Ray L Martin
4th February 2013, 18:30 GMT
Michael Moore’s award winning documentary ‘Bowling for Columbine’ was the film that brought the gun issue to my and millions of other American’s attention. And viewing the issue from that point of view, the argument for guns was crystal; death caused by guns are outrageous therefore must be controlled. The recent massacres that took place last year across the US solidified my belief that guns are simply too dangerous for the average citizen to possess; there’s simply too much risk involved. And stalwartly, I still believe that guns are very dangerous and the country could benefit greatly from some form of gun control. However, I don’t think the reasons stipulated by popular left-wing pundits like Bill Maher and Piers Morgan justify such control, for their reasons ultimately do not serve the public good.
These recent mass shootings have brought the gun issue to an international audience, with a social media storm that blew across the globe reporting citizen opinions on the state of gun ownership in America. So far, there have been approximately four gun massacres last year alone. Two of the shootings, the Century Movie Theater shooting in Aurora Colorado and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut have arguably had the biggest press coverage of all the shootings last year. News critics and pundit alike have voiced their condemnation towards firearms, particularly toward store bought assault rifles – the weapons used in two of the massacres. Piers Morgan, one of the more vocal critics on the guns issue, made his contempt for assault rifles known to the world and believes that tactical weapons should be banned from civilian use. At the same time he is in complete support of hand guns for civilian use, even though the great majority of the gun related deaths in the United States are caused by these type of firearms. This alone shows that conventional leftists like Morgan don’t have the general public safety in mind;
what purpose does banning assault rifles serve when the very weapon that causes the most deaths are still in circulation?
Morgan has had many pro-gun zealots on his show, including the now internationally famous Alex Jones. Some of the advocates have presented various data regarding other tools and practices that contribute in excess to the deaths caused by firearms, including the large number of fatalities that are caused by automobiles. These deaths outnumber firearm deaths by about 2000. Yet when presented with this information, Morgan simply dismisses it, even ridicules it; as if it were ridiculous to compare firearm fatalities with the fatalities caused by automobiles. No one can deny that there is a distinct difference between guns and vehicles, but to not take the casualties caused by vehicles into consideration at all, as if it were some natural occurrence – and even then, one should take steps to make them safer. This leaves me at odds with much of the mainstream left when it comes to the gun issue, as they appear to be nothing more than a band of reactionary cliques who are more preoccupied with weapons fulfilling evil deeds than actually providing honest and useful ways of reducing deaths, accidental or otherwise, in the United States. For that to happen,
one needs to examine the homicide issue from all angles, not only asking the who, what, where, when and how questions; but for the sake of preserving life, asking perhaps the most important question, why?
I had a similar discussion with a ‘pro-gun zealot’ on a message board a few days back. Then, I made the point that the
recent mass shootings proved to the western world that guns are much too dangerous for civilian hands and therefore must be regulated, somehow. I mentioned the amount of deaths caused by firearms alone, how the United States ranks No.5 in number of deaths caused by firearms (states that precede are some of the more violent Latin American countries). The ‘pro-gun zealot’ counters my argument with the same sort of rhetoric that other zealots like him use; car related deaths far exceed deaths caused by gun fire and it would be hypocritical to ban guns for the sake of public safety and not do the same with regard to automobiles. Well, any fool knows that there are many significant differences between firearms and automobiles and I could spend much of this article listing them, but the most striking difference should be evident to anyone;
guns are created for the sole purpose of shooting and killing while automobiles aren’t.
But just because the distinction is clear, one can’t ignore the outrageous automobile related deaths in the country. The US ranks No. 4 in total automobile related deaths; Brazil is number 3, China number 2 and finally India at number 1. While the US isn’t the only country with automobile related fatalities, the US is the only first world country with fatality numbers that rival third world countries. These are the kinds of numbers you won’t come across in the other first world countries thanks to the US population’s overwhelming need for automobiles. And the fatalities, horrible as they may be, aren’t the only issues plaguing the country as a result of this necessity. The US’s dependency on automobiles creates environmental and economic problems among others. This need for automobiles is likely due to two factors; 1., the country is practically built for automobiles, with no cheap, fast, efficient, public transportation system for it’s citizens and 2., an aggressive automotive industry dedicated to billions of dollars worth of advertising and propaganda to sway the citizens into believing that they must have a vehicle in order to get anywhere – or mean anything.
So with 4.07 million miles worth of road, no universal public transport system in most areas, and no end to the vehicle advertisement, the evidence is clear; Americans need cars to survive in the United States.
