*A Bonfire of Guns:  De-arming America and the Social History of the Dukhobors

 

The United States is conservatively estimated to have at least 300 million firearms in private ownership, though the actual number may be considerably higher.  The Geneva-based Small Arms Survey put forward a figure of 270 million in 2007, nearly ten years ago, but this estimate is based largely on recorded sales and information furnished by individual gun owners. However, gun registration is not mandatory across the United States, and trafficking in firearms is a lucrative business.  What is unequivocally true is that every study ranks the United States as number one globally in the per capita ownership of private firearms.  It is, of course, far from being the only trigger-happy country in the world.  Other countries that place in the top ten are Iraq and Yemen; though officially Afghanistan was placed only 102nd in the 2007 Geneva survey, the country is known to be awash with private firearms.  Indeed, the Pathan has long had a reputation, whether deserved or otherwise, for a love affair with his rifle.  But these are not the countries with which the US likes to be compared, though it is a telling fact that the US often finds itself—for example, in the matter of adhering to capital punishment—in the company of countries, among them Iran and North Korea, which it otherwise describes as “rogue” states.

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First Group of Dukhobors Arriving in Halifax, Canada, by ship. Source: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca

So just what is it that is to be done with all these guns? Assuming, as I have had occasion to remark on my blog on several previous occasions, most recently in my essay posted yesterday, that the measures—background checks, placing a ‘reasonable’ limit on the number of firearms an individual might own, initiating a waiting period—that are from time to time proposed in the US, varying only in degree rather than in kind as one moves from one state to another, are nearly worthless, what lessons might be drawn from other countries?  To pose a question in this fashion itself often invites opprobrium in the US, since many Americans, and not merely those who are not well-educated, hold dearly to the view that America has little to learn from the rest of the world.  To take one illustration, the late Justice Scalia, whose sudden departure to another world led to a rather mysterious, indeed I should say herd-like, outpouring of grief, held firmly to the opinion that American justices had no business citing the opinions of courts in countries such as India since American jurisprudence was self-sufficient, supreme, and trend-setting.  Michael Moore’s late 2015 film, Where to Invade Next?, dwells precisely on these forms of American insularity and exceptionalism, though as he points out some of the most progressive social innovations were the consequence of American ingenuity but were later abandoned in the US even as they came to be adopted in other countries.

 

Australia offers perhaps the best illustration of how private gun ownership might be limited while not outright eliminated.  Japan’s rate of homicide by private firearms is practically zero; there have been years when there have been fewer than ten fatalities on account of gun violence in an entire calendar year.  But once one moves beyond the iconic Japanese brand names and the taste that a certain sector of the white population has acquired for Japanese cuisine, Japan is construed as much too alien to the American sensibility.  Most Americans would take offense at the suggestion that their country might consider emulating Japan.  Australia, on the other hand, shares with the US an Anglophone culture, English common law traditions, and much else—even if cricket and Australian Rules are not quite akin to baseball and (American) football.  In 1996 and again in 2003, Australia initiated a gun buyback program.  The 1996 program, precipitated by a massacre in Tasmania that took a toll of 35 lives, required Australians to surrender certain firearms, among them some semi-automatic rifles, long guns, and pump-action shotguns.  This mandatory buyback program provided owners with “just compensation” and was financed by an increase in the Medicare levy from 1.5% to 1.7% of income for a period of one year.  The NRA and its various mouthpieces, among them the National Review, have not surprisingly contested the efficacy of this program; however, more scholarly studies have established that the firearm homicide rate in Australia fell by an astounding 59% while the firearm suicide rate decreased by 69%.  Australia’s gun ownership rate is presently about 21.6 per every 100 residents; its gun homicide rate is less than 1 per 100,000 in contrast to around 11 per 100,000 in the United States.  Gun buyback programs have barely been tried in the US; where at all they these feeble measures have been grudgingly attempted, they have been on a voluntary rather than mandatory basis.

