America Has a Gun Crisis and a Masculinity Crisis

A glock .22 pistol, similar to one of the weapons used in the Virginia Tech massacre. Photo by Flickr user

Timothy N. Bass

used under a Creative Commons license

There are over 200 million handguns in the USA, owned by at least 60 million households and individuals, both law-abiding and not. And as one of my favorite teachers, Sut Jhally explained last decade, we have a serious masculinity crisis

. Those two facts together creates an explosive mix.

Another young male went on an armedrampage today. It has happened in high schools, universities, and workplaces. It has happened on trains, in shopping malls and restaurants. And it will happen again and again.

UPDATE, 14:40EDT: The death toll at Virginia Tech has been revised to 33, including the gunman. This means that today's massacre is the worst mass shooting in US history, easily surpassing U Texas Austin in 1966 and Luby's Cafeteria in Killeen, TX in 1991.

VT is an ACC school, a major university, and this will change that campus forever. We have to go way back in US history to find the last time so many people were shot on US soil outside of the Civil or Revolutionary wars. And I think that event is the massacre at Wounded Knee. Remember Kent State? It saddens me to say that this is far, far worse in terms of the number of people directly affected.

Now this is slightly off-topic, but imagine an event like this occurring every day in the United States. That's what life is like in Iraq, a much smaller country, where more ordinary civilians know victims of events like these.

America, we have a problem. Now what are we going to do about it besides listen to politicians lecture us about it? We rank with Thailand, Slovakia, Colombia, and South Africa as having some of the highest rates of gun homicides. It is despicable. And massacres by citizens as opposed to gangs or police seems to be an American phenomenon. We're supposed to be better than that.