Gun

While the jazz poet, singer, and self-named “bluesologist” Gil Scott-Heron has written and performed a number of noteworthy songs, including “Winter in America” and “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” Scott-Heron’s “Gun,” from his 2004 live album Save the Children, features a specific problem of American abundance: gun ownership. Last year’s statistics indicate that approximately 55 million Americans own an estimated 265 million guns (that’s more than one gun for every adult American). Of these Americans, 3%—known as “super owners” because they own an average of 17 guns each—own half of all guns. Handgun ownership alone has increased 71% since 1994. So, it’s nothing to take lightly when we hear Scott-Heron sing, “Everybody got a pistol, everybody got a 45.” And, of course, this problem isn’t just about gun ownership but about gun violence. Today, mass shootings tend to dominate the news cycles, but the majority of gun-related deaths have long occurred in poor urban communities. When the question of what to do about this problem is raised, Americans can’t agree on an answer. Opponents of gun ownership call for gun bans and stricter gun control laws while proponents cite the Second Amendment as the basis for the right to own guns. Indeed, embedded in the American consciousness is a fear-based philosophy, one that Scott-Heron articulates: “the philosophy seem to be / At least as near as I can see / When other folks give up theirs, I'll give up mine.” So, if we truly want to put America first, at what point are we going to look this problem in the eye? At what point are we going to address our fears and put down our guns?