Why are the ties that bind American gun owners to their firearms so deep?
Does America love its guns more than its people?
Guns are deeply ingrained in American society and the nation’s political debates. Americans are fascinated by weapons and the US is awash with guns. Guns have always been a symbol of power for Americans. They go back to when the white settlers used them to subdue the native Americans and to keep the African Americans as slaves. The National Rifles Association (NRA), is the strongest pro-gun political lobby in the US with an annual budget of $250 billion (Outlook, 2022).
American attitudes on gun ownership date back to the American Revolutionary War, traditions of hunting, militias, and frontier living. The American hunting or sporting passion comes from a time when shooting skills and survival among rural American men were a necessity and were considered a rite of passage for those entering manhood. Today, modern-day Americans take hunting as a component of gun culture to control animal populations across the country. For early Americans, survival against foreign armies and hostile Native Americans was dependent on one's ability to use a weapon, most often a firearm. Today, many Americans believe that owning a gun is a necessity for self-protection. America has had a long-standing history with guns that still stands strong to date.
The US is leading with the highest number of privately owned guns in the entire world and gun ownership is constitutionally protected by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution; with the ratio standing at 120.5 guns per 100 residents (Times of India, 2022). Well, it is clear from that ratio that there are more guns than people. The gun culture of the United States can be described as unique among developed countries in terms of the large number of firearms owned by civilians, generally permissive regulations, and the high levels of gun violence.
Americans don't just have more guns than anyone else; they also have the highest gun ownership per capita rate in the world; twice as many guns per person as do Yemenis, who live in a conflict-torn Arab nation still dealing with poverty, political unrest, a separatist Shia insurgency, and the aftereffects of a 1994 civil war (Fisher, 2012).
An unbearable sight in Texas led to a discussion about gun laws nationwide. An 18-year-old fatally shot nineteen students and two teachers and wounded seventeen other people at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, United States. There have been dozens of shootings and other attacks in the US schools and colleges over the years, but until the massacre at Colorado’s Columbine High School in 1999, the number of the deceased victims tended to be in the single digits (Outlook, 2022).
“We are so sure we know what freedom is in America that we cannot imagine a world in which true freedom might come after the sacrifice of personal rights. Freedom is sending your kids to school with confidence that they will come home at the end of the day.” — Taylor Schumann, author of When Thoughts and Prayers Aren't Enough (Harvey, 2022).
In Missouri, the state repealed legislation that required background checks when purchasing handguns. In 2016, the General Assembly reversed another law allowing open carry, and the state doesn’t have a minimum age requirement for buying a firearm (Manley, 2022). Minors can own handguns and long guns but under federal law, a person must be 18 or older to possess a handgun and be 21 to buy one. The city of St. Louis has ordinances that prohibit open carry within their city limits, even though the city still operates under Missouri state law, which permits open carry. The city tends to be less gun-friendly and increasingly restrictive in its interpretation of state statutes.
This legislation has made it easier for young people who come from families that have experienced steady and systematic redlining in the form of reduction of access to mortgages, small business loans, transportation, employment, and other wealth-building and stabilizing measures (eminent domain take-overs of their homes is a steady reality; trauma is a daily reality) to get their hands on guns at too young an age.
Gun violence is killing an increasing number of American children, from toddlers caught in crossfires to teenagers gunned down in turf wars, drug squabbles, or social media squabbles. Children and teens continue to become victims of gun violence in the City of St. Louis. Nearly 90% of the 262 homicides in St Louis in 2020 were committed with a gun, and the homicide rate was 16 times higher than the national average.
In 2019, the city alone accounted for 30% of Missouri’s total homicides, despite having 5% of the state’s total population (Gillfords, 2022). St. Louis has led America in per-capita child murders by county, since 2012; this means that Americans under the age of eighteen are eight times more likely to be killed in St. Louis than in the rest of the country. In 2019, the city witnessed thirteen child homicides, the most in a decade (Tucker, 2021).
Mass shootings that have become commonplace in the US frequently lead to public outrage and mass protests with calls for serious background checks on gun sales, which are repeatedly shut down by strong republican led opposition. Firearms became the leading cause of death for American children and teenagers in 2020, surpassing motor vehicle accidents (Times of India, 2022). Other developed countries are perplexed by the lax gun laws in America and believe that the American public should push for harsher gun control measures in the face of mass shootings.
“Gun violence feels too big, too powerful to stop. But it’s not too big for you to take some real, meaningful actions. You control what you decide you can live with, and what you can't. You can choose whether you do something, or do nothing. You are not powerless,” Jennifer Rosen Heinz (Harvey, 2022).
