Wednesday, June 22, 2016
I have a confession. I hate all guns. I hate every gun from an AR-15 to a B.B. gun to a SuperSoaker. I have even grown a slight disdain for my once-favorite video games like "Call of Duty" or "Goldeneye."
I am well aware that I'm an anomaly or a glitch in the Matrix. America's "gun freedom" is worshiped and has become synonymous with other "freedom" propaganda like "religious freedom."
However, if one peeked through the veil of gun freedom rhetoric, he or she may take issue with our gun culture and discover it to be a bullet-riddled illness that has plagued this country for generations. Unlike our country's history, which is marked by discrimination and exclusivity, bullets seem to have this undeniable talent for equality and inclusivity. Sure, the shooter in Orlando was a homophobic bigot, but the bullets he used to bring terror and death didn't care if its victims were gay, straight, black, white, Muslim or Christian.
When mass shootings occur, the common-sense solutions such as mental health-care reform, extensive background checks and an assault-weapons ban to combat such tragic events are resurrected like a biblical figure that shall remain nameless. We know the arguments and counterarguments to these solutions.
Using mass shootings as an agent for change clearly doesn't work. If 20 6- to 7-year-old kids killed at a school in Newtown, Conn., couldn't impede the Gun Lobby influence, the Orlando massacre probably won't have much success, either. Congress loves the kids! LGBT folks? Meh.
Our country's gun problems are rightfully highlighted when mass shootings occur. However, the day-to-day gun violence, particularly in urban communities, is often ignored on the national stage, partly because of the victims' socio-economic status and partly because it is a seemingly daily occurrence in areas like Chicago. Lack of economic and educational opportunities breed gang-related nefarious activities, those activities breed gang violence, and gang violence breeds the necessity for illegal guns. Economic and educational opportunity aside, there are other ways to combat the illegal gun problem facing various pockets of urban areas, including minimizing the infiltration of those weapons. That solution would call for a greater emphasis on catching illegal gun sellers, tracking guns with better technology and most importantly, slowing down the billion-dollar manufacturing of the weapons. Logically, slowing down gun manufacturing, along with putting a complete halt on assault-weapon manufacturing, would create a domino effect, thus making it difficult to obtain illegal weaponry. Of course, the day the National Rifle Association allows a precipitous drop in gun manufacturing is the day Jackson's streets are pothole free.
As long as the gun culture is ingrained in American society, organizations like the NRA will remain as American as apple pie. The gun culture was birthed by historical American conflicts, which is ironic considering that more Americans have died from guns since 1970 than have died in all the wars in U.S. history since the American Revolution. After such conflicts end, the Second Amendment is always there to carry the gun-culture torch like the Olympic Flame. It is defined as the right to bear arms against a "well-regulated militia," a phrase that plays to the paranoia of a large amount of American citizens. It has led many reasonable Americans to believe their guns are the last line of defense between them and government tyranny.
The twisting and turning of the Second Amendment by special-interest groups and politicians for monetary reasons have convinced many that guns and God belong side-by-side as the true beacon of American freedom.
So, unless the gun culture is addressed with very real and very open discussion and dialogue, equal-opportunity bullets will continue to rain down upon gay, straight, black, white, Muslim and Christian American citizens.
Leslie B. McLemore II is a Jackson native, now in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of Jackson State University, North Carolina Central University School of Law and American University Washington College of Law.
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