Who Are We As Americans?

From the Publisher

I am a proud American. I have traveled over the world and I am always proud of my country—good and bad. We are a great nation. But today, I do not recognize who we are. We have a great history as the leading democracy in the world, yet we are in the dark ages in some respects. God said to Cain, “Where is your brother?” Cain’s answer is to run away. God says, “You have stained the earth with blood.” This week, we continue to stain our nation in blood.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia.org

What is the relevance of the Second Amendment today? The signers of the Constitution crafted the amendment to protect the colonies and enable them to form a militia against an invading foreign enemy—namely, at that time, the British.

Today, my country leads the world in gun-related murders. We have more guns than people in our society. We use the Second Amendment to justify the need to have means of self destruction under the guise of protection. No other nation on earth provides its citizens the right to bear arms—at least, not to the lengths that we do. Most nations pass laws to prevent instances—such as the mass shooting by Stephen Paddock, whose motive remains unknown, in Las Vegas that claimed 59 lives and wounded more than 500 others—and impose severe penalties for breaking gun laws.

We are going in the opposite direction. Congress is currently considering laws to enable gun owners to have silencers. Do we now legitimize killing quietly? Our nation’s leaders are afraid of a lobby group that buys the right to sell death.

As a publisher, I turned down ads last year from a national advertiser that were advertising automatic weapons and hand guns in a predominantly black community that was offended by such ads. We lost thousands of dollars, but I slept well.

What have we become and why haven’t we changed as a society after the slaughters at Sandy Hook, Orlando and, now, Las Vegas? In a week, we will move on with our lives and the media will again focus on tweets, rather than engage our leaders with an issue that is life threatening and constant.

Perhaps, the time has come that the Second Amendment needs its own amendments to reflect the world we live in today. We are a nation that has become urbanized and is no longer the rural nation of farmers. But will our congressional leaders stand up to the NRA? I fear not. There are few profiles in courage in Washington these days.

The worst year in my life was 1968. MLK and RFK were killed and a police riot rocked the Democratic convention in Chicago. Vietnam triggered a great war amongst ourselves and this nation was torn apart. But we survived as a nation and eventually healed.

I fear that this past week’s tragedy in Las Vegas will soon fade and the future will bring a shooting that will exceed the number of dead and wounded. Who are we if we allow this to continue to happen and are not willing to change our values?

We are not cowboys and we are not fighting the British. We are fighting ourselves. We once had a president who cried on TV over the murders of children at Sandy Hook and we shed tears this week over the victims gunned down at a concert in Las Vegas.

We may never know the reason, but we know the tools that were used. In New York City, it is reported that, in 2016, a total of 2,120 weapons—from razors to guns—were seized by the NYPD from students. There have been 273 mass shootings in America in 2017 alone and we have three months left in the year.

How can we call ourselves civilized? Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg has committed hundreds of millions of dollars to fight this stain on our society. But all the money in the world has not changed our DNA. Who are we as a people who have this need—or, perhaps, fear—to possess so many guns? Against whom are we arming ourselves?

Our president feeds into this through his rhetoric in which he pits us against the rest of the world. He proclaims, “America first,” and some take this as a call to arms.

Leaders in Congress say that it’s too early to discuss the issue of guns. Nonsense—it’s already too late. The families who lost loved ones during this week’s shooting and the hundreds who were traumatized by it will likely agree. We need an honest discussion of who we are as Americans that we lead the world in gun-related murders. Our culture has bred violence and hate.

We call upon our readers to reflect on America’s gun culture. Share your thoughts by emailing us at queenstribune@gmail.com or send us a letter to the editor.

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