Sunday March 24, 2019

Why are Americans so fond of their ‘Gun’ culture?

Out 321 million people in USA over 200 million own a legal weapon and there are 88 percent firearms per 100 people in America

1
//
Representational Image People looking for guns in America. (Representational Image). Image source: Wikipedia
  • Gun culture in America is present from the time of American Revolution
  • American constitution allows all its citizens to own and carry a gun
  • US is home to roughly 35 to 50 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns

America has always taken pride in its gun culture. Guns have been a part of American culture since time immemorial. Guns were used as a means to hunt for food and make money through the fur market, protection from natives and dealing with large predators also required the use of gun.

Guns played a huge part in the American Revolution against the British solider and their freedom. In 1776, when USA gained independence, Americans were allowed to own and use the firearms to keep to protect their newly independent nation from the tyrannical rule of the ‘old world’ and this right became the basis for the second amendment in American constitution.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter: @newsgram1

Second Amendment

Every law-abiding citizen in the United States is allowed to own or carry a gun. That right comes from the U.S. Bill of Rights and the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It says: “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.”

Ease of ownership

To purchase a gun in the majority of states, a person needs to be of age, pass the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check and fill out a firearms transaction record.

However, background checks are not currently required for private sales, including those conducted at gun shows. Certain people are banned from owning weapons, including convicted criminals, people with mental health illnesses or non-U.S. citizens. But the system has major holes in it.

Availability of ammunition is very high in U.S. Anybody can easily walk-up to a gun shop or supermarkets where ammunition is sold like chocolate boxes and buy it. Any person can buy any amount of ammunition, which will surely look scary to many. Even some banks provide their account holders with a gun on opening a particular type of account.

ALSO WATCH:

https://youtu.be/ODV6arh9FsE

The Debate

While many believe that right to own and use a gun is important and people should be able to defend and protect themselves. But it is hard ignore the fact that many people are killed because of guns.

A image captured at Columbine high school.Source: Wikipedia
A image captured at Columbine high school. Image Source: Wikipedia

Like in the case of 1999 Columbine High School massacre,  in which 2 high school boys killed 12 students and one teacher. They injured 21 people and 3 more were injured while trying to escape the school. Other than shooting, 2 boys had also planted bombs in cafeteria where the whole thing went down. The pair committed suicide afterwards. This school shooting is considered as the America’s deadliest high school shooting.  After columbine America has also seen 59 more school/university shooting which has occurred due to easy availability of guns and ammunitions.

According to BBC, on an average over 35 people were killed every day because of gun violence in 2015. Out 321 million people in USA over 200 million own a legal weapon and there are 88% firearms per 100 people in America.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook: NewsGram.com

In 2015 alone US has witnessed-

  • 375 mass shooting in which 450 were killed and over 1000 people were wounded
  • 64 school shootings
  • All shooting concluded a total 13,286 people getting killed and 26,819 got injured which is more than 12,570 in 2014

U.S. reality

The debate on guns is a daily topic in USA. But regardless of where one falls, the fact remains that U.S. gun ownership is exceptionally high and growing. According to the Small Arms Survey, the United States has an average of 116 guns per 100 people, although most of those weapons are owned by a minority of citizens.

The National Rifle Association is a non- profit, pro-gun, lobbying group. Their sole purpose is protection of second amendment. NRA is widely known as the pro-gun organizations and is the public face of the pro-gun movement. They are also one of the reasons as to why America has no strict gun law.

The United States is home to roughly 35 to 50 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns, even though it holds less than 5 percent of the world’s population.

-prepared by Bhaskar Raghavendran (with inputs from VOA), a reporter at NewsGram. Twitter:  bhaskar_ragha

ALSO READ:

  • Aparna Gupta

    Regarding gun problems in America a teenager has developed a mechanism which would stop arm deaths in America. He had used a sensor technology to curb the problem.

Next Story

“They Don’t Make Prayerful Offerings When They Harvest,” Story Of The Native American Church

“The extraordinary and the phenomenon are not necessarily unexpected, but they are definitely not precluded.”

0
Church
The sun sets over the gateway of peyotera Amada Cardenas's house in Mirando City, Texas. Ironwork reflects core Native American Church values of faith, hope, love and charity. VOA

Back in the day, when the “grandmas and grandpas” of the Native American Church (NAC) needed peyote, they would make a 2,000-kilometer pilgrimage from the reservations of South Dakota to the tiny town of Mirando City, Texas, close to the U.S. border with Mexico. That’s where they could find Amada Cardenas, a Mexican-American woman who at the time was the only peyote dealer in Texas.

Cardenas was not Native American, nor was she a member of the NAC. But she understood how sacred the medicine was to church members and defended its use as a religious sacrament to those who sought to ban it.

