The US goes ballistic: America’s gun epidemic | Gun Violence

While in Havana Last February, I became acquainted with a man in his fifties, from Guantánamo province, eastern Cuba, and who in 1986 tried unsuccessfully to row a makeshift boat from Cuba to the so-called “land of the free”: my homeland, the United States of America.

Arrested by Cuban authorities, he was sentenced to three years of labor on a coffee farm – where, he said, he was treated in a civilized manner, and where he could use his mechanical engineer by designing a coffee de -water pump.

Although his love for the Cuban system of government has barely grown over the past three and a half decades, this man has claimed that the only place on Cuban soil where you can find things like Torture was institutionalized as the US military base at Guantánamo Bay. Despite his attempts to abandon the country in favor of the heart of global capitalism, he insists that there are some priceless perks that correspond to life in Cuba, including healthcare. free and the freedom to go to school or walk down the street. fear of being shot.

To be sure, U.S. politicians and other concerned citizens have expended much energy over the years in neurologically portraying Cuba as a single oppressive nation and a threat to international security. This tiny island even occupies one of only four spots on the official US State Sponsors of Terrorism list – even though Cuba has never bombed civilians in Iraq or Afghanistan, and although Guantánamo is a form of terrorism in its own right.

But while the U.S. government considers almost everything the United States itself does in the name of “freedom” and “security,” the fact of the matter is that Cubans have access to a security according to the law. literally that the inhabitants of the imperial superpower do not have. For example, when I visit “mass shootings in Cuba,” the top result is an April 2020 Associated Press article about 42-year-old Alexander Alazo of Aubrey, Texas, who, was hit by an AK-47 assault rifle, opened fire. about the Cuban Embassy in Washington, DC. According to the police report, the episode was a “suspected hate crime”.

Alazo’s prison escapes, however, are just the tip of the iceberg – or the tip of a rifle barrel – when it comes to gun violence in the United States, the self-appointed model of humanity. Over this Easter weekend this April, CNN reported “at least 10 mass shootings” across the country – with the term “mass shooting” referring to an “incident in which four people or more were shot, not including the shooter”.

The Easter tally includes two mass shootings in the state of Pennsylvania alone, one of which occurred at a house party in Pittsburgh and resulted in the deaths of two 17-year-olds, along with several wound. South Carolina has staged two mass shootings of its own, one at a shopping mall in the state capital of Columbia. nine people with bullet holes. Mass shootings also took place in California, Florida, Maryland, Nevada, New York and Oregon.

This particularly bloody weekend comes just days after 10 people were shot in subway in Brooklyn on April 12. Rewind a few weeks to CNN headlines from March – for example: “At least 8 people were killed and more than 60 injured in mass shootings across the United States on this weekend”, published March 21 – and indeed seems to be trending. Fast-forward to May and the Washington, DC-based Gun Violence Archive has recorded no fewer than 173 mass shootings this year as of May 2.

The list of horrifying statistics continues. According to the US government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the country has recorded 45,222 “gun deaths” in 2020 – even more than 40,698 “motor vehicle deaths”. . This is the highest number of gun-related deaths recorded in any year to date, and a 43% increase from 2010.

Of the 45,222 deaths, about 54% were suicides and 43% were homicides. The rest, the Pew Research Center notes, could have been “unintentional”, had “unknown circumstances” or “relevant law enforcement personnel” – who certainly did their share of the work. their degree illegal killing of black Americans and others in 2020. How “security” is that?

A recent offer on the BBC News website, titled: America’s Gun Culture – in seven rankings, is ironically reminiscent: “It was more than 50 years ago, when the President’s administration Lyndon Baines Johnson stated that ‘guns are the primary instrument of death in the crimes of Americans. “and that it is “primarily the result of our culture’s normal attitude toward guns and its legacy as armed, self-reliant citizens”.” In fact, the quote – which actually describes a gun as an “instrument of injury and death,” not just death – occurred in the context of a 1969 congressional subcommittee hearing on gun legislation. bullets under Johnson’s successor Richard Nixon.

Despite the media’s lack of fact-checking, the quote is still valid – and the entire “compassionate attitude” has no doubt proved useful in the course of contemporary history of the United States. The United States in justifying massacres of civilians from Vietnam to Iraq and beyond. Of course, however, the American political establishment has little interest in connecting the dots – or bullet holes, as the case may be – between the militarized social ills abroad and at home.

Meanwhile, “armed, self-sufficient citizenry” is becoming increasingly the case, especially as different states have enacted ingenious laws allowing residents to carry handguns without a license or training. . As of 2017, “there are more guns than people” in the US, as reported by the Washington Post, citing a study in which “there are an estimated 120.5 guns for every 100 residents” – so far. This is the worst rate in the world.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, sending US arms purchases skyrocketing – because what better than a gun to protect you from the virus and general existential uncertainty? The spike in gun-related suicides and homicides underscores the greater relevance – in terms of lives – for the US state’s investment in mental and physical health. of the people rather than nurturing a brutal capitalist landscape that drives people to ballistics.

Of course, an ailing society will ultimately be more beneficial to such pillars of American capitalism as the arms and pharmaceutical industries, whose own security inevitably outweighs the latter’s. which my Cuban interlocutor describes – as the freedom not to be shot in your daily business commute.

I experienced a period of this insidious disease growing up in America, where I was taught that life is a competition as opposed to a collective partnership – a cannibal arrangement, involving Constantly instilled in me feelings of anxiety, isolation, helplessness, and undirected rage. Decades before the pandemic worsened, I distanced myself from a hostile environment by simply abandoning the country – and it’s not hard to see how a radical system of violence and alienation can also work. may cause more violent reactions in individuals.

On March 23, 2022, after a weekend of “at least nine mass shootings” across the US, the New York Times warned that it was “an ominous omen for the warm summer months.” More to come, often the most violent time in America. “. But as time turns ever more violent, it’s not just this summer that we must dread.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of Al Jazeera.

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