America’s Repeated Gun-Related Killing Sprees Are Not Primarily About Availability of Guns

Guns that were purchased by undercover police officers are displayed during a news conference in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010. District attorney Cyrus Vance announced the indictment of three people on illegal gun sales after a long-term investigation into firearms trafficking by the defendants. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

The Big Distraction
Sure enough, President Obama’s response to the most recent spree killing that ensued earlier today (circa October 1, 2015) at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College is focusing his conversation entirely on the gun issue, just as I earlier predicted on one of my Facebook posts that regularly annoy both those who hate political posts on that social network and the more patriotically correct amongst my friends there.  I hardly deserve any back-patting for that prediction coming true, as anyone who possesses even a minor familiarity with politicking could have done the same.

The President also predictably cited highly controversial statistics that claim states with stricter gun control laws have less homicides by firearms, totally ignoring the fact that his current home town of Washington, D.C. has among the strictist laws against guns in the nation, yet among the highest degree of gun-related homicides in the country. In fact, as shown in this mainstream news article from three months ago, gun-related crimes in the District of Columbia are up nearly 20% from the previous year. These articles need to be cited because too many people are apt to simply believe the President’s statements simply because he is the one who says them, despite the fact that we should all be well aware what slick con men politicians have to be in order to thrive in Congress or the White House.

I’m the first to admit that there are numerous studies on the effectiveness of stringent gun control laws in obviating incidents of gun-related violence and crimes that contradict each other, but that doesn’t change the fact that many states or other areas (like the District of Columbia) with very heavy gun control laws still have lots of gun violence and crimes perpetrated with guns. Note what is said here in this comprehensive study on the issue:

When it comes to the question of gun violence, and how it correlates with gun control laws on a state-by-state basis, the answer at first blush seems very simple: More gun laws correlate with less gun violence. However, as any statistician would say, correlation is not causality, and indeed, the correlation is far from exact. For instance, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, while much gun violence is concentrated in gun friendly states (Arizona and Alaska being prime examples), a good chunk of it also takes place in areas that restrict gun ownership, like the District of Columbia [emphasis mine].

Given this inexact (though suggestive) correlation, other experts have attempted to look at what factors within each of these states correlate most strongly with gun violence. The answer, according to at least one — Richard Florida of the Martin Prosperity Institute — is that partisan identification, number of college graduates, poverty, number of working class residents and the number of weapons present in local high schools are the strongest predictors of gun violence [emphasis mine].

Naturally enough, Florida’s analysis is one of the more charitable. Ideologically liberal institutions like the Center for American Progress have simply pounced on the correlation between lax gun laws and increased gun violence to try to prove their points, ignoring the contrary evidence. Other groups, such as the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, prefer to simply harp on the large numbers of fatalities that occur each year associated with guns.

By all means note the links within the quotations for further evidence that President Obama’s statements are highly problematic, not to mention highly self-serving. I fully understand that many of my fellow progressives support strong gun control laws, and many are not against the total banning of firearms altogether. I understand why they feel as they do, but I ask them to ponder the questions I’m now presenting here before giving into the emotional temptation to “harp on” the gun issue to the near-exclusion of anything else.

The main reason our esteemed emporer–er, leader–will focus so exclusively on the gun issue is to distract the 99% from a lot of hard questions we need to ask about this country, such as how its militaristic value systems combine with its extremely competitive dog-eat-dog economic system to create numerous desperate and mentally ill misfits who become encouraged to respond in exactly the same fashion as the President responds to every country in the Middle East that refuses to do business with him his way. He’s always happy to overlook despotic regimes like Saudi Arabia, one of the worst in that part of the world, if they’re happy to do business his way, of course. And let’s not overlook the fact that Osama Bin Laden was a Saudi and so were most of the other participants in the 9/11 terrorist incident (not a single one of them were Iraqi). I’m not saying that Saudi Arabian citizens in general are any worse than any group of people from any other nation, so please do not misquote me here; I am talking about the Saudi Arabian ruling class  here, who are probably worse than the tyrants of any Middle Eastern regime the U.S. government is currently dropping bombs on.
Obama_meets_King_Abdullah_July_2014
“That’s my despot!”

Would President Obama agree to cut back on the number of drones, cluster bombs, and heavily armed troop deployments that are his knee-jerk reaction to every nation he deems “the enemy”? Would he encourage the citizenry of his country to stop cheerleading the military and declaring them heroes every time a school, hospital, or wedding filled with innocent people are caught in the crossfire of his bombing raids and illegal occupations; or the financial and military aid he regularly gives to despotic regimes that cooperate with the will of the American 1%? Has he opposed the heavy militarization of the city police forces? These are all rhetorical questions, by the way.

Yet he acts in bafflement and outrage whenever a citizen is pushed over the deep end by the policies and value systems he upholds and shamelessly represents when they with the rage fueled by a severe mental breakdown by picking up a gun and doing to those whom they consider “the enemy,” without being concerned about innocents who become “collateral damage” in the process.  Instead, the President hypocritically takes this latest tragedy as an opportunity to distract from all these hard questions by manipulating the powerful emotions centered around the gun issue.

He also said that many other First World countries have their share of mentally ill people, but do not routinely go on these killing sprees, all because (he contends) they lack access to guns. Plain and simple. What he doesn’t talk about is how the police in these other First World nations likewise do not regularly carry guns except under special circumstances. Further, the media and culture at large in these other nations do not support or tolerate, let alone glorify, a bloated military or militaristic way of thinking and dealing with perceived problems in the first place. They are likewise capitalist nations, of course, but they are considerably more favorable of social democratic policies that mitigate the wealth disparities that the American government is more than happy to escalate with one of the most cruelly adversarial attitudes towards its working class than any other nation. No other First World nation comes close to America in this century when it comes to military occupations, the heavy militarization of police, and wealth disparity between the haves and have nots.
militarized police
An occupied neighborhood in Baghdad? Nope, just a group of Ferguson police doing their thing. A great inspiration for those who believe assault weapons go a long way towards solving petty problems.

Nor is any other culture nearly as quick to reject or socially penalize those who do not strictly adhere to a specific way of thinking, and demand that everyone be willing to adhere to a heavily standardized form of education and system of work of which it’s highly unrealistic to expect everyone to be suited for. Our system is all about creating winners and losers, and the cruel rejection of the many losers who are simply not suited to the single standard imposed upon all is bound to cause many of them to snap, and some will respond precisely as our militarized culture teaches us to respond. This adds a heavy dose of dark irony to these tragedies, and seems to underscore Robert Kennedy’s statement that “every country gets the type of criminal it deserves.”

Let’s start asking these important questions and not get distracted yet again by duplicitous politicians hoping to exploit the gun issue by encouraging us to focus solely upon that. I think we owe it to all past and future victims of these horrific crimes to be completely honest about the crux of these problems, and not simply focus on one of the symptoms.

Nerd_Being_Bullied
A young man whom I strongly hope does not  take inspiration from America’s military and police forces. This for the sake of himself, the many intolerant peers who regularly use him as an emotional venting post, and any random innocents who may be in their vicinity if he should ever snap.