Guns Don’t Make Americans Violent, America Does

Thaddeus Howze insists that we are a nation in crisis—a moral crisis, a social crisis but most importantly a mental health crisis that we are completely in denial about. We are violent because we are trained to be.

A friend of mine said to me and our Facebook community that video games were the source of violence in young men today, preparing them for a life of violence:

“It’s disheartening that I have read countless posts calling for tighter gun control in the wake of today’s tragic events….. but not a single post calling into question first-person shooter simulators (games) that train the mind to kill everything that moves with impunity. Driving simulators are designed to improve driving skills…… Sports simulators are designed to improve play calling, and teach fundamentals….. What the h@ll are shooter simulators for?”

I strongly disagree with this. Not because of what he was proposing; that games make for more proficient shooters. That part is true. But the problem is not the games.

It’s the availability of guns.

No guns, no shooters. It’s really that simple.
No bullets, no shooters. The skills trained in video games do not make for better soldiers. It makes for better combat awareness.

As a former military person, NOTHING can prepare you for the day when someone is shooting back at you with real bullets. NOTHING.

So the idea that video games make people violent is not completely true.

A violent society where human needs and human rights are often ignored or trod over, make for a more violent society. We would like to blame our entertainments because that would be so convenient. We could just say “Ban all games with violent content.” And if your statement were true, all violence would go away. NOT.

You want to stop violence?

Stop allowing violence of the kind that allows people to starve in a land overflowing with wealth. Poverty in the US alone continues to rise at an astronomical rate and economic disparity continues to grow destroying the middle class daily. 46 million Americans get food stamps or other government assistance simply to feed themselves—poorly, I might add.

Stop pushing people who live in a country out of their land for use of their country’s natural resources. Native Americans, the Congo and other countries all over Africa, South America, hell, the developing world, in general.

Stop exploiting people economically and telling them to FUCK OFF when they call you on it. The World Bank, super-banks of the world, Walmart, Target, <insert other megacorporation here>.

Give people access to medical and mental health care with the same ease they can walk into a gun store and buy a damn gun. Ronald Reagan closed more mental health clinics during his time in office than are currently in existence in the US today. I think, considering the state of the nation, WE NEED MENTAL HEALTH MORE NOW THAN EVER BEFORE.

Stop allowing the NRA to using lobbying and money to control the politicians who promote violence for the sake of making money. Do you really think we were in the Middle East fighting for their freedom? Or because 4,000 Americans died in an act of violence? Really? Let me share some sobering numbers for you:

- 50,000 people a DAY starve to death all over the world. That by itself is enough to cause needless anger and suffering. We don’t lack the ability to feed people across the world. We lack the will or desire. Hungry people make a ripe natural resource to harvest their labor.

- 40,000 people a year die from car accidents in the US alone.

- 500,000 people a year die from smoking-related diseases in the US alone.

- 30,000 a year die from prescription drugs given to them by doctors. Legal drugs for legal reasons but are either mistakenly used or over-prescribed.

- 99,000 people a year die from hospital related diseases (nosocomial infections) in the US. Diseases they did not have when they entered the hospital for whatever OTHER reason they are there.

If we were in a war against death and disorder across the world or in our country alone, we would be in a life-and-death struggle against world-wide starvation, the menaces of the auto industry, vehicular homicide and air pollution, battling against cigarettes and Big Tobacco, putting the brakes on big pharmaceutical companies constantly advertising their latest, greatest and deadliest new product over the airways, and the medical industries which grow fantastically rich with their harvest of death and profits.

You do remember how well the “War against Drugs” turned out. 1 trillion dollars spent over 40 years, millions of men behind bars, and more drugs in the country than ever. Very profitable, however, for police departments, the ATF, FBI, CIA, lawyers, judges, district attorneys, gun manufacturers, developers of prison complexes, the prison industrial complex and the industries now making money competing against American business with cheap “slave-like” labor. Good thing we went to war against it. There isn’t a drug left in the country, right? This wasn’t about solving a problem, the war on drugs was just another engine of profit.

Our soldiers die on foreign soils for one reason only: profit. War profiteers created this war, making sure we keep young people ready as “meat for the grinder” by training up their mental skills in video games, training down their empathy by watching violent movies, promoting secular and religious violence by mental conditioning against other creeds, religions and cultures. Tanks For The Memories: What Was Hot At Massive Army Meet-Up.

