America’s Two Sicknesses: Guns and God

Resistance and Futility: Don’t Mess with My Guns or My God

by Richard Schloss

America has two sicknesses that make it a dangerous and backward place to live: Guns, and religion. We fetishize deadly weapons and guarantee their private ownership in a way that no civilized nation does. Notice I did not say “no OTHER civilized nation,” because the US has a very long way to go before we can dare to call ourselves “civilized.”

As for religion and the damage it does to our country: as soon as the news reports broke about the back-to-back shootings in El Paso and Dayton, many of the same Republican politicians whose answer to mass shootings is “More Guns!” began blaming the latest violence on “godlessness.”
“It’s because we kicked God out of our schools!” they cry. “It’s because of abortion and gay marriage!” “Turn back to Jesus and the violence will stop!”

It doesn’t matter that the most secular nations on Earth — places like Japan and Iceland, where the population is 98% atheist — have no mass shootings. You know what else they don’t have? Private ownership of assault weapons. Or the ability to purchase high-capacity magazines.

Calling for prayers and a “return” to Christian devotion in the face of gun violence isn’t leadership; it’s a failure of leadership. It marks the United States as a “culture” (and I use that word in the loosest sense possible) of superstitious, gun-waving yokels.

I know the fact that we are the last nation on Earth (other than Mauritius) to still use English weights and measures instead of the metric system doesn’t seem important by comparison. But it’s symbolic — of a people mired in the past, refusing to join the community of nations, enter the 21st century, and recognize that shared responsibility is just as important as individual freedom when it comes to keeping your homeland livable and decent.

We Americans like to think we’ve cornered the market on individual freedom — but how much can we be free if we’re all terrified of being shot at the mall or at a movie, or of our kids going to school and dying in a hail of gunfire?

The collective American consciousness is poisoned by our deeply sick fascination with guns, and our insistence on clinging to obsolete belief systems that only serve to divide us and hold us back.

In case you missed it: Why Liberals Cannot Afford to Apply Ideological Purity tests

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Posted by on August 11, 2019. Filed under COMMENTARY/OPINION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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11 Responses to America’s Two Sicknesses: Guns and God

  1. Dale Feltz Reply

    August 11, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    In my experience, which is vast becaue I’m really old, the “Guns and God” association is both prevalent and inviolable in places such as the Deep South, and parts of the West, not to forget Texas where fanaticism is present.

    • Glenn Geist Reply

      August 11, 2019 at 2:19 pm

      I certainly see enough trucks held together with bumper stickers about God, guns and guts, NRA stickers and assertions of Christian faith in Florida. No, it’s not going to change in my lifetime and of course they don’t want it to. I’ve been here quite some time. I’ve got used to the heat and the humidity and the bugs, but sometimes the whole countryside is giving me the Rebel yell.

      • Michael John Scott Reply

        August 11, 2019 at 2:23 pm

        You’ll start to see fewer and fewer bugs because of climate change, but I doubt you’ll see fewer Christians. They will start to equate Climate Change with the Apocalypse, and even more will come crawling out of the proverbial woodwork, bible in hand, screeching about Jesus and his pa.

        • Glenn Geist Reply

          August 12, 2019 at 8:27 am

          I believe adding that “revelation” thing to the canon was a hard sell, and it was a mistake. Islam, heavily informed by Christianity and judaism adopted the doctrine. Whether Johnnie Patmos got it from the Zoroastrians or it leaked from there into Judaism and its heirs, I don’t know, but expecting a vengeful end to civilization becomes self fulfilling apparently. After all, if it’s god’s will, why wait?

  2. Glenn Geist Reply

    August 11, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    Let me say right away that I agree that religion has made everything worse and always has done. God, guns and guts don’t make America great any more than Trump does, but there are all kinds of erroneous beliefs that don’t include invisible men, resurrected revolutionaries or talking snakes. In my opinion all arguments supporting the divine are specious, but some arguments supporting or opposing ownership and purchase of guns are also a bit shaky in my opinion.