 

If, however, the US is going through a period of mass delusion, then Americans will be impervious to reason.  When rational argument cannot prevail, we should at least permit ourselves some stories.  The social history of one radical anarchist community, the Dukhobors, also known as the “Spirit Wrestlers”, has been little told.  Even chroniclers of nonviolent resistance are unfamiliar with them:  there is no mention of the Dukhobors in Peter Ackerman and Jack Duvall’s A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Resistance (2000), or in Mark Kurlansky’s short but engaging NonviolenceTwenty-Five Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea (2006).  Arising from the great 17th-century schism that shook Russia, the Dukhobors were a mystical evangelical group that faced intermittent persecution from 1773 onwards.  The Dukhobors rejected all external authority, the Bible not excluded, and viewed their own leader as a reincarnation of Christ.  The convoluted history of the Dukhobors, among whom the adherence to nonviolent resistance to oppression, egalitarianism, vegetarianism, communal ownership of property, and the repudiation of conscription is common if varying in degree, need  not be rehearsed at this juncture.  A series of exiles—to the Caucasus, Siberia, then to scattered villages in Georgia—eventually brought them, with the financial assistance of Leo Tolstoy and English Quakers, to Canada.  The bulk of the Dukhobors, some 25,000, are now settled in western Canada; there is a small population, numbering not more than 5,000, in the US; and estimates of their numbers in Russia vary immensely, from a mere few thousand to something like 30,000.

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Russian Dukhobor settlers on ship, enroute to Canada, 1898. Source: Canadian Archives.

 

It is the Dukhobor practice, very much alive today if only in the form of symbolic remembrance, of creating a bonfire of guns that is of supreme interest.  7,000 Dukhobors first engaged in the burning of weapons in 1895, on June 29, at three different sites in the Caucasus, to protest conscription in Tsarist Russia.

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The Doukhobors’ “Burning of Arms”, 29 June 1895, painting by Terry McLean. Source: http://www.doukhobor.org

This act of defiance is one of the more remarkable chapters in the history of human awareness, an affirmation of the dignity of every human life and simultaneously an expression of an adamantine refusal to kill another person.  One need not idealize the Dukhobors:  they have been implicated in previous years in Canada in acts of arson and dynamite, even if such acts were directed at their own properties to signify their repudiation of material possessions.  In all the discussion that is presently taking place in the US on gun violence, and amidst all the bravado about the intent to be unified and to prevent terrorists from dominating the narrative, there is barely any reflection on the philosophical and ethical implications for the human spirit when killing becomes a sport.  It is not for nothing that the Dukhobors have been known as the ‘spirit wrestlers’ or ‘spirit warriors’:  they call to mind, with unmistakable urgency, the simultaneously necessity to tend to the spirit and to take arms against arms. The call to nonviolent resistance is heard loud and clear in the Dukhobors’ burning of weapons.

 

25 thoughts on “*A Bonfire of Guns:  De-arming America and the Social History of the Dukhobors

    • Thanks, Rajivji, though, if time permits, I would appreciate if you were to drop me a line, or add another post here, indicating why you found the piece “fascinating”. Cheers, Vinay

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  1. Prof Lal – Great write up. The section about “Dukhobors” was indeed an eye opener. Their way of life resemble that of Yogis in India if I could draw a comparison.

    On another note, I am still waiting for your lecture on MK Gandhi to be released. Thank you and keep writing.

    Ratish

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  2. I was wondering if you ever considered changing the page layout of your blog?

    Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so
    people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text
    for only having one or two images. Maybe you could space
    it out better?

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    • Thanks for the suggestion. Yes, of course, I’ve thought about the layout. But I’m not a web designer nor do I have
      time to delve into it. I barely get enough time to write which is why the essays are so infrequent.

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  3. Dear Dr. Lal,

    I wonder if you ever considered the Marxist argument that disarming the working class is not conducive to real revolution. Similar to Gandhi’s arguments about disarmament. It seems liberal gun control could be a form of class war.

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    • Hello Sylvester, I just saw your comment as I do not check the channel often. I am not persuaded by the argument that gun control is a way for liberals to keep the working class in check. I don’t doubt that “nonviolence” can also be exploited by the oppressors. But one has to have a firm ethical position on these matters.

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      • Thanks for your reply. Yes, I certainly would agree with the necessity of a firm ethical position but I cannot help but think that disarmament in the US could be another way for the State to consolidate its monopoly on violence and may also fall heaviest on black and other minority communities similar to the racist “war on drugs”.

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  4. I think your section about the Doukhobors was extremely relevant as they really were an example of anarchic nonviolence. The fact that they were an evangelical group yet rejected the bible and viewed their own leader as a reincarnation of Christ was somewhat contradictory to me. However, I know understand that the underlying message of this was the decentralization of authority and devolution of power through things such as religion and conscription. I feel like its some what ironic that you mention them as at this point, unfortunately our only hope for gun control in America is to ruin the guns physically similar to how they burnt them.