They do this because WAR is the most profitable business enterprise on EARTH. Doubt it? Check out the budget of the Pentagon. Alone it spends more money than the collective expenditures of the next fifteen nations. The Pentagon got 689 billion dollars in 2011. We spend more money on the Defense Department than any other resource in the nation including healthcare and social security. See the visualized images of how the US Government and how we spend our Tax Dollars.

So if you want to tackle gun violence, you must also find the real enemy of the people and it isn’t just video games. Its the very engine of profit in this culture. The completely insane idea that people, human life itself, is nothing more than another natural resource to be exploited and exterminated for the sake of capitalism.
Even GOP Idol Ronald Reagan Advocated More Gun Control

Greed and violence goosestep their way into every aspect of our society and the inability to get rid of guns is directly related to the control they have over the minds of the government and the sheep who fear losing their guns. The culpability lies in the inability to address the nation and perhaps world-wide adoration and acceptance of violence.

Violent video games are simply part of the engine of indoctrination into a culture of war-based violence and war-based economics. We are a culture of violence: bred to it, trained for it, socialized to it, inured to it and unable to see it for what it is; a form of insanity, nothing more.

 

Originally appeared at Quora

 

Photo courtesy of Flickr/ϟ†Σ

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About Thaddeus Howze

Thaddeus Howze was a New York native and found his way to the West Coast as a consequence of his military service. He's a California-based technology executive and author whose non-fiction and online journalism has appeared in publications such as The Enemy, Black Enterprise Online, Urban Times, the Good Men Project, and Astronaut.com. Thaddeus Howze has published two books, Hayward's Reach (2011) and Broken Glass (2013). He maintains a nonfiction blog on science and technology at A Matter of Scale (bit.ly/matterofscale). He writes speculative fiction at hubcityblues.com.

Comments

  1. As a former military person, NOTHING can prepare you for the day when someone is shooting back at you with real bullets. NOTHING.

    How Very True! But what has truth ever had to do with anything?

    Especially when it comes to being “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, ….” but after that it’s all down hill and dog eat dog. Some talk of Gun Culture whilst others wonder at the “War Culture”.

  2. AnonymousDog says:

    Stop allowing fat cat media corporations to send their ghouls to communities like Newtown Ct to stick their microphones, cameras and notepads into the faces of people already traumatized by random violence, just so they can grab a bigger share of audience.

    Stop allowing politicians to insert themselves into the grieving process of communities like Newtown.

    Stop using these kinds of tragedies as cover for long0-standing political agendas.

  3. Wow, this started out pretty good but went a little off the deep end. I’m not a war supporter by a long shot but I think it’s ignorant and insulting to say we went to war “for one reason only.” There were many motivators to go to war, some of them spurious, some of them valid. War profiteering is among them, but not the only reason.

    I was discussing Switzerland’s gun policy and gun culture with my mother (born and raised in Switzerland) yesterday, and discussing the huge difference in attitudes. In Switzerland, guns are symbolic of responsibility, duty to country, and citizenship. Gun ownership is high (depending where you get your stats, it’s higher than in the US) but gun violence is virtually nonexistent. In America, guns are about power, SELF-defense (vs. country/community), autonomy, and violence. There’s no separating guns from violence here.

    While they’re not entirely to blame, I think violent movies, TV and video games, specifically those centered around crime, are no help. In so many of these storylines, guns are the solution to whatever problem the protagonist faces. Faceless, nameless bodies get shot and fall flat, maybe some blood and gore depending on the media – or maybe the camera cuts away, a gunshot is heard, the problem is resolved. The shooter is rarely exhibiting safe and responsible gun use – how many movie shooters fire off ten rounds without any ear protection, maybe even while holding a conversation?

    No, entertainment media isn’t entirely to blame, but it doesn’t give us anything CLOSE to the full picture about guns. And the conversations that need to happen, filling in the blanks and calling out the mistakes/fallacies/bad logic, that’s just not happening. So guns become a tool for getting your way, not a deadly weapon worth your respect.

