Maine mass shooting reflects years of gun control inaction
What happened in Lewiston is happening everywhere all at once; it’s all connected.
We must consider this tragedy in the context of current world events. We must start thinking about how everything is interconnected. In the aftermath of this horrible shooting, there will be the usual calls for gun control. Those calls will fall on deaf ears as the spinmasters on the other side blame it on mental illness. As leaders bicker about what should be done, nothing will be done, and aggressive acts of violence will persist, whether it’s another mass shooting by a lone gunman or mass casualties caused by actual war between nations and factions. As the current wars of aggression continue in Ukraine and Israel-Palestine, we must think critically about causality and the behavioral origins of violence. The interconnecting philosophy behind it is that everything can be solved by violence and aggression.
When Maine Governor Janet Mills announced to the media that the shooter had been found dead, she emotionally stated, “This isn’t us.” But what if it is? What if it is exactly who we are?
America is a gun culture, with the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms part of our country’s holy scripture. Our gun culture is an extension of our colonial settler history. Colonists from Britain, France and Spain took by force the riches and land of the Indigenous population. The West was won at the barrel of a gun. There is hardly a place on this planet that has not been affected by the brutality and subjugation of the colonial era or the colonial powers waging war against each other. Little has changed since that time, other than the efficiency of the brutality and violence.
British philosopher Bertrand Russell once said, “War does not determine who is right — only who is left.” Recently we’ve begun to accept the theory of intergenerational trauma, but mostly this is seen from a victim’s standpoint. What about intergenerational trauma from an abuser’s standpoint? There are numerous psychological studies that prove that people who are abused become abusers. About 30% to 40% of the abused abuse. With that being the case at an individual level, why wouldn’t the same be true at the societal level?
Rarely has the great work that Desmond Tutu did with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa been replicated. Mental health has been used as a diversionary tactic to deflect calls for gun control. The deeper truth is that gun violence starts with the mental health of the nation. It’s the psychosis of domination and subjugation of others through violent means to get whatever you want.
Winston Churchill wrote that “history is written by the victors.” What is clear is history must also be told by those who lose. The county Lewiston lies in is Androscoggin, an anglicized name for the land of the Wabanaki and often translated as “place where you smoke fish or meat.” There were many tribes in Maine, but they were collectively called the Wabanaki. They were successful fur traders with English and French colonists until they were forced to choose sides. When Metacom’s War, or King Philip’s War, began in 1675, most Wabanaki groups tried to remain neutral. But the English demanded that they surrender all their rifles or be declared enemies. Wabanaki chose to ally with other tribes to try to limit English expansion, ultimately to their own detriment.
The land on which we stand has been poisoned by the aggression, violence and brutality that occurred here. We are doomed to repeat in ways big and small if we do not face this historical fact. In smaller ways, it is exhibited in this pandemic of a mass shootings but on the large scale by the way we wage war. As of 2017, America had been at war 93% of its history. That’s 222 out of 239 years since 1776. We must come to grips with our history of aggression and violence to know exactly who we are and how to break the cycle.
The trend right now to whitewash history and erase those stories just continues to make things worse. Banning books, banning words, trying to hide our history, will only create more injustices and put in jeopardy our nation’s future. This is not a coincidence; it is calculated to ensure that the narrative remains in the hands of those in power so they can maintain control. We must stop trying to hide the violence and abuse in our past. We must face it. We must come to terms with it and make a choice to change our society’s future. That’s the only way we can turn the course of our nation away from violence and toward peace and justice.