The Second Amendment “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” This decree has produced substantial amounts of vigorous debates concerning the Amendment’s full intent. This declaration has been misconstrued and mutated to fit the narrative of the NRA of the period. Established in 1871 The National Rifle Association was established to train hunters and gun aficionados on safety and use. Now they advocate for more and more relaxed guns laws, their resisting of any encroachment that impedes gun ownership hindered.
The NRA uses Its strength of membership to campaign and lobby against any comprehensible gun laws by creating an environment of absolute fear and falsehoods based in racism and hateful rhetoric. I begin with the NRA due to their approach to change, and their absolute heartless view of American lives being lost every day. In fact, the NRA propaganda machine has used its power to mold the laws in America to include more and more relaxed gun laws, with reprehensible outcomes. The US averages 95-gun killings a day according to AmericanProgress.org. With “stand your ground laws” and open carry laws becoming more prevalent in states every year. We have watched as gun crimes goes on the incline to levels not seen since the 90’s.
Antonio Armand Vaughn was my 24-year-old nephew, gunned down in a Phoenix bar over a small meaningless dispute. He leaves behind a grieving Mother, Father, girlfriend, and child. His loss was particularly hard for me because I relocated to Phoenix in 2001 to change my life for the better. I was living a lifestyle in the St Louis area I decided I need to extinguish, and I thought that Phoenix was the place for me. After a few years going back and forth between the St Louis area and Phoenix, and a horrible run in with (MEGSI) Metro Enforcement Group of Southwestern Illinois, and the shooting death of a childhood friend. I finally settled in for good in Arizona.
Antonio and I stayed close over the years, finally in 2013 he moved to Phoenix to live with me. I attempted to steer him in the correct direction to help make him an upstanding citizen and young man. Informing him of the journey I took from being a drug dealer to now an IT technician working on a Degree in Computer Science. I always spoke about him going back to school, and how not having a high school diploma held me back until I received a GED. I blathered about the dangers of guns and how they affected my childhood losing so many friends. I also informed him of the day I shot myself and the reason I advocate for strong gun laws and mandatory gun training. All to no avail.
The culture of the gun in America is too strong. Young people must learn the hard way the dangers of guns. We celebrate the gun in our music our movies and TV. We post picture on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Never thinking about the consequences of these actions. Too many adults think guns and violence solves problems and then those same adults wonder why kids go out and shoot those that disagree with them. We have a problem as a country. From rural area Americans thinking gun violence only affects black Americans in inner cities for instance Chicago. Or Urban Americans continuous fight to keep guns out the hands of young people. The ignoring of the huge amounts of suicide deaths and the repeated Case studies that found gun ownership increases the risk of suicide or death in the home, according to (Kellermann and Reay, 1986; Kellermann et al., 1993; Cummings and Koepsell, 1998; Wiebe, 2003; Dahlberg et al., 2004; Hemenway, 2011; Anglemeyer et al., 2014). So, the cities with stricter gun laws equate to lower gun deaths and statistics prove this over and over.
With all the numbers and statistics showing gun ownership increases the chances you die by a gun question stands why are we still addicted to guns? Fear. We fear each other, we fear other races, we fear the Government. And with the history of America I understand that fear. But, when does it end? With the death of George Floyd people have revolted against Police violence and racism and inequality of all degrees. But, with the perfect storm of the Corona Virus Pandemic, the economic crisis that resulted. The lack of real Presidential leadership, (instead of an Administration that fans the flames of racism). This is an environment that ripe for an uptick in gun violence. With a violent fourth of July weekend where we saw 160 killings across the nation.
USA Police kill more civilians than any other developed nation in the world. Their tactic of using deadly force in all situations has provoked the largest civil right movement ever. Americas addiction to guns is a huge factor. The ease of kids getting their hand on weapons illegally and legally does not help the police jobs. According to the Guardian.com 57% of deadly force victims had a fake gun or an actual gun on their person. Another 20% accounted for less lethal weapons like knives. This does not take any accountability away from horrible officers that pull the trigger needless, they should face the wrath of the Judicial system just like any other murderer.
Racism is a big component in the disproportionate shootings of minorities in America. The ideology of white individualism and small Government gives way to politicians supporting police in all shooting no matter the tactics used. No respect for the poor and pilling everyone in jail isn’t helping, making us the country with the most people locked away. Systemic racism from the leaders of the Police force to the percentage of black officers on the force is also an issue that needs to be dealt with.
I am advocate of removing officers from making most civil traffic stops and let machines and parking enforcement handle the small infractions. Removing no knock warrants. Having officers that do not carry weapons to remove the stigma of violence from the role (Only bring guns when needed). Set a parameter when needed begin a dialogue with the person and start the process of de-escalating the situation. While watching the video of another man killed in his car in Phoenix by Police, they rushed his car, saw he had a gun. Instead of setting a parameter they broke out the glass and forced the shooting in my opinion. This tactic needs to change.
As I conclude, I have stated clearly the reasons I believe we struggle with gun violence. The fact we have 265 million guns and growing. The police are trained to shoot in all situations they deem their lives is in danger, helps us to lead all first world nations in guns deaths. Some of these countries have strict gun laws, and some have relaxed laws but an entirely different mindset and culture with guns and gun training is keeping them safer.
This is where we need to learn from other countries, what are they doing and what can we do to change. I’m done with all excuses, we’re human just like them. Society has to learn A gun is a murder tool period. It is used to kill and take lives. It is misused by those that state it’s for protection by being paraded around when they are told to wear mask. And mishandled when we model with them and take pictures like it’s not a killing machine but a toy to be played with. This change in culture is needed in America. Every rapper has bars about his Draco. But not many have bars about a way out. Or away to survive these streets without getting a Draco.
There are plenty of groups that advocate against gun violence. But they’re handcuffed by a society that thinks more guns make us safer. I still understand Gun ownership for the home with the correct training and storage. But we also need stronger background checks, tougher laws on the selling and buying of stolen weapons. Stricter sentences for careless storage of weapons, stronger charges for negligent parents that let kids get a hold of guns. Close the loop holes that exist in Gun Shows and online purchasing. If you’re gifted a gun you have to register that gun or face consequences. We can make America safe. But the first step is removing the misconceptions on guns on start thinking like responsible gun owners and American that love each other not fear each other. Maybe we can stop the killings before it’s your family member. Oh, and Vote for legislators that believe in gun ownership, but responsibly.
Damon Diplean Ellison