TO GET INVOLVED
Contact your elected officials by visiting americansforresponsiblesolutions.org, formed recently by Gen. McChrystal and others.
The Second Amendment is killing us.
The right to buy, own, sell and stockpile guns in the way we are currently buying, owning, selling and stockpiling guns is not worth the 49 dead — gay, young, promising — Americans in Orlando.
Or the 27 elementary school lives in Newtown, Conn.
Or the 12 movie-going lives in Aurora, Colo.
Or the nine gospel-hearted lives in Charleston, S.C., killed one year ago last week.
Or the five military lives in Chattanooga, killed one year ago next month.
Or the 33,000 other Americans who died from gun violence — homicide, suicide, accidental deaths — each year.
"Our communities should not feel like war zones," Gen. Stanley McChrystal wrote in the Thursday's New York Times.
Individual rights and liberties are designed to protect us from the strong arm of government; by nature, they keep little America — you, me — vested with freedoms. We can read what we want. Say what we want. Receive legal counsel. Protection from heavy-handed searches and seizures.
And own guns.
Yet the right to bear arms and maintain a well-regulated militia has become undone, a ghost of its former self, exploited and prostituted to the point where the Second Amendment, in its current distorted form, causes more damage than good. Responsibility is held hostage by glorification; moderation and reason by addiction.
We, in America, have a gun problem. Conditioned, especially in the South, to believe guns are an extended form of masculinity, civic or social membership and phallus-like dominance, many of us seem unable to tell the difference between healthy gun ownership (hunting, sport shooting, protection, personal hobby) and obsession.
This is not the fault of the Second Amendment, or the many reasoned gun owners in America, but rather the current psychology from which the N.R.A. and its politicians interpret the Second Amendment.
"In Germany, being murdered with a gun is as uncommon as being killed by a falling object in the United States," the New York Times reported. "In Poland and England, only about one out of every million people die in gun homicides each year — about as often as an American dies in an agricultural accident or falling from a ladder."
Something must change.
Something is changing.
- Create a no-buy list, similar to a no-fly list. Suspected terrorists should not be allowed to buy guns, yet they now can, because such an idea — put forward by the Bush administration — has been voted down by N.R.A. Republicans in Washington.
- Restore the ban on assault weapons — semiautomatic, and capable of a medley of warlike features, such as pistol grips, flash suppressors and rapid-fire magazines — which are weapons of war, and have no place in civic America.
Neither do 30-round magazines. (Orlando). Or 100-round magazines. (Aurora).
- Implement a universal background check. Every gun sale — within families, hobbyists, weekend dealers — must include a government background check.
- Stop advertising guns. In most Sunday newspapers, assault weapons are listed for sale, next to beach towels and umbrellas, which has the normalizing effect of equating a weapon of war with a day at the lake.
- Demand more out of Hollywood. Our entertainment industry, usually at the forefront of social issues, must stop its glorification of gun violence.
The TV and movie industry rightly championed inclusion and acceptance of gay Americans — "Will and Grace," "Ellen" — yet has been bloody guilty of its promotion of gun-porn: dead bodies, immense gun violence, where all heroes carry guns.
- Expect more out of professional athletes. With the passing of Muhammad Ali, pro athletes need to be reminded of their responsibility to speak out in political ways, even against gun culture.
- Expect more out of the American church, which must abandon its passive, lukewarm acceptance of gun idolatry and become politically engaged in hastening the kingdom of God, which is never armed.
- Expect more out of responsible gun owners.
"As this national crisis continues to rage, I ask my fellow veterans — patriots who have worn the uniform, who took an oath to protect our Constitution and the Second Amendment, who served this great country — to add your voice to this growing call for change," McChrystal wrote. "America needs you."
David Cook writes a Sunday column and can be reached at email@example.com or 423-757-6329.