Violence: America's Serious Addiction

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Fictional programs feature grisly murders and insane murderers. Serial killers now have fan clubs. Murder trials are modern soap operas. Like a crack addict, Americans crave and fear violence.


[American Violence]

America is addicted to violence.

It is a centuries
old addiction. The addict is in denial. Like any true addict, this country makes
empty promises about getting clean obsessing only on the next fix. Resistance
to gun control marks the depth of America’s addiction to violence.

Without
intervention, there will be no recovery.

Twenty-six lives were taken at the Sandy Hook Elementary
School with a weapon meant for war. A weapon purchased legally, used for pleasure,
which ended the owner’s life while she slept. Yet, the NRA response is "more
guns, not less."

They, like most Americans, are hooked on violence.

Violence is in America’s blood. America was a child
of violence-addicted parents. She rose out of the ashes of Revolutionary War, having
committed patricide.

There has been relatively little peace since then. War of
1812. Civil War. World War I. World War II. Korean War. Vietnam War. Grenada.
Iraq I and II. Afghanistan.

And, there has been genocide practiced against Native
Americans. Lynching of African-Americans. Threat of Atomic War. Cuban Missile
Crisis. 100 years of race riots. Mob killings. Pearl Harbor. Iran hostages. Then,
9/11.   

America’s violence addiction is complex. This long history
of violence leads to its normalization. Addiction has become a way of life. Just
like a functioning alcoholic, America functions well, most of the time, despite
her violence addiction. However, the addiction is no longer manageable. It is
interfering with business, family, and pleasure. Movie theaters, schools,
parks, restaurants, offices, and malls are no longer safe. Sandy Hook, and the murders
of 2012, revealed the addict in sharp relief.

This country is in denial. America believes
it is powerful enough to control its addiction by shear will. An addiction is a
compulsive need characterized by a high tolerance for the object of addiction
and symptoms of withdrawal once the object of addiction is taken away. Drugs
and alcohol, if used properly, are an effective tool. When they are abused they,
like guns, can result in death.

Gun
violence is killing this country. It is no
longer a game or simple thrill. There is a desperate need to see
violence in
video games, movies, and television. Real-life murder cases are used for
television entertainment.

Fictional programs feature grisly murders and
insane murderers.
Serial killers now have fan clubs. Murder trials are modern soap operas.
Like a crack addict, Americans crave and fear violence.

Violence-addicted Americans need a sobriety program.
Under the AA, Alcoholics Anonymous, program, the first step is admitting to
powerlessness over the addiction. Americans are powerless over their desire for
violence. Violence is part of American culture, history, and custom. Guns are
not going away completely. The Second Amendment gives the right to bear arms.
The desire to kill can be controlled.

Americans fear violence and buy guns fueled by that
fear. Guns, like drugs, provide a false sense of well-being. As heroin addicts
receive methadone or another drug to wean them from addiction, America needs to
focus on life instead of death. Like self-esteem, a sense of true security must
come from within.

AA Step Two calls on an outside power. Federal gun
control legislation is the outside power.  Although the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in
favor of more guns, Congress can create a safer America where the option is not
a bigger gun with more rounds of ammunition. Legislation must include penalties
for gun trafficking, a definitive ban on assault weapons, and limiting the
number of rounds. 

Fear of other Americans is greater than fear of an
outside invasion. In AA Step Four, the addict must take a fearless moral
inventory. This country must assess its relationship with violence. Violence-addicts
address conflict with more violence. Whether stockpiled for Armageddon,
zombies, or a race war, most weapons are purchased to take American lives. A
fearless moral inventory would mean more than a political sound-bite or
hypercritical preaching.

AA Step Eight requires a list of persons harmed and
a willingness to make amends to them. If paranoia concerning an upcoming race
war is based America’s history of violence then reconciling that history is the
answer, not more guns, and more violence. When several grief-stricken Sandy
Hook parents spoke of love and life and forgiveness, it was movement toward
recovery.

Step ten may be the most difficult. It requires an
addict to admit wrong-doing. This means admitting violence begat violence. Under
Step Twelve, having had a spiritual awakening as the result of this program, addicts
must carry this message to other addicts.

Congress is waiting.

______________

Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, an Associate Professor of
Constitutional Law at John Jay College in New York City, is author of “Race,
Law, and American Society: 1607 to Present” and a legal correspondent covering
the U.S. Supreme Court.




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