Hypocrisy of Gun Control in a Land Where War and Violence Are Alluring

By Dady Chery and Gilbert Mercier

Solving problems with violence is as American as apple pie

The National Rifle Association (NRA) has become public enemy number one amongst left-leaning Americans since the most recent incident of random shooting. Is blaming the NRA a convenient way for Americans to avoid some necessary soul searching: a refusal to address the deeply-rooted cultural problem of violence being the preferred method of conflict resolution and most popular source of entertainment in areas that include sports, movies, television, and video games? In essence, violence provides the backdrop to nearly all aspects of life in the United States. The government has glamorized violence by conducting endless wars, maintaining a gargantuan prison system, and keeping the death penalty legal. The United States economy has increasingly become a war economy since 2001, and the business of death is booming. Recruitment centers for the US military are popping up in every high school and shopping mall. Television and cinema advertisements for the Marines have the slick and sexy look of Hollywood trailers. “Be all you can be!” says Uncle Sam, who carefully omits from his sales pitch that the main requirements for the job are the willingness to kill and get killed.

Can one blame the NRA when the US president runs a kill list from the White House?

A couple of days after the assassination of Osama bin Laden, president Obama’s approval rating jumped up more than five percent. Mr. Obama was proud and excited to take responsibility for the extrajudicial killing: “shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda.” Everywhere, newspaper headlines shouted “We took him out!” and the US public glowed from the pleasure of doing away with their favorite bogeyman. Killing people for the US federal government has become a quite simple affair that can even be done remotely, as in a video game, with drones that reach anywhere in the world from Yemen to Pakistan. The countless innocent victims of these drone attacks are called “collateral damage.” Most people in the US could care less about them, the understanding being that it is all right to kill people who had the bad luck to go to a market, mosque, or wedding at the wrong time.

So a man loses his job and kills his boss and numerous colleagues at his place of work.  This has become so common that it is called “going postal,” or more politely, “workplace violence.” Every year, more than 10 Americans on average are gunned down in such workplace killing sprees. The enemy is quite close, especially for women. For example, of 429,729 homicide FBI files examined by evolutionary psychologist David Buss, 13,670 (or 3 percent) were cases in which a husband killed his wife. Thus, in their more intimate roles as jilted lovers or unloved sons, a small fraction of men murder not only their mates or parents but also everyone else who happens to be nearby at the wrong time.  Why should collateral damage be solely the purview of the President? After all, he is considered to be the country’s ultimate role model. And why should Americans be surprised by an endemic violence problem when their role model, their foremost example of what one does with power, runs an assassination program directly from the White House?

Guns and America: A love affair

One week after the fatal shootings of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School by a 20-year old man who subsequently committed suicide, Mr. Wayne LaPierre broke the NRA’s silence with a press conference. LaPierre argued that only more guns in the hands of “good guys” could stop America’s killing spree.

“I call on Congress today to appropriate whatever is necessary to put armed police officers in every single school in this nation. Innocent lives might have been spared if armed security was present at Sandy Hook. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said LaPierre. Besides this “good guy with gun” versus “bad guy with guns” argument, reminiscent of a John Wayne Western movie cliche, LaPierre blamed the mass shootings on popular culture like “vicious, violent video games” such as ‘Bulletstorm’, ‘Grand Theft Auto’, ‘Mortal Kombat’ and ‘Splatterhouse’ and on movies such as ‘American Psycho’ and ‘Natural Born Killer’ for “portraying life as a joke and murder as a way of life. In a race to the bottom, media conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society by bringing on ever-more-toxic mix of reckless behavior and criminal cruelty into our homes,” added LaPierre.

The supposed adverse effect of popular culture on vulnerable minds is a perennial argument that gets brought up after each shooting, although the details vary. But this argument is about as sound as blaming a flood on the movie “Waterworld.” Violence is ubiquitous in American life, and it is quite natural that it should pervade American fantasies and popular culture.

Who are LaPierre’s “good guys?” Might they be the policemen who routinely criminalize and kill innocent black youths in urban centers? Might they be part of the growing security sector? Or could they be the teenage students who meet a life-size cardboard cutout of a machine-gun toting soldier at the entrance to their high schools every day? One moment of impatience about growing into full adulthood is all it takes for them to sign away their lives. Thus the dear children survive elementary school, junior high school, and finally high school, only to be sent off to kill people in places like Haiti, Iraq, and Afghanistan. There they learn not to distinguish those who are defending their countries from invasion from those who either cannot fight (like children and the elderly) or choose not to fight. The cost is their very soul. Many return hollowed out and suicidal.

