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.
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.
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.