Friday, August 09, 2019

"Guns don't kill people, people do."

So the hoary bumper sticker slogan says. Shouldn't that be "guns don't kill people; people do?" Don't neglect the semi-colon!  Thing is, the sentiment isn't exactly wrong. But ask someone, okay, so in that case, what can we do about the problem? don't expect a response more cogent than MOAR GUNZ, or possibly a malignant cyst like mike huckabee burbling about the need for more Christian theocracy. It's not meant to start a debate; it's meant to shut it down.

So we have this individualist American cowboy mythos that will not die. And the NRA has capitalized on that by shrieking about how you need guns to protect yourself from the hordes of slavering invaders just outside your gate and getting the idea of ever-more-powerful firearms all mixed up in our ideas of masculinity in incredibly toxic ways (okay, it's hard to imagine a way that wouldn't be toxic), and mainstreaming violent rhetoric about cold dead hands and watering the tree of liberty. And then you have increasing atomization and isolation brought on by late capitalism making people feel like helpless failures. And on top of this you have a political party that makes up at least forty percent of the country constantly pounding on this vile, dehumanizing rhetoric about foreigners or immigrants or non-whites or anyone perceived as Other. But where does all the gun violence come from?!? This seems like a reeeeal case for Slylock Fox.

So, yeah. Starting with gun control is in a sense getting it backwards; we really just need to fix all the above stuff--after which, sensibly stringent regulation of firearms will just come naturally. I do think it's naive to imagine that we can effectively solve the problem by only addressing the symptoms and ignoring the underlying causes. But GOOD FUCKING LUCK with those causes. You can think in terms of long-term cultural trends, but in the here and now, I can't even begin to imagine how I would fix them. Even though meaningful gun control isn't politically tenable, it sure as hell seems more so than all that other stuff, so it only makes sense that that's what people would push for.

Point being, if gun enthusiasts would pitch in to help us destroy capitalism and fundamentally rework our cultural infrastructure, we wouldn't need to talk about taking their weapons. But since basically all of them unreflectively support these things, well, it is what it is.


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