Gun Violence in Virginia
by Stephen Lendman
The message of Wednesday’s gun violence in Alexandria, VA goes way beyond the shooting and wounding of a congressman and others.
The greater issue is America’s longstanding culture of violence, a nation with the world’s highest level of gun ownership – including deadly, high-capacity, military-style semi-automatic weapons readily available to anyone able to afford them.
It’s no surprise that gun-related violence follows. It’s unknown what lay behind Wednesday’s multiple Alexandria shootings. Shot dead by police, James Hodgkinson can’t explain.
Did rage against the system, more specifically at Republicans and Trump, motivate his actions? Or was something else behind what happened?
It’s unknown so far, perhaps never to be fully explained – other than calling the incident an act of violence by a lone gunman.
America glorifies wars and violence in the name of peace. It’s waged them throughout its history at home and abroad.
The nation has the highest homicide rate of all developed countries by far, its passion for gun ownership a significant part of the problem.
Violent films and video games are some of the most popular. US society is called a rape culture – one-fourth of adult women victimized one or more times in their lifetimes, often by someone they know, including family members.
An astonishing 75% of women are victims of some form of violence in their lifetimes. Domestic violence is their leading cause of injury, the second leading cause of death.
Child and elder abuse are rampant, help unavailable to most victims. Peace and public safety are illusions – crowded out by imperial wars and domestic violence in a nation defiant against human and civil rights, democratic values and rule of law principles.
Studies show the average child watches around 200,000 acts of violence on television before age-18, including thousands of murders.
Around 15 years after television was introduced in the late 1940s, homicide rates doubled, violent behavior multiplied, inner city school performance declined, illicit drug and tobacco use along with promiscuous sexual activity increased.
Studies show a consistent correlation between witnessed violence and aggressive behavior – in films, including cartoons, video games, and popular rap music glorifying guns, rape and murder.
Violence in America is out-of-control. Blacks and Latinos are targets of choice for militarized police, operating extrajudicially, making their own rules, getting away with murder, torture, and other forms of brutality.
Guns can be bought as easily as toothpaste. Ownership lowers the threshold between anger and homicide. Proliferation leaves everyone vulnerable.
The right to own, carry, conceal and use guns is a disturbing American tradition, claiming about 100,000 victims annually, killed or wounded – from homicides, suicides or accidents.
In 1982, a Senate Judiciary Committee
report claimed “the second amendment to our Constitution was intended as an individual right of the American citizen to keep and carry arms in a peaceful manner, for the protection of himself, his family, and his freedom.”
Ignored were the rights of gun violence victims, affecting all segments of society – at home, at work, on streets, in schools, and virtually any place else.
Death or injury from firearms is one of the most important neglected public health concerns. Congress dismisses it. Vulnerability to gun violence exceeds the threat to military personnel in all active US war theaters.
Though banned, automatic weapons are accessible, almost as deadly semi-automatic ones easily obtainable.
The Second Amendment is the nation’s most abused constitutional right, a boon for America’s gun manufacturers – merchants of death and injury when their products are used for purposes other than sport or self-defense.
America’s framers had no intention of creating a gun culture. Federal gun laws are pockmarked with loopholes, making ownership of these deadly weapons simple.
Inner city neighborhoods like Chicago’s are virtual war zones, death or injury from guns out-of-control nationwide.
Nothing in prospect suggests relief. Even in the wake of one of their own seriously wounded in Wednesday’s Alexandria incident, congressional members won’t act responsibly to change things.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
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