The tumultuous debate recently about gun registration prompted the mariner to think about the American culture, a culture that defends – if not encourages – every citizen to own a gun. Some state legislatures have validated the right to carry concealed weapons anywhere. In the Wild West, even bars and grocery stores said to hang guns outside the establishment. Now, only metal detectors force a citizen to part with their alter ego – the gun.
Current reasons, brandished about one might say, are to defend one’s self against the government (a long standing paranoia), defend one’s self against others who would do harm (in the gun owner’s opinion), and to hunt (with semi-automatic weapons that require little marksmanship to kill the prey).
Oddly enough, handguns are the most deadly, killing 30,000 victims per year.
What other countries around the world suggest that every citizen be armed? The mariner can think of two or three ravaged and war torn countries in Africa and Madagascar where citizens best be armed or die. There are some countries in Central and South America where it may be better to have a weapon in the closet for one’s safety.
However, no other country values the gun in a sacrosanct way. That is true only in the United States. Intellectually, the gun issue is rooted in American history and has been a part not only of citizen regard but of national regard as well. A problem is solved with guns. Shoot first, negotiate later. It is the sacrosanct element of gun ownership that motivated the mariner to research American history.
The first significant use of guns included hunting for food and killing tens of thousands of Indians – who did not even own guns until well into the white person’s policy of genocide.
So guns cleared the west, making it safe for white people. But only for a while. Then the Mexicans became an issue when whites moved into the territory of Mexico. The United States won the shoot out because there were not enough Mexicans. Again, our country was forged with guns.
The American Revolution quickly moved from tariffs to guns from 1776 to 1815. The British came, marching up and down the East Coast, the Gulf States, and through Canada. With the help of French guns and warships, the thirteen original colonies were created through the din of gunfire. Less than fifty years later, the United States decided to fight among themselves, killing 364,511 citizens – not counting innocent murders, rapes and stealing the assets of every home that fell victim to either side.
It can be said that the Spanish American War was an opportunity for Americans to use their guns. The Spanish were in no position to defend their holdings. “Remember the Maine” was a dubious reason to pull out our guns.
Throughout American history all the way to the present, the American Government has had a guns first diplomacy. It is no wonder that guns seem to be a natural right for every American citizen. Below is a chart of the gun history of the United States. The mariner notes that it does not include the Grenada invasion (Reagan’s war and a good role for Clint Eastwood in “Heartbreak Hill.”) Also not noted in the World War II statistics is a deliberate bombing policy by the Allied Forces who knew beforehand more than 200,000 civilians would die in the process.
Total Casualties as of May 27, 2013
Add to the belligerent history of the United States other wars, more or less gunless. The war against the poor and non-white populations exacerbated by two recent decisions by the Supreme Court: money can vote and negating the 1965 Civil Rights Act. There is the war between plutocrats and the rest of the population. Similar to the Mexicans in the Mexican War, the rest of the population may lose because it has little money to fight back.
The United State has a harsh, win-first philosophy underlying its culture. Our history has forged this harshness. We should be careful to keep gun policies separate from other aggressive environments. “Stand your Ground” and carrying concealed weapons both are examples of ‘crossing the line’ as well as deliberate profiling with no other reason but skin color, which eventually will involve more than the occasional gun battle.
Americans like to be aggressive; it is a good trait – but not with gun in hand.