Truckloads of Guns 

Gun violence is epidemic in the US. Mass shootings are so frequent here that they lose their ability to shock when they once did. One police officer was killed on January 21, 2022 (New York Times, January 22, 2022) in New York City responding to a domestic dispute and another officer was critically wounded.

Incredibly, even long before this most recent tragedy, the majority of police surveyed were in favor of people carrying guns legally (“Police Gun Control Survey: Are legally-armed citizens the best solution to gun violence?” Police1, April 8, 2013). The line of reasoning in the arming of civilians is that armed people will stop armed criminals, or act as a deterrent to potentially armed wrongdoers.

This discussion will not review the number of police shootings of mostly people of color in the US that is a well-documented issue. The insanity of guns in the US always returns to the Second Amendment and its underpinnings in the wild west and colonial history. The Second Amendment to the Constitution gave citizens the right to bear arms and the right to form militias and is about as useful today as someone planning to travel across the US by Conestoga wagon. Part of the Second Amendment also became a means to enforce racism throughout US history. Segregation and racism were targeted through the barrel of a gun as civil rights workers found out in Mississippi in 1964. Black leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X were treated similarly. Medgar Evers was summarily sentenced to death at the end of a rifle for his work with the NAACP, and teenager Emmett Till was tortured and gunned down before being cast into a river. The list is endless!

Here, we name names and report the facts. There are now 396 million guns in the US, or 46% of the world’s guns, and that doesn’t count the new trade in illegal gun parts that are now shipped into this country, or other guns for which no history exists. Many guns find themselves in the New York City area where gun laws are strict through a pipeline from states where guns are profuse. One such gun killed the police officer in NYC yesterday and critically wounded his partner. There are 120.5 guns for every 100 people in the US, and we’ve got only 4.25% of the world’s population. To say that the US is awash in guns is more than a grim assessment!

Mass shootings such as at Columbine High, Majory Stoneman Douglas High, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook Elementary School are the most obvious and hideous cases of the unending nightmare of guns in the US. Guns are the weapon of choice in suicides and prolific in domestic disputes, both of which primarily are in the hands of men. The gun lobby and gun owners in general, along with their supporters at all levels of government, send their thoughts and prayers to the victims of gun massacres while not doing a fucking thing to stop this insanity. Not even safe gun measures such as limiting so-called assault rifles can pass the muster of gun insanity.

The frontier ethos and official cowardice are only part of this discussion. A nation always at war is a nation always ready to send thoughts and prayers endlessly until the next gun massacre.


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