Late on a dark New Orleans, a jogging Peter Gold saw a hoodie wearing man dragging a woman down the street. Gold intervened as the man tried to get the woman into a SUV near the intersection of Magazine and St. Mary streets.  The man let go of the woman, held his gun to Gold, looked him in the face and said ‘I’m going to kill you‘, then he shot Gold point blank in the stomach.

 

Gold lay on the sidewalk and pleaded for his life. The hoodied man put the gun to Gold’s head, pulled back the slide on the black semi-automatic gun and pulled the trigger. “I saw the man squeezing the trigger repeatedly. He said the gun was jamming.” Gold recalled. When the gun didn’t fire the man took the woman’s purse and drove away.

Gold recovered from his injuries in what everyone has called an “incredible miracle.” Gold graduated from Tulane medical school and continues with a residency in orthopedic surgery at a hospital in New York City.  “I’m just very lucky and fortunate to be able to come out of that alive,” Gold said. “I think about that day every single day of my life.”

Every single day Gold thinks about how he almost died, “I wonder what happened in somebody’s life that they were able to create such violence with such ease without even thinking about it.” Gold has a started a nonprofit foundation called MyStrongCity to provide education, mentoring and to raise money for community-based organizations that empower undeserved youth.

The gunman, who was captured later, attacked three other people immediately after leaving Gold.

Gold says that he was “lucky”, but could the gun jamming be attributed to something other than luck? Would he have started this foundation that has helped thousands of people, if this horrible incident had not occurred? Could this happening be something other than fortune smiling on him?

Could this have been  THEM?

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After the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Connecticut where 18 six and seven year-olds were shot and killed by a single armed individual, President Barack Obama took to the airwaves and we all heard his emotional condolences to other affected. Back in 2008, when Candidate Obama was being honest he said that cultural changes will make people “cling to their guns and religion”, he couldn’t have been righter. In fact some would say that the gun is a religion. The United States of America has more guns than any other ‘civilized” country in the world. We have more people in prison than any other civilized country, prison is supposed to be a deterrent–obviously what we have been doing isn’t working. It can even be argued that the violence we do abroad is merely an extension of the violence in our hearts that sometimes spills out at home…

You will hear the terms “Kids killing Kids”, “Boys will be Boys”, “Guns don’t kill people”, these are paid for slogans that turn shooting tragedies, like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School into nothing more than nursery rhymes. Nursery rhymes right along side other rhymes like “babies having babies”, “Just say no”. Slogans that make you feel better, as if someone has a handle on it enough to craft a catchy slogan for it, while another avoidable shooting becomes nothing more than a parade of faces and a footnote in history. Disregarding the warnings from these events, the media and political framework from these events have become common. They pick sides, cloud the issues only to keep the same ways of thinking in place, year after year, incident after incident, half-measure after half-measure. Why half-measure and promises, because this is the culture of violence that we have created…all of us.

You will also hear words like “troubled”, “problems” and if no on is troubled or has problems. These media slick personalities will cloud the issue by making it a mental health debate. If the individual “snapped” how an examination beforehand reveals that is beyond any psychologist. They will also turn any remedy it into a privacy issues, or a rights issue. One as arbitrary as, at 18 one can smoke and at 21 one can drink alcohol, how is that working out?  They aren’t working, they don’t work. We as a society have not revisited those issues either, but it makes us feel better that we did something, maybe not the right thing, but we did something. “But it’s our right” they’ll scream, but since 9/11 the same screamers have allowed their right to be taken and twisted and their privacy to be intruded upon, without so much as a whimper—why? Because it was for the “Greater Good”. In the case of guns, finger pointing usually follows a shooting like this, but taking money out of the pockets of elected officials can save lives.

This tragedy in Sandy Hook, Connecticut will be tied to false arguments and false conclusions, just as all the tragedies before it were. You hear the questions being asked: What happened to the shooter to make him act in this manner? This can’t be normal, he’s a monster, a monster really–so is America raising monster? This is all done to prevent us from squaring look ourselves in the face. Looking at the society we have created for ourselves and for our children to grow up in. Arbitrarily putting people on a ‘not eligible’ list, stopping the poor for getting guns, preventing minorities from getting guns, ect… none of it will work. We all know it that’s why we pray, we hold vigils, and we debate.

