[FoRK] Two Articles on Gun Violence and Gun Culture

Bill Humphries whump at mac.com
Tue Aug 7 01:13:46 PDT 2012

A couple of recent articles I've read which I've found enlightening:


The writer is a woman, who grew up around guns. Her husband has a couple of handguns at home and they shoot on the range, and she's at a gun show looking for one of her own. She's critical of the culture around guns, not gun ownership, and the key quote for me was:

"That right there is the essential failure of gun culture -- the performative belief that one cannot be a victim if one is armed. That right there is what gives me hives (also not literally). Guns are tools -- and our tools cannot in and of themselves protect us. And the over-confident (dare I say macho?) posturing that seems so part and parcel of gun ownership for so many people reads like a recipe for disaster. Violent disaster."

And FoRKers, I see that pattern here. Really, you gotta stop that. You like having a gun, fine, but don't go off on someone who doesn't have a gun that they are a doomed sheeple for not owning one, that your gun's going to protect you from big government, or that you're going to save everyone from the next guy who loses it and decides to kill a bunch of people. Read http://www.socialjusticeleague.net/2011/09/how-to-be-a-fan-of-problematic-things/ for some approaches to talking about that without being an ass. 

The other piece is a rec from Ken Macleod:


This discusses the history of gun violence, and the sharp increase in mass shootings starting in the 1980s. The writer considers gun laws a band-aid on top of what they consider to be the two actual problems, alienated (mainly white) guys adrift in the post-industrial world, and the militarization of the police (more people have been killed by police than in mass shootings in the US over the same period.)

As an aside. I think that's also one reason around the frustration that these mass shootings aren't treated as terrorism. The guys killing people are acting alone, and while they may have had contact with reactionary movements (the officer at Fort Hood, the guy in Wisconsin, and the guy in Norway come to mind) but you can't find a solid chain of command from the head Nazi, or the radical cleric arming, training and pointing them at a target like in the case of the WTC Attack. 

The writer also points out that like so many other things, gun control has been one of those things that American society has pivoted on. Early attempts to control guns in the post-Reconstruction era were intended to keep guns from freed slaves, and even the NRA was supporting restrictions on guns as a reaction to the Black Panthers as late as the 1960's. Now the sides have pivoted and guns are seen as a way to protect white males from big government and black heliocopters (do drones count?)

I don't think you're going to see a mass killer from Occupy or the Tea Party (though it's simplistic to see those groups as mirror images.) Because those are mass movements and causes where people can find like-minded people and not feel isolated. It's the isolated guy, without a job, no friends, and a great deal of resentment that's not being used constructively to worry about (so if you see someone in your Occupy or Tea Party group that rage quits because "shit ain't getting done," that's a warning sign, or he's an informant trying to get you to do something dumb, LOL.) But as the joke goes, American Libertarianism supports the freedom of the individual to do anything, except collectively organize.

-- whump

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