America, Land of Guns and Nukes

What could be more American?

W.J. Astore

Today, I was reading some stats about guns in America in The Nation. Did you know gun sales went up 40% in 2020 when compared to 2019? Did you know 3.9 million guns were sold in America in a single month (June 2020), at the height of the BLM protests? Did you know that, according to the trade association for the U.S. firearms industry, Americans own roughly 434 million guns, including 20 million AR-15s and its variants? Did you know that roughly 43% of U.S. households have one or more guns, and that the U.S. has “the most heavily armed civilian population in the world”?

An old joke says that lots of guns make for a polite society, but I haven’t seen much politeness lately. I’ve seen plenty of guns, though.

Even as America dominates the world in gun ownership, we continue to have the world’s largest and potentially cataclysmic array of nuclear weapons. Nuclear deterrence allegedly requires more than five thousand (5000!) nuclear warheads in the U.S. military’s inventory. (It’s quite possible that a mere fifty nuclear explosions could be enough to trigger a global nuclear winter.)

America is indeed exceptional: exceptional in its pursuit of overkill.

I know some might ask: What do guns have to do with nuclear warheads? I’d say that the gun has become the nuclear option in the home. Dead men tell no tales, whether shot or nuked.

Why do Americans feel so safe with so many guns? Why do they feel so safe with so many nuclear warheads? Why do we continue to buy more and more?

It’s a uniquely American form of madness. Or MADness, as in mutually assured destruction.

Look, before the 2nd Amendment crowd comes, packing heat, I’ve owned guns myself and have no objection to anyone who’s a hunter, or anyone who truly needs a gun and gets properly trained in its use. But what we’ve witnessed with the proliferation of guns in America over the last two decades is inexplicable in terms of sport hunting or any real need.

It’s been said we can’t allow the smoking gun to become a mushroom cloud. What if there is, in essence, no difference? Dead is dead, whether shot or nuked, and 434 million guns have a “throw weight” and a “fallout” of their own.

Isn’t it time that Americans found a way to destroy their own weapons of mass destruction? At least we won’t have far to look for them.

21 thoughts on “America, Land of Guns and Nukes

  1. And the gun stats you quote only account for the acquisitions that are documented. Defies description. Wonder what percentage of the purchases involved background checks. I’m guessing that such checks aren’t universally mandated in all states, correct?

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    1. I’m not sure. But I’ve heard of the “gun show” loophole where background checks are not required.

      Of course, a background check is only as good as the database. Sometimes, a “bad” person with a record is able to buy a gun even with a background check because the data is wrong or missing.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I used to have as many Guns both Long Guns & Handguns in a Collection that I now have in Telescopes & Binoculars!!! And if I may say so I wish it was this way for the whole Citizenry. There’s nothing more pure of purpose, they carry no greed, no violence. or aggression only existing to expand the mind, and hinting at truth. The only Hunting I do now is for Galaxies, Star Clusters, and Nebula. And the wonder of it all is why didn’t I do it sooner…!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Very true about the benign benefit of telescopes and astronomy. But now the United States has a Space Force. It’s motto [defiling the memory of President John F. Kennedy]: “We came with war for all mankind.

      The United States has an absolutely insane excuse for a “government.”

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Remember when we learned the ideal was “the land of milk and honey”? I remember that Biblical passage.

    Now it’s the land of guns and nukes. Not what God had in mind, methinks.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Like WJ Astore and most who read his posts, I too wish for nothing more than a reduction in our nuclear warheads, less of military footprint around the world, a sensible defense budget and peace on both domestic and international fronts. Like Philip Astore, I too have a telescope and binoculars and gaze at the wonders of our universe and respect the nature we live in. Like him, I have had a career in the Fire Service/Emergency Response in the Washington, D.C. area and in Mobile, Alabama.

