America Does NOT Have a Gun Violence Problem
America does not have a gun problem. It has social issues and the gun is the innocent bystander caught in the crossfire. With that said, I want you to take everything you have been told about gun violence in America, set it aside for a second, and read the rest of this article with no preconceived notions or media bias.
First, a little about me. I am the product of a father who is sharp as a tack; loves women, a lot; and loves freedom and food (he’s an executive chef). I am also the product of a mother with the biggest heart on the planet, a tenacious ability to deal with adversity, and a long-lost insecurity that she would raise a useless son (don’t ask me how I know this). My Dad and I have a great relationship now, but my mother mainly raised me. There were never any guns in the house. The first time I saw a gun that wasn’t riding on the hip of a cop was in college when a friend of my roommate at the time brought a gun into our campus apartment. The moment I saw the gun, I made him leave.
At the time, to me, guns were bad. Hell, I didn’t like the fact that cops had guns. I’d only seen guns used negatively, so I wanted nothing to do with them. Then one day, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to go to the shooting range. Initially, I declined, but curiosity and my pride got the best of me, and I decided to go. I was terrified, but I hid my fear. My friends are I are ruthless with each other when it comes to jokes and the last thing I wanted to do was give them the satisfaction and ammunition of knowing I was scared to shoot a gun. Ironically, I’d later learn that a number of them had never shot before and were too scared to do it.
My first shot of the gun was as terrifying as I expected it to be, which makes sense, considering I was a first-time shooter shooting a 40 S&W out of a sub-compact gun. That’s gun guy talk for, “terrible idea.” However, after the second shot, I fell in love. A month later, I purchased four guns and was going to the range or gun store on an almost bi-daily basis. I was chasing the dragon, and over 50 guns later, I’m still chasing that dragon.
Before you know it, I’m one of the most recognizable faces of the most prominent gun rights organization in the world, the National Rifle Association, and have over one million followers on YouTube.
However, during the early stages of my firearm journey, I hid my guns from my mother. I knew for sure that if she found out I had guns, she would immediately think I was in a gang or had become a drug dealer. However, in reality, I was an ambitious law student who fell in love with one of the most feared and hated items on the planet, and everything I saw in the media was telling me that America as a whole has a gun violence problem.
America does not have a gun violence problem. America has a suicide and inner city gang violence problem.
I think it’s fair to say, for something to be a national problem, epidemic, or whatever questionably hyperbolic adjective you want to use, it would at least be in the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. but gun violence is nowhere to be found on that list. You want to know what is, though. Suicide.
On average, 36,383 people die from guns in this country annually. Of that 36,383, 22,274 are suicide while 12,830 are homicides. Twenty percent of all firearm homicides occur in the 25 largest U.S. cities. Of the 12,830 homicides in the U.S., nearly 81 percent occur in urban areas. That’s a nice way of saying the ghetto or inner-city. So essentially, if you don’t live in an inner city, your chances of dying from gun violence is incredibly low.
The mere fact that firearm homicides are so heavily concentrated in the inner city should tell you that this isn’t a gun issue. Middle America has more guns than food, and they don’t have this type of violence. I’m a young black man with more than 50 guns; if guns were an issue, I wouldn’t be writing this article right now (and stop acting like you don’t know why I pointed out my race). It’s no secret that most of the people dying from gun violence in the inner city are young black men.
To put it bluntly, America’s inner cities are socio-political microcosms of destructive culture. Gun violence is simply a by-product of these conditions. Everything that can go wrong in a community has and continues to go wrong in the inner city. We can debate the genesis of the state of our inner cities and the people and/or institutions responsible for it another time. What cannot be overlooked is what you get when you have a group of people living in abject poverty for generations, coming from broken homes, going to abysmally underfunded education systems, and being surrounded by a thriving narco-economy. What you get is unrelenting dysfunction, and where there is dysfunction, violence is soon to follow. Just so happens the weapon of choice to engage in this violence are guns. To call all of that a gun problem or even worse, creating laws that force the good people living in these decrepit conditions to give up their guns is to me socio-political malpractice.
Knowing all of this, I now want you to imagine what the gun homicide numbers would be if our inner cities didn’t have these particularized issues? Let’s just say; you likely would not be reading this.
When it comes to suicide, the only thing I can say is, if too many guns are what cause high suicide rates, we’d be leading the world in suicides, but yet again, we don’t. Hell, the top countries for suicide don’t even allow their citizens to own firearms. Forgive me if what I’m about to say seems tactless, but as tragic as they are, even if getting rid of guns would substantially reduce suicides, I’m not willing to give up my right to self-defense for it. Yes, I see giving up my guns as giving up my right to self-defense. As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t have the tools necessary to effectively defend yourself, you don’t have the right to self-defense, and the gun is the most effective tool for self-defense.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t understand some people’s aversion to firearms. I used to be that person. I’m not here to tell you that guns are not dangerous; they very much can be dangerous in the wrong hands. However, it’s a danger that is easily mitigated with knowledge and a small amount of training. This is what the media never talks about. Learning to use and own a firearm safely is incredibly easy. The upsides to firearm ownership far exceed any perceived drawbacks. There is a concerted effort on the part of the media and a lot of people running for positions of power to dissuade as many Americans as possible from gun ownership. It’s not because they genuinely care about your well-being or the safety of the people you love, but because they know what a gun does to law-abiding citizens. No, it doesn’t turn them into bloodthirsty lunatics looking for their next kill. It empowers them. It enables them to take their safety into their own hands and not depend on anyone else. Our political leaders know you can’t control people who don’t rely on them for their safety, so they do their best to dissuade you from firearm ownership.
The truth is, the likelihood of you ever needing to use a firearm to defend your life is slim to none. However, if the day comes, it’ll be the most important day of your life. You only get one life and trust me; there is nothing like the dread of helplessness you’ll feel if that day comes and you don’t have what you need to protect the most important thing to you, your life and the people you love.