11.09.2015 Author: Vladimir Odintsov

America – the Land of the Heavily Armed

6357311609691266Thanksgiving – it’s one of the major holidays in the US, though there’s not many who are aware of its roots which lie deep in American history. When in 1620 the Pilgrims reached the shores of America in present-day Massachusetts they had already exhausted their food supplies. More than half of the fist hundred that arrived to the New World didn’t survive the harsh first winter and died from cold, hunger and diseases. Those who survived only managed to do so due to the help provided by Indians (mainly from the Patuxet tribe), which brought turkeys as gifts and taught newcomers from Europe how to obtain food in their new surroundings. In the fall of 1621, after the first successful harvest Pilgrims invited the tribe leader and another 90 Patuxets for a Thanksgiving meal. Eventually in 1789 George Washington proclaimed the first nationwide thanksgiving celebration in America on November 26.

However, it is remarkable that in less than 60 years after the founding of the Plymouth Colony out of 13 thousand Indians who lived in the vicinity of this Pilgrim settlement only 400 survived. Most of them were slaughtered in a bloody war for land. Perhaps this was the milestone that marked the beginning of an era of brutal violence in the history of America, where problems were now to be solved by force of arms.

In this context, there’s no use in concentrating on aggressive US foreign policy that has already been covered by NEO. Instead, let’s take a look at the everyday life of American citizens, in the country governed by the well-advertised “American-style democracy.”

According to recent publications in the New York Times, in almost all the major cities in the United States there’s been a significant annual increase in the number of murders, the largest of which has been recorded in Milwaukee (Wisconsin), where in 2015 alone the number of murders cases increased by 76%.

The number published by Mother Jones shows that in the last decade some 750 thousand Americans were wounded by gunfire and out those 320 thousand died. Each year 11 thousand people are killed by gunfire in the US, while another 20 thousand use firearms to commit suicide. Starting from 2011 there has been a steady increase in the number of those injured and killed (11% and 4% a year, respectively) by gunfire. The economic damage of armed violence in the United States exceeds 229 billion dollars annually. On average, a murder where a gun was used costs American taxpayers 400 thousand dollars.

Due to the report released by New York’s police department (2012), and a similar report issued by the FBI (2014), the 110th annual meeting of the “American Sociological Association,” was opened with a sad conclusion that in the period from 1996 to 2012 United States citizens (5% of the world’s population) accounted for 31% of all mass shootings on the planet Earth! This fact does not sound surprising, if one is to remember that over 200 million guns are in hands of the Americans, which is worsened by the fact that “a mixture of depression, schizophrenia, paranoia and narcissism” can be found in certain segments of the population of the United States.

According to the news site AlterNet, between 2009 and July 2015 57% of all killings in the United States targeted a family member or a sexual partner, while 81% of all victims were women and children. Many criminals stalk their victims before actually hurting them. Even if someone is found guilty of stalking, he is still able to purchase weapons legally. In 2011 alone 7.5 million people in the US were prosecuted for stalking, while 61% of all victims in these cases were women. It is been reported that rapists are 8 times more likely to kill their victims if they have access to weapons.

Children are often the victims of this reign of aggression which can be observed in the United States today. For example, a Gallup opinion poll has shown that 29% of American parents have concerns about the safety of their children within the walls of educational institutions. One in ten parents claim that their children were concerned about their safety. Sociologists state that horrific acts of violence in American schools have left a heavy mark on the perception of school safety in America.

While covering the recent shooting on Virginian TV where a former crew member murdered two of his ex-colleagues, the International Business Times called the incident “one instance of tragic workplace violence in the United States” and notes that workplace shootings have become a completely ordinary thing in American. In 2013 alone a total of 9% of all deaths in the workplace have been classified as murder. Last year a total of 397 deaths in the workplace in the US were classified as murder, while four out of five victims died from gunshot wounds.

In the history of the North American conquest the formula “shoot first, ask questions later” became the rule of thumb. On top of it all, justice in the Wild West was not dictated by legal principles, instead a sheriff would apply his personal notions of right and wrong with the power of his gun. And these “concepts” can still be observed in the domestic as well as foreign policies of Washington, which is rather unfortunate. The US is known for its aggression around the globe, and it is despised for it. But is this the model that we want to be applied universally as the best possible one?

Vladimir Odintsov, political commentator, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”