America's gun culture is beyond ridiculous

This past week there have been three stories about shootings that I've happened upon. The first is a police officer who shot an unarmed teen (a white teen, in a rare change of news) to death. The teen was allegedly in possession of marijuana, and the officer claimed he shot the unarmed teen in self-defense; the autopsy, however, showed that the fatal entry wound entered from the back.

Then we have just-released video tape of a police officer being charged with manslaughter after he shot an unarmed black man... ready for this... eight times... while the man was on the ground. The officer fired 12 times, and hit the victim ten times. Eight of those were after the victim had fallen to the ground. It's a small miracle that the officer is being charged at all, and while it seems like a clear-cut case of murder, an attorney buddy of mine informed me that a manslaughter conviction is much more likely to stick:

Then there was yet another a movie theater shooting, the second in as many weeks.

America is an outlier in the industrialized world. No one comes close to the the amount of gun violence we have, and that's just homicides. Cops shoot and kill an extraordinary number of people every year. The Ferguson riots brought to the fore just how recklessly we are militarizing the police.

All of this is preventable. But in a massive heap of irony, conservatives — as is often the case — think the answer is more guns. Just arm everyone! Except, research shows that people without proper training do a very poor job in life-or-death situations. Anecdotal incidents show that open-carry laws are for white people. And can you imagine being a police officer arriving at the scene of a reported shooting and encountering multiple gunmen?

It reminds me of, well, just about any other stance conservatives take on social issues. Let's take abortion, for example. Research overwhelmingly shows that access to contraception and comprehensive sex education are highly effective in reducing unwanted pregnancy. Reduce unwanted pregnancy, you reduce abortion. And yet conservatives try their best to derail health insurance mandates for birth control, defund Planned Parenthood, and advocate abstinence-only sex ed despite research showing that it's totally ineffective. They believe that good Christian morality should overcome sexual temptation. So despite the mountain of evidence against their position, they continue to insist that what people need is just more Christian morality.

Despite the fact that America is the only industrialized world in which mass shootings happen on a semi-regular basis, and despite the fact that we lead other industrialized nations, by far, in violent gun deaths, conservatives still think the answer is to do the complete opposite of what the rest of the world does. They think that if we just have more guns, we'll just shoot all the bad people and they'll go away.

The reality is that gun culture in the US is a boys-with-toys culture that pervades civilians, police officers, and even the military. And until we embrace tighter gun control legislation, we'll continue to lead the world in preventable firearm deaths.


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