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  5. Professor Lal, even though this piece was written four years prior to my comment, the issues you have brought up have stood the test of time. Sitting in a foreign country, it is not uncommon to hear of the upsetting instances of gun violence that occur almost too regularly in the United States. The question of how this large scale private ownerships of firearms can be eradicated is a question that pops up in my mind quite often. Drawing the comparison of the Dukhobors as an evangelical group that held a bonfire of guns is symbolic in so many ways in today’s day and age. The symbolism manifests itself in the fact that only serious action taken toward the eradication of firearm ownership on a large scale is something that’ll help the gun violence problem in the States. Even though they are not a group to be idealised, the bonfire of the guns should be exemplified in a different way today.
    As a side note, reading about the Dukhobors reminds me of the pandits and yogis in India attempting to attain “moksha’ who adopt a very similar non-violent and renounced life.

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  6. What I found intriguing in this blog post was the discussion of the Dukhobors as a means of contrast to the current situation surrounding the private possession of firearms in the United States. In particular, the burning of firearms as a means of political protest towards conscription stood out to me. It seems to me to be completely different from the mindsets of supporters of private gun ownership in the United States; many people own guns as a means to “protect” themselves, whereas, in the case of the Dukhobors, guns were burned as somewhat of a call to protect themselves from forced conscription by the government. Additionally, I wonder if Americans’ animosity towards the idea of the government buying back their guns can be tied in a way to a fear of communism and public property ownership; are people afraid of guns becoming the property of the government because they are afraid it will give the government more power to control the ordinary citizen? I wholeheartedly support gun control, but I think it is important to understand the mindset with which people protest gun control laws so that we can better protect people from violence.

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    • Hi Paige, I certainly agree that one would have to take into serious consideration the various reasons why gun buy-back programs have not had much traction in the US and why the right to the private ownership of arms is related to a suspicion of state authority. My focus here was more on the Doukhobors, a dissenting group about which little is known.

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  7. The reason gun violence is still such a huge issue in America is that many Americans do not have the mindset to work together to get rid of guns completely. There are already so many guns in this county that it would be very hard to collect them all and stop people from buying new ones. Furthermore, most Republicans are unwilling to support strong legislation that would limit the right to own guns. The biggest issues are that Americans don’t like to follow orders from the government and Americans don’t have a communal way of thinking. We are often individuals who put ourselves first instead of the entire group. American individualism is a way of life here, so it would be hard to convince people to give up the freedom of owning guns for the common good. We can’t even get all the people to wear masks and get vaccinated against a deadly virus for the common good, despite how much the virus has impacted everyone’s daily life. The type of people who would refuse to cooperate are the ones who are the most likely to own guns. However, a buyback program could possibly work here like they did in Australia, but the government would have to be willing to pay a lot of money for guns.The lure of money would probably convince some people to give up their guns, but not everyone.

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    • I certainly agree that the tradition of “individualism” has a considerable bearing on the tendency of Americans to want to hold on to their guns. But at the same time I would submit that this is far from being the whole picture. The tradition of individualism is equally strong in Australia, England, and Canada (just to reference Anglophone societies) but they do not have mass shootings. And this is in spite of the fact that all three countries have a culture of guns. We would also have to consider, for example, the enduring narrative of the ‘frontier’, cultures of masculinity, and the fact that the United States has made the least effort, comparatively speaking, to address the legacies of white supremacist culture (to which guns are exceedingly important, though of course there are many owners of firearms who do not subscribe to that). There are black communities who view guns as essential to their survival and who would be loath to surrender firearms.

