources and wealth through conflicts and wars for thousands of years. Military conflicts and weapons of mass destruction have shaped the attitudes and values of our global society. Adam Kind is embedded, as are we all, in the military-industrial complex, of which President Eisenhower warned. Immersed in a weapons/war global culture, no wonder a frightened, perhaps angry man in Slinger, WI. pulled the trigger on the life of a young man foolish enough to hide from the police on a stranger’s porch.
We have too many guns, bombs, tanks, missiles, and IEDs on the world market. Instead of passing laws putting more guns in the hands of people, we should be working in the opposite direction – reducing the manufacture and distribution of guns around the world. In the Small Arms Survey 2007 conducted by the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies, the U.S. placed 90 guns in the hands of every 100 citizens. U.S. citizens owned 270 million of the world’s 875 million known firearms. Each year Americans purchase over 4.5 million new guns. This same arms industry, with the cooperation and facilitation of the U.S. federal government, has supplied arms and military technology to much of the world. Billions of dollars in sales for the arms industry; intense, bloody conflicts and wars around the world; the glorification of guns, violence, and conquest all create a global culture of danger, fear, and self-protection. We now think security comes with more guns and the legal encouragement to use them as a first option.
While I know there isn’t much hope of getting guns out of our communities, I believe we need to attack the root of this problem, and not make distracting sounds about the second amendment and gunmen acting alone. David Henry Thoreau said, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the roots.” The root of the gun problem is the continual increase in the number of guns in our societies and the encouragement to use those guns in the name of self-defense and personal freedom. We need the opposite: a drive to decrease the number of small arms, with the ultimate goal (or hope) of eliminating guns and weapons so our children might have a safer world. Having fewer guns in our communities offers a far better chance for all of us living in security and peace.