The Coastal Post - May, 1997

Guns, Guns, Guns!

By Guy W. Meyer

Guns, guns, everywhere, and children massacred by the millions in wars, revolutions, crime. Every dead child symbolizes the profits pocketed by the manufacturers and dealers in weaponry. These profiteers are the first beneficiaries of the shameful global killings.

While people who profit by such enterprises are driven by greed, they comprise only a small fraction of the population. What about the much larger numbers who patronize these merchants of death? Why do they contribute to the killing contagion by purchasing their wares? If not greed, what is their most common motive?

There are those whose numbers are fortunately very few, who buy guns to kill certain people, to use for robbery and rape, or to gain political power. Another small minority buys guns to build their self-respect, their image of courage, with which they associate weaponry and violence.

Probably most act out of fear. In the case of the militaries‚ killing preparations the majority of the citizens of the world's nations are concerned for "national security." They fear that without massive weaponry their lives and liberties would be lost to outside invaders or internal disrupters. Private citizens buy guns (not counting those who go in for the "sport" of hunting) to protect themselves from armed criminals robbers, hijackers, rapists, kidnappers.

News headlines of ugly crimes rouse their fears that such crimes are as common as automobile accidents, large and small, and that they live and move in a hostile environment. Another growing minority are people with paranoid fears of "government." These are afraid that government will restrict their "freedoms," take away their rights and privileges. (As populations and congestions grow, all of us must lose some of the free range we knew in earlier conditions.) The fear expressed by the anti-government group is enhanced by restrictions on their guns-their security blankets. These are the most vociferous advocates of weaponry.

Far from increasing security, however, the spread of weapons ownership results in increased weapons use. The vicious circle is the spread of weaponry from fear of increased crime to the increase of crime from the spread of weaponry.

Among these paranoid anti-government gun worshippers are those who sincerely believe they are protecting "freedom" and their inalienable "rights." Do they call for the human rights of the disadvantaged, the poor, refugees, immigrants, minorities, women, the right to express unpopular opinions? Or do they refer mainly to property rights, freedom to do what they want with "their property," regardless of the effect on the community-at-large and the environment?

Anti-government weapons-bearers are those most likely to destroy, rather than defend, the freedoms many of us now enjoy. These vigilantes have time and again shown themselves susceptible to the demagoguery of fear and hate. Is what they really seek freedom from the burden of their share of responsibility for the well-being of the whole community, the health, education, and opportunities of all its people, as well as the natural environment?

Guns and other deadly weapons are designed and manufactured for the express purpose of killing and destruction. Their advocates may sanitize their possession and use of deadly weapons with such fine, but unexamined words as "defense" and "deterrence." (For the "defense" of America we have invaded Vietnam in the 1960s, Nicaragua [mined their harbor], Grenada, Panama, Iraq. Other nations have invaded their neighbors, using the excuse of "defending."

Widespread possession of weapons has made possible the anarchy of mixed tyranny, revolution, and crime in countries on every continent. How can those who reject killing and weaponry, who give more trust to the fruit of caring for our fellow-humans filling human needs, educating, healing, CO-operating, understanding how can these carers act to immunize our larger community from the disease of gun worship, glorification of violence, dignifying of hate and fear?

If the voters could, by an overwhelming majority, outlaw the possession of all guns, this would be a step in the direction of a peaceful community. The prevalence of media-encouraged fear makes this most unlikely, however. What can be done is to bring about a value change. Our schools could teach our children that weapons are nothing to be proud of. Fearful people obtain them in the mistaken belief that they enhance their security. Truly brave people need no weapons.

With or without weapons, there is no certain insurance against some types of attack. While caring, community-concerned people acknowledge that there is no absolute guarantee of security, they observe that chances for security are greater when citizens act for the dignity and well-being of all, especially the most disadvantaged.

For a truly peaceful world it is time to completely rid the world of weapons of destruction. The first step in bringing this about is the public disparagement of all weapons. At present weaponry is associated with valor. It is glorified and glamorized in the fiction that is the constant TV viewing fare for children the world over.

When parents, friends, and relatives express disgust or boredom at every real or dramatized instance of armed violence, children lose some of their enthusiasm for this. Repeated belittling of warplanes, warships, aircraft carriers, tanks, and missile-launchers to handguns, shotguns, and rifles, dampens the enthusiasm for weapons. Banning weapons, however, would at present make them seem even more desirable. They must first be devalued publicly to the degree that a critical mass (influential minority) of humanity would be happy to see them go.

Belittling and disparaging militarism (father of all violence) involves ending all expressions of respect for battles, uniforms, ranks, and other symbols. We need to revert to the more honest term of "War Department" to replace the sanitized "Department of Defense." Again, "Armed Forces" is more honest than "Armed Services." While they may serve the power of the abstraction called "nation," they do not effectively serve the well-being of men, women, and children.

In referring to the military let us ceaselessly associate it with mass killing and destruction, which is its true function, instead of the dressed up uniforms, salutes, ranks, choreographed marches, maneuvers and expressions of prestige. While in some nations the finery is most of what citizens observe in their militaries, in other nations tyranny and mass killings are most prevalent. These express the ultimate purpose of militarism. The major excuse for the use and preparation of massive violence is the preservation of national sovereignty. If we would replace the nation and military as the source of our security and well being with a peaceful and democratic world community, we must first free our concept of nation from the aura of sanctity.

To accomplish this we need to reject and refuse all rituals and symbols that exalt it to such a level. National anthems should not be honored by standing or other gestures. National flags should not be honored above state flags or city emblems.

As we publicly express our caring for human life and our natural environment as superior to national-tribal-sectarian interests, we indicate to our young people the needlessness of weaponry, the stupidity and shame of mass killing. Repeated public expressions and personal examples of caring for human life and our children, with powerfully-expressed commitment to world community, can immunize coming generations against the disease of killing.