We must change our gun culture in America | An Alternative View | Diana Diamond | Palo Alto Online |


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By Diana Diamond

We must change our gun culture in America

Uploaded: May 31, 2022

We live in a country in love with guns – significantly more than any other country in the world. Many Americans idolize them. This gun reverence has worsened the past 10 years, because of a variety of reasons. Perhaps it’s a need for men to feel macho, for women to feel protected. So what if guns can kill -- if I feel better, then I want a gun, countless Americans say.

Perhaps it’s because many think that gun control is a culturally elite viewpoint, one which contradicts the feelings of the more ordinary Americans, those who love their guns, enjoy hunting, enjoy the s tatus of owning a gun – all his friends have one, some have two … or three …or more Perhaps it’s because, as many Second Amendment advocates proclaim, owning guns is one of our cherished American freedoms, and we want our freedoms, and will fight for them if anyone interferes with them.

With all these attitudes, it will be difficult to get rid of powerful guns in our country, since owning them has become an inherent right.

What we need to do is change our gun culture in America.

An example of cultural views: A couple of years ago, my husband and I took a cruise down the Mississippi and stopped at Vicksburg, Mississippi for lunch. Next to us were wo women in their mid-30s, chatting away.

“Oh no!” one suddenly proclaimed, as she searched through her handbag. .”Oh , how could I do this,” she cried, glancing at our table. “Did you lose your cellphone?” I asked. “No, she resaid -- I left my gun home. How could I have done that.”

Is there a problem here in Vicksburg, I asked? “No, I guess we don’t have many problems because this is a lovely town. I was born here.” She asked where we come from. California. “Oh, they don’t like guns there, do they,” she asked. Some of us don’t.

Becoming more animated, she told me they like guns in Mississippi. “In fact, we just bought my five-year-old daughter a pretty pink gun, and my seven-year-old son a blue gun. We’re going to give them lessons next week on how to use them.” At that age. I asked?

“Yes. We have guns at home. My husband and I each have one at our bedside, and a rifle in the closet, and two rifles downstairs. We feel that we are safe, now.

I couldn’t think of anything to reply

One of the big gun manufacturers, Daniel Defense, has a new ad out, a commentator on a news show this week showed the audience. It pictured a small child, perhaps two years old, holding an AR-15 in his hands. The voice over said if a child gets used to a gun like this at an early age, he will use it for the rest of his life!

The laws in many states do not allow children to even be photographed with knives, or cigarettes, or any alcohol, the commentator said. But evidently there are no laws forbidding ads with little kids holding guns. Texas allows 18-year-olds to buy AR-15s, but not handguns.

To repeat, we have a gun culture problem in our country.

Indeed, the cover of the NYT’s Sunday Review section this week proclaimed over and over down the page, “Authorities say the gunman was able to obtain the weapons legally.” Keep that sentence in mind.

Yes, we’ve heard that our country has more guns and gun deaths than all other Western nations. Noted columnist Fareed Zakaria on his CNN program on Sunday pointed out the specific differences,

He had a big bar graph that showed the enormous number of gun homicides in this country compared to other western nations. According to a University of Washington study, the gun homicide rate in the U.S. is h8 percent higher than in Canada, 50 percent higher than in Germany, 100 times higher than the UK, and in Japan,250 times higher than the U.S. In other words, the United States is off the charts.

You know the statistics -- United States has 4 percent of the world’s population, but is responsible for 50 percent of the gun sales in the world. Sales of AR-15s are millions a year. THE NSSF (a firearm industry trade association) estimated more than 16 million “modern sporting rifles” were in circulation by 2018.

We are being told that the reasons for all the school mass killings and shootings is because many were done by the mentally ill individuals in our country. But certainly. we can’t have more mentally ill than Great Britain or Germany or Japan that would account for our great er number of gun homicides.

The fact is, we have the most heavily armed civilian culture in the world.

Yes, we can do many things to control gun violence – sell only to those over-21 years of age; conduct more background checks, ban the sales of AR-15s and other high-powered guns and rounds of ammunition. All good measures to enact.

But to me the real problem in this country is the gun culture that says our freedom to have guns carries more weight than the outcome of hundreds of adults and children dying from these guns. These individuals also had rights – and all kids alive still have the right to not get killed by a gun. Right now, “freedom for me to have a gun” trumps all. We have to change that culture.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving changed the drinking-and-driving culture in our country years ago – we all know because of government action the fines and punishments now enforced are severe if we are caught driving while intoxicated – loss of license, inability to get car insurance, etc. And Americans have responded.

If the two 18-year-old teen in Buffalo and Uvalde didn’t carry AR15s and magazines, many of those shot would be alive today. People are yelling, “do something!” We have to act now.

Guns kill, period.

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