    Unlike most of you, I had a father shot and wounded by a young black man in a holdup as my dad was closing my grandfather’s and uncle’s Amoco station, one cold night, in 1962, in N. E. Washington, D.C. They were at home with the flu. He was shot after giving what little money he had in his pocket. He recovered and went on to finish a long career at the Washington Post. No arrest was ever made in this case.

    Unlike most of you, my wife, after hiring a young black man to do some yard work in rural Mobile County Alabama in 2002, had a gun stuck to her forehead, was threatened, terrorized and totally robbed of all monies in her home, after paying him for work he did. No arrest was ever made in this case.

    Unlike any of you, I lived a few blocks away, in midtown Mobile, Alabama, in April of 2010, from the home of Kyser Miree. You’ve never heard of him. Don’t know him. Don’t know his family. But…..I urge you to see his story at http://www.AL.com Kyser Miree 4-16-2010. Visit You Tube “Sentences Handed Down in Miree Murder”.
    This cold-blooded, senseless murder shook midtown Mobile to the core. Homeowners who NEVER thought of owning a gun purchased one; maybe more. I will never forget what this crime did to his family, his friends, co-workers and the midtown Mobile community.

    The above realities are not the only reason for increased gun sales over the last few decades. Just a few reasons why those who have never hunted, never grew up with guns in their home, have never seen a need for a gun, have never been terrorized or victimized by another human, might just justify the need to purchase a gun (or more) for personal/family defense.

    I’m not way to the right nor left. I did not vote for our former president. Did not storm our capitol in my hometown on January 6th. I don’t hunt, never have; don’t belong to the NRA; don’t attend 2nd Amendment rallies; was never in the military. I don’t have a room full of weapons nor vast amounts of ammo/camo. I will maintain situational awareness and avoid any “trouble” in everything I do and during my travels, few as they are. I have completed various gun training courses and realize gun ownership is an immense responsibility. I am a realist. It is 2021. I wish our time was simpler, calmer more civil. Most people are decent and caring. But, there are a bad few who just don’t care about anything, including life. Given my telescope to defend myself/family or my Mossberg Shockwave, in any confrontation against these bad few, I’ll take my chances with the Mossberg thank you.

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    1. I understand the urge to own a gun, especially after being a victim of violent crime.

      Overall, violent crime is down in the United States, compared to the 1970s and 1980s. That’s good news. Yet we live in a climate of fear and division, driven by media coverage that highlights violence and a culture (movies, music) that tends to glorify it.

      Violent crime happens. Occasionally, a gun owner is able to defend himself. Yet more often guns in the home lead to accidental shootings, or domestic violence, or suicide.

      Again, I have nothing against gun ownership. But I also believe guns are not the answer — and astronomical sales of them is a bad sign for the health of our society.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. To: Mike Goucher I can’t fault you there… Nowadays as you referenced anything in the way of violent crime is possible, and at any time, or anywhere even… Still Guns make me a little bit Jumpy, and I carried even qualified Expert Marksman all manner of assault weapons in my time in the Military. (Security Forces, Air Force) 4 Yrs. I’ll take my chances with my Louisville Slugger as a Persuader if it comes to that, but I hope it doesn’t come to that. Sad commentary. Having also seen as I’m sure you have too on the Job as a Big City Firefighter all manner of Gunshot Fatality/ Injuries too firsthand be them Suicides, Drug Deals gone bad, Domestics, & drive-by shootings, and even just plain old accidental shooting mishaps –I’ll pass.

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  6. Since “sharing lived experiences” seems the prevailing order of business in the United States these days — especially in Congress which can’t find time to dispense promised Covid Relief checks for $2,000 — I, too, have a gun-related tale to tell.

    My mother once heard the kitchen phone ring and picked it up to answer. She couldn’t believe the verbal filth pouring out of the receiver as the obscenity spewing caller made all sorts of lascivious suggestions to her. As it happened, my stepfather in another room also picked up the phone extension and immediately jumped to the conclusion that he had caught my mom cheating on him. He grabbed his little pistol from the bedroom nightstand and rushed into the kitchen waving the gun in my mom’s face. Fortunately, mom hung up the phone and explained things to her hyper-excited husband before he could act on his ludicrous suspicions.

