Violence in U.S. Culture: What’s Missing from the Gun Debate

In 1777, George Washington approved Springfield, Massachusetts as a site for manufacturing firearms, in order to prevent the usage of foreign weapons during the American Revolutionary War. After that, every passing conflict or war was an opportunity for the production of guns to increase and thus, our governments love and tight knit bond with the gun industry was born. Today, if you were to ask any opinionated person what they thought about gun violence they are likely to say one of two things. They’ll either go into a rant about mental illness in the U.S. needing more intensive care and attention, or proper gun reform needing to take place. The truth is, our problem is far too complex to be pushed into only two solutions, both of which ignore the fact that violence plays a very large role in our culture.

I’m sure you’re all familiar with the bar graphs floating around social media showing how the number of mass shootings that occur in the U.S. is significantly higher than compared to other developed nations. Many left wing people use these frequently to show how gun reform can lower the amount of shootings. While I too, had this way of thinking for so long, I’ve recently been questioning why else this nation has had to face these tragedies over and over again. Then it occurred to me: America is not like other countries.

Our nation was built off of violence and oppression towards minorities and the vulnerable, which the repercussions of still echoes in our society today. We associate violence with strength and guns with masculinity. Our government has a history of being closely allied with the gun industry. We are the largest producers of firearms in the entire world and they are glamorized in almost every aspect of our lives.

Guns are used to heighten intense scenes of some of the most popular movies. Songs that mention shooting people are played continuously on the radio. We let children virtually shoot people in video games and give them toy guns without questioning. Guns are not just an accessory that America produces, they are embedded within our society. It would be naive of me to believe that stricter gun regulations would solve gun violence and rid mass shootings forever.

That being said, the ideology of “gun laws probably won’t work, so let’s not do anything” is illogical and a weak reason to be against gun reform. Will banning assault rifles ensure that they will not ever fall in the wrong hands again? Probably not. I am aware that the Columbine shooting occurred while a ban on assault rifles was taking place. However, that ban was only over a ten-year period, and ten years is simply not enough time for gun violence to end in a culture that has praised guns for centuries. Making guns more difficult to obtain is simply a small step in the right direction.

I won’t pretend that I have all the answers but personally, I always need the satisfaction of knowing that I did everything in my power to see a result that I want to happen. And right now, no matter your political affiliation, I think we can all agree that we are not doing enough to prevent the senseless killing of innocent people. It is not acceptable to deem our gun violence problem as incurable. We have a long way to go and it will take much more than only a gun reform, or only an increase in mental health care to create a reality where gun violence is not a part of our culture.

Contributing Editor: Christina Yellamaty

Christina Yellamaty is a recent college graduate from upstate NY and currently is interning at a Legal Aid Society division in the Family Law and Immigration units. She is preparing to apply for law school where she hopes to concentrate in Human Rights Law.

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