Guns and America

As a liberal, the default position has long been to be for gun control. Here’s why I don’t think that’s actually the right answer.

1. Guns are not really the problem. How do I know this? Because in Israel, everywhere you go there are people with semi-automatic weapons, because everyone has to serve in the army, and soldiers are frequently seen just hanging out in public places. Yet they don’t have the same kind of epidemic of mass shootings that we have. They’ve learned to be responsible with guns. Moreover, the one stat I remember most clearly from Michael Moore’s documentary Bowling for Columbine is that Canada has more guns than we do – yet again, they don’t have the same epidemic of mass shootings. That means that our proclivity for violence and mass shootings is less about the guns, and more about US. That’s just the uncomfortable truth. Now that we’ve said it, let’s try and deconstruct it. Why are we such a violent, hateful nation?

2. Pragmatically speaking, Democrats and liberals benefit from dropping gun control from their platform, or at least de-emphasizing it. Because Americans love their guns, and they don’t like being told what to do. And since guns are not really the problem, it’s not helping anything to push for further gun control. See #1.

3. This doesn’t mean I support the NRA. I think they’re just about the sleaziest, most disgusting special interest group in America today. They prey on people’s fears and oppose things they SHOULD support, if they were really about promoting the “right” to bear arms – like gun responsibility classes and bans on clips to allow people to fire off a dozen shots at one time. They’re a corporatist tool of the gun industry, and don’t really care whether it’s terrorists or hunters who are buying their guns.

4. Let’s come back to #1. Why are we such a violent, hateful nation? It’s not because we have our roots in slavery and imperialism – lots of countries (hell, MOST countries) were founded on slavery and imperialism, yet have settled into a day to day reality that is less violent. And it’s not violent video games and television and movies – that’s a symptom, not a cause. So what is it? Why are Americans so prone to mass shootings and murder?

This is the real question we should be asking ourselves.


~ by realsupergirl on July 25, 2012.

10 Responses to “Guns and America”

  1. Well said! Regulation of bad things is necessary, and we have that, but the larger issue is education and proclivity and support structures. Just as the solution to the obesity epidemic is better education an infrastructure to support healthy choices (including affordable access to fresher, whole foods, walkable neighborhoods, recreational opportunities, etc), so it is with violence, more humane living conditions and mental health care.

    It is not an accident that most multiple murderers (and particularly brazen killers in public places) are from an advantaged and mostly-entitled demographic. That issue needs to be addressed with better training and behavioral options.

  2. Interesting that you point out about most mass murderers being from the most advantaged and entitled demographic. I just read an article about that very subject:

  3. Canada and Israel notwithstanding, both seem like outliers to me. Canada does not have a lot of population density, while Israel is surrounded by “enemies” and feels a unifying existential threat.

    We seem to have an unusual amount of violence per capita. Part of it is probably guns, although I have backed off gun control for an entirely different practical reason – our black market is already so saturated with guns that *effective* gun control would not be possible without draconian overreach.

    My gut instinct is that the primary difference, and the most promising area of reform, is our entirely fucked up prison-industrial complex/criminal justice system. We overpunish, push great swaths of the population towards incarceration, having been incarcerated makes it incredibly difficult to find a constructive niche, we struggle to reform anyone, and prison acts as a college for thugs that helps graduate, harden, and (to a degree) professionalize even the small time criminals.

    • This is a very good point – I think you’re onto something in linking our violent, angry culture with our whole justice system which overpenalizes minor drug offenses and does not involve enough rehabilitation.

      Although, it doesn’t explain the phenomenon Rory and the above linked article point out – most of the mass murderers in this country are entitled, privileged white men. So why are they so angry and violent? And why are they so common in America?

  4. Told to you in person, but posted here ’cause you asked for it:

    I remember Michael Moore’s reason for increased violence is a culture of fear. He had stats on how the news is covered to show a difference between nations in this area.

    I also read/heard something from the woman who wrote Free Range Parenting that parents today are afraid to let children do many of the things those of us who grew up in the seventies did as children for fear of kidnapping and dangerous strangers. But that current stats on violent crimes are much lower than they were in the 70s.

  5. Great post – very good points!

  6. Supergirl… wrote about John Maxwell (John Maxwell Tannery) of Woburn, MA. He is my great great grandfather. I am writing a book about the Maxwells and would enjoy any tidbits or stories you may have that could be included. I have the news articles about the tannery and John’s battle with the union. I have recently discovered a Maxwell descendent in MA and she has given me photos to include. I am descended from John’s son James. There is another cousin in Portland OR. Her mother was my father’s (Charles Maxwell ) sister. I am in Kirkland, WA. I wrote a 220 page book on my mother’s relatives and decided to give my father equal time. The cousin from MA descended from John’s daughter Anna.

    Would love to hear from you.

    Anita Maxwell

    • I’ll respond to you in a separate email. We already corresponded through though. How did you find me via this blog?

  7. […] easier access would help, it’s not the only solution we need.  I refer you back to the post I wrote in […]

  8. […] 2012, after the mass shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, I wrote a blog post suggesting that guns weren’t really the problem. I still stand by that. But in the wake of […]

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