It was only after the Newtown school shooting that I resolved to offer solutions to gun violence. The surge in advocacy for gun control legislation has been primarily among white suburban folks. With the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, parents could imagine their little children, in their little elementary school, in their little neighborhood shot dead by one of their neighbors.
Every night a black child dies of gun violence
Of course, the parents of black, latino and asian children have been able to live through and visualize their children dead in their neighborhoods for years. Young black kids have been dying every night on the streets of Chicago, Oakland, and L.A., but there has been relatively few calls for gun control in light of those deaths. It takes the slaughter of 20 young white kids from middle class suburbia to bring the issue of gun violence into the living room of most of America.
Death brought home
No longer is gun violence a by-product of inner city gangs, lover quarrels or depression. A semi-automatic assault rifle in the hands of another white suburban young adult froze time and space for not only the victims families, but much of America as well. Innocence should never be squashed as easily as stepping on a bug.
NRA rejects racism
The NRA has been pushing the catchy phrase, “only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun”. In between the intellectual discussion of the definition of a good guy (the right gang, religion, political party, etc.) people die. Was the shooter a good guy? Was the victim a bad guy? It all depends on your perspective. At least the NRA is consistent in its message, “guns for all” regardless of your race, creed, color or national origin. But once you have embraced the notion that a gun is the answer, you have already lost the war.
Guns are not art
Guns don’t help us with critical thinking. Guns are like cars. If you have a car, you don’t have to think about how you will get to work or to the store. You just get in your car and go. You don’t worry about riding a bike or the bus schedule. Similarly, once you rely on a gun to resolve an issue, either through use or intimidation, you stop being creative on how to solve problems.
More than once I have been tempted, out of pure frustration, to wave a gun around to get my way. Even if it was for a fleeting moment, an impulse I didn’t act on, having a gun was a short cut to fixing the problem. Some problems have no solutions, they are just life.
We fought as a state, not a unit
While we like to fancy the notion that individual gun ownership will some how stop an over zealous federal government, no one has broken out a gun over oppressive legislation that the majority of people voted for. When it comes to civil wars, how many people have died for so little progress? The second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was not to enshrine private musket ownership, but to ensure that states could still arm local militias. It was under the flag of the state regiments and volunteer militias that we fought wars against the U.K. and others.
The second amendment was inserted to reinforce the concept of state’s rights, further enunciated in the tenth amendment. Just like Israel had 12 tribes, the U.S. had 13 colonies with an identity just as strong as a tribal association. The second amendment lessened the financial burden that the federal government would have to raise and maintain an army and it gave the notoriously paranoid states an escape route if they wanted to leave the union. Of course, several of the colonies and states exercised they escape route in 1861 and didn’t get very far.
Assault rifle musket?
The legacy, a picture distorted with time, is a concept that every individual has the right to own a semi-automatic assault rifle. Whether that is a right, a privilege, or something in between, I really don’t care. You can arm everyone and their grandma and nothing will change; crime won’t go down and gun violence will only rise. The only things that will reduce gun violence in America is the expansion of mental health services and improved job opportunities.
White critical mass for change
I can completely understand why Obama hasn’t done anything on gun control until now. He understands that until there is a critical mass of white people calling for change, there is no political energy to create legislation. Now that gun violence coupled with easily accessible assault rifles has grabbed the attention of middle class white families across America, there will be a brief window of time to discuss possible solutions. For my part, I have called for a tax on guns and ammunition to
expand mental health services, started a couple of petitions and a Facebook page to support the effort.
Although, the real campaign should be to remind people that the color of your skin doesn’t the diminish the value of a life lost to gun violence.
Tax Guns and Ammo for Mental Health Change.org petition
Tax Guns and Ammo for Mental Health White House petition
Tax Guns and Ammo Facebook page