A culture of death

By far the most violent practice of the US is capital punishment, in which a person is made completely defenseless and then killed in cold blood by the State with the collusion of its citizens. The shooters, who are well aware of this, typically conclude their sprees in a quick suicide, thus depriving the State of the sadistic process involving a protracted stay on death row and numerous appeals. The practice of the death penalty is all the more gruesome for its discrimination based on race and the innocence of many of those killed.  An Innocence Project study in 2011 discovered that, of 230 individuals exonerated in the US by DNA Testing, 17 had been sentenced to die.

For US presidential candidates, the support of capital punishment has become a rite of passage: the ultimate proof of their willingness to kill the innocent so as to support an expansion of US wars and weapons sales. Former US President Clinton suspended his presidential campaign so he could return to Arkansas to make sure Ricky Ray Rector was executed. Rector was so mentally impaired and clueless about his fate that, before his execution, he asked the guards to save his pecan pie “for later.” On the evening of George W. Bush’s inauguration as Governor, the state of Texas executed Mario Marquez, who was brain damaged and had the skills of a seven-year old; later, when Mr. Bush was a presidential candidate, he mocked Karla Faye Tucker in an interview a year after her execution. On November 6, 2012, while Mr. Obama celebrated his reelection with an elated public by hugging his wife, mentally-ill Oklahoma inmate Garry Allen, who had been watching the election with great enthusiasm, was executed.

The violence of the State, domestically and abroad, is pervasive. It is celebrated: even sexy. Violence breeds more violence and, in a sense, we have become collateral damage.

Editor’s Note: Photographs one, two, three and seven by United States Marine Corps. Photographs five and six by Joe Loong.





12 Responses to Hypocrisy of Gun Control in a Land Where War and Violence Are Alluring

  1. Ken December 22, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    It seems to me when we Americans can’t get our own way we resort to violence. We are economically bankrupt and borrow and borrow to keep our war machine going so we can use imperialist methods to force others to give us their resources. So what we have is a huge military machine that is needed to steal resources to keep our military machine and thus the rich folks richer and become richer. On a finite planet this will come crashing down.As the economic inequality increases the US gets more violent both as an imperialist power and as a society. I believe we will see more violence in the US as the gun is not only an equalizer but a resource of choice to get that of yours we see or want as ours. Since WW I imperialists have to steal resources by force to keep growing their economy. For the US there is no peace dividend to build society positively as there can be no peace with imperialism. I may be wrong but I’m just trying to voice my opinion as a way of talking through this mess.

    • WulfW February 2, 2013 at 11:20 am

      What are possible solutions? One comparison crosses my mind, but it may not be instructive: While Britain is saddled with debt, too, like us, its unemployment rate is lower than the US’s, and while wealth inequality is there–hugely so–it is not a violent society. So, it is “First World” an Western like the US is. However, the UK has transitioned from an imperialist power to a significantly less imperialist power. I note that firearms are extremely strictly regulated there and the UK long ago began to radically decrease military spending (even during Conservative governments). Perhaps we can, as Americans, slowly make progress towards doing similar things, albeit imperfectly, and facing setbacks along the way, to be sure.

  2. John Goss December 23, 2012 at 12:54 am

    Another ‘spot-on’ article. It makes you wonder why the American people cannot see it. But native Americans have known about this gun culture from the days when they discovered their hunting bows and arrows were no match for guns.

  3. Cosmic Surfer December 23, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Gilbert – I agree with the salient points made. I don’t believe gun control to be hypocritical…only a start.

    The issue of violence in American culture is born of the exceptionalsm that is inherent. We have been exceptionalists for centuries and “proved” what we believe to be our “exceptional” being by throwing out the East India Company backed by the “strongest” army in the world in the late 18th century.

    We assume everything and admit to no failings. We are perfection personified in a Constitution, imagined to be the 3rd tablet of the commandments, that has had its creation made myth and has been bastardized, homogenized and regurgitated.

    We assume that history stopped and started with the creation of ourselves – we are the pinnacle of creation and bred by a fantasy being to be the rulers of, not just the North American continent, but the universe.

    Silly beings that we are, we refuse to see our hubris and are being destroyed by that very thing.

