“No Thanks” to Indiscriminate Access to Guns in the U.S.

By David Brooks on November 24, 2022

Even thanks can no longer be given without bullets. In the most armed and violent advanced country in the world there have been more than 600 mass shootings -with 4 or more victims- so far this year, an average of two every day.

On Tuesday night, as customers at a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia, shopped for ingredients for the traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, a gunman – identified as one of the store’s managers – pulled a gun in one of the employee meeting rooms and began firing randomly at his colleagues, killing six and wounding at least six others before killing himself on the spot. “I just saw three of my friends murdered,” commented one of the female workers in that room.

Three days earlier, at a gay bar in Colorado Springs, a 22-year-old armed with a semi-automatic rifle and handgun killed 5 people and wounded 17 more. There are questions about why authorities did not confiscate the suspect’s guns in 2021 after he was arrested because his mother reported that he had threatened her with a homemade bomb.

This Wednesday, four students were shot and wounded outside their Philadelphia high school shortly after the school day ended early for the Thanksgiving holiday bridge. “We’re allowing people to run around with guns and do whatever the hell they want in this city…we could have lost a minor today,” declared a furious school district security chief.

While every incident in a public place makes the news and provokes fears, even more appalling is that it has become “normal”. Moreover, the images, promotion and advocacy of guns by political leaders despite this news never cease to amaze any observer. Glenn Youngkin’s election campaign for governor of the state of Virginia where this latest incident occurred – and where 10 days earlier a young man killed three University of Virginia students – is an image of two men firing a rifle with the slogan “our country, our right.” Today the governor repeated the same old message lamenting the terrible tragedy – without mentioning the words “gunman” or “guns.”

In 2022 through today’s date, there have been 608 recorded incidents of mass shootings, defined as those with four or more casualties (wounded and/or killed), according to the Gun Violence Archive [https://www.gunviolencearchive.org]. The most serious this year was the massacre of 19 children and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24.

So far in 2022 to date, it is estimated that more than 39,000 people have been killed by bullets (more than 21,000 of these by gun suicide). Some 291 of these victims are children between the ages of 0 and 11. All indications are that this will be the year of the most gun violence in the last 8 years that this organization has conducted these counts – and that the total has more than doubled (in 2014, there were 273 mass shootings).

“It’s the f***ing guns,” states Shannon Watts, founder of the gun control organization Moms Demand Action, in the tweet she sent commenting on these latest incidents. She added that “400 million guns in civilian hands coupled with weak gun laws have given us a gun homicide rate 25 times higher than any other equivalent nation.”

The top five U.S. assault rifle manufacturers have earned at least $1.7 billion in revenue from sales of these AR-15-type weapons frequently used in mass shootings over the past decade, according to a legislative investigation.

Thanksgiving, an official holiday celebrated on the last Thursday of November, when families and friends gather to express gratitude for what they enjoy and have, and marks the myth of the official origin of the nation 401 years ago with the first harvest -thanks to the Indians- of the European settlers who arrived undocumented to this land, will take place this year with several absentees, victims of firearms.

But Thanksgiving is also considered a “National Day of Mourning” by several indigenous organizations, declared 53 years ago, and will be commemorated in Plymouth, Massachusetts, near the place where the so-called European pilgrims arrived. With this, the other history of the country will be remembered, including the colonial occupation and expansion that would expel indigenous people from their lands, destroy their nations and peoples. All with the use of firearms (the so-called pilgrims came armed to these lands).

Today, the United States is the country with the most armed population in the world: 120 guns for every 100 inhabitants. With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has 46 percent of the world’s guns in civilian hands, according to the Small Arms Survey.

Whether this is something to be thankful for during traditional dinners – with their indigenous menu – this Thanksgiving is still in dispute.

Network in Defense of Humanity (REDH) translated by Resumen Latinoamericano – US