With 5% of Earth’s population, American civilians own nearly half its guns. We are 25 times more likely to be killed by a gun in the United States than any other country. Some say easy access to firearms accounts for the lopsided numbers. Others argue, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Failing to recognize the implication for America’s values and culture, gun advocates say we commit more murders because we have more mentally ill and murderous people.
The strain and complexity of human life trigger and exacerbate mental illnesses, and mental illness lies at the root of all murder–in war and peace. Nevertheless and thankfully, worldwide the number of people who kill others is miniscule. While America’s efforts to understand and treat mental illness fall shamefully short, the average American is no crazier or homocidal than a neighbor in Europe, Asia, Africa, or South America.
Despite the shocking numbers, we are not more murderous either. Humans have always slain each other: Cain and able; the Crusades; the Spanish Inquisition; Conquistadors massacred Central and South American natives; Great Britain colonized half the globe by force or arms; Stalin annihilated millions of his own people; Hitler’s “Final Solution”; Hutus wiped out 70% of Tutsis; suicide attacks, and truck bomb rock Europe; ISIS beheads infidels; Mexican drug-cartels murder hundreds; Bashar al-Assad methodically massacres Syrians, adults, children, babies!
Americans murder more because guns are easy to get, simple to use, quick and reliable. For premeditated killing a gun is quicker and more certain than a knife, baseball bat, or poison. Far too often, guns trigger a permanent solution to a temporary grievance. Say, I’m some hot-head or just having a bad day when the neighbor’s dog craps on my lawn. Not owning a firearm, I charge down the front steps, kick the mutt in the ribs, punch the neighbor in the nose. With my 44 Mag handy, I just step outside and blow pooch and owner away. When some jerk cuts me off on Interstate 5, without a gun, I shake a fist flip him off, call him a “stupid son-of-a-bitch!’ “Carrying” the ol’ 38 Special, I roll down a window and waste the dumb bastard. Gangs who once “duked it out” now shoot it out; today drive-by shootings are common as fender-benders. When was a six yer old girl accidentally killed by a rock from a drive-by stoning? At the point of “ending it all” pulling a trigger is quicker and less problematic than hanging from the balcony, leaping from the thirteenth floor, or slitting my wrists.
No NRA! Get a grip! Americans do not murder in such alarming numbers because we are crazier or more murderous. We murder because we have so damn many guns! More guns than people! For a single murder or to massacre a kindergarten class, the tool of choice is a gun.