The gun control issue is fresh on our minds and that debate will rage on for years to come. Internationally we (Americans) are seen as the epitome of gun ownership gone wild and our society is often described as being this one big gun culture, cemented by our Second Amendment, in spite of resulting in umpteen murders and mass shootings in the course of any given year.Staunch proponants of the Second Amendment vow that their weapons will only be taken from them from their cold dead hands; standing with the reasoning that because we are armed to the teeth we are ready to fight off any conquering nation or revolt against any renegade government.
President Obama was sworn in today in a traditional ceremony. What’s important to note here is that this is the 224th year that our form of government has been around.. and that it’s been those entire 224 years that a swearing in of any president has been done without the point of a gun. No transfer of power, no inauguration, no re-decoration of the White House, has ever been done at the point of any gun or at the threat of any foreign nation. It’s a peaceful change of power. We may dislike with passion the guy being sworn in as president, we may find frustration and outright futility with our lawmakers, and we may despise our political parties, yet in spite of all that our form of government has lasted longer than any in modern times, and arguably in human history. We can sit around and have these passions and debate the issues because we have a form of government that allows us to do just that. Was this all brought about because we have a “gun culture”; that somehow we consider the gun a central part of what defines us as Americans? Of course not.
Mozambique depicts an AK-47 on their national flag as well as a number of Arab organizations, like Hezbollah. The flag of Guatamala includes a pair of crossed rifles with fixed bayonets and crossed swords. Other contries have other weapons on their flags. We don’t.
In truth, in recent years, according to one government study, the numbers of households actually having a weapon is down.. and that this rush to buy guns recently is largely from existing gun owners and not blossoming newcomers. While some estimates have guns at 200+ million (a lot in anyone’s book) many of those are owners of many guns. So, do Americans enjoy guns? Of course… like we enjoy fast cars, RV’s, and smart phones. We have violence in our society with peaks and valleys in the frequency of occurance year to year. But are we a violent society? Of course not.
Here’s the important thing… we are not the “best” country in the world nor do we have the most perfect form of government (Churchill once said, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”). The gun helped give us freedom from oppression but it was our Constitution that defined us as being different.
While this post reflects a bit of old fashioned flag waving perhaps we need a little bit of that from time to time to remind us of who we are as a people… and to remind the world that we are way more than just the violence reported in the media. Perhaps the greatest problem facing the world is a growing population. Crime will go up, violence will increase, mental issues will be more profound, good people will die, simply because there are more people. I fear nature will take care of that problem in the years/decades to come.
The problem now is not that we have guns but we have a fair amount of random violence and death using guns. If it’s the fault of gun ownership or something else is the big debate. We will work through it. That is what defines us.