    • @KKZ I’m actually interested about this common assertion that, despite Switzerland’s high gun ownership, it experiences very little gun crime, because it’s actually inaccurate. It’s true that it doesn’t experience problems to the scale that the US does. However, if you look at the number of gun homicides per 100,000 people, it’s one of the worst in Europe. Only tiny Liechtenstein is ahead of it in western Europe and, elsewhere in Europe, the Balkan states of Macedonia and Albania have worse positions in the list. This suggests that, in fact, there is a link between the number of guns in Switzerland and the number of gun homicides, though, without the training acquired during military service, the numbers would no doubt be even worse. This is before you even mention the well-documented link between domestic abuse and Swiss gun ownership- many Swiss women apparently feel threatened by (and are often reminded of) the presence of a gun in the house. The stats are here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/jul/22/gun-homicides-ownership-world-list

    • I was discussing Switzerland’s gun policy and gun culture with my mother (born and raised in Switzerland) yesterday, and discussing the huge difference in attitudes. In Switzerland, guns are symbolic of responsibility, duty to country, and citizenship

      Which is precisely what I learned at home, and from the editorial columns of gun magazines as a boy. Hunting and target shooting are fun, self defense is an unfortunate necessity at times, but the core reason is so you’re ready to fight for freedom like the 1776 patriots you’re taught to venerate. The scenario in the movie “Red Dawn” never happened, but, for a good chunk of my childhood, there were honest, real world reasons to believe that it MIGHT.

      (It really DID happen in Afghanistan; the Russian commander’s speech in Red Dawn, given in Russian, was a direct rebuke to the atrocities that the Russians were committing in Afghanistan at that very moment.)

      Back on topic…yes, the Swiss do manage to combine widespread gun possession with a low crime rate. If the government is serious about fixing the problem, “COPY SWITZERLAND”. The military rifles in almost every home, will allay the fear of tyranny that energizes the progun Right, and low crime is the publicly stated goal of the antigun Left and is desired by both sides.

      • (It really DID happen in Afghanistan; the Russian commander’s speech in Red Dawn, given in Russian, was a direct rebuke to the atrocities that the Russians were committing in Afghanistan at that very moment.)

        2 postscripts…
        (1) I mean the original 1984 Red Dawn (haven’t seen the new one).
        (2) I was once acquainted with an Afghani immigrant, who was a teenage boy when the Russians rolled into his country. Yes, he really was a teenage guerilla. Red Dawn literally, really came true over there.

      • I’ve just told you that the view that Switzerland has very low gun crime despite having widespread guns is a myth and shown you the data that proves it. Though ‘copying’ Switzerland would undoubtedly improve the embarrassingly bad situation in the US, it would still make it worse than almost any other western country- still an embarrassing situation, I think you’ll agree. What’s more, it’s only outside Switzerland that this is a myth- in the last 5 years, there’s been a growing movement to tighten gun control. Some cantons have withdrawn their population’s ammunition, for example. There have been some very high profile shootings, such as the murder of a very famous skier. It is, quite frankly, hilarious (in a dark comedy kind of way) to suggest that Switzerland is the country that should be aspired to. Why not ‘copy’ the UK (to name one of many examples)… a country where guns are almost completely illegal and has extraordinarily low gun crime? Fewer guns=less gun crime. The United States is the only wealthy country in the world that is yet to work out this equation.

  4. Sanity is disturbing. Telling people things they don’t like to hear is unpleasant. If it is going off the deep end to say things people pretend aren’t an issue or create false equivalencies for, so be it. If people want to rationalize war in a way that makes them feel good, they can. But I won’t do it. I certainly don’t intend to give the indication that war profiteering is the only reason either. But whenever I find atrocity in human action, my first rule is: follow the money.

    Where money is a key ingredient in any event or series of events, someone is profiting from the suffering of others. Is profit the only reason we go to war? No. But if you were to look around at most wars, you will find profit as the number one or number two reason, no matter what rhetoric gets thrown around so people can feel better about the atrocities being committed in the name of patriotism, nationalism, or religion which masks the profit motives involved.

    I say again, there is no good war. I do not subscribe to the idea there are good reasons to go to war. There are none. See enough of your friends die for no reason you can discern and you understand this. If we waged peace with the same effort, zeal and motivation we waged war, humanity would have already colonized the moon, certainly cured diseases, established solar energy as our primary power source for all of humanity, solved the food crisis worldwide, ensured the reduction of greenhouse gases, figured out that humane employment for people to have a decent quality of life is preferable to creating a civilization powered by human slavery and suffering.