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  8. In my experience, I have encountered two interesting thought process’s for the desire to own firearms. In this I will refrain from discussing owning guns for protection of one’s property and life from individual threats because I can see the logic in owning guns for the protection of one’s property if a threat is imminent. However, I do not believe anyone is making an argument against the right to self protection.
    The first claim I have heard is that gun ownership keeps the government in fear of the people and would allow them to overthrow the government if need be. I believe this sentiment comes from the example set by the founding fathers. This argument is the weaker of the two I have as I just can’t see the country’s gun owners ever making a serious stand again the heavily funded US military. I just don’t think a couple assault rifles have much an effect on aircraft or tanks.
    The second argument I heard was that having an armed population has been a deterrent for an land invasions of the US. This argument was made to me by my gun-owning middle school history teacher making the claim that no land invasion of the US had been carried out in its history. I cannot recall if there was clarification that this time period started after the war of 1812 but for the sake of argument I will assume so. As he described, no country would dare invade the US because millions of gun-owning civilians would stand in their way. I find this argument rather interesting because in my mind, invasion warfare was vaporized in the nuclear bombings of Japan. To my knowledge, Japan looked to be one of these countries in which the civilians were a threat to the invading armies so they leveled two cities rather then send in the troops. I would like to provide some clarification on the aforementioned point, invasion warfare is no longer necessary in wars between nuclear capable powers; we have still seen ground warfare following those bombings but not between superpowers. However, the point remains true no country has invaded the US since 1812 and it doesn’t feel as if any country will do so very soon.
    I thought It would be interesting to mention these points I have heard to possibly share the feeling of the civic duty of gun ownership provides some people with.

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  9. In my opinion there are several underlying causes why the United States are notorious for the highest gun ownership at a global scale. Firstly, for the country itself, it is a big benefit, as unlike the rest of the world it was not colonized past the XVIII-century. As the Second Amendment to the Constitution came into force in 1791, the mass weaponization of the folk began. The era of colonization is gone by almost a century ago, yet the numbers keep rising. Here a key role already belongs to atomization of society, i.e. its fragmentation with loss of interpersonal bonds. The lack of valuable relationship leads to despair and might nudge individuals to buy rifles for both defense and attack. Secondly, collapse of the «nuclear family» concept with consecutive fostering of fatherless children, in particular sons, is also responsible for increase of the number of armed men. Statistically, males who grew up in the dysfunctional and male-parent deprived families tend to buy arms more frequently. There are for sure other reasons why the US is the number one globally in the per capita gun ownership, including non-compulsory registration of the private firearms, as mentioned by Professor Lal. However, the reason why I started my comment with factors why people buy guns in the US, is the answer to how probably this situation could be dealt.
    As I have already mentioned, The Bill of Rights protects the right to keep and bear arms. Thus, the historical program of Australian mandatory buyback of guns in 1996 is not applicable. Furthermore, the reason why level of both homicide and suicide by weapon in Japan is considerably lower than in the States rests with the oriental warmth, culture and importance of family and interpersonal relations.

    Lastly, I was indeed enthralled by the group of the Dukhobors depicted in the article. As a person whose native language is Russian the first thing that caught my focus was the etymology of the community’s name «Dukhobors», where «дух» stands for Spirit and «бор» is the abbreviation for Apologists or Devotees. This confession resembling British Quakers in their ideology in many ways, including ardent rejection of militarism, being considered by Tsarist Russia as dissidents.
    I also want to focus on Leo Tolstoy, a great Russian writer, who contributed immeasurably to salvation of Dukhobors.
    Commencing with the spring of 1898, Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy has been almost completely absorbed in the ideas of helping the suffering brothers-Dukhobors. On April 2, Sofya Andreevna, the writer’s wife, writes: “Leo writes a petition addressed to the sovereign of the state, so that Dukhobors are released to move abroad, all – expelled, conscripted and imprisoned Dukhobors. All this is scary to me, what if they banish us too?!» And it can be understood – one friend of Tolstoy, Vladimir Chertkov, was exiled abroad for a campaign in defense of the Dukhobors, and the other, Pavel Biryukov, was sent to the Courland province.
    Meanwhile, Tolstoy conducts stormy – as far as conditions permit – correspondence with the Dukhobors themselves and his comrades-in-arms – Vladimir Chertkov, Pavel Biryukov, Leopold Sullerzhitsky (the spelling of the surname is found with one “l”). They had to correspond through third parties who gave their addresses for this purpose, since everyone who tried to help the persecuted was closely watched. Tolstoy tried to publish his appeal for fundraising in Russian newspapers, but was refused. Every month he sends unique letters to merchants and manufacturers. The wife reproached Leo Nikolaevich for inconsistency – as he both denied and demanded money. She was generally skeptical about her husband’s obsession with helping the Dukhobors, who was considered by her “proud revolutionaries.” “I cannot find in my heart regret for the people who, refusing military service, thereby force impoverished men to become soldiers in their place, and even demand a million money to transport them from Russia,” she wrote in her diary in September 1898. And a few months later: «All my sympathies are on the side of the hungry Russians and Kazan Tatars, dying of scurvy, hunger, swelling and suffering; they would need more help, and not the Dukhobors who made their own life difficult». Apparently, not only the wife of the classic was skeptical, because many benefactors did not reply to Tolstoy or refused to help, including the famous Pavel Tretyakov – the founder of the Moscow Tretyakov gallery. According to Tolstoy’s estimates, the relocation required at least 300 thousand rubles. Tolstoy decided to send the novel “Resurrection” and the story “Father Sergius” to print, and use the fee for them for the resettlement of the Dukhobors. As is known, he managed to raise over 30000 rubles, which comprised a half of the sum needed for primary resettlement of the Dukhobors community to foreign countries.
    Their story is worth being picturized as it demonstrates us a concept of Nonviolence that runs in the ideas of Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, as well as in the Sermon on the Mount. Yet, taking into consideration that gun trafficking is a «lucrative business» as mentioned by Professor Lal, this concept is alien to capitalistic States.

