Some of the biggest news this week was the mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois. You’ve likely heard about it. It happened on Monday, during a Fourth of July parade. On Friday, someone walked up behind former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe and shot him dead with a homemade shotgun, while he was speaking in front of hundreds of people. In between that, well, there’ve been too many to recount.
The world is a horrible, violent place—America being a prime example of that, no matter what any deluded nationalist or upper-middle-class citizen may try and say about it. Japan, not so much. But, people die all the time on Earth. It may seem callous or dismissive, but 120 people die every minute in the world, 5 every minute in America. While most of them may be from natural causes, parsing death out into categorical type is something for bioethicists, sociologists or other research scientists to do, and not something about which anyone else (me included) needs to speak at great length. The numbers are out there.
But gun violence and its psychological aftermath are things many Americans have to needlessly deal with, way too often in this country. And while the current gun legislation already has its critics for being too lenient, it’s obvious that no legislation passed in the foreseeable future will do anything to curb such violence in America. Because it’s not just people with mental health issues. Or low-conscientious anger issues. And it’s not just the occasional, high-profile mass shooting. It’s suicide by shooting. And it’s also violence in America’s most impoverished, underserved and failed neighborhoods. In the two days leading up to and on the same day as the shooting in Highland Park, 10 other people were shot to death all over Chicago, most of them on the city’s South Side. Didn’t hear about all that, did you?
The right of gun ownership being so deeply embedded in the U.S. Constitution causes some serious, serious problems for reform of acquisition and possession of firearms; many can and do cry loss of liberty when anyone’s grubby, lily-white liberal hands go anywhere near it. Politicians, too, know how their constituents lean, and know, too, how to drive voters into a fearful, rebellious frenzy so that votes and political victory can be assured. But sensible, far-sighted lawmakers in this country have only to look elsewhere to see how other nations have more or less successfully dealt with gun ownership. The legislation exists. Canada, the UK, France and, yes, even Japan—their collective homicides due to premeditated or spontaneous shootings are only fractions of ours. The numbers are out there.
But all signs point to more than just band-aids, or a complete overhaul of gun policy, which is for all intents and purposes impossible. They point to serious problems with the country, itself—mainly of the socio-economic variety, which are brought about by any number of systemic, social viruses within. Along with the lack of availability or funding of resources for mental health, which affects communities everywhere, regardless of size or mean household income, the system is rife with bigotry, apathy, selfishness, self-righteousness, distrust, plutocratic scheming, class power struggles and a lack of flexibility toward balance and change.
In the meantime, gun ownership has increased over the last couple years. And numbers show that in recent opposition protests to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, the likelihood of a fight breaking out has a through-the-roof increase (33% of incidents) when guns are present, against a mere 0.2% when none are to be found. Oh, the world would be a safer place if everyone owned a gun, you say? Sure about that?
Because of the pandemic, the rise of Trumpism, inflation, a looming recession, people continually taking to the streets en masse to support social justice, what conservative media has to say about that and the road-rage, spitting-across-the-fence that happens on Facebook and Twitter every day, the country is as much a powder keg as any point in its relatively short history. And the palsied hands holding the burning matches are everywhere, tremoring right above it. And until some bigger-picture issue arises that serves to bring everyone together and makes them forget about their outrage for a little while, the matches will only draw closer and closer to the powder.
Meanwhile, across the world at the G-20 Leaders’ Summit in Bali, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, via the Chinese Foreign Ministry, made some ridiculously head-shaking comment worth repeating about how every else (i.e. America) needs to never, ever do this thing that China always does and has been doing for decades, otherwise there will be repercussions from…I don’t know…China? Some of the meaning may be lost in translation, but he said: “[T]o place one’s own security above the security of others and intensify military blocs will only split the international community and make oneself less secure.” He’s talking about U.S. relations with Taiwan. Which is, like, nonillionfolds ironic. Take note, kids. If you ever want to be some blank-faced, sh—shoveling, high level diplomat in a repressive, Big Brother state, this is what you do: pretty much make no sense every time you open your mouth and say something to the public.
And, finally, Vladimir Putin went on record as saying there will be more bloodshed in the name of…whatever it is Russia still says it’s destroying Ukraine in the name of, and that the Federation war machine is just getting started. While simultaneously, it should be noted, having already been depleted of over 30% of the forces it had at the outset, by estimates more honest than Russia’s.
I do not nor ever will wish death upon anyone, but—just wondering—where’s the lunatic with the homemade shotgun standing behind Vladimir Putin while he’s giving a speech?