Readers outside New Orleans may not be aware that at the start of the recent New Orleans Pride Parade, a young man was arrested near the parade route for carrying a handgun and an assault rifle. The man’s intentions remain unclear but many on social media speculated he intended to shoot up the parade.
Others insist that is not the case, citing he had the guns with him when he checked in to participate in the Naked Bike Run, which preceded the Pride Parade. The man had been stopped before for carrying weapons in public places, which is legal in Louisiana except within 1,000 feet of a parade route, but was let go after citing his Second Amendment rights. For these reasons, some people have claimed he wasn’t a danger to parade spectators or participants, that he was just another run-of-the-mill gun nut. Oh, okay.
Just a man and his gun. Even if (and that’s a big “IF”) he intended no harm, why in the hell would he want to consistently pack heat in public? Answer: Toxic Masculinity—an extreme and irrational need to assert power stemming from insecurity and a warped sense of “manhood” arising from the lingering aggressive instincts of our primitive, beastly origins. In other words, a failure to evolve. Think of a caveman grunting and lumbering about with a big wooden club in his hand. Now put a wifebeater and a MAGA hat on him and replace the club with a AR-15. Voila! The modern American gun enthusiast.
It’s impossible to determine how many guns, legal or otherwise, are on the streets of the French Quarter at any given time. The figure is probably high, given the fact that every couple of months, someone is shot in the sacred enclave. Most recently, a server at the Clover Grill was shot by her ex-boyfriend and, prior to that, an innocent bystander was killed when a man took a security guard’s gun at Willie’s Chicken Shack. In both cases, each victim was not the intended target. In the latter case, a good guy with a gun not only failed to prevent the tragedy, but his own weapon was the instrument of death. And he was trained to use a gun.
The epidemic of gun violence is not unique to New Orleans. By June 6, the 75th anniversary of D-Day, more Americans had died in 2019 of gun violence than had died on the beaches of Normandy (2,501). The statistics are shocking when broken down. According to BradyUnited.org:
Children Ages: 1 – 17
21 children and teens (1-17) are shot every day.
4 die from gun violence
2 are murdered
17 children and teens survive gun injuries
8 are injured in an attack
2 children and teens either die from suicide or survive a suicide attempt
8 children and teens are shot due to instances of family fire – a shooting involving an improperly stored or misused gun found in the home resulting in injury or death
310 people are shot every day.
100 people are shot and killed
210 survive gun injuries
95 are injured in an attack
61 die from suicide
10 survive a suicide attempt
1 is killed unintentionally
90 are shot unintentionally
1 is killed by legal intervention
4 are shot by legal intervention
1 died but the intent was unknown
12 are shot but the intent was unknown
Children Ages: 1 – 17
7,782 children and teens 1-17 are shot every year.
1,488 children and teens die from gun violence
772 are murdered
6,294 children and teens survive gun injuries
2,788 injured in an attack
590 die from suicide
166 survive a suicide attempt
86 are killed unintentionally
2,893 are shot unintentionally
30 die but the intent was unknown
380 are shot but the intent is unknown
113,108 people are shot every year.
36,383 people die from gun violence
12,830 are murdered
76,725 people survive gun injuries
34,566 are injured in an attack
22,274 die from suicide
3,554 survive a suicide attempt
496 are killed by legal intervention
1,376 are shot by legal intervention
295 die but the intent was unknown
4,471 are shot but the intent is unknown
509 women are killed by their husband or male dating partner
Americans kill each other with guns at 25x the rate of other high income countries. Gun violence is estimated to cost the American economy at least $229 billion annually. 90% of guns used in crimes come from 5% of gun dealers. And 97% of Americans want expanded background checks and a ban on military style assault weapons, but Congress refuses to take action. Why? Follow the money.
The NRA owns more than half of Congress. In the 2018 election cycle alone, the NRA gave over $600 billion to Congressional candidates. By comparison, gun control groups spent a mere $14,000. According to CNN, “Among the 535 current members of Congress in both the House and the Senate, 307 have received either direct campaign contributions from the NRA and its affiliates or benefited from independent NRA spending like advertising supporting their campaigns. Along with the eight current lawmakers who were on the receiving end of at least $1 million over their careers, 39 saw $100,000 or more in NRA money flow their way, while 128 lawmakers saw $25,000 or more.”
The NRA is outspending its competition 40 to 1. Why would they do that? Because the NRA is the lobbying arm of the $30 billion a year gun industry. And the figure of $30 billion just includes manufacturing and retail sales; it does not include attendant industries such as security services, for example.
The NRA is so committed to protecting the gun industry that it has blocked legislation most of its own members support, namely a ban on military style assault weapons. The NRA has even passed legislation that forbids federally funded studies of gun violence. Read that last sentence again. The NRA has even passed legislation that forbids federally funded studies of gun violence.
The NRA and its gun cult members are quick to point to the Second Amendment, but that’s bullshit. The “right to bear arms” does not include your right to own a nuclear bomb, does it? No, the Second Amendment is a smokescreen to protect the gun industry’s profits. The sad thing is that most rank-and-file members of the NRA are clueless to the fact that they are being used and manipulated by an industry that doesn’t give a damn about their rights. Money talks, bullshit walks, people die, and cash registers ring. ‘murica!
The Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” The key to understanding the Second Amendment is in its first four words—”A well regulated Militia.” Many have made a convincing argument that the Second Amendment is no longer necessary because we have a standing army (and four other branches of the military and a National Guard in every state). It was for this reason that former Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger, a conservative appointed by Richard Nixon, declared in 1991 the idea that there was an individual right to bear arms was “a fraud.”
But even if we grant that the Second Amendment is necessary or even valid, we still have to deal with that pesky phrase “well regulated.” REGULATED! The Constitution clearly favors gun regulation. The NRA does not.
Exploiting ignorant people is easy, especially so when the exploiter can appeal to the victim’s insecurity. Guns are the ultimate phallic symbol, which is why most men who drive big pick-up trucks also own guns. Cultural notions of masculinity are socially constructed and the society which manufactured America’s definition of masculinity was very fucked up—white, male, homophobic, patriarchal, and racist; in other words, the epitome of arrogance and privilege. And the patriarchal capitalist forces that control the gun industry have done an excellent job of draping men’s insecurities in the flag by linking the Second Amendment to the misguided notion of American exceptionalism.
In some ways America is exceptional, but in just as many ways it is not. Among the world’s nations, the United States is not ranked first in education, happiness, healthcare, literacy, environmental protection, socio-economic equality and a dozen other categories. We are, however, ranked first in the world when it comes to incarceration rates and gun violence. Acknowledging that is not unpatriotic. It is realistic.
Reality. That’s what much of our society has lost contact with. Alternative facts, the moon is a part of Mars, Trump is a Christian, and covfefe. People actually believe this shit. They even believe that any attempt at sensible gun regulation is an assault on their rights. The stupid is strong with these people. Their insecurity (a black President, threatened patriarchy, gay visibility, rape culture challenged, a changing world, tiny penises, you name it) abounds, which is why too many white men in this country have such a bizarre obsession with guns. If America is ever truly to be “great again,” it must first come back to reality. And that means ending our toxic relationship with guns.