Fisher, M. (2012, December 15). What makes America’s gun culture totally unique in the world, in four charts. From The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2012/12/15/what-makes-americas-gun-culture-totally-unique-in-the-world-as-demonstrated-in-four-charts/
Gillfords. (2022, February 17). Addressing Community Violence in the City of St. Louis. From Gillfords:
Harvey, B. (2022, May 26). 28 Quotes About Gun Violence To Inspire Change. From GOODGOODGOOD: https://www.goodgoodgood.co/articles/gun-violence-quotes
Manley, E. (2022, May 25). What are the gun laws in Missouri? From Fox2Now: https://fox2now.com/news/missouri/what-are-the-guns-laws-in-missouri/#:~:text=In%20Missouri%2C%20minors%20can%20own,and%20no%20training%20is%20required.
Outlook. (2022, May 27). Explained: How Americans Have Learnt To Live With The Gun Culture. From Outlook: https://www.outlookindia.com/international/how-americans-have-learned-to-live-with-the-gun-culture--news-198788
Tucker, J. H. (2021, March 10). St. Louis Leads America in Child Murders — and It's Getting Worse. From RFT: https://www.riverfronttimes.com/news/st-louis-leads-america-in-child-murders-and-its-getting-worse-35132871
Times of India. (2022, May 25). Why America loves its guns more than its people. From The Times of India: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/why-america-loves-its-guns-more-than-its-people/articleshow/91794748.cms
Director of Marketing
"A father is someone you look up to no matter how tall you grow" (Robinson, 2022). Finding the right words or crafting up the perfect message for the fathers and other men who have stepped into the role of a father, in our lives is not always easy as words may not sufficiently express how dear they are to us. The third Sunday of June is a special day dedicated to our heroes to make them feel acknowledged and to let them know their impact on our lives is appreciated.
Anyone can father a child, but being a dad takes a lifetime. Fathers play a role in every child’s life that cannot be filled by others. This role can have a large impact on a child and help shape him or her into the person they become. People mostly talk about how being a mother is hard many a time, but fatherhood can be just as difficult and a crucial part of family life, especially in influencing the way they grow up. The modern stereotype is that dads are either clumsy or outright inadequate at being part of a child’s life, but the media never really portrayed that well.
Fathers are pillars in the development of a child’s emotional well-being. Children look to their fathers for guidance, instruction, security, and inspiration. Notice how most children want to make their fathers proud? Studies have shown that when fathers are affectionate and supportive, it greatly affects a child’s cognitive and social development, and instills an overall sense of well-being and self-confidence (PediatricAssociates, 2022). The patterns a father sets in the relationships with his children will dictate how his children relate with other people.
Father’s day coming up may simply seem like the equivalent of Mother’s Day for dads, but the two holidays have very different origins. The holiday can be traced back to 1910. Sonora Smart Dodd, inspired by how her father, a widower, rose to the challenge of raising her and her five siblings alone, thought there should be a special day to recognize dads (Lowe, 2022). To honor her father, she petitioned local government officials, churches, and other local organizations to celebrate Father’s day on 5th June, the anniversary of her father's death, in her native Spokane, Wash (LivingstoneNews, 2022).
Slowly, the holiday spread, and multiple presidents adopted it including Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge. It wasn’t until 1970 that Congress passed a joint resolution that would authorize the president to designate the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.
Many men continue to disdain the holiday, citing attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself (History, 2022). During the 1920s and 1930s, there was a widespread campaign to replace mother’s day and father’s day with a single holiday, Parent’s day. It was felt that both parents should be celebrated together to show equal love and respect for them. In 1972, in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday at last (History, 2022). Government officials were to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on such day, inviting the governments of the States and communities and the people of the United States to observe such day with appropriate pomp.
Presently, Father’s Day has been commercialized with the sending of greeting cards and the giving of gifts. Some observe the custom of wearing a red rose to indicate that one’s father is living or a white rose to indicate that he is deceased. Children give gifts and greeting cards to their fathers and spend the day with them. Many people send or give cards or traditionally masculine gifts such as sports items or clothing, electronic gadgets, outdoor cooking supplies, and tools for household maintenance.
Father’s Day looks different for everyone and can bring up a range of emotions, especially for those who have experienced loss and are still grieving. There’s no reason you can’t still honor someone who has passed unless you don’t want to. This can be a day of reminiscing, doing things that make you feel closer to your father, and honoring their memory. Do things that invite peace and tranquility.
It is a day that commemorates fatherhood and appreciates all fathers and father figures (including grandfathers, great-grandfathers, stepfathers, and foster fathers) as well as their contribution to society.