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  10. I believe that gun violence still exists in the United States due to their culture of guns. Although other countries such as Australia also share this culture, their efforts at de-arming the population have been more successful. The US has an arrogant belief that their way of life is already acceptable and hesitant to any dramatic changes. They reject any influences from other countries and reside within their own beliefs. On the other hand, Australia accepts changes and willingly surrendered firearms following a horrifying massacre. From the perspective of Americans, with widespread gun violence, owning guns is essential to protect themselves. This belief is deeply embedded in their culture and cannot be easily influenced by external factors. With gun buyback programs, it requires the commitment and cooperation of the whole population to surrender their firearms. However, in the United States, with some individuals holding on to their only form of security, gun violence is still a highly prevalent issue. As a result, the wider population also chooses not to surrender their firearms. To most Americans, money is not a sufficient incentive to sacrifice their safety and wellbeing. This never-ending cycle repeats itself, leading to no progress towards de-arming America.

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  11. Gun violence is an undeniable and unquestionably urgent issue in the United States today. I recently learned about “Stand Your Ground” laws present in over 30 states in the US today that dramatically eased restrictions on the use of lethal force as means of self-defense in public spaces. This is just another example of a very prevalent and deep-rooted phenomenon where Americans possess an inflated sense of individual rights, insisting on protecting themselves with firearms. However, from the fact that even basic restrictions like background checks are struggling to be applied universally in the US today, I would argue that the government’s problem is not in the ignorance of foreign gun policy, but rather that they can’t pass them into law. The sharp bipartisan divide politicizing ownership of firearms and the heavy struggle to overcome path dependence stands out to me to be more prominent problems preventing de-arming efforts.

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  12. I think one reason why the United States has such high rates of private gun ownership is because many individuals are highly distrustful of the government and its ability to protect the population so they would rather take matters into their own hands. However, when the wrong people have access to readily available guns, then gun violence ensues as has clearly been the case in the United States time and time again. The Dukhobors were burning guns as a sign of protest against the legitimate threat of conscription, whereas many Americans have gotten into the habit of hoarding guns because of the perceived threat of danger. However, I believe in reality it is the mass presence of guns that is in and of itself causing the danger. I never understood why it is often times the same people that support having a large budget for military and defense spending that also want individuals to have the right to private gun ownership because if so much money is going towards the military, I do not think we need civilians arming themselves for protection.

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    • Hello Anjika,
      You are entirely right that if the US has the largest (with regards to the budget, since the Chinese have more soldiers on the ground) and most sophisticated military force in the world, one designed to protect the homeland, that would appear to obviate the necessity of having an armed civilian force. But of course those who believe in carrying arms in the US offer many other rationales (for example, “hunting”), and, more importantly, believe (though this is not mentioned explicitly most of the time) that they must be armed to the teeth to prevent themselves from “criminal elements” in American society. In the US, that is, practically speaking, an argument among white supremacists designed to cast Black people especially as “criminals”. This is to say that while the logic you invoke is impeccable in its own way, it is not the logic to which gun owners subscribe. I don’t believe the US is even remotely close to resolving the problems of guns, and I have been saying this for something like 25 years.

