As the news broke last week over the deaths in Aurora, Colorado, the same conversations and arguments that follow gun deaths were heard in our nation’s gathering places. One side argues “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” while the other side argues against guns, especially automatic weapons.
It is a conversation that leaves both sides angry and the victims still dead.
I fully understand why the second amendment was added to our constitution. I also fully understand why some people truly believe they must own a gun to protect themselves.
But mostly I fully believe that the consumeristic nature of the United States is playing a role in the United State’s two most disturbing statistics: we lead the world in gun related deaths as well as incarceration of our citizens. We kill and imprison our people like no other nation. Why? I think our cultural need for more stuff is an underlying factor. We are a nation that can be summed up in financial statistics. Our statistics illustrate who and what we are today in the United States.
According to Hoover’s, an industry profiler, here are some interesting statistics:
- The US clothing stores industry includes about 100,000 stores with combined annual revenue of about $150 billion.
- The US personal care products manufacturing industry includes about 800 companies with combined annual revenue of about $38 billion.
- The US nonalcoholic beverage manufacturing industry includes about 500 companies with combined annual revenue of about $44 billion.
- The US tire dealer industry includes about 11,000 companies with combined annual revenue of about $30 billion.
- The US gun and ammunition manufacturing industry includes about 300 companies with combined annual revenue of about $6 billion.
The money generated by guns and bullets may be less than the other statistics but the fact that six billion US dollars are spent on items designed to kill is important here. Every year that US citizens are buying consumable products like new Fruit of the Loom t-shirts, toilet paper, soda pop, and snow tires, they are also buying new guns and bullets.
Why on earth are we buying more and more guns and more and more bullets? These are not consumables in the same vein as root beer. Guns don’t wear out. Bullets kept to keep home owners safe from a home invasion don’t “go bad”. Neither has a “sell-by” date. Are there that many US citizens legally buying guns and ammunition every day that six billion dollars is spent every year?
Apparently the answer is yes.
We all have that friend who is always buying stuff. A new pair of shoes to add to the collection of only worn once shoes. A new purse, a new jig saw, a new kitchen gadget. New towels, new lawn chairs, new stuff. We may shake our heads and quip, “more money than sense” but their buying habits fall into the category of no harm, no foul. If they are compulsively buying stuff, it is only their checking account and credit score that will really be impacted.
But what if they want to collect bigger guns, bigger bullets? Who is impacted?
I say all of us.
The assailant in Aurora legally bought those guns and those bullets. No one batted an eye over those purchases because guns and bullets are just stuff like shoes and purses and kitchen gadgets. It is all about the almighty dollar and the US’s desire to spend it to have stuff that we need or simply desire.
And the folks who know us, the folks that actually control us via consumerism and political power, know that. They know that if guns and bullets are packaged in the same way as cheap t-shirts and this season’s hottest colors of shoes, people will buy them and no one will question those purchases. Because it’s only stuff and if a person wants to collect more stuff, than it is their God-given and US constitution-given right to do so. Even if they plan on murdering as many citizens as possible with those guns.
So perhaps guns don’t kill people. Perhaps it is our need for more stuff that is killing people.
Or perhaps it is the power of those six billion annual dollars and the people putting those dollars in their pockets.