The United States of Guns 1

The United States of Guns

Like many of you, I awoke this morning to the startling news that a single person had killed more than 50 people and injured nearly 500 more in Las Vegas last night. While the event itself is horrifying it is anything but unprecedented. In a country where more than 33,000 people die from gun violence each year, the latest mass shooting is just line item.

It seems like the United States of America is stuck in an infinite loop of gun violence. America has a dysfunctional relationship with guns and until we can at least begin to have a reasoned conversation in which we balance the right to bear arms with the common right of citizen’s to safety I’m afraid we’ll keep waking up to this same reality.

How to Help The Victims Of The Las Vegas Shooting

If you’re in the state of Nevada and you’re able to, donating blood is perhaps the most useful thing you can do to aid those injured in the shooting.

Support These Organizations

There are several organizations you can support who are providing aid to the victims of the shooting:

Call Congress & Your Local Elected Officials

If you care about stricter gun control laws and believe that we can do more to prevent mass shootings in the U.S., this is the time to call all your elected officials. Here’s a quick guide on how you can contact your representatives.

Nevada has some of the most lax gun laws in the country. Nationally, the U.S. House of Representatives is currently considering passing two pieces of pro-gun legislation. One bill would relax restrictions on gun silencers, the other would allow gun owners to carry their legally concealed weapons across state lines, even into jurisdictions with tight restrictions.

Mental-Health Resources

Crisis Call Center’s 24-hour hotline: 1-775-784-8090
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
National Depressive/Manic-Depressive Association Hotline: 1-800-826-3632

Other Perspectives

I’ve collected some articles and perspectives here about this horrific event and America’s dysfunctional relationship with guns:

The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza on Washington’s predictable response:

Mass shootings are so frequent in America that the political responses to them have become ritualized to the point of parody. The social-media accounts of the N.R.A. — which kicked off last weekend by retweeting a picture of a machine gun, to celebrate #FullAutoFriday — go dark. The politicians funded by the N.R.A.—mostly Republicans—tweet “thoughts and prayers” to the victims. Speaker Paul Ryan said, “The whole country stands united in our shock, in our condolences, and in our prayers.” He ordered flags at the Capitol to be lowered. “Keeping #LasVegas in our thoughts this morning after the horrific news,” Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tweeted. A tweet from President Trump was a model of the form: “My warmest condolences and sympathies to the victims and families of the terrible Las Vegas shooting. God bless you!”

 

Jill Lepore on the United States of Guns:

There are nearly three hundred million privately owned firearms in the United States: a hundred and six million handguns, a hundred and five million rifles, and eighty-three million shotguns. That works out to about one gun for every American. The gun that T. J. Lane brought to Chardon High School belonged to his uncle, who had bought it in 2010, at a gun shop. Both of Lane’s parents had been arrested on charges of domestic violence over the years. Lane found the gun in his grandfather’s barn.

The United States is the country with the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. (The second highest is Yemen, where the rate is nevertheless only half that of the U.S.) No civilian population is more powerfully armed. Most Americans do not, however, own guns, because three-quarters of people with guns own two or more. According to the General Social Survey, conducted by the National Policy Opinion Center at the University of Chicago, the prevalence of gun ownership has declined steadily in the past few decades. In 1973, there were guns in roughly one in two households in the United States; in 2010, one in three. In 1980, nearly one in three Americans owned a gun; in 2010, that figure had dropped to one in five.

An armed society is not a free society:

Arendt offers two points that are salient to our thinking about guns: for one, they insert a hierarchy of some kind, but fundamental nonetheless, and thereby undermine equality. But furthermore, guns pose a monumental challenge to freedom, and particular, the liberty that is the hallmark of any democracy worthy of the name — that is, freedom of speech. Guns do communicate, after all, but in a way that is contrary to free speech aspirations: for, guns chasten speech.

This becomes clear if only you pry a little more deeply into the N.R.A.’s logic behind an armed society. An armed society is polite, by their thinking, precisely because guns would compel everyone to tamp down eccentric behavior, and refrain from actions that might seem threatening. The suggestion is that guns liberally interspersed throughout society would cause us all to walk gingerly — not make any sudden, unexpected moves — and watch what we say, how we act, whom we might offend.

From The Onion, ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens:

At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past five years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”

 

 

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