Gun Deaths in Ukraine and US
What do we learn when comparing gun deaths in Ukraine and the US? Arming American civilians in peace time is deadlier that arming Russian soldiers in wartime. Let’s do a little comparison for 2022 as of the final weekend in May.
Number of civilian deaths
War in Ukraine
Jan – May 2022
Who profits from gun death? 4031 Ukrainian civilians sacrificed their lives for the pride of Vladimir Putin and the profits of Russian oligarchs. In the United States, 17,300 bleeding bodies have been sacrificed for gun manufacturers, distributors, and the NRA.
The killing of Ukrainians was ordered by Vladimir Putin as part of his de-population strategy for conquering. The killing of Americans was not ordered by anybody. Still, we in America have had 213 mass shootings so far this year. So, after the fact, the bottom line looks nice.
The 2nd Amendment as Self-Justification
I’m a theologian, a public theologian. My job is to try to understand human sin. I’ve observed that sinful people pursuing violence justify their perpetration of violence. Even profiteers from bloodshed justify their actions. Nobody pursues evil in the name of evil. We all pursue evil in the name of something good. What’s good? The 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. That’s our standard of the good.
Might you like to know what the 2nd Amendment actually says? Here it is.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State,
the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
On can easily reconstruct the 18th century context. Americans needed a “well regulated militia” with single-shot muskets to shoot at King George of England or any of his red-coated soldiers who would invade American sovereign territory. What a good idea!
Today’s gun possession supporters defend something quite different. Instead of single shot muskets, today NRA supporters defend semi-automatic multi-shot military assault rifles. None of these weapons has been used to shoot the king of England or a red-coat for centuries. Instead, these weapons are used daily to murder children in schools, African Americans in churches, and Jews in synagogues. Is this what the 2nd Amendment protects?
And, of course, one might ask about that so-called “well regulated militia.” Note the slight of hand when you read the NRA interpretation of the 2nd Ammendment.
“In short, the Second Amendment states that as an American citizen, you have the individual right to arm yourself. The amendment also firmly establishes that the government cannot infringe on that right.”
The militia is deleted and the individual is substituted. Individuals make a much bigger market for gun sales than non-existent militias.
There is no well regulated militia today. So, the 2nd Amendment now justifies the sale and resale of assault weapons willy dilly to eighteen year old civilian boys who just love to see things go “bang.” There is no requirement that these bang-happy teenagers join a “well regulated militia.” The only thing that matters is the cash across the counter. The 2nd Amendment is the shield behind which profits from the blood of children are protected by the gun lobby and their congressional henchmen.
The NRA argument would be laughable to any logician. Yet, the gun lobby in Washington speaks so loudly that logic is drowned out.
Gun-Profiteering versus Children-Protecting
The public outrage over mass shootings indirectly leads to increased profits for those invested in the gun industry. NRA policy is to interpret such incidents as evidence that we need to arm teachers for self-defense. Then, we should arm persons who go to movie theaters, state fairs, church for worship, and everywhere. The promise of increased sales of guns and ammunition makes sugar plum fairies dance in the dreams of NRA supporters.
Finally, then, we must admit: what drives mass shootings is burning money fueled by greed. According to Forbes, the gun business fueled by gun violence in the news is now $28 billion in the US. This dwarfs the $2.8 billion per year spent on hospitals. Follow the money, not the self-justification. Until we understand this, we will not understand America.
To compare gun deaths in Ukraine with those in the US helps tell us something important about America. Attorney Eric Gorovitz interprets the battle of profiteering versus protecting as a battle for America’s very soul. America’s soul is being sold. What’s the price? Count the bodies.
Therapy to Match the Diagnosis
In order to prevent America from dealing effectively with this crisis, politicians with sincere faces and emotion in their voices will divert our attention away from the problem. They will fill the air with useless blather about background checks. This is like meeting a diagnosis of colon cancer with aspirin as the prescription. The correct therapy for our diagnosis is this: military killing machines should be outlawed in the civilian population.
No doubt that the therapy will need to be phased. Phase one: immediately outlaw all selling and purchasing of such guns as the AR-15. No selling or purchasing of ammunition either. Existing guns and ammunition will remain in people’s possession, to be sure. In time, the ammunition inventory will decrease. As the ammunition decreases, motivation for possessing the weapons will gradually diminish. Then, gradually outlaw these weapons. No buy backs. No government subsidy of gun profiteers after the fact.
Will the NRA whine about this? Yes. But, the NRA has had its day. That day should be over.
Is Putin Jealous?
Poor Putin. He wanted to de-populate Ukraine’s cities. Shooting residents was one method. But, alas, America has outgunned him once again. We know how to reduce our population. And it is all justified. The 2nd Amendment is our license to kill even without declaring war.
Ted Peters is a Lutheran pastor and emeritus seminary professor. He is author of Short Prayers and The Cosmic Self. His one volume systematic theology is now in its 3rd edition, God—The World’s Future (Fortress 2015). His book, God in Cosmic History, traces the rise of the Axial religions 2500 years ago. He has undertaken a thorough examination of the sin-and-grace dialectic in two works, Sin: Radical Evil in Soul and Society (Eerdmans 1994) and Sin Boldly! (Fortress 2015). Watch for his forthcoming, The Voice of Christian Public Theology (ATF 2022). See his website: TedsTimelyTake.com.
Ted Peters’ fictional series of espionage thrillers features Leona Foxx, a hybrid woman who is both a spy and a parish pastor.