  4. lone lawman December 24, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    gun control a start… 4who ???… U spout off trivial history & 4get true most important segment… all mass murdering dictatorships… start w/ gun control… BTW… all the vicious ethnic crime cabals… get their high-tech weapons… smuggled in from overseas… U R LAME

  5. Chippo December 24, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    I’m 68 year along and I have not seen actual violence in 40 to 50 years except on tv and in movies, where it is the staple. Violence against minion forces that want to suppress rising indignation, is GOOD. Sometimes violence is medicinal. Media make the argument for violence look spot on, but actual violence is quite rare.

  6. Second hand smoke December 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    If you leave a gun on the table, it will rust before it kills or hurts anyone. The problem is the beastie, not its devices.

  7. LibertyorDeath December 25, 2012 at 8:45 am

    The “RICH” know that there are too many people on the “Planet”. After they disarm U, then the sheeple herd will be thinned out.

  8. Bri December 25, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    I agree with the posters which state that the problem is not guns. It is too much violence that is shown on tv. That’s why most young people are glued into their computers. Still, even then, there are violent video games. Well, with all this crap spiraling out of control, I’m going to bed. Think about sex.

  9. eBrent December 25, 2012 at 11:34 pm

    Last night I caught the film Expendables 2. It really fits its title. In the first 10 minutes, you watch about 300 people (sold-diers) get shot up by this sexy, heroic band of murderers trying to escape. My hope, that Sly Stallone could wise up to the program a bit since those very similar Rambo scenes, was again mutilated. I don’t really understand how anyone but a terrorist–or unwitting terrorist in training/programming–is supposed to relate to these guys. It was the first 10 minutes and the DVD was already in the garbage. This was after I tried four other American films that turned out saturated in careless gun violence. The volume goes way up when the guns start up. There is a common theme, Hollywood is apparently limited to, of sanitizing the most ungodly, criminal behavior as stylish and appropriate. Many lovable screen characters turn out to hold some of the most unlovable work positions, usually mass media or government positions. When was the last time you saw a big budget movie about a heroic or lovable farmer? Signs? How about a whistle blower? Seems the best way to prepare for a Hollywood role is to shake my body around as if I am getting shot up, because apparently that is so fucking entertaining for Hollywood. One James Bond movie is quite enough, but this pattern of big-budget films based around the heroic spy, where the “heros” do absolutely nothing heroic except narrowly escape death many times in a short period, because it is so cool to put yourself into those situations, America, that is just something handsome men and gorgeous women do. Americans are being bred out to be little more than the military arm of the central banking empire. It is out of control and they don’t even see it. Next time you’re at a movie store or a movie section of a store, try to get a percentage of how many films have guns on the cover. Seriously, you will see it. These are not real films, it’s called bullshit, and people buy it hoping for some articulate story causing possible last-resort violence, and just get a bullshit orgy of guns popping with little attention to an engaging plot or in building characters that non-violent people can relate to. Earth to Hollywood, stop sending films around the world that only terrorists can relate with, and enough of the sweaty, bloody meathead war and violence flicks. If there is any concern about the violence Americans are being programmed to enjoy, put SOME of that big budget money in real life conflict resolution, unconventional things that actually WORK, have a moral, and perhaps land the bad guys in JAIL, (guns used RESPONSIBLY) rather than creating and satisfying bloodlust. For those who have their shit together. Really interesting if those are the people who don’t matter anymore to Hollywood executive programmers, Tavistock elite social engineers, who all just happen to be genetically linked to the insidious elite banking families.

  10. Charles Purdy January 22, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    The “collateral damage” of innocent civilians is indeed sad, but we are dealing with an enemy wearing no uniform of identification who attacks then withdraws to hide amongst civilians as cover or holes up in a place of worship as a bunker. What complicates the matter even more is the fact these cowards are allowed to come and go unchecked in the urban areas they infest. It would be most helpful if the moderate Muslims united to oust these cockroaches from their neighborhoods instead of curling up in fear allowing the terrorists to hold their religion hostage and skew the words of a holy book to fit their lunatic agendas.

    In my opinion, it would be much more cost effective and purposeful to call back all the boots on the ground and simply give fair warning to the countries that are funding the terror, warning them we will launch a cruise missile at strategic targets in their nations each time one of our embassies, military bases or public buildings is bombed in the future.

    • thomas vesely February 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm

      America has created a hatred for itself that did not exist a couple of decades ago.
      May it flourish.

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