Amada Cardenas, holding a basket of peyote, outside of her home in Mirando City, Texas, 1994.
Amada Cardenas, holding a basket of peyote, outside of her home in Mirando City, Texas, 1994. VOA

“After Amada’s passing, the peyote distribution system lost heart and seemed to be about monetary compensation,” said Iron Rope, former chairman of the Native American Church of North America (NACNA) and today chairman of the NAC of South Dakota. He is concerned that the remaining three or four peyote dealers in Texas — all non-Native — don’t give “the medicine” the reverence they should.

“They don’t make prayerful offerings when they harvest,” Iron Rope said. “We’ve heard reports about intoxicated harvesters. Sometimes, the medicine that comes to us was mushy or small, and the harvesting technique was not one that would allow regrowth.”

Careless and sometimes illegal harvesting, along with increased land and resource development in Texas, has led to a decline in peyote’s quality and availability. Prices have gone up, and church members worry the cactus, now listed as a vulnerable species, could become endangered.

In 2013, NACNA began researching ways to conserve peyote and its natural habitat.

Lophophora williamsii, more commonly known as peyote, which grows in the wild in southern Texas and Mexico.
Lophophora williamsii, more commonly known as peyote, which grows in the wild in southern Texas and Mexico. VOA

Pan-Native religion

Peyote, or Lophophora williamsii, is a succulent that contains psychoactive alkaloids and only grows in southern Texas and a handful of states in northern Mexico.

Indigenous people have used it ceremonially and medicinally for centuries, as noted by 16th century Spanish missionaries, who condemned it as an evil. Peyote use persisted, however, and by the late 1800s, had spread to present-day Oklahoma, where tribes adapted it to suit their individual spiritual traditions.

In the face of government efforts to ban peyote, peyotists in the early 20th century sought to incorporate as a formal religion. In 1918, an intertribal group established the NAC, which has evolved to include tens of thousands of members across dozens of tribal nations. Members view the church as an important component of healing from historic trauma and reconnecting to tradition.

Peyote was banned in the United States in 1970, but the law was later amended to allow peyote to be used in “bona fide religious ceremonies of the Native American Church.”

Texas allows several peyoteros registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to harvest and sell peyote, but only to card-carrying NAC members with proven Native American ancestry.

Peyote buttons are shown in the yard of a peyote dealer in Rio Grande, Texas, Oct. 12, 2007.
Peyote buttons are shown in the yard of a peyote dealer in Rio Grande, Texas, Oct. 12, 2007. VOA

‘A beautiful ceremony’

Unlike other religious denominations, said Iron Rope, the NAC is not a unified theology.

“Different variations of the ceremony have come into play,” he said. “There are Christian aspects to the NAC today and traditional aspects, as well.”

Wynema Morris, a member of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska and an NAC member, grew up with an understanding of the sacredness of peyote and the religious etiquette surrounding its use.

“It was my own grandfather, Samuel Thomas Gilpin, who actually received peyote early on from the Winnebagos, a neighboring tribe, and passed it on to his sons, my uncles,” she said.

This 1924 photo by Edward S. Curtis is entitled "Cheyenne Peyote Leader." Courtesy: Library of Congress.
This 1924 photo by Edward S. Curtis is entitled “Cheyenne Peyote Leader.” Courtesy: Library of Congress. VOA

Peyote is much misunderstood and maligned, she said, viewed by many anthropologists through the lens of colonial prejudice.

“I don’t like their use of the word ‘hallucinations,’” she said. “You don’t use peyote to get high. You use it to pray and communicate with God — the same God everyone else talks to.”

She described all-night services of prayer, song and meditation.

“The ceremony is beautiful,” she said. “The extraordinary and the phenomenon are not necessarily unexpected, but they are definitely not precluded.”

Sacred gardens

In 2013, NACNA began looking at ways to conserve and sustain peyote for future generations of indigenous Americans, Mexicans and Canadians.

“It was our intent to eventually have our own land and be able to have our own peyote dealer who could understand our concerns as the Native American Church,” said Iron Rope.

The sun sets over "the 605," acreage in Thompsonville, Texas, which the Indigenous Peyote Conservation purchased in 2018 for the conservation of peyote, a sacrament of the Native American Church.
The sun sets over “the 605,” acreage in Thompsonville, Texas, which the Indigenous Peyote Conservation purchased in 2018 for the conservation of peyote, a sacrament of the Native American Church. VOA

In 2017, NACNA and partner organizations formally launched the Indigenous Peyote Conservation Initiative (IPCI). With funding from the Riverstyx Foundation, a nonprofit that supports research of medicinal uses of psychoactive plants, IPCI purchased 245 hectares (605 acres) of land in Thompsonville, Texas, to serve as “Sacred Peyote Gardens.”

Also Read: Practice What You Preach: Celebrities Should Stand By Their Public Image In Private Domain

It is their hope that by 2021, “the 605” will house a nursery, residential and guest housing, and youth training, all supported by peyote sales.

“It’s about generations to come,” said Iron Rope. “To reconnect them to the land and to the medicine. And that’s the healing process that we’ve been missing.” (VOA)