A common denominator runs through a sickness that continues to fill American cemeteries with innocent victims. Whether driven by selfish desires or by uncontrollable fears, people turn to a gun to gain the upper hand. The firearm, once considered a necessity on the wild frontier, now, once again, represents a popular mechanism of deadly force used by everyday people in every conceivable confrontation involving emotion and anger. The truth is that the finality afforded by a gun appeals to a violent nation.
The violence recurs with absolute regularity. The gun, the bullet, the riddled body – the dead lies silent while once again, a violence-anesthetized America determines whether the kill was worth the expense, whether the offense was warranted by the defense, whether the deceased was a criminal or a helpless victim.
Almost instantaneously, news crews feed the public interest. Cameras and eye-witness testimonies reveal shot-to-shot details of circumstance as news channels endlessly debate the causes of another tragic event and the liability of the tragedy.
Although the media never puts the viewer close enough to the bloody carnage to see the mangled body parts, smell the stench of death, and touch the cold flesh of the lifeless victim, reporters do their best to stir the distant emotions of the viewers while bringing them titillating updates. And, the media vows to linger on the scene until every drop of investigation delivers their sterilized and politically-spun vision of the tragedy.
Once again, in the wake of the violent act, a large segment of the public will steadfastly maintain that a gun cannot shoot a victim by itself. As the gun smoke clears, they will say that the perpetrator is always at fault and that the gun is the great equalizer for caring Americans. In fact, they will assuredly declare once more that “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” And, so, the war zones continue to rage with new firefights and new victims of gun violence. The killing fields grow with the bodies of the good, the bad, and the innocent.
As more and more die, more and more firearms advocates purchase guns and, thus, assure that violence begets violence. The deadly engagements now are becoming increasingly more difficult to understand as issues like conceal-and-carry, standing your ground, and achieving the point of employing deadly force mix together with rage and prejudice during split-second decisions to fire or to retreat.
Adding to the fear of armed criminals is a bitter distaste by many for political correctness. These conditions have created a society that lacks sufficient civility. Race, nationalities, political affiliations, sexual identities become victims of this discontent. Rejecting different views, scores of people simply vow “they aren't going to take any more assaults on their beliefs and liberties.” And, many in their anger, turn to the great and final equalizer of gun violence to solve their problems. They believe the best defense involves stockpiling offensive, assault-ready firepower.
The nation is impatient. It is angry. It is violent. And, it is armed. It is armed by those with bad intentions, and it is armed by those with good intentions. Gun advocates contend that no amount of control or compromise can affect the slaughter directly associated by firearms. They say the high rates of murders and suicides will occur no matter how much new firearms legislation or firearms change.
Their fatalistic view is dedicated to the proposition that shooting their way out of threats and fear will somehow stop gun violence. To maximize their defense, they openly carry or conceal their weapons while taking family trips to the supermarket, to the mall, to church, or to school events. They believe they stand ready to eliminate terrorists, criminals, or even officials who threaten their existence. The frontier of the 21st century is infused with distrust, so much so that gun advocates rally behind their Second Amendment right to maintain armed militias, and many of these groups adopt philosophies that challenge any government control or restriction.
If the blame for gun violence is justly placed on individuals who employ guns to maim and murder others, one still cannot ignore the faults in the delivery system – the entire process that places weapons in the hands of irresponsible people and criminals. Also, one still cannot deny that owning firearms presents a common danger – especially owning guns whose purpose is to effectively assault large numbers of people.
The shooter perpetrates gun violence, yet the firearm, like any other dangerous object or substance, is the means by which the shooter executes the carnage. A nation whose populace arms itself against itself has serious issues that threaten its existence. Usurping power and authority from police and other enforcement officials and replacing it with millions of guns in the hands of a frightened and aggressive public will never tame the new frontier that is filled with overwhelming violence.