History. (2022, June 13). Fathers Day 2022. Retrieved from History: https://www.history.com/topics/holidays/fathers-day
LivingstoneNews. (2022, June 17). A Brief History of Fathers Day. Retrieved from Livingstone County News: https://www.thelcn.com/lifestyles/a-brief-history-of-father-s-day/article_11ceca34-0140-5b14-8f72-7c54f0a10158.html#:~:text=In%201909%2C%20while%20attending%20a,in%20her%20native%20Spokane%2C%20Wash.
Lowe, L. (2022, June 16). What’s the History of Father’s Day, and When Is Father’s Day 2022. Retrieved from Parade: https://parade.com/1035521/lindsaylowe/fathers-day-2022/
PediatricAssociates. (2022). THE IMPORTANCE OF A FATHER IN A CHILD’S LIFE. Retrieved from Pediatric Associates of Franklin: https://www.pediatricsoffranklin.com/resources-and-education/pediatric-care/the-importance-of-a-father-in-a-childs-life/#:~:text=Fathers%2C%20like%20mothers%2C%20are%20pillars,security%2C%20both%20physical%20and%20emotional.
Robinson, K. (2022, June 7). Because sometimes "Happy Father's Day" just isn't enough. Retrieved from Town&Country: https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/g10027429/fathers-day-quotes/
“Juneteenth has never been a celebration of victory or an acceptance of the way things are. It’s a celebration of progress. It’s an affirmation that despite the most painful parts of our history, change is possible—and there is still so much work to do.” — Barack Obama (Romper, 2022).
Juneteenth is commemorated annually to mark the end of slavery in the United States after the Civil War and has been celebrated by African Americans since the late 1800s (Taylor, 2022). The holiday falls each year on June 19, in honor of an event that occurred in 1865. On June 19th, Major General Gordon Granger and his Union Army troops rode into Galveston, Texas, on horseback and told those who were still enslaved there that they were finally free from the shackles of slavery.
On 22nd September 1862, President Abraham Lincoln declared that as of 1st January 1863, all enslaved people in the states currently engaged in rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free. (History, 2020)” The document applied only to enslaved people in the Confederacy, and not to those in the border states that remained loyal to the Union. This document is known as the Emancipation Proclamation.
Following Juneteenth, slavery was officially abolished with the 13th amendment, which was ratified in December 1865. The amendment reads (National Geographic Society, 2020), “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The 13th Amendment was necessary because the Emancipation Proclamation did not end slavery entirely. In addition to banning slavery, the amendment outlawed the practice of involuntary servitude and peonage.
President Biden signed legislation that made Juneteenth a federal holiday in 2019. The renewed interest in the day was due to the nationwide protests that followed the police killings of Black Americans including George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the Black Lives Matter movement.
Early on, Juneteenth celebrations often involved helping newly freed Black folks learn about their voting rights, rodeos, and horseback riding. Now, Juneteenth celebrations commonly involve cookouts, parades, church services, musical performances, and other public events. It is a time to attend a parade, buy from Black-owned businesses, and read books about Juneteenth.
In St. Louis, Mo, there are events throughout the region to mark the holiday. This year marks St. Louis’ first city-sponsored Juneteenth event. Williams’ b. Marcell Enterprises in partnership with the Missouri Division of Tourism started a program focused on serving young Black girls from marginalized communities through mentorship, education, training, and social activism. The Missouri Botanical Garden will be offering free admission for all in honor of Juneteenth with an interpretive guide to guide the visitors through African Americans' significant contributions to botanical science.
“Juneteenth may mark just one moment in the struggle for emancipation, but the holiday gives us an occasion to reflect on the profound contributions of enslaved Black Americans to the cause of human freedom.” — Jamelle Bouie (Romper, 2022).
History. (2020, January 6). Emancipation Proclamation. Retrieved from History: https://www.history.com/topics/american-civil-war/emancipation-proclamation
National Geographic Society. (2020). The 13th Amendment To The United States Constitution. Retrieved from National Geographic Society: https://education.nationalgeographic.org/resource/13th-amendment-united-states-constitution
Romper. (2022, June 16). Juneteenth. Retrieved from Romper: https://www.romper.com/life/juneteenth-quotes
Taylor, D. B. (2022, June 20). Juneteenth: The History of a Holiday. Retrieved from The NewYork Times: https://www.nytimes.com/article/juneteenth-day-celebration.html
Sarah Hobson, Ph.D. specializes in supporting teams, departments and schools, businesses, and government agencies in building inclusive innovative change-making communities who understand how to connect well with and join diverse populations in providing needed sustainable resources for all youth and families.