Gun violence: a stubborn but unsurprising American tradition

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Doug McSchool/IndyStar

A memorial gathering for lives lost in the Indianapolis FedEx shooting, one of many mass shootings to take place in 2021 (Photo credit: Doug McSchool/IndyStar)

Andreas Loretan, Opinions Editor

Five people were shot in our own Gaslamp Quarter the night of April 23 leaving one person dead and four wounded. It seems like since the horrific Mar. 16 Atlanta spa shootings, gun violence has seen a return to form in a way we have become to be familiar with. The question, as always, is why?

 

While the answer to many Democrats might be easy access to guns, with Republicans basically answering that they don’t care, my argument disagrees with both angles, and is a bit larger in scope. The United States is a country built on violence, and continues to glorify violence in the form of its domestic and foreign policies to this day.

 

We all know the history. The Founding Fathers owned slaves and despised the indigenous peoples of the land they set out to conquer. As the U.S. emerged as a global power after the World Wars, it established and upheld its hegemony over multiple countries in every continent, typically with plenty of help with a sizable arsenal of guns. Even the war in Iraq, which many people understand was built on a lie, continues on, with 2,500 troops still stationed there. 

 

So, in the United States, we are constantly killing people across the world, in the form of never-ending wars. The war in Iraq has tallied up around 200,000 documented civilian deaths in 17 years alone, according to the Iraq Body Count Project. The resulting attitude we see at home is to honor our troops. 

 

But how about at home? At home, over 1,000 people had died at the hands of police officers in 2020, a figure that seems to remain steady as the years pass by, as noted by the Washington Post. We have seen plenty of officers get off the hook with barely any consequence. It was only on April 20 that we saw an officer of the law get convicted for murder after killing an unarmed Black man, in the form of Derek Chauvin getting a guilty verdict in the death of George Floyd. That very same hour, police officers in Columbus, Ohio shot 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant four times in the chest, killing her. As Americans, we are continually told to respect our boys in blue, with bumper stickers demanding such adorning pick-up trucks in every pocket of this country.

 

As Americans, we are taught to worship these so-called “heroes” killing people in foreign lands as well as in our streets. America wants things this way. It’s even reflected in the cinema and television we watch, with vigilantes who take the law into their own hands on screens left and right. When a citizenry is constantly engulfed in an ongoing agenda that prioritizes violence, seeks to instill an admiration for such violence, and typically carries this violence out using guns, there is a logical conclusion to what might just happen. People are going to be affected by the attitudes on life that their government espouses. These people might be outliers to the norm, maybe even extreme. But, the direct lineage between the amount of violence that is executed by individuals who “snap” and are able to get their hands on a gun, and the actions carried out by the state in which they reside, cannot be ignored.

 

It should not be a shock when a culture of gun violence perpetrated by the state starts to permeate the way fellow citizens of this country behave. People around the world look to their governments as those who should be setting the example. Well, if we are going off the example that the United States’ government is providing for us, it’s almost surprising we aren’t an even more violent country.