Category Archives: Guns

The Trump Administration’s Reaction To The Las Vegas Shooting Vs. The New York City Truck Attack

The Trump administration had markedly different reactions to the Las Vegas Route 91/Harvest Festival shooting and yesterday’s truck attack in New York City.

After Las Vegas, it wasn’t the time to discuss gun control policy. But after yesterday’s attack, apparently it’s the perfect time to discuss immigration policy, as well as attack Senator Chuck Schumer.

Here are segments from the White House press briefing, the day after each event.

What could be the difference? Hmmm…

Race And Racism Influence Our Reaction To Gun Violence

So I was thinking about the recent shooting of Congressman Steve Scalise and the reaction from the media thus far, and I gotta say – it’s time for some race-baiting.

A country can reveal it’s racism and racial bias in many ways.  Not just in the obvious ways, such as the existence or prevalence of neo-Nazis or Klansmen, etc.  But also in the collective reaction of its media and the talking points that are generated after a violent incident, depending on the race of the shooter.

I have noticed a stark contrast in the conversation which happens, depending on whether the shooter is white or black, Latino or Muslim.  In general, if the perpetrator of a violent crime is a minority, the perceived threat that they and their actions pose become something external, to be kept at bay or controlled with more policing or security measures.  If he’s a Muslim, it’s terrorism – and it brings up the issue of immigrant vetting, not to mention discussion (criticism) of Islam.  If he’s a black person, the issue which makes the media rounds, in particular on state media like Fox News, becomes about “broken homes” and “thugs.”  A Mexican guy would bring up a similar conversation about immigrants and gangs.

Which brings me to the Scalise shooter, a white man named James Hodgkinson.  The discussion thus far, and the issue of what to blame for the violence, has been concerning “political rhetoric,” as well as possible mental illness.  Conservative outlets like Fox have even had the nerve to try to blame “the political Left,” but other mainstream media sources have also raised the question – is our lack of civil discourse to blame?  Is the issue one of the mentally ill having access to firearms?  Are prescription medications making us crazy?  The problem becomes one that reflects an internal societal dysfunction, rather than an externalized threat.  The blame shifts from the shooter himself to a more generalized “have we become too hostile” or “is something making us violent” scenario.

It brings to mind the differences in approach between drug epidemics, depending on the communities that are affected.  The recent problems with opiate addiction and overdose deaths from prescription painkillers are viewed and talked about in terms of a health “crisis.”  Which is not to say that it isn’t.  But look at the difference between that and the way the crack epidemic of the 80’s and 90’s and other drug problems that plague inner cities (black people) are talked about and handled.  In the case of opiates, the issue is seen as one of public health, whereas with the latter, it is a dangerous scourge, and for years has been dealt with by harsh criminal penalties.

One of the problems with talking about race and racism is that far too often, the very idea of it becomes a sort of taboo that is linked with overt and obvious perpetrators.  Nobody wants to be considered racist, and what frequently comes to mind when racism is mentioned are extreme examples, such as the aforementioned Neo-Nazis or white supremacists.  What we often forget is that racism and racial bias can be more subtle and nuanced, and reflected in not only the beliefs and words of racist people themselves, but also in our general, more indirect characterizations of people’s words and actions and how they fit into our view of the way society should function.  Any honest discussion or race should include the latter.  We shouldn’t be afraid to talk about this issue, and we need to be aware of how media can and often does shape our thinking and perceptions.

Photo credit:  Pixabay.com/IIIBlackhartIII

Here’s Why The “Slippery Slope” Anti-Gun Control Argument Doesn’t Work

If you have engaged in the often highly heated discussion on gun control in the United States, chances are that you have heard the “slippery slope” argument, which is used by pro-gun (or anti-gun control) people. Basically, this argument means that there really can be no “in-between” gun regulations or limits imposed without violating the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. I disagree with this argument, and believe that we can and should have tougher gun restrictions without violating the Constitutional right to bear arms.