Now if the people who ran the country were to make the people’s safety top priority, then there would probably be some sort of automobile ban, which would be a bad idea. Sure, banning motor vehicles from civilian use would probably save tens of thousands of lives every year, but this move would also leave millions of Americans without efficient transportation in a country where motor vehicles are necessary for travel. Thus, it isn’t enough to simply ban automobiles; one must also address the need and the motivation behind private transportation in the US and then develop alternatives which would serve as a safer alternative to automobiles. I believe the same is true with gun ownership. Suppose there was an all out firearm ban.
This ban could possibly save thousands of lives each year but doing so still wouldn’t address the core reasons for the murders in the first place.
Banning guns for the purpose of saving lives would suggest to the world that it is the guns that motivate people into killing. Looking at virtually every gun crime to date, one can clearly see a pattern behind such vicious acts. Almost every gun crime known to man is the result of some sort of socio-economic factor, which coincidentally is the reason behind the large murder rate in some of the most violent countries in Latin America.
Let us take a look at the area where the majority of the gun violence exists in the US: The Black Community. In just about every major city where Black and Latino’s are in the majority, some of the highest murder rates exist in these areas.
These areas also happen to be the most economically deprived in the country, with a high unemployment rate and racial discrimination in just about every category that matters; housing, education, employment and health.
There is a universal truth in life; where there is poverty and very little opportunity, crime pays and the rewards can be huge if you’re willing to get your hands dirty. Take a good look at some of the poorest countries in the world and one can conclude that this much is true.
The gun industry, much like the automotive industry, has an extremely aggressive propaganda campaign for gun ownership and the propaganda is most successful when crime is on the rise or when a mass shooting has taken place; capitalizing on the fear that guns will be taken away by the government as a sort of backlash for the shooting. Much like the way money (or lack thereof) drives the majority of gun crime in the US, fear and paranoia drives almost 300 million Americans to legally purchase a firearm for the sake of protecting love ones and property. It‘s not just the fear of the firearm ban that drives gun sales; as acclaimed film maker and director Michael Moore further illustrated in an interview late last year, fear of Blacks, fear of illegal immigrants, fear of criminals (see: fear of blacks and illegal immigrants) and fear of the so called tyrannical government are also the things that motivate the astronomical amount of gun ownership in the States and the result has had life altering consequences.
Since the famous Trayvon Martin incident, there have been more than 140 additional unjustified extrajudicial killings of people of color by police officers and ‘would be’ vigilantes in mostly white suburban neighbourhoods.
Last year’s vigilante killing of Darius Simmons and the most recent killing of Rodrigo Abad Diaz are just some of the examples of crazed and perhaps brainwashed racists exercising what they believe to be their duty to take matters into their own hands when there’s even a hint of suspicion of criminal activity. Some may call these isolated incidents, but this type of paranoia reflects a more recent historical campaign of the Reagan era politics of demonising the Black population by classifying them as criminal; an agenda that proved to be quite successful thanks to racist condemnation of Black mothers on welfare, racist 80’s cinema and a huge spike in mass incarceration of Black and Latino citizens. A more extreme example of racist vigilantism would be last year’s mass shooting committed on a Sikh temple in Wisconsin by a group of terrorists, which left six dead and wounded four others. While one can be up in arms about the state’s lack of controls on automatic weapons, how can one not be just as upset about the racial propaganda perpetrated by the US and it’s allies on much of the middle east, which is bound to have a negative affect on the American psyche at home?
You could ban the automatic weapon tomorrow, but the racist propaganda would still be just enough racist propaganda to motivate yet another Oslo bomber.
What about these random massacres caused by the mentally deranged? Well, if there was ever an argument for a ban on assault rifles, it would be to protect people from insane serial killers. Insanity, unlike economic crime, isn’t something that can be predicted or expected; sometimes, it just happens. However, as Christopher J. Ferguson pointed out in his article, there have been severe spending cuts on mental health services since the great recession of 2008, which means that a great number of Americans who suffer from mental heath and psychological issues are left to fend for themselves, with no access to services or facilities of any kind. Now I’m not suggesting that we simply pump additional monies into mental health services and leave the gun issue alone altogether, because it could very well be that guns are needed in addition to public funds for the criminally mentally ill.
My position is more basic than that; to explore the root causes of homicides and not simply to advocate for one type of reform when there are many reforms that can be implemented for the sake of the public good that we ignore in sensationalising a single issue.
All of the media spectacle surrounding assault rifles results in nothing more than a smoke screen that circumvents the deep social, economic, political and racial issues behind gun crime and ownership in the United States. If it were to cause enough of an uproar, at best the US would probably ban the use of said firearms. But without addressing these concerns, who knows what other ways these issues would manifest themselves? Handguns? Shotguns? A bomb?
Or maybe suicide.
All of which are still available to the public at any given time and will continue to be the remedy unless the mainstream left is willing to have an honest discussion about said issues and how they affect the public’s welfare – assuming that they’re truly concerned about the public’s welfare.