Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Fifteen Lessons from Sandy Hook

1. Some gun people think that if you don’t know the difference between a clip and a magazine you’re not qualified to speak on the issue. They are wrong. The average person knows everything they need to know about guns: guns are by their nature potentially deadly and in the wrong hands can inflict ghastly damage on the human body.

2.  Some gun people claim that because any object is potentially deadly all objects are potentially equally deadly. This is prima facie false. 

3. Some gun people claim that because stricter regulation will not eliminate all gun deaths, no stricter gun regulation is warranted. By this logic all laws and regulations should be taken off the books, since no law is 100% effective. This is the perfectionist fallacy.

4. Some gun people think that being permanently armed is the best protection against random violence. The two armed and trained Las Vegas cops recently shot dead while eating their lunch is but the latest testament against this claim.

5. Some gun people claim that an armed citizenry is the best bulwark against governmental tyranny. But I would claim that if they are depending on an armed but unorganized citizenry to protect against tyranny they’ve already waited too long to react. If the U.S. military sides with the government, these citizens will be quickly obliterated by far more sophisticated weaponry. Preventing tyranny is most effective when it is still in its infancy. Rampant gun ownership and political freedom are not coextensive.

6. Some gun people justify their position by making references to fevered conspiracy theories, “false flag operations,” etc. These conspiracies only serve to distract us from real social and political crises that are right in front of us in plain sight: the evisceration of the middle class, the wholesale corruption of our political system by big money, legislative paralysis, criminal wars and their attendant profiteering, decreased civil rights, increased surveillance of citizens, deteriorating due process, indefinite detention, torture, etc. Reality is frightening enough without making up more things of which to be afraid.

7. Some gun people think that 30,000 gun deaths a year is the price that must be paid to secure their constitutional right to bear arms. But there is no individual right to bear arms embedded in the second amendment. The Supreme Court has erred, as it has in the past. Until some future court corrects this error, 30,000 Americans a year will continue to pay for it with their lives.

8. Even if there was an individual right to bear arms embedded in the second amendment, no right in the Bill of Rights is absolute. It is hard to imagine any right, however legitimate, being “worth” 30,000 deaths per year.

9. These are the best arguments the NRA has; everything else is slogans, falsehoods, expressions of desire, selective citations of evidence, fear mongering, etc.

10. To talk about guns in the U.S. is to talk about race. For every victim of a high profile mass white-on-white shooting, hundreds die and are wounded by gunfire in the inner city. This is why people of color favor more gun control than do whites, by a significant margin.

11. While thinking of countries that have struggled with the politically primitive rule of men with guns, I discovered the bitter irony that the U.S. is using its freedoms to abandon the more advanced concept of the rule of law to revert to this primitive political condition.

12. This primitive political condition was called the state of nature, the state of war, the war of all against all by people like Locke, Rousseau, and Hobbes, all foundational thinkers to our way of governance. All would wonder at the absurdity of a culture that would willfully dispense with one of the primary functions of society: to protect citizens from arbitrary violence.

13. Guns make every one of our individual and social pathologies potentially more deadly. Sexually frustrated? Shoot women. Short tempered? Shoot your wife. Don’t like your grade? Shoot your teacher. Having a bad day? Grab your gun from the closet and eat it. Stressed at work and mad at the boss? Shoot him. Afraid of black people? Stand your ground and shoot first. Incompetent parent? Leave your loaded gun on the coffee table and let your five year-old shoot your three year-old. Stupid? Bring your gun to a party and play Russian roulette. Paranoid schizophrenic? Go buy a gun from WalMart and take aim at the voices in your head. Politically deluded? Assassinate two cops eating lunch. Low self-esteem? Get together with your friends and bring your long guns into a family restaurant. Confused as to which are the bad guys with guns and which the good guys with guns? Shoot. Shoot.

14. Nothing will change. If the slaughter of twenty first-graders in their classrooms cannot prompt a reform of our gun laws, nothing will. Perhaps if a gunman went to Congress and dispatched 20 politicians, maybe. But still only maybe. 

15. The elites love that we love our guns, and are happy to let us have them. Having already taken the country from us, they allow us our guns and then play us off against our own government, the only instrument powerful enough to allow us the possibility of reclaiming from them what is ours—“we the people.” From the perspective of the elites, guns are actually pacifiers that allow some people the illusion of political agency. These people only worry about government “gun grabbers” and remain blind to the fact that the elites have grabbed well nigh everything else, as if nothing else—a decent job, health, affordable education, a future for their children—is as precious as having the ability to deliver death at a distance. This is no agency at all, or if it is it’s an agency for losers, losers who don’t even know that the war they spoil to fight is already over and they have been defeated, like those Japanese soldiers who fought on for years after their country’s surrender. To give them their due, at least these soldiers could take aim at their perceived enemy targets. But how do you shoot a multinational corporation? How does one take aim at capital? It is precisely this quandary that makes the American cult of the gun so absurd, so pathetic, so pointless, and so tragic.

No comments:

Post a Comment