In Guns We Trust, Again and Again

Surely it’s time to refute the great American myth our elected representatives in Washington, D.C. so believe in: an armed citizenry and war abroad will protect us from criminal and terrorist violence.  There is a sort of mass mental incongruity going on, a splitting of the political brain in which the epidemic of “mass shootings” is deplored and denounced but ignored while generally bipartisan calls for real action (more war) elsewhere in the world, particularly in the Middle East, grow louder each day. The American motto is simply this: In Guns We Trust.

“Fortress Monroe” by Matthew Brady. By Internet Archive Book Images [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons
 At bottom the solution to violence both here and in foreign nations is claimed to be the making of more weapons available (which inevitably fall into the wrong hands) in the hopes that armed “good guys” will entirely eradicate armed “bad guys.”  Every new act of mass violence, whether domestic or foreign, is said to be a brand new, isolated event which must be met, we are solemnly told, with more guns (armed citizens) and violence abroad (war). The result tends to be a lot of killing and dying, including the killing of innocent, unarmed people both in the U.S. and abroad.

Sen. Ted Cruz, for example, wasted no time yesterday trying to link the shooting in San Bernardino, CA to “radical Islamic terrorism” because he wants war:

“Coming on the wake of the terror attack here in Paris, this horrific murder underscores that we are at a time of war. Whether or not the current administration realizes it or is willing to acknowledge it, our enemies are at war with us.”

At this point we still do not know conclusively the motive behind the deaths of those 14 people and the wounding of many others, but whether the suspects were acting out of personal or religiously radical animosities, it doesn’t really matter. They were able to legally obtain some really dangerous weapons, just as did the suspect in the attack on the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, whether he was acting as a deranged individual or a Christian terrorist or both.

Rather than responding reasonably to deranged individual and terrorist violence–you know, reducing access to the most dangerous domestic weapons as most nations with lower levels of gun violence have done and not glorifying and provoking terrorists by waging “war” against them–we are blaming our mental health system for our “mass shootings” and demanding yet another armed invasion of the Middle East. We are being held hostage by a mindlessly distorted reading of the Second Amendment and ancient myths of the justness and effectiveness of war.

In short, In Guns (and bombs, missiles, drones, etc.) We Trust. When domestic “mass shootings” occur, we offer our “thoughts and prayers” in the hope that God will do something (maybe prevent?) anymore such violence. But as for our foreign enemies, all pretenses to prayer and thought and faith in God are dumped in favor of as much mass bombing and shooting as we can militarily muster. Either way, the gun is held sacred, as American movies declare over and over again. No problem or evil we can’t blast our way out of. It’s a dangerous and adolescent myth of unconquerable power which is now the primary American dream we are spreading to the world. Who needs democracy when you can accumulate power and control through weaponry and edict?  This is the “fascism” some of our GOP presidential candidates and voters are flirting with while the Obama administration is continuing the counter-productive, not to mention legally dubious, “targeted killing” and ramping up of more war in the Middle East.

If we want to be a genuine democracy, we will have to learn to trust in something other than guns and bombs. It’s democracy (including civil rights, human rights and humane, reasonable gun control) or bust.


P.S.– More succinctly . . . Can we claim “In God We Trust” when we trust so much in guns at home and abroad?


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