A week after the Sandy Hook shooting the NRA held a national press conference that blamed 1980 and 1990 era video games Splatterhouse, Bulletstorm and Mortal Kombat, and sports for America’s violent culture. The NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre urged congress to create a national database for the mentally ill, he also blamed the media for being complicity in misinforming people and President Barack Obama for cutting funds. The NRA proposes that every school in America has a police officer. The press conference was so out of touch and so sickening the only thing missing was the Wayne LaPierre brandishing a gun, and metaphorically he was. However, the NRA’s proposal seems like a great solution until the armed protector is the shooter. Make it tougher to get a gun won’t work, because the capitalist will find something else deadly to market and sell to the violence hungry masses. Scenes like the ones at Sandy Hook Elementary School have become as common as law enforcement police shooting unarmed people,and  as normal as the violence from our unmanned drone strikes in other countries. We the so-called educated masses, have lost the clarity and the fortitude to do the right thing.

How many guns does a person need? One for upstairs, one for downstairs, one for the car and one for the white tail deer. I know hunting is a way of life. Yes hunting defenseless animals with high powered weaponry for sport, is a way of life that desensitizes us to the value of life as a whole. We as a society hold the power to take life as our absolute right if someone, anyone offends us, unfortunately the taking of life is in direct conflict with the constitution the evangelist praise so highly, but just as so many religious do with their text, the constitution is left largely unread. Thinking that one right can take another right has to be a mental condition.

Here is what you won’t hear.

There have been 28 mass shootings since Columbine and 19 mass shooting since the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, 30,000 gun deaths yearly, 100,000 people get shot yearly, 18,000 people commit  gun suicides each year, yet there has been no meaningful change in the gun laws or the gun debate. Unfortunately, American citizens will fork over trillions of dollars and  the wherewith all for wars, but they no longer have the guts to do the right thing here at home. Any of these numbers should have indicated that our culture is in crisis, has been in crisis and every decision we make stems from the bad ones before it. This time, this incident in Connecticut, involved so many children and females in particular involved that the assault weapons ban might get a national tweak, might.  What if the next mass shooter’s are girls would that be enough to make us think? Probably not.

“The issue is not just violence in the media but the construction of violent masculinity as a cultural norm. From rock and rap music and videos, Hollywood action films, professional and college sports, the culture produces a stream of images of violent, abusive men and promotes characteristics such as dominance, power, and control as means of establishing or maintaining manhood.”

For one segment of American society the gun itself is a symbol of honor, human mastery over nature, authority, individual self-sufficiency and history. To that segment by opposing gun control affirm the value of those symbolic meanings and the vision of the good society that the gun helped to construct. However, to the other segment of  society guns perpetuate illicit social hierarchies, the elevation of force over reason, the expression of collective indifference to the well-being of strangers, and the only way the the fearful can sleep at night. To this segment supporting gun control means repudiation these things, meanwhile one sides interest’s are realized at the detriment to the other side. The truth is that injecting partisan cultural values into this debate are inappropriate. People have a tendency to adopt views shared by others of their cultural orientation, this is self-reinforcing. We need a new vocabulary, we need new voices on the matter and no compromise, or middle ground solution will remedy this. We must change our thinking completely.

What would the forefathers think? Where is congress on the matter? Who is paying who? It’s too much for the busy citizenry to deal with, right? So lets put it to a vote, and watch every year as the numbers for a ban grow, but that’s when the real violence will happen. The shooter could have used an SUV and ran down just as many young victims crossing the street to school. Why didn’t he? Because guns and ammunition are far cheaper and more effective ways to kill, when you are killing for power. So why not make guns more costly, but then only the wealthy would have them. We could make it into War on Guns, but how have the wars on Terror, Drugs and Gangs turned out? Why not just ban the firearm and keep the 2nd amendment, which is doable, but the capitalist would never allow that.

The numbers and our actions just don’t add up, what would happen if we as a society were to take firearms out of the equation?

MG Hardie