If you can imagine standing on a ledge, and that ledge represents the absolute right to bear arms, and below you there is the other extreme, which is having no right to bear any arms. The slippery-slope argument postulates that as soon as you start moving from the top level, or right to bear arms, to the lower level via gun restrictions or increased regulation, you will begin sliding down the slope and end up at the lower level, in which all guns are banned.

This argument doesn’t work for a few reasons. One reason is that there are current examples of other Constitutional rights being limited without an overall, absolute threat to the right in question. For example, the right of free speech. There are limits to this right. A person cannot expect to yell “fire!” in a crowded movie theater, for instance, without repercussions. Inciting a riot is also something that can get a person into a lot of trouble. Yet, we still have this fundamental right to free speech in America. In most circumstances, a person can say pretty much whatever they want without fear of being put in jail or worse.

Another reason the slippery slope argument doesn’t work is that, frankly, if it were true, it would already be happening. There are already regulations and limits pertaining to what kinds of weapons a person can own. A person doesn’t have the right to make nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction, for instance. Why not? It’s an “arm” to bear, isn’t it? The logic behind it is that such weapons are likely to cause great harm to other people than those that are being protected by them. While fully automatic AK-47’s and Uzi’s are in fact legal in some states, you need to jump through a lot of hoops and pay the appropriate fees to own one. So there are already examples of us having tougher regulations with certain specific kinds of assault rifles, without the overall right to bear arms being violated.

Instead of thinking of it as a slippery slope between the untouched right to bear arms and the other extreme of all guns being banned, it is better to think of it as a staircase. Meaning, you can go down a few levels without sliding all the way to the lower extreme. With the concept of a staircase, we can impose certain regulations and restrict certain specific weapons without endangering the overall right to own guns and defend your life and property.

So, the next time you are in a gun control argument and you hear someone say it’s a “slippery slope,” tell ’em “Not true! We can build a staircase!”

Photo credit – www.freedigitalphotos.net – vectorolie

Why Are Americans So Attached To Their Guns?

Well, it’s happened again.  The seemingly daily issue of mass shootings in America has reared its ugly head once more, this time at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.  Nine dead and several others injured by a gunman who was later killed during an exchange of gunfire with police.

Still, countless mass shootings and more than 15 years after the Columbine tragedy, the issue of gun control in the United States is just as polarizing, if not more so, than ever before. With many Americans, when you begin talking about the issues of gun violence and even remotely suggest tougher gun laws, it’s like you have insulted their mother, their sister, and their favorite football team. For many, guns are as embedded into the American culture and are as vital a part of the American identity, if not more so, as all of the other rights protected in the Constitution, such as freedom of speech or religion. Taking away or limiting gun access is akin to asking many Americans for their left arm.

In terms of gun control, I would consider myself fairly moderate. I’m definitely not an advocate of taking away all guns, but I think our laws could be tougher and there are certain weapons, such as assault rifles, that I don’t think belong in the hands of the average Joe. The average Joe could very well be a psychopath. I don’t believe that gun control is an end-all solution to the problem of violence in America, but I think it would help.

I have fired guns before and I did enjoy it. I understand their appeal. What I don’t understand is why many Americans seem to become so personally threatened when the issue of gun control arises. It strikes me as a fear of being powerless. A fear of tyrannical rule by the government or of being victimized by someone. If the government takes away some of our guns, then we are powerless against the inevitable intrusion into and dominance of our lives by the police, military, or the guy down the street.

These are all valid concerns and fears, but where I tend to disagree is in seeing guns as the core source of power in government. I see guns as a way for the government to protect its power, but I see that power exerted in many other, far more subtle ways. I am personally far more concerned with being told what to think or what to believe, or falling for the illusion that the people are in control in the first place. More importantly, I don’t feel empowered by guns. Somebody is always going to have more or bigger weapons. There is a certain point where I stop worrying about this. For myself, the need to feel physically powerful is outweighed by the desire to attain personal peace and to live a life that has impacted others in a positive way.

Photo credit – www.freedigitalphotos.net – vectorolie