According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 354 mass shootings in the US so far in 2022, and more than 24,000 people in this country have died as a result of gun violence (mass shootings, suicides, homicides, accidents, etc.).
These numbers are increasing year after year, creating a trend and a model of society that can’t go on without ultimately destroying our very society.
We need to find replacements for these illusory theories of “gun security” and “gun freedom,” just as we have done in earlier moments in history when we were successfully able to change our collective system of beliefs. For example, in this country, there were 314,000 deaths by smoking in 1982. Shortly thereafter, we observed a new model replacing the Marlboro Man in our public consciousness: a healthy woman doing aerobic exercises on her home video. During a 1987 interview, Jane Fonda said about that phenomenon: “I remember thinking, Oh, God, wouldn’t it be great if I could sell 25,000 [tapes]? Three million tapes later, we created an industry.” Cigarette advertising was banned in movies, on TV, and in newspapers and smoking became every day complicated, pushing people like me to stand out on the street in order to have a puff. At the same time, gyms began to occupy storefronts and became part of every new construction, vitamin stores emerged like mushrooms, and people got up at sunrise to jog around parks. The health model took over and the smoking macho-man vanished into ignominy.
In previous centuries, a similar process happened with universal education, which came to be seen as the answer to poverty and social disparity, and as an essential element of any developed society. It’s now mandatory in almost all societies that children attend school. The model helped to usher in an unprecedented transformation of living conditions on many continents.
Right now, thanks to the green movement, there is an ongoing transformation in large cities around the world. Cars are being seen as old-fashioned and polluting, as cities are seeing more bikes, rickshaws, and e-bikes. Businesses are taking advantage of this trend to create a new economy; Uber Eats, for example, is now operational in more than 6,000 cities across 45 countries.
What type of movement could get rid of guns? The present disaster can’t be left to politicians to resolve. It needs to be addressed at a deeper level in our culture and by each one of us at a personal level. What in our culture could replace guns? What is a mobilizing image that could be shared by all and open up the future? It’s going to take all of us to build a new society where everyone has a place and role to play. We need a diverse, converging movement, combining the strengths of BLM, the Women’s March, LGBTQ-Pride, March for Our Lives, Extinction Rebellion, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Fridays For Future, and MayDay. The experience gained from these movements has already transformed our lives; if combined, it could melt the 393 million civilian-owned firearms to the ground, like the lava eruption of a divine volcano.