Gun Violence in America

(“The Price of Freedom?")

As someone who achieved fame as a Confederate artillerist (“Lee’s boy artillerist,” they called me), I acknowledge I may not be the best advocate for stricter gun laws.  On the other hand, if a former artillerist like myself is concerned over the damage guns are doing to our country, people should probably take note. The sad fact is, my “big guns” (Blakeley, Howitzer and Napoleon cannons) were responsible for slaughtering thousands of Union soldiers fighting to end slavery, perhaps prolonging the war by helping to turn the tide for the South in numerous battles.  I deeply regret my actions when I was alive on this earth, and hence my ongoing fight to promote justice and equality in America, my feeble quest for repentance, as it were.

I’m even willing to admit I was far too attached to those cannons and their power to kill.  I’m embarrassed to tell you this, but one young belle who visited our encampment later recalled that I affectionately stroked my big guns like they were my pets.  Well, you don’t have to be an expert on Freudian psychology to figure out what firing off cannons is all about. There’s no question that, for better and for worse, I definitely know something about guns, both big and small.  Unlike today’s mass shooters, however, I was proclaimed a “hero” rather than a killer. (I should mention that the young lady I reference was thrilled to meet the “Gallant Pelham” and seemingly enjoyed watching me stroke my guns.)

“Gun Rights” Have Become an Assertion of White Christian Nationalism.

Maybe I stroked my cannons, but I’m hard-pressed to understand why so many Americans (mostly white men, of course) are so passionate about their guns, why instruments of death remain a means of expressing their freedom, power, and yes, machismo.  Actually, I fear I understand all too well.

The notion that the deadly destruction guns continue to inflict on our country is in any way the “price of Freedom” is a sick justification for preserving an unacceptable status quo.  Whose freedom are we talking about, anyway?  Where does this definition of freedom come from?  It’s certainly not freedom for the thousands of victims of gun violence each year or the people who live in fear that they or someone they love will fall victim.

For many years the “who” in question was the gun lobby, the gun and ammunition manufacturers, along with the National Rifle Association (NRA) and their political allies, who were primarily, but not exclusively, members off the Republican Party.  But just as this is no longer your father’s Republican party, what we have today is in no way your father’s gun lobby. 

The fight for “gun rights” has long-since been coopted by an extremist minority, a subset of fanatical MAGAs, who believe: 1) they are fighting a holy war to defend Christianity in America; and 2) the ability to launch an armed rebellion against the government must be preserved at any cost.  This new gun lobby uses the defense of Christianity as a convenient excuse for white nationalism—a war against people of color, religious minorities, and the LGBTQ community, along with anyone they define as a part of the “woke” radical left.  With the exception of their passionate fights to expunge a woman’s right to choose and LGBTQ rights in total (if not the people themselves!), there is no “culture war” more important to these people than what they have long-since branded as “gun rights.”

Looking at our country’s history, this isn’t very surprising.  Guns enabled white European settlers to conquer the North American continent by defeating its indigenous inhabitants in an almost three-hundred-year war.  We should also acknowledge that guns were also the primary means by which Europeans enslaved millions of African Americans for almost 250 years and kept them living under Jim Crow laws for another 100 years after they were freed from bondage.  It’s true that guns are used for hunting and sport, but their primary purpose has most frequently been to assert the white man’s white power and control.  

That leaves a significant segment of the population for whom guns represent their last bastion of white privilege, the last remnant of the status that many feel has been unfairly taken from them, not just by the “browning of America,” but because of their diminished economic and social status based on the advent of technology, automation, and globalization. “Freedom” for these dudes means the right to hang on to their last means of dominance.  When they talk about “the price of freedom,” make no mistake, it has nothing to do with freedom in the conventional sense; guns represent their last stand against a rapidly changing world. 

Unfortunately, these people’s insistence on hanging onto that power has brought disastrous consequences. Here are some facts I’m sure you’ve seen before:

  • It’s estimated that the U.S. has almost 400 million guns in civilian hands, or 120 guns per 100 citizens. Since the Parkland school shooting in 2018, the number of guns has doubled.
  • The U.S. ranks number one in guns per-capita and has the highest homicide-by-gun rate of the world’s most developed countries.  With less than 5% of the world’s population we have over 46% of the world’s civilian-owned guns.
  • In 2022, guns killed more than 44,000 Americans and in 2023 that number could easily surpass 50,000.  Gun violence has surpassed car accidents as the leading cause of death of children and teens (ages 1-19).

Unfortunately, this new Christian nationalist gun lobby has managed to convince a sizeable number of Americans that the need for stricter gun laws (including the banning of assault weapons!) is one more example of the “Woke” radical left’s attack on their values and freedoms. But there is evidence that as the casualties mount, as every week brings news of another terrible mass shooting (there have been almost 200 mass shootings in 2023, well more than one per day.), people’s attitudes are changing.  It’s not very often that you’ll find me touting anything that comes from Fox News, but according to a recent Fox News poll, a vast majority of registered voters now favor tougher gun laws. 

  • Requiring criminal background checks on all gun buyers 87%
  • Improving enforcement of existing gun laws 81%
  • Raising the legal age to buy a gun to age 21 81%
  • Requiring mental health checks on gun buyers 80%
  • Requiring a 30-day waiting period for all gun purchases 77%
  • Banning assault rifles and semi-automatic weapons 61%

Many states and localities already have these on similar laws in place, but until all of these measure are adopted nationwide it’s unlikely the current epidemic of gun violence will subside.

Take it from this Former Confederate Artillerist...

People do Kill People, but Having so Many Guns in this Country Makes it a Heck of a Lot Easier!