I’ve written a few times about guns in the past. I wrote that we needed assault weapons bans and universal background checks. I mocked the notion of fighting the US military with AR-15s. I have come to realize that I was wrong. I was so moved by the Sandy Hook massacre and myriad other school shootings from Columbine on. Gun violence in America is undeniable. But I was wrong about the solutions.
The cause of gun violence is not simply the guns: it’s the society itself. It’s true that the US has more guns per capita than most countries. But other countries have guns, mental illness, and violent entertainment – yet they don’t see the massacres & school shootings which we experience in America.
The heart of the matter is the societal devaluation of human life. Part of it goes back to slavery & colonialism, when Europeans taught themselves racist junk science about phrenology: how Europeans had bigger heads and thus were smarter & superior. So whatever we did to our “inferiors” was okay because they just aren’t as human as us. It remains today with systemic racism, mass incarceration, lack of representation, and economic inequality.
Another aspect of our devaluation of human life as a society is due to our capitalist economic system, which demands poverty & homelessness in order to keep workers competing for low-wage jobs to maximize corporate profit. Unhoused people are a visual threat to the rest of the workers, of what happens if you fail, if only briefly, to have your labor properly exploited by a capitalist. A society willing to allow rampant homelessness in the streets simply for corporate profits does not value human life in any meaningful way. A society which allows tens of thousands to die each year for a lack of healthcare, simply because it helps corporations achieve maximum profits, cannot claim to value human life in any meaningful way.
Finally, I believe the primary way in which American society devalues human life, is rampant militarism & imperialism. The US has been at war for all but roughly 20 years of our existence. A society at constant war cannot possibly value human life.
It’s not a natural state of being. We must be conditioned to think this way, to accept constant war as just how things are. Our entire media apparatus, from news media to Hollywood, constantly applaud our wars and warriors. We produce films about how sad it makes our murderers when they kill the children of the targets of US imperialism.
They condition us to think that, whatever reason we have for killing all those people must be wise & noble. Or at least in our security interests. And then it’s just background noise. We’re sending our kids to fight and die, to go around slaughtering people in other countries? I got bills to pay. Our minds are completely warped. And one way that is manifested is gun violence & massacres.
There may have been an anti-war movement in the US, but it’s been killed off for all intents & purposes. The anti-war left was put to sleep by Nobel Peace Prize-winning Obama when he shifted from boots-on-the-ground, macho man wars, to drone strikes & covert CIA actions. Now our drone pilots remotely slaughter families by day before tucking their own kids into bed at night. The only time the media embraced Trump as when he illegally bombed Syria, only then did he suddenly become “our president.”
We aren’t the only country with guns. We aren’t the only country with deranged psychopaths. We aren’t the only country with violence in entertainment & film. We are the only country at constant war. We are the sole superpower; the capitalist utopia. We’ve been conditioned to devalue human life. From our founding on genocide & slavery. And now to constant war & imperialism; and rampant homelessness & needless suffering.
We simply are not going to solve those issues with an assault weapons ban. There are laws which could in theory mitigate some of the shootings. This shooter couldn’t have gotten that particular weapon if only the background check had come back sooner, for instance. That’s true. But they could just get another weapon on the black market, which you create with bans. Or perhaps a less-lethal weapon – and fewer deaths is obviously preferable. But we could lock everyone in a cage and we’d all be perfectly safe, or we could reduce the speed limit to 5mph and reduce nearly all traffic-related deaths. We must weigh security vs freedom and other concerns.
While the mass shootings are horrific, it remains true that the vast majority of gun deaths in America are from handguns. No one is suggesting we ban handguns. It’s not happening. Short of that, you aren’t solving the problem with gun laws. And we shouldn’t!
There’s the idea I previously mocked: the thought of fighting the US military with your little AK or whatever. And that remains ludicrous. But that’s a straw-man argument. The point is that politicians must remain in constant, healthy fear of the people. An armed populace is the last layer of defense of the people against a rogue, tyrannical government and it’s representatives. (I only wish single-issue 2A absolutists would realize that their freedoms have already been taken – that they’d stand up for something, anything beyond their right to bare arms!)
What I’ve also been taught is that, given our history & present, it’s unacceptable to suggest that an oppressed people disarm. So long as the government remains oppressive & institutes system racism, black people should absolutely be armed. And any list made by such a government will be used to target oppressed minorities and those on the political “fringes.”
All working class people should be armed & trained & organized against the oppressor, against the government & the corporation behind it. This requires revolutionary education & discipline. This alone would reduce gun violence, if more of the people understood that our enemies are not our neighbors, but the rulers, the status quo, and the system they work so studiously & steadfastly to maintain.
We’re a vicious and brutal society, and that is the cause of gun violence in America. As well as the solution: Stop the wars. Stop devaluing human life with mass incarceration, rampant poverty, & a lack of basic rights to healthcare, food, & housing. Stop believing the lies the government and their media acolytes tell about the Official Enemies™. Stop listening to the media telling you to be afraid of your scary, backward neighbors. Organize. Educate. Organize labor unions. Organize arms training. Organize radical, revolutionary education on capitalism & militarism & racism. On direct action. On how to grow food & build things – how to be sustainable. How to replace oppressive institutions with healthy ones. How to get permits. How to spread revolutionary propaganda…
Talk to your neighbor. What the rulers want most is isolated worker bees living in fear of one another. They don’t want any grassroots organizations outside of their control which could potentially accrue political power & influence. Every organization is & will be infiltrated by the government, requiring great discipline of leadership & members alike. But that’s the only solution. That’s how you end gun violence in America: by fixing the rot at its core.