Gary Horton | America, a Nation of Shoulder Shruggers

Gary Horton

Again, the entire nation of (thinking) Americans are forced to shrug shoulders and do little else.  

Again, the United States of America has proven itself to be a total outlier among advanced nations. Again, we’ve proven ourselves to be an outlier nation of gun-infested lawlessness with casualty statistics that compare nearly equally to the first year of war in Ukraine. Except that here, we accept this internal warfare and accept the losses and we shrug our shoulders that our war here at home cannot be won and the violence cannot be stopped. 

And all this death and hell in the name of worshiping the most tortured phrase in U.S. history: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” 

Let’s send that “whatever you want it to mean” sentence to English 101 for a do-over. 

With the way the Second Amendment has been twisted and tortured, and the results thereof, it might much more accurately be restated as, “The ability of Americans to inflict advanced modern warfare violence against one another shall not be limited or infringed.” 

Our enslavement to the Second Amendment, as currently enforced, has become an indisputable death sentence to nearly 100,000 Americans every year. We are losing almost 100,000 of our countrymen to preventable gunplay every year – nearly a million Americans every decade – and still, we just shrug shoulders, offer “thoughts and prayers,” and move along, silently waiting for news of the next sadly preventable slaughter. 

All along, we magically hope it doesn’t happen to us, even though it routinely happens to so many others. 

We’re sending $80 billion to Ukraine to stop the violence being perpetrated against that country’s people. In less than a year, some 20,000 Ukrainian civilians have been killed. Perhaps 80,000 more soldiers. Strangely, in the face of total war, Ukrainian death counts are similar to America’s, a nation we say is “at peace.” And yet we don’t even begin to meaningfully combat our own internal war. 

Compare death counts and it’s obvious we are at war with ourselves. Without tanks, smart bombs, rockets, fighter jets, and all the rest, we’re losing more American civilians than Ukraine is losing Ukrainians. And we shrug our shoulders and accept that we can’t change a damn thing about it. 

Worse, many of our states have utterly no limitations on buying or carrying assault rifles not far removed from full-blown war gear. Walk right in and buy your war gear and march on out. Carry the murderous stuff in public – full view or hidden. Because so many believe, “happiness is a warm gun.” 

Happiness is not a gun. Peace is happiness, and peace we don’t have. 

Having more guns than humans in the United States has not brought us security. It has not stopped crime.  

Proliferation of high-powered, war-like weapons has killed more Americans right here at home than all our nation’s wars combined. And this, just in the past 25 years. A trickle of blood from before we went gun nuts has become a gusher, a river, an explosion of blood. An explosion of death, of pain and disablement, of trauma; an explosion of forever grief with no recovery.  

Right here in Saugus at a high school. Right in the Santa Clarita Valley, nearly every week these days. And in our nation, mass murders virtually every single day. 

Mass murders in these United States virtually every single day. And we shrug shoulders. 

Half Moon Bay: Seven killed on Tuesday. Monterey Park: 11 killed on Sunday. And believe it or not, Californians are 25% less likely to die from mass shootings than the rest of the nation! 

Let’s say this again: We suffer mass murders in the United States nearly every day. In January alone, the U.S. suffered 39 mass shootings, defined as four or more killed in a single incident. The trend continues through this moment. But gun deaths run far beyond just mass shootings. All gun deaths are up 44% since 2010, and guess what? Gun purchases are up 81% over the same period. More guns didn’t help us one damn bit. 

With an estimated 400 million guns in the country…there is a self-fulfilling prophecy of, “I need a gun because everyone else around me has a gun,’” said Sasha Cotton, director of the Minneapolis Office of Violence Prevention. And we buy more guns. 40 million since George Floyd. 

“Many other countries have disadvantaged folks who are angry and alienated,” said Richard Berk, a professor emeritus of criminology and statistics at the University of Pennsylvania. “But guns aren’t there.” 

Our peer nations that restrict weapons of war and handguns suffer 10 to 20 times LESS gun violence than we. Are we just crazy, lazy, or so submissive to the for-profit gun lobby that we’re paralyzed to act?  

Sixty percent of our gun deaths are otherwise preventable suicides. These indeed count, as these are people’s loved ones. Forty percent are murders and daily mass murders. No matter how you cut it, we’re hovering around 100,000 lost lives from guns and we continue to shrug shoulders. 

We have a Ukraine War right here in America and the best we can do is offer up “thoughts and prayers.” 

One thing is demonstrably certain: More guns equal more death and tragedy, and not the other way around.  

More guns = more death. 

We curtailed cigarettes and saved millions of lives from cancer. 

We mandated seat belts and saved millions of lives. 

We mandated clean air rules and saved millions of lives. 

But we distribute more and more guns and create more and more fully, wholly preventable, disgusting, tragedy… so much so that we’re matching the losses Vladimir Putin is inflicting on Ukraine in a full-blown war. 

We’ve become a paralyzed, desensitized nation of shoulder-shruggers and the death count won’t change until we grow backbones and demand real action against gun proliferation… just as every other CIVILIZED modern country has done.

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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