Sunday, January 27, 2013

You Probably Don't Need a Machine Gun, But That's Not the Point

When gun violence tragedies occur, analysts rush to isolate and explain the incidents as unique, isolated incidents; case studies. Analyses are often superficial, focusing on lengthy narratives concerning the back stories of the attackers, and when these stories become stale and uninteresting, discussions retreat to tired and ineffectual discussions about gun control legislation.

Mainstream media refuses to address a huge contributing factor to gun violence, which is that high levels of violent crime, and especially homicide rates (, are symptomatic of the underlying social problem of extreme [and growing] economic inequalities.  Addressing this issue would require that lawmakers and mass media openly acknowledge huge economic disparities that divide American society. To do so would threaten power and wealth, which would require bravery, which is precisely why these factors are never openly discussed.

"Crime rates and inequality are positively correlated within countries and, particularly, between countries, and this correlation reflects causation from inequality to crime rates, even after controlling
for other crime determinants." ( page 1).

Conversations about gun control legislation with regards to individual gun ownership are, in essence, a distraction for an uneducated public; a circus show of fools parroting tired opinions. But it works every time, because guns are symbolic and emotional objects, and it is very easy to draw mobs of angry pro/anti gun people into pointless arguments. In my opinion, the purpose of hosting forums to play out the same arguments is to belabor the same talking point until people become bored and stop paying attention. It's better and safer for mainstream media to sidestep discussions about the plutocratic nature of our society, because they can feign commitment to their journalistic duty to truth, without biting the wealthy hands that feed them.

Focusing all of our energy on gun control legislation while ignoring severe economic inequalities is analogous to prescribing medication to treat symptoms of a fatal disease while completely ignoring the disease itself.

Aside from all of this, in my opinion, it is quite obvious that no one needs assault rifles and handguns to protect their freedoms from imagined threats. The toy guns that I owned as a child were just as effective as real weapons in defense against imaginary enemies; of course, this may be because they were laser guns.


  1. Hey, friend of your brother's here. While I find no fault in your analysis. In my opinion the issue of income inequality won't be dealt with until it is so obvious and blatant that it can not be avoided. I mean that there is a significant number (about 33%) of people who think that the wealthy are getting a raw deal in this country. Mostly because they are confused about the current situation. This confusion is brought about in some measure by lazy and sensationalist media which no longer vets the veracity of people commenting on air because it has been cowed by being called partisan.
    Some eople don't even understand what brought about the latest financial crises because of a noise machine that makes logically contradictory statements with impunity. Some of these statements are contradictions while others are so far fetched they can not possible be true. But, I go on.
    What I mean to say, is that in the present despite my agreement with your analysis on the whole I think participating in activity that will improve the gun situation in our country is better than just saying that we are not addressing the root cause. Of, course I would prefer to do the other but its not really a realizable goal in the current situation.
    Also, I am the first to comment on your blog and am interested to see if that improves longevity.

    1. I agree that wealth disparities must become blatantly obvious before they will be addressed, and that the underlying causes for uneven wealth distribution, financial crises, etc. are not clearly understood by the general public.

      I remember the television reporting during Occupy Wall Street. The media spent a lot of time talking about camping permits and clashes with police, while tiptoeing around the economics-related messages of the protests.

      There seems to be some other contributing factors that prevent people from caring about these issues. A great deal of people in the U.S. believe that they too will be wealthy someday, so they don't want to do anything that would make wealthy-living uncomfortable. Additionally, a lot people mistakenly believe that they are rich, and that if the system were shaken up, they may run the risk of not being as-rich as they perceive themselves to be.

      Here in Seattle, the police department had a "no questions asked" gun buyback program. They gave out gift cards for guns. The program was successful at removing 348 pistols and 364 rifles from the streets. However, the next day a guy walked into a bar and shot two people. And, we are also experiencing an increasing number of armed robberies all over the city. I appreciate the efforts of police to curb gun violence. However, if our communities continue to be invaded and decimated by wealth-extracting retail chains/landlords/etc., the situation will get worse, despite the best efforts at treating the symptoms.