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  13. Gun culture in America, in my opinion, causes far more problems than it solves. Limitations on the right to bear arms, and whether or not it should allow military grade assault rifles to be owned by civilians, are often brought up after mass shootings occur. Unfortunately, rarely, if ever, is anything ever accomplished because of how much influence the NRA lobby has over Congress, as well as over public opinion. It makes it very difficult for any kind of gun control to be passed in this country, no matter how many times it proves itself necessary.
    It is interesting to see how the Dukhobors opposed this. I agree that the burning of guns is an anarchic form of nonviolent protest, and I am interested in learning more about them as a group. Thank you for this article.

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  14. For the longest time, the debate regarding artillery and guns has been an open and controversial topic. The second amendment give citizens the right to bear arms, giving them the chance to obtain firearms in an easy manner. Many traditional Americans, particularly those who have a colonial mindset, take pride within the 2nd amendment, some might even identify with it. They flaunt their firearms on social media, show their friends and families their grand collection of firearms, and more importantly undermine the problem surrounding the use firearms. Personally, I do not like guns. I think that they are not needed in the hands of society. We have a military that protects us, so why do we need guns? I wonder, that if the high rates in mortality due to the use of firearms continue to rise, will there be any change to the ability of obtaining firearms. Is there a possibility of reviewing the 2nd amendment?

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  15. I found the section about the Dukhobors very interesting. As a group their ideas seem quite radical and my first reaction to the gun burning was slightly critical because it seemed extreme. However, the notions behind their actions make a lot of sense. They viewed guns as a source of violence and valued human life over the weapons. It’s disturbing that the gut reaction in the United States is often to value guns over human lives. I think in the United States we tend to forget about the actual lives behind the statistics surrounding gun deaths leading to these disturbing priorities. In countries such as Australia they reacted quickly to mass shootings enacting policies such as the buy back program you mentioned while in the United States we’ve allowed it to drag on. We’ve allowed mass shootings and other forms of gun violence to become so common that it no longer scares or disturbs many people as much as it should.

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  16. Much of what I think about guns in the United States has already been mentioned in the blog post, but there is something very strange about the idea that owning a gun is a right especially with all of the almost regular, shootings that take place in the United States. One would assume that if there was a problem, and an evident cause of that problem, more people would try and get rid of the cause. For example, if someone was hungry you would not tell them that they have a right to be hungry instead of giving them food, but when it comes to the topic of guns when we say there was a shooting, you would take away the gun, but instead, people begin to argue that it is a right to own a gun. I think that there is a much more cultural aspect behind the idea of owning a gun. As stated above, Americans “hold dearly to the view that America has little to learn from the rest of the world.” The issue is way more than guns, with all of the propaganda circulating, we see before our eyes how people begin to think that the United States is the most advanced country in the world and it is perfect the way it is and there is nothing to change. However, I think that if people truly cared for their country, they would not constantly defend it and find justifications for its crimes. Instead, if they cared for their country, then they would do everything in their power to make sure it is a safe place, a country that continues to advance and does not remain stagnant while the rest of the world moves forward and also a country that answers for the crimes it has committed. The discussion also has shifted from how to fix a deadly problem to “owning a gun is a right,” as is the claim of many people on the other side of the discussion, but do people not have a right to live and does their right to live come after your right to own a gun?

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  17. I find the Dukhobors and their strict adherence to non-violence to be a particularly uplifting tale given that the situation in the United States is currently a complete polar opposite. Burning guns in peaceful protest might seem like an insane proposition and, of course, would never be a valid or accepted way to get rid of guns in America but a mandatory buyback isn’t unreasonable. At least, it shouldn’t be. Instead, however, it is being suggested that, in order to deter school shooters, teachers should be armed. Rather than fix the underlying problem that has led to school shooters (i.e. easy access to guns, a lack of easily accessible, non-stigmatized mental health care for children), the solution being advocated by some is to introduce more guns into the equation as if that will somehow balance out the situation. The constant cycle of escalation that is evident in America’s viewpoint towards guns and their place in our society is laughable at best and, upon further introspection, very disturbing. At what point does one man’s right to own a gun outweigh another s right to life? The fact that conversations like that are such hard fought, contentious ones being circled round again and again (oftentimes directly in the aftermath of each increasingly violent shooter incident) and the issue at hand keeps getting neglected instead of being dealt with is a clear indication to me that America’s priorities and moral system is extremely skewed.

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