    Impress me by turning swords into plowshares and Wage Peace. Otherwise, rationalizing war and needless destruction is just another form of insanity. I am not saying we should never fight wars. I am saying we CAN and SHOULD do better.

    • With all due respect, Thaddeus…

      “I certainly don’t intend to give the indication that war profiteering is the only reason either.”
      From the article: Our soldiers die on foreign soils for one reason only: profit.

      Whether you intend to give the indication or not, your words in the article were pretty clear, and that’s what I was responding to.

  5. I take it to mean that this gentlemen does not believe in privet property rights let alone capitalism.

    • Let’s assume you aren’t trolling, and say: What gave you the indication I don’t believe in private property or capitalism? Because I don’t believe in extracting every drop of life force from an individual for the least amount of money possible? Or is it because I don’t think we should wage war with the intellectual and physical cream of the crop of our civilization’s youth?

      Personally, I am all for war, IF you send the people who think it’s a good idea out there to die first. If Politician X or corporation leader Y, thinks fighting a war is a good idea, he and anyone who agrees with him should go out there first and lead the charge. Then we educate our youth to make better decisions about wars and other forms of communication, negotiation, and collaboration should be used and when they become politicians later in their lives, they are LESS likely to think war is the only viable and profitable exercise a civilization should engage it.

      As far as private property is concerned, I do not condone the idea our only solution is to SHOOT people who enter on “our” property. We could ensure society was better structured so there were fewer people out wandering, potentially being forced into lives where stealing becomes an option. If we took responsibility as a society, perhaps there would be little or no reason to steal, rob, or otherwise force another person to give up their material goods to another person. You have also heard of dogs, right? A domesticated ally we have been hanging around with, oh for maybe 10,000 years, give or take?

      And yes, there is always the possibility you might need to use a gun. So why not design guns with safety protocols and hardware (it is possible and has been so for quite some time, see Skyfall for an example) so IF your gun is lost or stolen it does not become a weapon for someone ELSE to use to harm people, since we cannot be bothered with educating, employing and feeding anyone else who isn’t already in a position to do that for themselves. Oh wait, there is no profit in making smarter, less dangerous, more expensive firearms.

      Hmm. We keep ending up on profit as a motivation for NOT doing things as well as FOR doing things. Capitalism is fine right up until it decides that human lives and the quality of those lives matter less than making profit FROM them, either by exploiting or exterminating those lives. I am not opposed to capitalism. I simply want it to be more responsible, more accountable, more effectively managed, more regulated and more responsive to the lives of the people who ultimately buy, use, or are affected by the results of its interaction with society. Anyone who says otherwise is getting paid and thus it is profitable for THEM to do so.

      And yes, I am aware capitalism with all of those additions means things cost more. A cost I would gladly bear to prevent atrocities like the spate of killings taking place across the country, all the time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and we never hear about them because they happen one or two at a time, or they happen to people in inner cities that few people care about. Or maybe we have just become so jaded and disconnected the lives of other people simply don’t mean that much to us anymore.

      • The problem with living in an idealized world is that eventually reality gets in the way. For example, the guns you’re referring to are already available but are reliant on batteries and software to keep them from locking up. That is a death sentence if you ever need your weapon. Also,the United Stated was founded on a notion of individual sovereignty meaning you can’t compel the citizens of individual states to purchase items like National Health Care ( F.Y.I.States are refusing to collect the Affordable Care Act’s Tax penalty on the federal governments behalf) or compelling citizens to purchase “Safe Firearms” over the readily available 200 million weapons out there in the free market today.

        Sorry but There are no easy answers, there’ll probably be another shooting from now to December 25 and wealthy old men will continue to send poor young men to war. It’s just how the world works.

  6. Bay Area Guy says:

    50,000 people a DAY starve to death all over the world. That by itself is enough to cause needless anger and suffering. We don’t lack the ability to feed people across the world. We lack the will or desire. Hungry people make a ripe natural resource to harvest their labor.

    Please tell me you’re joking.

    What the hell does that have to do with school shootings. Most countries don’t bother to assist or feed the world’s poor, but they don’t have killings the way the United States does.

    You’re really reaching here.

  7. Calvin Dodge says:

    Kindly explain how El Paso, TX, with lax gun laws and higher-than-average poverty has a far lower murder rate than gun control heaven (aka “Chicago”).

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