America was birthed in blood, and over 200 years later the streets are still covered in blood. However, Americans have become so used to watching blood spill on our streets, that we don’t even notice what we’re seeing. The reality is, America is obsessed with violence.
Violence has permeated itself through American culture, spreading its wings across television screens and deeply embroidering itself into our language. Violence laughs at how easy it is to inspire young children into thinking that fighting is cool. These children wear black eyes like trophies. As I consider our language, I think of how commonly used expressions such as “Take a stab at it,” “Take a shot at it” and “Shoot from the hip” are. America has the capacity to turn violence into something sexy, linking violence with desire.
A clothing brand called Girls with Guns appeals to women gun owners. They market clothing which advocates increased gun use for women. However, the problem with Girls with Guns is not promoting women owning guns, but how sexualized their advertisements are. They perpetuate the link between violence and sexuality.
Guns are not necessary and the drive to own a gun is often not for self-defense or protection. It is because guns are seen as dangerous and sexy. I recall boys in middle school discussing guns, bragging about how daddy taught them how to shoot a gun, and what kind of gun they will receive when they finally turn 18. The fact is, these boys are from upper-middle-class suburbia, a place where you can safely walk around at 1 a.m. They do not need guns. I have witnessed firsthand America’s ability to fetishize guns, the ability to convince children that owning an instrument of death will make them cool.
Children being attracted to guns is not the only issue.
At Portland State, Campus Public Safety Officers will soon be able to carry guns, which also brings the potential for violence onto our campus.
The installment of guns at PSU leaves me feeling terrified for my peers. We are here to learn and not to have to worry about gun violence.
There needs to be a massive reform of America’s police force, because power and violence tend to go hand in hand. I believe future police officers must undergo a series of strenuous testing and training. They must be taught that their gun is strictly for emergencies. If every officer was taught martial arts then they might restrain a person without hurting them. Where grabbing for a gun—and potentially ending someone’s life—might have been their first reaction, martial arts training might redirect their efforts in a safer way. Restraint should be the goal of every officer, not death. Grabbing for their gun in a stressful situation must not be a police officer’s first instinct.
Fed up with America’s proclivity to spill blood, Tom H. Hastings, conflict resolution professor at PSU, demands the repeal of the Second Amendment in his editorial piece for the Wisconsin Gazette. In his article, he writes that the “pandemic of sick violence, punctuated by mass killings of children, has gone on far, far too long.”
Hastings also criticizes the conservative notion that states cannot reform gun laws individually. This is problematic because states are unable to make choices which protect their citizens. One of the roles of government is to ensure the protection of its citizens, but with legal guns perpetuating constant violence on our streets and on our campuses, protection becomes almost impossible.
Along with repealing the Second Amendment, a vast change of consciousness needs to shake our nation to the core. Abandoning guns is an imperative start. According to gunpolicy.org, 30,000 people are killed by guns every year, while between 500 and 1,000 are killed by accidental gun deaths.
I support the repeal of the Second Amendment and every state’s right to guarantee the protection of their citizens. I support the end of an obsession with violence and encourage Americans to shift their consciousness. We need to truly ask ourselves why we think violence is so sexy and appealing and why we think owning a gun is necessary. I want Americans to spend time questioning what they will truly use their guns for and how safe they actually feel in a nation engrossed in violence.
Drop your weapons, America.