“American Exceptionalism.” That we’re an “exceptional nation” – different, separate, a leader above all others, even as some believe, “established by the providence and guidance of God Himself.” And, “In God We Trust” – right over all our money. What could go wrong when we outsource our thinking to an all-knowing but not so vocal God telling our leaders what to do? As in, like the 18 wars since WWII, and currently, to Iraq II, which George W Bush said God told him to launch. But we know that “God works in mysterious ways.” We’ve gotten pretty damn militant during the years of my long life. Today, Americans love mixing God and Country and warfare and gun at just about every opportunity. Hey, we sing about it at the opening of every ball game – we just love our battles and war and guns. Still, we pledge we’re, “One nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.” Right? The “for all” is the catchphrase, isn’t it? How do we balance the “freedoms God gave us” with the “justice for all” we’re so publically devoted to? Yeah, I know. It’s a difficult balancing act. Yet each time we’re faced with overt injustice we soothe ourselves, saying our “democracy is a work in progress” – some other self-denial, dithering B.S. that keeps us from action purposefully. The shooter in Las Vegas thoroughly enjoyed his God-given freedom to amass the better part of an Army weapons depot. From pistols to fully automatic assault weapons, this dude took his “freedom to bear arms” to the max. And some would celebrate that part… Until one day something apparently slipped in his organic, earth-given brain and the shooter’s God-given “freedoms” became a terrorized crowd’s screams for earthly freedom and liberty themselves. When the shooting stopped, his “freedoms” became 59 dead souls’ and 500 injured soul’s pleading from the grave and from our political world, for justice. How is justice delivered to the dead and living victims when the perpetrator already self-executed? There shall be no trial, no conviction, no long sentence, no earthly, human satisfaction that “justice is being delivered.” We’ve got 59 dead souls, 500 traumatically injured fellow-citizens, and tens of thousands of affected family members and friends left with… nothing and less than nothing, and scars lasting forever. Justice, in its widest sense here, is murdered. (And the prayers of the murdered go unanswered.) Consider – Where can there be justice served in this event? Where do freedoms end and liberty and justice begin – in this Las Vegas affair? Don’t call it a tragedy, because then it’s too easy to write off as out of our hands, akin to a hurricane or an earthquake. This affair was delivered by a man operating under the laws of a state and nation – until his mind broke. Thank God, we don’t sell armored tanks to those broken minds. Is this American exceptionalism, reflected in our fetishism with guns, protected and directed by God’s divine influence on our Constitution? Get real. Running the numbers: .08 South Korea .58 Netherlands .62 Spain .8 Ireland .93 Australia 1.97 Canada 4.68 Nicaragua 6.36 Argentina 7.76 Paraguay 8.3 South Africa 8.9 Philippines 10.54 United States 11.52 Uruguay 15.11 Panama These numbers represent gun murders and deaths per 100,000 citizens. Is this American exceptionalism in liberty, justice, and freedom? Hardly. By the hard, bloody numbers, we’re far more aligned with countries we often consider out of control than peer advanced nations. We’ve traded real liberty and real freedom for an over-the-top gun fetish making us much more a Third World country than any type of leader among advanced nations. We’ve lost track of who we’re supposed to be and what we’re supposed to represent. We’ve lost track of the liberty and justice that protects the innocent. It’s time for a moment of silence and thought in America. For the victims. And for what’s become of American values. Meanwhile, for the folks pinned on the ground in Las Vegas, the thinking came fast and clear. Lead guitarist for the Josh Abbot Band, Caleb Keeter, put it succinctly: “I’ve been a proponent of the 2nd amendment my entire life. Until the events of last night. I cannot express how wrong I was… (that) I felt like I wasn’t going to live through the night was enough for me to realize that this is completely and totally out of hand. These rounds were just powerful enough that my crew guys just standing in close proximity of a victim shot by this f—ing coward received shrapnel wounds. We need gun control RIGHT. NOW. My biggest regret is that I stubbornly didn’t realize it until my brothers on the road and myself were threatened by it.” What makes America greater or more flawed? Freedom to amass personal military arsenals – or a simple freedom to simply gather un-assaulted in public spaces? Right now, we’re hanging tight with Uruguay with our results. And that’s fine, if that’s exceptional enough for you. Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.