    It’s the generalizations that set me back. Arguments become misleading in proportion to the extent of the generalizations used. There are many kinds of believers, there are many kinds of gun owners and many kinds of guns. Most do not have anything to do with killing people. Only a tiny fraction of guns in private hands ever harm anyone. The danger of mass shootings to any one person is vanishingly small and while the horror is appropriate, overemphasizing the personal danger on the streets and in shopping malls does not serve any cause. It’s the generalization. At one point I owned about 30 guns, all but a couple were antiques that I would never shoot. If it were a thousand, I’d be no more likely to commit a crime nor can I shoot more than two at a time. the number of guns and the number of nuts don’t, I fear, have a causal relationship.

    Let’s not lump the great diversity of gun owners into one class nor all the kinds of shootings into one. Suicide, accident, spousal abuse, gang violence, school shootings by adolescents, domestic terrorism and racist violence are not the same, don’t involve the same sorts of people or weapons. They aren’t all on the increase either. They are not all amenable to the same courses of action – not that many are stated that don’t involve faith or even magic thinking.

    Anger is not helpful. I think it has been adequately stated, and not only puts potential allies, like me, on the defensive, increases gun sales dramatically but lubricates the passage of ill-considered, loophole ridden measures. Faith in some of these proposals is just and only faith and different aspects in different areas need to be different. Barrow Alaska is not Queens, New York or El Paso, Texas. It’s also not enough to call it “sensible” and it’s wrong to expect quick and significant results. What it might take to reduce gun suicide is not what it will take to keep adolescents from taking guns to school or young losers to shoot their spouses or girlfriends or crazy, racist xenophobes high on Trumpism to shoot up El Paso.

    So when you talk about “our deeply sick fascination with guns” the word “our” is not only a generalization but an evasion. I’m not obsessed or afraid, and I’ve not met an avid gun control person not obsessed with guns either. American demographics are diverse and quickly changing. I expect fewer families will keep or bear guns in the future. Anger and hyperbole on both sides may be fostering the culture of armed rebellion.

    I’m not trying to refute you, only suggesting that the recognition that something needs to be done is not a solution, that a solution may be elusive, ineffective and slow. Complex problems – and such this is – may require all sorts of changes not having to do solely with guns themselves or any of the popular talking points. We seem to have one particular class of furious, bigoted losers and another class dedicated to directing them to targets. That’s one place to look at for a plan of action.

    • Michael John Scott Reply

      August 12, 2019 at 9:10 am

      The Right has encouraged people to buy guns for ‘protection’ making the claim that crime is on the rise and there is evil lurking around every corner. In point of fact both violent and property crime in the U.S. have declined over the long term, but … that Americans believe crime is up nationally, even when the data show it is down. We have the Republicans to thank for this.

  3. Jerry Girard Reply

    August 11, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    I think it was Karl Marx who said “religion is the opiate of the masses,” and he was right.

    • Glenn Geist Reply

      August 12, 2019 at 8:21 am

      The Vicodin of the vulgus? Teh Fentanyl of the fatuous?

  4. Neil Bamforth Reply

    August 12, 2019 at 3:28 am

    The USA is an oddity as western Liberal democracies go.

    I can’t think of any other… Certainly in Europe… That allows religion to have such a strong political presence.

    • Timmy Mahoney Reply

      August 12, 2019 at 9:06 am

      We are an oddity, for both God and guns, as I don’t believe there’s any other democracy quite like us, and that’s good because we are really quite fucked up you know.

  5. Bill Formby Reply

    August 13, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    All of you are”dead on” about all of this. I was thinking about the American Violence situation and it took me a while thinking about it but I finally concluded that the violent nature of Americans. Like most every kid in America I grew up playing “Cowboys and Indians” (not to be confused with Cowboys and Aliens. Not surprisingly the cowboys won that one also.), or “cops and robbers”. If you mix those two fictitious genres of entertainment along with the Biblical version of the invisible guy wiping out the herds of non believers (I believe that’s what they thought of us then.) with mere movement of His hand one way or the other. When we look to our historical heroes most all have been violent people. Even today we still idolize the gunslingers of the old west, or military people. It has only been lately that some people have owned up to the fact that, as a people Americans have not been that heroic as well as a sadistic bunch. The true spirit of America is pretty well shown themselves in the treatment of people of color including the true Native Americans. So it is and so shall it remain.

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