    Moral of the story: Easily obtained lethal weaponry in the possession of ill-informed, easily frightened/angered Americans often results in needless tragedy. Of course, disarming the police and US military would go a long way towards significantly reducing the number of murdered civilians, both at home and abroad. “Walking around outside while black and/or Muslim and/or carrying a (“threatening”) cell phone” can all too often mean a death sentence administered on-the-spot, extra-judicially by scared-shitless (Kill First, Capture Later) US cops and soldiers, whether in their own country or someone else’s.

    Crime has always existed. It always will. On a large enough scale, it becomes simply Business-as-Usual, like on Wall Street or at the Pentagram. But guns and paranoid/”traumatized” Americans make unavoidably bad-enough situations even worse. For an illustrative example from America’s latest Pearl-Clutching Harbor (1/6/2021):

    Michael Tracey @mtracey
    “Does anyone else still find it ironic that the only person against whom lethal force was actually used inside the Capitol Building was a Trump-supporting woman who got shot dead at point-blank range by police?”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Even sadder to say both people the Trump supporting Girl Shot plus the Capital Police Officer who was just honored lying in State in the Capital Rotunda were both fellow Brother & Sister Security Forces Air Force Members “Sky Cops” like me. So you can only imagine me trying to get these “Images” out of my mind for evermore…!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This article from a firearms industry trade association about 2020 gun sales and who is buying may be of some interest:

    https://www.nssf.org/first-time-gun-buyers-grow-to-nearly-5-million-in-2020/

    They say (and I’ve seen similar figures and stories from other sources) that 40% of the sales were first time buyers, 40% of those first time buyers were women and that 58% of all sales were African American men and women. The fear, gun culture and feeling a need to be armed in everyday life seems to be spreading in the US of late if all this is true.

    I enjoy shooting myself and know quite a few people who enjoy it too, and like guns – but I’m in Canada. The culture around firearms is quite different here. Self defense isn’t considered to be a legitimate primary reason for owning a firearm and the storage and handling regulations reflect that but legality aside I don’t know one gun owner personally who even thinks about their guns in that manner here whereas I would estimate about 75% of the US gun owners I’ve known think a lot about potentially using their guns to put holes in their fellow humans and believe it’s a real and significant possibility that they will have to do so one day.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. After following the Jan 6th storming of the Capitol a creeping realization dawned on me: Probably most of those “participants” were gun owners and probably quite a few owned more than a single firearm. Some were / are armed to the teeth. That led me to speculate on the current state of ammunition availability. I can see where first time gun buyers want to have ammunition to go along with their new AR-15 but currently, even with ammo factories running full speed, there doesn’t seem to be much ammunition available in any caliber or description, at any price (inflated, gouged or otherwise). I checked online re-sellers, both Big Box and smaller specialty operations, but out of the almost dozen I queried, NONE had any stock to ship. Granted I only asked about the most popular rounds: 9mm (both target and defensive rnds), .223/5.56 for AR-15 & variants. I even sought after .22 caliber of any type…….NADA!

        Another couple of brain cells got into the game by wondering WHO was buying or hoarding the substantial output of the global ammunition factories……. Am I being paranoid by wondering if some of the far right (or even far left) militias such as Threepers, Oath Keepers or Booga Loo Boys, etc, are stockpiling for that glorious showdown they keep promising?????

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          1. My main question was “Who will be doing the speaking?” What other groups beside military, law enforcement or agencies (FBI, US Marshals, etc) are cornering the supply of ammunition?

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Unfortunately, most gun deaths are at the hands of a close relative or friend that are quick to anger, or have poor mental/emotional health, or are depressed, or just accidently kill themselves playing or cleaning a weapon. Too many treat guns as essential household gear or toys.

    Liked by 1 person

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