Individual rights protection is at the heart of what sets the United States apart from the rest of the world. It aided the country’s independence from the monarchy and resistance to colonialism, dictatorships, and communism.
However, in today’s interconnected global world of easily produced arms and easily transmitted disease, safeguarding freedoms is becoming increasingly expensive. We’re used to speaking of the battle for independence in terms of foreign conflicts, such as the protracted conflict in Afghanistan. But the United States’ longest war isn’t in Afghanistan; it’s right here in the United States.
The US gun war is raging in US cities and suburbs, in schools and workplaces, at churches and grocery stores, even more lethal and uniquely American than any military conflict. Every day, Americans who did not volunteer for service are on the front lines, dying for your freedoms.
To sign up for CNN’s Meanwhile in America newsletter, click the button and enter your email address. The most recent battleground exploded in Indianapolis on Thursday night, when eight people were shot and killed in a matter of minutes at a FedEx warehouse.
The Declaration of Independence’s pledge of “liberty” is infringing on “life” and the “pursuit of happiness” in ways the Founding Fathers could never have anticipated.
Given the alternative, the nation is preferring personal freedom over public safety, with the aid of conservative courts and Second Amendment true believers, giving some citizens a sense of liberty but also causing many people to die in the process.
At a Friday afternoon news conference, Biden called the almost endless string of mass shootings “a national tragedy,” but he pushed back on a question about his administration prioritizing infrastructure over pressing for new gun control, instead urging Congress to act. “It doesn’t mean that I can’t also be working at the same time on the economy and on Covid, but it’s not a question of my being able to set the agenda in the Senate as to what they will move to first.”
In today’s United States, where everything seems to be a partisan political fight, the issue could be Covid restrictions or gun control, but it’s usually the same Republican legislators and governors promoting liberty against a science and public health crowd pushing statistics about lives lost.
In the last month, there have been 45 mass shootings in the United States. However, the majority of gun deaths would not occur in mass shootings. According to data from the Gun Violence Archive, more people have died by suicide this year. In 2021, more Americans have already died as a result of gun violence than have died in Afghanistan in nearly two decades.
When Vice President Joe Biden announced this week that American troops will be out of Afghanistan in 20 years by September 11, he was honoring the sacrifice of 2,300 service members who volunteered to serve and died defending the nation.
In the gun war, he’s largely helpless, because courts have interpreted the Second Amendment to allow Americans easy access to firearms, and most of the nation votes as if it’s afraid the government will take away its weapons.
Although there is some movement in Congress toward new background check laws, there is still a sacred belief in an inalienable right to bear arms in some parts of the world, aided by the Supreme Court’s understanding that the Second Amendment refers to individuals and firearms rather than a well-regulated militia.
The Republican political agenda is written in stone to protect the Second Amendment at all costs, and yet most Democrats are unable to discuss the root cause of gun violence, which is not that the wrong people have weapons, but that there are so many guns that are so easy to procure. After all, the bulk of gun deaths are suicides.
Although supporters of the Second Amendment may be concerned about the government seizing their firearms, Black Americans must be equally concerned about the government seizing their lives.
The nation can no longer deny how unarmed Black men are regularly killed by police, from George Floyd to Daunte Wright and beyond.
Social media and bodycam footage, as well as trials like that of former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin, make it hard for those men to be forgotten. The inevitability of another mass shooting, as well as the repeated police killings of Black men, are also intolerable.
“We need to be clear when we’re talking about, this is not a Black versus White issue. This is a right versus wrong issue,” said Angela Rose Myers, president of the Minneapolis chapter of the NAACP, during an appearance on CNN Friday. “And people in our state and our government should not be murdering their citizens.”
Again, there is slow progress in Congress to pass new federal policing regulations, but it seems that every day, Americans are confronted with another case of police murdering someone.
The spirit of those Second Amendment claims can be seen in a renewed interest in the First Amendment, which guarantees freedoms of speech and religion, which some Americans believe are being trampled by state orders and warnings to practice social distancing during the pandemic.
In a fiery debate on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Rep. Jim Jordan, a Republican from Ohio, went after Dr. Anthony Fauci, demanding to know when Americans would be able to reclaim their freedoms from the pandemic.