America must become civilized before it can become great.
In the wake of yet another senseless shooting that took the lives of 58 people and injured more than 500, America is displaying its true colors. That this self-proclaimed leader of the free world is a nation of people who value their right to own guns more than the right of people to live; that it is a racist nation with selective memory of its bloody past on which the country was built upon; that it is a self-aggrandizing nation which refuses to take collective responsibility toward society in the name of protecting individual rights.
On October 4, I attended a town hall meeting hosted by Evan Low, a member of the California State Assembly. Low is a Democrat with strong views on having strict firearm regulations. In his prepared address, he mentioned that his views on gun control have consistently earned him an F grade from the National Rifle Association (NRA). During the individual discussion session, I asked if he would go as far as saying that guns have no place in a civilized society, even if it meant challenging the very core of the Second Amendment. Not surprisingly, his reply was in the realm of political correctness, reiterating his views on gun control and that we would have to make incremental progress in the fight against the proliferation of firearms.
From the blue state of California, which has some of the most stringent gun control laws, Low typifies the best that one could hope for — when it comes to politicians — in the fight against guns in America.
The worst mass shooting in American history?
Media headlines are ablaze with the claim that the Las Vegas attack was the worst mass shooting in American history. Is it indeed the case? Should we ignore the Colfax massacre in 1873, soon after the end of the civil war in which 150 African-Americans were brutally murdered by white supremacists? Should we overlook the Wounded Knee massacre of 300 Lakota Native Americans in 1890 because it was carried out in the name of war? Should we also conveniently forget the 1917 East St. Louis massacre and the 1921 Tulsa race massacre just because the victims were black?
The previous incident that laid claim to the worst mass shooting in America was the 2016 Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando. The media narrative ignored America’s bloody history even then. In fact, The New York Times published this article elaborating how historians and police rely on technicalities to justify the claim.
The list of incidents where black and Native Americans have been murdered by white men are many, but they never seem to make the mainstream narrative of today’s media. This selective amnesia reflects the deep-rooted racism in American society even today.
A culture of violence fueled by individualism
America thrives in a culture of violence that is fueled by individualism. This is at the crux of why it is impossible to challenge the grip that the NRA has on American politicians and, by extension, the country.
America’s favorite pastime and sport, football, is nothing short of a modern-day gladiator spectacle. Studies have conclusively established the effects of concussions on football players. Yet 64% of Americans glue themselves to the TV and throng the stadiums every Sunday in fall and winter to enjoy this gladiator sport.
If it is violence that society craves for even in sport, then the remarkable resistance Americans have when it comes to giving up firearms should come as no surprise. If the death of 20 innocent school children at the hands of a disturbed young man with easy access to firearms does not tug at the nation’s conscience to make amends, then nothing will. Deadly shootings will continue to occur at regular intervals, as with the Orlando killings and the Las Vegas attack. Politicians, impotent under the NRA’s vice-like grip, will express their shallow grief with guarded statements, and they will lay low while the storm blows over. As the dust settles, policymakers will do exactly what they have in the past when it comes to gun legislation: nothing.
Repeal Second Amendment
The Second Amendment gives the majority a convenient anchor to protect their craving for violence. In the late 18th century, the country may have well needed a regulated militia to protect the free state, thus necessitating the right to bear arms and the Second Amendment. But do we need a well-regulated militia that is distinct from the US Army and individuals to bear arms in 21st-century America?
The real dialog the country should be having is not about gun control. Rather, it must be about repealing the Second Amendment, which has no relevance today.
Shackled to its past, real progress has been hard to come by in America. We may have abolished slavery in 1865, but racism is widely prevalent even today. Women’s suffrage came to pass in 1920, thanks to the 19th Amendment, and they may have earned the right to vote, but they continue to fight for gender equality even today. But when it comes to having a rational discussion about the Second Amendment, even small incremental progress becomes a challenge as people become dogmatic about their beliefs and stubborn in their resistance to change.
An individual’s right to own firearms is guarded with such fervor that even the murder of innocent school children couldn’t make a dent in it. How can a country consider itself great if its social beliefs are tied to a document written two centuries ago?
There are many Americans, politicians and even Supreme Court judges who proudly state that they are pro-Second Amendment. On the flip side, the voice of the anti-gun lobby is certainly louder today than it was few decades back. However, what we need are leaders who will spearhead the effort to repeal the archaic Second Amendment. Borrowing a popular phrase from contemporary politics, we need to “repeal and replace” it. Incremental progress in gun control at the state level, with nothing substantial happening in Washington, will leave America exposed to gun violence for decades, if not centuries.
American politicians, including its presidents, never lose the opportunity to display a brash arrogance that borders on crudeness, irrespective of their political affiliation. More than one presidential campaign has been run on the slogan, “Make America Great,” most recently by its current leader, Donald Trump.
Guns have no place in a civilized society. The collective effort should be focused on making America civilized, rather than great.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.