“Gun Culture”

The most self-critical the U.S. ever gets is in instances like the Virginia Tech massacre, when certain people (liberal) reflect that the wide availability of guns might be at least in part responsible. Of course the NRA (National Rifle Asssociation) is immediately asked to weigh in, and does its usual prattle about how it’s not the guns, but the bad guys who use them. This is patently ridiculous, because in countries where guns are not easily available, people don’t kill each other with them. Duh.

But what is always missing from these so-called moments of reflection is any consideration of the bigger picture: the United States is the world’s premier weapons-merchant. The United States is presently conducting two major wars and Lord knows how many covert ones…In short, the United States is the most violent nation on the face of the earth, and instead of inviting people to reflect on that, information junkies are fed psychological profiles of ‘the killer’, emotional stories about prayer vigils and what-not, and other rubbish. The point is to keep people from considering the big picture.

Our vaunted ‘individualism’ comes in handy at times like these: we are encouraged to take a prurient interest in the particular oddities of a particular killer’s personality. The seemingly endless fascination with Hitler is the classic case: there is the greatest resistance to looking at the Nazis in any sort of historical context. When you do, the Nazis are sadly predictable, alas.

Rather than considering the domestic rot that inevitably develops in any rabidly militaristic state, we lurch from heinous act to heinous act in a sort of panic. In the case of a school shooting psychologists are asked, “What’s wrong with these kids?” Instead we should be asking, “What do incidents like these say about us?” Could it be that the violent acts of the weakest and most confused among us somehow bear witness to a society spinning out of control?

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