“That’s Not Who We Are”

Another mass shooting last night. That makes 307 mass shootings so far this year – approximately one mass shooting daily.

How many times have we heard the expression, “That’s not who we are” repeated over and over from more people than we can count? Every time there’s a mass shooting, we hear people everywhere uttering that phrase in denial of the violent nature of Americans. (Barack Obama alone uttered that phrase 46 times.)

If “that’s not who we are”, then who are we?

If we are not a violent people, how do we account for all the violence in our society. That violence is not limited to mass shootings, it’s everywhere you look every day. As of this writing, the Gun Violence Archive has recorded a total of 48,970 gun violence incidents so far this year, leading to 12,481 deaths and 24,238 injuries. (The number of guns held by private citizens in this country exceeds the number of citizens1. U.S. citizens constitute about 4.4% of the world’s population and own 40% of all guns in the world2.) If you add to the domestic violence the millions of people killed and injured and all the property destroyed in all the armed conflicts involving the U.S., the extent of all the violence is mind boggling.

Add to the real violence, the American obsession with imaginary violence in every form of entertainment. How many fictional shootings are there daily on television? How many fictional shootings are there in novels and magazines? How many fictional characters are killed daily in all the video games around the country?

Everywhere we look, we see violence in American society, either real or fictional. We claim we are not a violent society, yet we do nothing to curb domestic violence, we glorify war3, we enjoy murder stories in books, magazines, movies, plays and television, and we amuse ourselves by murdering tens of millions of fictional characters in video games daily.

The statement “That’s not who we are” is not true. That IS who we are.

1 The Congressional Research Service reports there are 393 million guns in the U.S. for a population of 326 million people.

2 Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva

3 Witness Dick Cheney’s “Shock and Awe” during the U.S. invasion of Iraq.