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Monday, July 23, 2012

The Bed We've Made With Violence and Guns


The tragedy in Colorado has got everyone firing from their hips again with varying opinions regarding gun use and availability in the USA. Don't get me wrong here. I think what happened in Aurora is tragic beyond measure, but I can't help but wonder why the American people are surprised when things like this happen. Of all the sad things that I've noted about my home country while living abroad this is by far the most troubling for me: America loves violence. We can easily be defined as a country that has a bizarre fascination and enjoyment of violent activity. Our movies indicate this when season after season films with epic violence take in huge box offices. Our sports indicate this: Our professional hockey league is the only professional hockey league in the world that allows, dare I say even condones and encourages, fighting. American football is one of the most violent sports played in this day and age. Winning isn't even enough for that sport. Clear goals of causing injury have been cited in recent history. Last spring, one team was found offering cash awards paid out to those who inflicted the most egregious injuries. Our culture promotes and loves violent video games. And of course, we have the most unregulated hand gun laws of any developed nation in the world. And consequently, the number of death by guns in a non-war situation are exponentially higher than any other country in the world. But there are many countries in the world who allow handguns and hunting guns but they do not have the street violence problem that the US does. Why is this? I have to say, I think it is because embedded in our mentality is a deep-seated insatiable love affair with violence. And this love affair with violence leads some to act that out on the real life stage. Couple this with loose gun laws where background checks and mental stability are not requirements for acquiring an assault rifle and why would any other outcome be expected? We have made a bed of guns and violence and we are forced to lie in it when situations like Aurora come to light.
To me, we need more conversation around the fact that assault rifles and other guns designed for the express purpose of killing others are available to the American public because the National Rifle Association has lobbied for such. In fact, I think it is largely plausible to trace most of the issues that America has with gun availability and misuse to the NRA. So my question then becomes, at what point do we hold the NRA liable, in the same way that we held McDonald's liable for serving coffee that was too hot, for the times when a firearm lands in the hands of someone who intends harm? Clearly, the results of their lobbying for looser gun laws and greater gun availability has resulted in danger to the public. Why can they not be held responsible? Why in all of the crying and grieving about these terrible events is the NRA not truly taken to task? Could it be because in our heart of hearts, as a nation, we like the presence of guns in our society? Why else then? I'm open to ideas.
Finally, why are we as a nation so impotent against the NRA? Where is our energy for taking real strides towards creating a safer public for all involved? Why is the Christian community not outraged about these shootings and therefore throwing energy towards getting more guns off the streets? That will be the topic of my next blog. Stay tuned.