Every day, a concerning number of people are shot. Not all are killed, mind you, but more are shot than anyone should be comfortable with. Thousands of Americans are shot and injured every year and gunshot wounds aren’t necessarily easy recoveries for those who are wounded.
However, it seems that some of those who have been shot have trust issues.
America’s gun violence affects not only just those killed, injured or present during gunfire, but research suggests it can also sabotage the social and psychological well-being of all Americans.
Gun violence is widespread in the United States. More than half a million Americans have been murdered by those brandishing firearms over the last four decades.
Many more are physically or psychologically injured by guns. A Pew Research Center survey reports that, overall, one in four Americans (23 per cent) say someone has used a gun to threaten or intimidate them or their families. This includes a third of Black Americans (32 per cent).
Over the course of their lifetimes, nearly all Americans of all racial and ethnic groups are likely to know a victim of gun violence in their social network.
But there’s not been much scholarly attention dedicated to the social and psychological impacts of gun violence on Americans and American society.
My recent research shows that such widespread gun violence, both fatal and non-fatal, has a detrimental effect on Americans’ trust in each other. That erosion of trust is often long-lasting and has a greater impact on Black Americans.
The high likelihood that all Americans were either threatened or shot with guns from the 1960s to the 1990s could also be a plausible explanation for the half-century decline in trust in public institutions in the U.S.
The problem is, however, that far too many people are looking to the government to protect them. They expect the state, local, and federal governments to all work in unison as part of a concerted effort to keep each and every individual safe.
Yet that’s not remotely possible. Further, the courts have ruled the government has no such obligation.
See, it’s the government’s role to protect society as a whole. That means things like arresting criminals so they can’t plague society. It means trying to maintain a good economy since a bad one seems to increase crime rates. More than anything, it means trying to keep things on as even a keel as possible from a big picture sense.
Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t understand that. They expect the government to step in and make everything better in every way, particular with regard to protecting people.
When that doesn’t happen, they want to blame someone. They blame the government and their fellow Americans for allowing it to happen. (I’m just going to pretend I don’t see the BS claim that all Americans were either threatened or shot with guns during a significant portion of my life when I was never threatened.)
The problem is, at the end of the day, the only one who can be responsible for your safety is you. Not the state, not the federal government and not the local police, but you.
Once you understand that, you don’t feel like you need to lash out at everyone else or blame everyone else for whatever happened and recognize that your safety is on you and always has been.