FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Reaping What We Sow

The last time I fired a gun was during the summer of 1969. It was a rifle: an M1, the kind that was used during World War II and the kind that was used against unarmed students by the Ohio National Guard at Kent State University in 1970. I was in the Rhode Island National Guard at the time and I went out as part of an honor guard, probably out of boredom, or perhaps to get out of some foolish and meaningless military detail. I can’t honestly remember which motivation it was all of those years ago.

During basic training in the army, I learned to be “proficient” with an M16. That is the rifle that was used by the military during the Vietnam War. I remember aiming the rifle at targets over 100 yards away and watching them fall silently at the rifle range, as if the firing of the rifle and the falling of the target were not connected in time: it was surreal. Some soldiers bribed the trainers at the rifle range to give them higher scores than they actually had achieved with their rifles. I was “satisfied” by being rated as a sharpshooter and never had to deal with this lethal device again.

The AR15 is the civilian equivalent of the military’s M16. On the semiautomatic setting, it is close to a machine gun in lethality, with slight hesitations between the rounds of ammunition being fired. In San Bernardino, 14 innocent people were killed and 21 people were wounded in an act of political and religious extremism.  Syed Rizwan and Tashfeen Malik join the long, no, endless list of mass shootings in the U.S. They used rifles like the ones that the army used in training recruits. The motives of mass shootings are many, from extreme mental health issues to religious and political fundamentalism. Hate for the government and hate toward a coworker: the list of grudges and the availability of weapons that the Second Amendment and gun lobbyists and gun manufacturers and politicians protect has flooded this nation with between 270 and 310 million guns according to the Pew Research Center. In 2013, Pew estimated that 37% of households have guns in a population of about 319 million people.

No other developed and highly industrialized nation has the constant drumbeat of mass shootings as does the United States. No other advanced nation even comes close to what has become a public health hazard.

When Adam Lanza took his mother’s legally owned guns to Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, he killed 26 innocent children and the people who taught them. Lanza’s mental illness went untreated, but the gun culture that exists in the U.S., fueled by the frontier ethos and the gun lobby and gun manufacturers were all on the same page in allowing this inhuman atrocity to take place. Some states enacted tougher gun laws in reaction to Sandy Hook. The gun lobby headed by the National Rifle Asscoiation, and its president Wayne LaPierre, even suggested that the answer to gun atrocities was to have more guns in places like public schools to counter gunmen.

The New York Times ran an article in “The Upshot” series that compared gun homicides around the world with those in the U.S. That article, “In Other Countries, You’re as Likely to be Killed by a Falling Object as by a Gun” (December 4, 2015), makes sobering comparisons of gun violence and accidental deaths. No other highly industrialized country matches the gun insanity, availability, and profit from guns in the U.S.!

It has been said that the U.S. lost it soul in Vietnam. There are tentative connections between endless warfare and guns and the ethic of machismo that fuels some gun sales in the U.S.: certainly there is great profit. Gallup polls taken between 1993 and 2013 show that a majority of Americans have a favorable opinion of the NRA. What soul that was left of this nation was chewed up in the gruesome shootings that have become routine. That innocent children, churchgoers, moviegoers, those accessing health care, and innocent workers can be gunned down and nothing is done as a nation is a monumental disaster! In some states, such as Florida, a person can even shoot to kill while standing their ground when a threat is perceived. We’ve got the worst Wild West nightmare scenario with guns that can be imagined and there’s a dollar sign attached to the entire hellish enterprise!

And as if all of this were not enough, one of the community college students I teach was gunned down and murdered at his home while visiting there over a weekend this semester. He was an excellent student and now he is gone, the promise of his life erased by the insanity of gun violence!

More articles by:

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).

December 10, 2018
Jacques R. Pauwels
Foreign Interventions in Revolutionary Russia
Richard Klin
The Disasters of War
Katie Fite
Rebranding Bundy
Gary Olson
A Few Thoughts on Politics and Personal Identity
Patrick Cockburn
Brexit Britain’s Crisis of Self-Confidence Will Only End in Tears and Rising Nationalism
Andrew Moss
Undocumented Citizen
Dean Baker
Trump and China: Going With Patent Holders Against Workers
Lawrence Wittner
Reviving the Nuclear Disarmament Movement: a Practical Proposal
Dan Siegel
Thoughts on the 2018 Elections and Beyond
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: I Can Smell the Dumpster Fires Already
Weekend Edition
December 07, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Steve Hendricks
What If We Just Buy Off Big Fossil Fuel? A Novel Plan to Mitigate the Climate Calamity
Jeffrey St. Clair
Cancer as Weapon: Poppy Bush’s Radioactive War on Iraq
Paul Street
The McCain and Bush Death Tours: Establishment Rituals in How to be a Proper Ruler
Jason Hirthler
Laws of the Jungle: The Free Market and the Continuity of Change
Ajamu Baraka
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: Time to De-Colonize Human Rights!
Andrew Levine
Thoughts on Strategy for a Left Opposition
Jennifer Matsui
Dead of Night Redux: A Zombie Rises, A Spook Falls
Rob Urie
Degrowth: Toward a Green Revolution
Binoy Kampmark
The Bomb that Did Not Detonate: Julian Assange, Manafort and The Guardian
Robert Hunziker
The Deathly Insect Dilemma
Robert Fisk
Spare Me the American Tears for the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi
Joseph Natoli
Tribal Justice
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Macdonald Stainsby
Unist’ot’en Camp is Under Threat in Northern Canada
Senator Tom Harkin
Questions for Vice-President Bush on Posada Carriles
W. T. Whitney
Two Years and Colombia’s Peace Agreement is in Shreds
Ron Jacobs
Getting Pushed Off the Capitalist Cliff
Ramzy Baroud
The Conspiracy Against Refugees
David Rosen
The Swamp Stinks: Trump & Washington’s Rot
Raouf Halaby
Wall-to-Wall Whitewashing
Daniel Falcone
Noam Chomsky Turns 90
Dean Baker
An Inverted Bond Yield Curve: Is a Recession Coming?
Nick Pemberton
The Case For Chuck Mertz (Not Noam Chomsky) as America’s Leading Intellectual
Ralph Nader
New Book about Ethics and Whistleblowing for Engineers Affects Us All!
Dan Kovalik
The Return of the Nicaraguan Contras, and the Rise of the Pro-Contra Left
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Exposing the Crimes of the CIAs Fair-Haired Boy, Paul Kagame, and the Rwandan Patriotic Front
Jasmine Aguilera
Lessons From South of the Border
Manuel García, Jr.
A Formula for U.S. Election Outcomes
Sam Pizzigati
Drug Company Execs Make Millions Misleading Cancer Patients. Here’s One Way to Stop Them
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Agriculture as Wrong Turn
James McEnteer
And That’s The Way It Is: Essential Journalism Books of 2018
Chris Gilbert
Biplav’s Communist Party of Nepal on the Move: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian
Judith Deutsch
Siloed Thinking, Climate, and Disposable People: COP 24 and Our Discontent
Jill Richardson
Republicans Don’t Want Your Vote to Count
John Feffer
‘Get Me Outta Here’: Trump Turns the G20 into the G19
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail