Tag Archives: gun

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

The NRA’s Blood Money

 

The NRA profits from mass shootings, and they in turn lobby Congress in order to protect their business interests.  If you want to know why common-sense gun reform doesn’t happen despite thousands of American deaths per year…Just follow the money.

 

NRA - Blood Money

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