[Black Star News Editorial]

This is a strange nation.

We celebrate the fact that the monthly death rate of American servicemen and women in Iraq has been dramatically curtailed since the launch of the U.S. “surge” or troops build-up in that still chaotic country struggling to recover from the destruction of the George W. Bush invasion.

Yet, we stand around helplessly as gun violence continues to claim thousands of American lives right here at home each year. The United States needs a surge in moral outrage and action more than Iraq and Afghanistan ever did.

Look at the recent killings in Binghamton, New York, on April 4. Vietnamese immigrant, Jiverly Wong, tired of years of taunting over his accent, instead of pummeling the next person to taunt him, murders 13 people in a moment of rage and possible insanity.

More than 12,000 Americans meet their death through gun violence each year. That’s more than 1,000 a month. In November 2006, before the U.S. surge in Iraq, about 3,475 Iraqis died in sectarian violence; 69 Americans were killed. After the surge, by November 2008, American deaths had been reduced to 12 and 500 Iraqis died.

Here in the U.S., we’re losing more than double the death rate of Iraqis to our own gun madness. There are a reported 283 million privately owned guns in this country.Despite the mayhem the guns are causing, Americans have a laissez-faire attitude over the need for gun control; we want to prevent Iran and North Korea from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, yet we don’t mind that hand guns are causing mass destruction in our own country.

As Bob Herbert wrote in a New York Times column today, “We’re confiscating shampoo from carry-on luggage at airports while at the same time handing out high-powered weaponry to criminals and psychotics at gun shows.”

(As Herbert also pointed out, “while more than 12,000 people are murdered with guns annually, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence using the latest available data tells us that more than 30,000 people are killed over the course of one typical year by guns. That includes 17,000 who commit suicide, nearly 800 who are killed in accidental shootings and more than 300 killed by the police. In many of the law enforcement shootings, the police officers are reacting to people armed with guns”).

Tens of thousands more are wounded with guns but don’t die. Why do we tolerate this madness on the spurious claim that the right to bear arms -even by nuts and sadistic killers–is protected by the Constitution? We doubt very highly that the nation’s forefathers intended handguns to be in the hands of pretty much anyone that wanted it.

Notwithstanding the condemnable racist attitude and compromise that assigned Black people as three-fifths human beings, on the whole these were wise men that wrote the Constitution. Does any rational person really believe that these men envisioned and wanted the mayhem now caused by weapons proliferation? Only the most hardened criminal inmates would promote such an outcome.

What kind of tyranny is the mass availability of hand guns protecting the American public from? In fact, hand guns proliferation is creating a pervasive fear; a new kind of tyranny in of itself. During the era of the Cold War, the stalemate that evolved once both the United States and Soviet Russia attained enough nuclear warheads to be able to obliterate each side was known as “Mutually Assured Destruction” (MAD) and it helped preserve the peace.

Yet, a different kind of mutually assured destruction has now found root in the United States–the mass availability of hand guns, and the very high propensity to use them, will surely lead to our mutual destruction. So why do we tolerate this madness? Why don’t we want a surge that will remove hands guns in the hands of killers and mad people? Why celebrate the effectiveness of our surge in Iraq and yet tolerate killings on our own streets? Gun nuts and the National Rifle Association (NRA), the powerful, well-oiled lobbying group continue to advocate mass guns availability using phrases such as “guns don’t kill; people do.” Guns actually make it easier for people to kill; so, guns in effect do kill. All a demented person -or even a “sane” ordinary person–in a minute of rage, instead of resorting to their fists to dissipate rage, can quickly acquire a gun and act out that moment of excitability and take out a life.

Children can plot the demise of their parents; spurned lovers can plot the killing of the person who has caused heartache; depressed individuals, or those despondent after losing a job, can wipe out their own family; and, angry or confused students can take out entire classrooms.

All these murders can be easily committed due to the easy availability of guns in this country. Things are getting out of control. America needs a surge to beat back the tyranny of gun violence.

Please post your comments online or submit them to milton@blackstarnews.com

“Speaking Truth To Empower.”