American Gun

thousand oaks shooting img

Another mass shooting in America!  They are so frequent they are anticipated.  I favor stick gun control, and the application of the Second Amendment of the Constitution should be challenged as it now stands before weapons’ technology but continues to be interpreted along antiquated guidelines. How little is commonly known about the original purpose and history of the Second Amendment, founded, as it was, on the fear of slave revolt!   Automatic and semi-automatic weapons are weapons of mass destruction.  Their design is to serve one purpose alone, to kill as many people on the ground as possible, as rapidly as possible.

But gun control laws, which I support, will not change the climate of mass shootings on their own.  As a people, the American people crucially need to overcome the culture of violence and free ourselves from the pandemic fear at our throats—working to end the economics of violence and our being duped into complicity if not conspiracy by the politics of fear.  We fear ourselves, to the same measure asour popular ignorance and over-exposure to negative, shallowing and life demeaning influences.  We fear one another and “the other”—the newest arrival, the outsider, the stranger, our neighbors across the urban jungles, along the roaring, junky littered streets, our neighbor next door, edgily defined by boundaries of private property, fences and suspicion.  Too many here are possessed by the demons of worth contraworthlessness, distrust, hatred.  Demons lurking in the dark compounds of the collective psyche; the abyss of unhealed, unforgiven and unforgiving national history.

This United States of America was founded on shining ideals.  But the United States of America; increasingly with the resources to aspire to empire; became manifest through genocide against indigenous populations,rape and devastation of a continental environment; replacing pristine eco-systems with plots and plans of defoliation and toxicity for profit; and the perfidious, racist institution of slavery.  How much of our fear, our hatreds, our obsession with the American gun, is rooted in this dark history, the nightmare realities buried alive under the broken promises of the American dream?

We cannot discern a truthful answer to this important inquiry until we have more profoundly and integrally confronted and wholeheartedly worked through the unlearned heritage of these obscure and obscene realities. Until we come to terms with denial, deception and euphoric memory loss as the conditional, commodity-based thoughtlessness of American life.

The immediate question therefore is this: How many mass shootings until critical mass, how many more citizens gunned down, until we decide enough is truly enough or, full on, hell bent, we jump into a free-for-all shoot out?  Mass murder takes lives and it also destroys social fabric.  We could then ask the question again: How long before we, as a people, are moving toward a clear conscience and altered consciousness regarding shared life?  Indeed (literally, in-deed) before we make, as a touchstone of community, the process of change to be realized as solid, substantial and sustainable truth:  Guns are not required in the values of American identity, unless, under moral collapse, we accept deadly force as a first and final reaction.But nobody needs to be an outlaw or cowboy; nobody needs to be a gunslinger to be qualified to be an American.

In conversation with a co-worker and friend on the latest mass shootings, he gave voice to an ancient proverb, saying, “When you ride on the tiger’s back, you end up in the tiger’s mouth.”  America is in the tiger’s mouth.  Prying the jaws open again and again is expedient, but not a cure and not a solution.  We stop devouring and being devoured only when the tiger is tamed.  The raging man-eater in individual hearts and minds exorcised.  The raging man-eater in politics and practice—the self-absorbed thingness of alienated, isolated and festering life that prowls, ever present, behind masks and pretense; barely below the eroded surface of our shining ideals, defanged and pacified.

Consider:  Must we be utterly broken, popularly maimed, absolutely terrified for so long and at what loss and suffering before we attain the humility of acceptance and come together in true humanity?  Not as nationalists, to be sure, but as a nation-world of human diversity?  Great perhaps by virtue of affirmations and ethical responsibility, but definingly not subject to political propaganda and not abjectly waiting our turns to become victims or shooters.   On the other hand, what we keep evading under and within the status quo of the American gun is the call to action: Fear poisons decency,

envenoms democracy. On the loaded roulette table of nihilism and absurdity life is cheap and with each loss—the most recent and the upcoming mass shootings (already annually in the hundreds)—life gets cheaper.

Ludwig Binswanger, one of the founders of existential psychoanalysis, studying the rise of totalitarianism in Fascist Europe in the 1930s-40’s said that if we want to understand the future of a nation, we should study that nation’s present-day criminals.  Past is prelude to the present; present prelude to the future.  If this formula is correct and uncorrected, the prognosis for America’s future—under the dictatorshipof the American Gun—is bloody.

David Sparenberg is a writer from USA


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