Why Does The U.S. Govt.
Kill Like A Crazed Gunman?
A Proud Gun Owner Reflects On President Obama’s Call For Gun Control Despite A Seemingly Unabashed Governmental Policy Of Killing Foreign Civilians
A fully armed MQ-9 Reaper taxis down an Afghanistan runway.
By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine
Oct. 6, 2015 — The debate over gun control in the United States has cropped up yet again in the wake of another senseless school shooting. This time, the victims were students and faculty at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Ore.
In what has become an all-too-familiar scene, President Obama once again marched to a podium and addressed the country to decry gun violence and chastise the nation’s lawmakers for a continued failure to enact meaningful gun control legislation.
“We talked about this after Columbine and Blacksburg, after Tucson, after Newtown, after Aurora, after Charleston,” the President said in his statement. “It cannot be this easy for somebody who wants to inflict harm on other people to get his or her hands on a gun.”
President Obama expressed sympathy for the communities that lost loved ones, but also recognized that sympathy will do little to stop the violence in the U.S., a country that has seen 296 mass shootings in this year alone, according to the crowd-sourced site Mass Shooting Tracker.
Gun control advocates praised the President for showing emotion and once again taking the do-nothing legislature to task for failing to do anything to stem the tide of violence against innocent people.
There’s only one problem with the President’s sentiments — they are completely hollow.
I do not disagree with his assertion that the U.S. needs stricter gun control legislation. As a gun owner myself, I realize that it was far too easy for me to purchase firearms (especially in Arizona, a state that does not require sellers to perform a background check before selling firearms). However, the reason I find the President’s statement disingenuous at best (and opportunistic at worst) is his own deplorable record when it comes to killing innocent people, and we can never expect meaningful gun control legislation to emanate from a government that clearly has little respect for the sanctity of human life.
According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the U.S. has carried out 421 drone strikes since 2004 in Pakistan alone, with 371 of those strikes occurring under the Obama administration. In total, those strikes killed an estimated 423 to 965 civilians.
The report also details strikes in Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan, which have killed hundreds more civilians over the past decade and a half.
So, while the President stands at his podium deriding the senseless deaths of Americans at the hands of maniacs with guns, why does he not acknowledge the senseless deaths of ten score more civilians under his supervision in countries on the other side of the globe? These two situations may seem like apples and oranges, but they are not, because he is essentially saying that killing a specific type of people (Americans) with a specific type of weapon (guns) is wrong, but killing other types of people (Pakistanis, Afghanis, Somalis, et al) with a different type of weapon (drones, bombs, et. al) is justifiable.
And that foundational disconnect is crucial. Over and over again the U.S. government, including the President, has proven that the deaths of innocent people simply do not matter in the grand scheme of things, despite what he might say in angry speeches following gun-related tragedies.
More recently, U.S. forces bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan, according to Gen. John Campbell. The incident killed 12 staff members and 10 patients, including three children.
The reason for the bombing is still unclear, though claims that the Afghans called for air support, believing the Taliban was operating out of the hospital. Doctors Without Borders, for its part, is calling the bombing a war crime.
"Today the US government has admitted that it was their airstrike that hit our hospital in Kunduz and killed 22 patients and MSF staff. Their description of the attack keeps changing—from collateral damage, to a tragic incident, to now attempting to pass responsibility to the Afghanistan government,” reads a statement from Doctors Without Borders General Director Christopher Stokes.
So, how can we take President Obama seriously when he stands at that podium and decries one form of violence against civilians while sanctioning another?
You cannot expect the U.S. government to enact meaningful legislation to curb the senseless deaths of innocent people, because the U.S. government is one of the most prolific murderers of innocent people in the world.
Just look at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University “Approximately 210,000 Afghan, Iraqi, and Pakistani civilians have died violent deaths as a direct result of the wars.” While not all of those deaths can be directly attributed to the U.S., the preponderance of the deaths have, at the least, an indirect connection to U.S. military intervention and decisions made by Congress and the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
It is true that in the past the President has expressed remorse over the civilians killed as a result of U.S. drone strikes.
A story from The New York Times from earlier this year cites a 2013 speech in which “Mr. Obama declared that no strike was taken without ‘“near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.”’ He added that ‘“nevertheless, it is a hard fact that U.S. strikes have resulted in civilian casualties” and said “those deaths will haunt us as long as we live.”’
However, even that tempered sentiment smacks of simple lip service, because the Obama administration has become increasingly opaque on the topic of drone strikes, making it difficult for journalists and other investigators to find accurate statistics related to each strike, according to the same story from The New York Times. Rather than actually address the issue, the administration seems content to hide it from the public without addressing its ramifications.
This is serious problem that directly correlates to the gun control issue, because if you believe that the President and other politicians will actually fight for meaningful gun control legislation whilst signing off on the death of civilians overseas at the very same time, then you must ask even more daunting questions.
Is life any less sacred when it belongs to people that look, act or live differently than Americans? Is the murder of innocent people insignificant when it occurs outside of arbitrary U.S. borders? According to the Obama outrage meter, the answer appears to be yes.
And we cannot expect any meaningful action to curb gun violence from a government that has very little regard for human life. So, the President can continue to make his speeches and point the finger and express his sympathies. But, just as he acknowledged, his sympathy is pretty meaningless at this point.
Wayne Schutsky is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine.
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