Our country’s love affair with guns is morally depraved and literally killing our fellow citizens. Americans have the right to live in peace and feel unafraid in public. Students have a right to study in safe schools that do not herd them through metal detectors like cattle each time they enter or exit buildings. Suffice it to say that we no longer live in an age of private militias. The notion that a partially archaic Second Amendment—written in 1791—and an overfunded gun lobby should set the laws on this issue to the exclusion of moral or ethical sense makes a mockery out of our democracy. Most municipalities in the United States today have well-funded police forces invested with the task of protecting the citizenry—by and large they do a good job. The recent mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso as well as countless other similar incidents underline just how overdue judicial and regulatory reform is on this particular issue.
We must come to recognize certain facts. Many of the people committing gun violence in America including the gunman who is accused of murdering 11 Jews in a Pittsburgh synagogue are not in any way “mentally unfit”—they are simply racists, anti-Semites and white supremacists. This is not my personal opinion; it is a fact evidenced by the declarations of the shooters themselves and supported by every impartial study conducted. No psychiatrist or researcher worth their salt has backed the idea that social media isolation by itself or video game-depicted violence lead to mass shootings.
Armenians…should be particularly sensitive to any and all expressions of racism.
The type of hateful racist mentality behind many of the mass shootings in America is similar to that of the ultra-nationalist Turk who in 2007 assassinated Hrant Dink, the peace-loving editor of Agos, in front of the newspaper’s Istanbul offices. Armenians, a people who have for centuries been subjected to countless waves of both state-sponsored and individual acts of violence in their historic homeland, should be particularly sensitive to any and all expressions of racism. (Armenian-Americans were routinely kept out of public places such as stores and restaurants at the turn of the 20th century because they were considered “dark-skinned” and therefore inferior—several essays and articles attest to physical violence against immigrant Armenians, not to mention psychological scarring.)
This includes the vile incitements to hatred that President Trump has been spewing since he first assumed office in 2016. Most of the mass shootings in America—90 percent according to a recent impartial study—have been at the hands of Caucasian males, many of whom feel they are being marginalized in American society. They would rather look down the barrel of a gun than educate themselves or fight for a truly equal society that benefits all Americans. (The cycles of violence in this country continue to feed off each other—we now have three million mostly young black and Latino males jailed in American prisons. We continue to enforce the death penalty even after DNA testing and lawyers in the Innocence Project have proven that young men such as the so-called “Central Park Five” were in fact innocent of the crimes they were convicted.)
Here are some statistics illustrated in a telling bar graph. Rates of gun-related deaths in the United States are more than 100 times higher than in Japan, nine times higher than in Germany and more than four times more elevated than in Canada. These countries are home to significantly more stringent gun control laws than the United States. Moreover, Australia has virtually eliminated gun deaths by imposing tight controls on who may or may not receive handgun licenses, and semi-automatic weapons are barred from private ownership completely.
Anyone who thinks they need semi-automatics in their own homes to protect themselves is either deluded, brainwashed or mentally ill. We need to put an end to racism and white supremacy in America now. And we need to stop the NRA and wanton private gun ownership. No more excuses, no more lies. The very future of our society’s fabric depends on it.