America & Guns


My gun experience, based on who you’re talking to, is either close to nil or extensive.

I’ve never shot a gun and I’ve never been shot at, though I have held two pistols in my hand at one time, and I have also had a pistol pressed against my stomach in the midst of a street robbery that relieved me of my favorite sheepskin coat.


In the first scenario, I was holding two pistols as my friend tried to convince me to help do security for an old-school rap group, that was a new rap group at the time.

I declined because I was at the party to have fun, and nothing about holding two pistols seemed like any fun. Besides, I’ve always been of the skinny, scrawny variety, and I’m sure two pistols would be noticeable on my girth-challenged frame.

Were there shootings at the party that night? You betcha, because that was the way parties ended back in the 80s, when flyers always had a “?” as the end time, because once a gun let off, that is when the music stopped, the crowd let out into the street and the DJ screamed “party over!”

Fast-forward to May 2014: A few days into digesting the massive story about the Elliot Rogers massacre, the night of that party popped into my mind as I thought about the timeline of gun violence and gun laws in America. But it also made me think about the societal failures of America then and how those failures are still very much connected to the conversation about guns and gun violence today.

Elliot Rogers
Elliot Rogers

The 1960s was a defining time in America and if you don’t believe me, just ask CNN or watch their special series about that special decade. Its assassinations, social unrest and riots watermarked the decade as the time when we the country, fully grasped that it had a gun violence issue.

Part of the national shock and remorse of the 60s assassinations stemmed from America being shoved headlong into the reality of gun violence and the need to immediately grasp what it meant as a nation, that such a barbaric and uncivilized act could happen to people as beloved, as MLK or JFK and have those acts perpetrated by other Americans.

The gun control act dropped in 1968 and just like that, America officially recognized that it had a gun violence problem.


But the real problem wasn’t the guns, it was the people.

The bigots and their institutionalized racism. The poverty and ghettos that were being created and the ensuing pathology of the people mired in those conditions. Those were the real issues behind the 60s surge of gun violence, when guns were a lot less prevalent than today, but the breakdown of the social fabric was still the root cause of why guns violence was on the rise.

Fast forward to May, 2014 and gun violence in America is even more out of control, but the latest massacre has ushered in a real reveal of how the social fabric of America has continued to erode and how gun violence is a by-product. And though decreasing access to guns would be a huge step towards reducing gun violence, it’s by no means a panacea.

The cut and paste conversation, that’s centered around gun control, is like a macro created in Microsoft Word. It gets triggered after each similar incident. Triggered after Sandy Hook. Triggered after Columbine.


Triggered after Virginia Tech. It prompted the documentary film maker Michael Moore to reply to a question about the killings, by saying ”With due respect to those who are asking me to comment on last night’s tragic mass shooting at UCSB in Isla Vista, CA — I no longer have anything to say about what is now part of normal American life. Everything I have to say about this, I said it 12 years ago.”

With connections to Hollywood, an upper middle class setting and the accompanying accoutrements such as a luxury German automobile and expensive german hand guns, the story of Elliot Rodger is steeped in sensationalism, which has become a core tenant of America’s brand.

Yet his story has done far more than sell tabloid newspapers and make me tune into cable news, it’s shed light on other very important issues. Complex issues that America needs to address in addition to access to guns.

This most recent massacre by twenty-two year old Elliot Rodgers has shown the interconnectedness of a few of America’s big ticket, societal issues. The complex relationship between access to guns, racism, mental health, male entitlement and misogyny, has had it’s curtain pulled back by the powerful, one-two punch of social media and twenty-four hour television news.

This is Part. 1 in a 2-part essay on gun violence in America.

Richard Burroughs

It's variations on my name, but it's the same human. I'm Richard Chandler Burroughs, novelist (A Rendezvous With Destiny) and blogger (Uncontrollable Urges). Richard Burroughs as a marketing strategist,...

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  1. I can agree with much of the article. However, the term “gun violence” is mis-leading. Violence using a gun as the tool can be good when the violence stops criminals from murder. In fact, all estimates put the use of “good” gun violence or threat of gun violence at between 1 million and 3 million times a year. This “good” that comes from using the gun as a tool has to be part of any conversation about “limiting” gun access. I would like authors to use the term “Criminal Violence” to indicate the target of the discussion. Does it make any difference if a person is killed by a knife, a car or a gun?
    With all of the CA gun laws that are more severe than anything that would ever be proposed a the national level, we have a perfect example of why gun control is not effective. The only thing that such gun control laws do is make more to the people unarmed and unprotected victims.
    The supporters of gun control are really quick to “blame” every crime on the NRA, but maybe we should listen to the experts at the NRA. Namely, the idea that only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. In parts of the country where CCW is common two things also seem to be true. 1) CCW people are extremely law abiding having a crime rate less than 1% of the average for the area and 2) Violent criminals either go elsewhere or find other jobs.
    I also understand that arming citizens is not a “cure all”. The process is a lot light the “fire ant’ problem, you can move them from your yard to your neighbors yard, but there will always be “fire ants”.

  2. Truly delusional, misguided, and deceitful anti-gun propaganda piece. The irony is the same people trying to ban guns are the same misguided souls doing the murders. All liberal raised, hate filled people blaming everything else for their own problems.

    Gun control does not work. It never has and never will. Empowering government over people is never the right answer. Liberals do not trust themselves with any responsibility therefor never assume any responsibility. It is the plague over this nation, destroying from within. Just look around you and the country. Everything is worse when liberalism takes root. It does not work.

  3. “Fast forward to May, 2014 and gun violence in America is even more out of control”

    Look at the most recent numbers and you will find that this is a false claim.

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