‘Alpha Males,’ Guns & Cowardice

In the wake of the latest crazed mass shooting of innocent civilians in the U.S. – the massacre at a midnight movie showing in Colorado – followed up by a near-miss with the seizure of a huge automatic weapons cache assembled in the home of another potential mass murderer in Maryland, the national discourse is between those who blame the mental illness of the assailants, and those who blame the lack of adequate gun laws in the U.S.

The gun lobby has become virtually untouchable in the political corridors of power, with leaders in both major parties unwilling to face it down.

There is an unspoken but obviously self-evident factor in this: cowardice.

Gun lobby zealots often show up at public hearings “packing heat,” and exhibiting the kind of “alpha male” bullying personalities that intimidated since childhood many of the types who went into politics, instead of the Marines, in the first place.

A typical exhibition occurred at a City Council meeting in the small D.C. beltway suburb of Falls Church, Virginia, a few years back when the Council was considering how it could keep firearms at some distance from its schools and Community Center.

Gun lobby proponents packed the Council chambers, all visibly armed. They were polite, but their mere presence in that manner spoke volumes. Only one Council member had the guts to speak out even louder against the gun lobby agenda in the face of such clear intimidation. The rest were silent, and some later reported they’d never felt more frightened in their lives.

The City Council’s dais was made bullet-proof in the days following that meeting, and other security measures were swiftly put into place.

The reason why Mitt Romney stumbled around so clumsily among America’s top allies on his recent overseas foray is because he, himself, embodies the same “alpha male” personality as the gun lobbyists. He was a school yard bully as a youth, well documented by his victims, and no one ever counseled him about being otherwise.

So, he brought that same bullying approach to his business dealings, and he never blinked an eye at laying people off, shipping U.S. jobs overseas, hiding his own money in secret offshore accounts, and feeling entitled to evade, lie and hide almost all of his tax records from the public.

A “white male chauvinist pig” (as we used to call them back in the social ferment days of the late 1960s until animal rights advocates convinced us to stop slandering pigs), Romney and his team operated in England, the Middle East and Poland in recent days like disinterested thugs, hardly to be held accountable for whatever grunts might spew forth from their mouths. These weren’t gaffes, these showed how Romney, the bully, runs his life.

So, the fact that the United States has by far the highest number of guns in the hands of its civilians of any nation in the world is hardly surprising. According to a United Nations survey, there are 88.8 guns in the hands of every 100 U.S. citizens, the most of any nation in the world and far ahead of terrorist haven Yemen with 54 per 100 citizens, Serbia and Iraq the next highest. Representing five percent of the world’s population, Americans own 50 percent of the guns, and the rate of deaths by gunfire in the U.S. is also off the charts compared to the rest of the world.

There are three deaths per 100,000 people in the U.S., also according to the U.N., compared to .77 in Switzerland, .26 in India, .14 in Australia and .12 in the U.K., In a January 2011 article in The Atlantic, a state-by-state analysis of gun ownership showed that where gun control measures are in place, there are fewer gun-related deaths. The correlation is irrefutable.

While many violent crime categories are sharply down in the U.S. in the last decade, gun homicide rates are unchanged, and the rate of serious injuries from guns has risen by 20 percent. As commentator Fareed Zakaria remarked, presenting this data on his CNN show last weekend, “Americans may be entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts.”