TOP 5 RAP WEBSITE is a Bachelor of Political Science from the University of California.
Much respect to all affected by gun violence across the world. This article is not a critique on the Parkland students, but a socio-political assessment of their Manifesto to fix America’s gun laws article posted this week at The Guardian.
“Fixing gun violence in America starts with decreasing the demand for guns”
If your solution to gun violence isn’t centered on fixing the violent culture in the USA, then it’s probably just packed with political double-talk.
Fixing gun violence in America starts with decreasing the demand for guns. This begins with acknowledging the USA/Western people’s fixation with violence, observed repeatedly throughout American history from the genocide of Native Americans to military coups of foreign governments to the enslavement and current mass incarceration of the African diaspora to America’s current mass production of war weaponry.
To permanently decrease the demand for guns, America must first shift from its deep-rooted Western ideals lauded in popular media, religion, and tradition. It is a years-long process that is not solved in a single bill preventing certain people from owning certain types guns.
Gun Control Pros vs Cons
I’m torn on the gun control topic for a few reasons:
- It appears to be heavily bankrolled by interest groups. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but exploitation of this shooting by interest groups for private gain is disgusting.
- The huge amount of pathos to sway sides makes me uncomfortable.
- If criminals are buying guns illegally anyway what will gun control do? Unless the solution = surrender all guns. But what about the 2nd Amendment?
- Banning in-demand products typically creates a illegal black market.
But I recognize that the USA has a gun problem. The USA also has incarceration and war problems and they’re all linked with gun violence. I think the best solution would be one that addresses the root causes of these mass shootings – toxic facets of American culture.
Parkland Students: Our manifesto to fix America’s gun laws critique
#1 Ban semi-automatic weapons that fire high-velocity rounds
Some of these statements particularly bother me as someone who studied foreign policy at the University of California. “Civilians shouldn’t have access to the same weapons that soldiers do” is a reasonable statement here in America, but not if you live in a country being occupied by a foreign power (like the “war zones” they allude to). So check your privilege there.
But, to their point, I don’t even want the police having access to military weapons, much less civilians, so I understand where they’re coming from. However, it’s important to check our privilege and acknowledge the many lives lost overseas due to gun violence by Americans.
“I don’t even want the police having access to military weapons, much less civilians”
Secondly, banning public access to certain guns will likely create a criminal black market. We saw this with the prohibition of alcohol and cannabis and the rise of the Mafia and Mexican drug cartels. Banning an in-demand product (while America continues to remain a #1 supplier) will create a black market.
You can point to Scandinavia as an example of a country that has seen a decrease in gun violence as a result of banning high capacity rifles, but USA is the world’s #1 weapons producer – they are two entirely different environments and cultures.
Additionally, it’s misleading for the Eagle Eye to state that the mere presence of semi-automatic weapons puts us into the kind of danger that people living in occupied countries-turned-war zones such as Yemen and Syria face. Government corruption and military intervention + occupation put those countries in their current war-torn state. Not the mere presence of semi-automatic weapons.
#2 Ban semi-automatic weapons that fire high-velocity rounds
Another reasonable request. Again, I don’t want even want police having access to these military-style weapons, much less civilians. However, I worry that this does not address our root cause – decreasing the total number of mass shootings in America.
Could the above measure help decrease the overall number of people killed during a mass shooting? Sure, if the gunman goes through the proper measures to buy the weapon legally. But does this suggestion have the propensity to decrease the total number of mass shootings? I’m afraid not.
However, saving lives definitely counts for something.
#3 Establish a database of gun sales and universal background checks
This is where things get saucy because Eagle Eye does two things:
- Mandate that everyone who purchases a gun be tracked by the government and surrender criminal, medical, and other other personal records to do so (which will then be stored in a government database)
- Prohibit gun purchases based on criminal offenses, mental health, and physical capacity.
If there’s one thing I learned from my Law & Society class during undergrad, it’s that laws may be written one way, but implemented a totally different way. The legislative branch introduces laws and the executive branch allows agencies and states to determine how the law will be implemented and enforced.
This means that, depending on the President and party in power (appointing the heads of government agencies) and the political leanings of your State, the same law might be implemented and enforced different ways in different places.
Legislation writing vs implementation & enforcement
Take Brown v Board of Education for example, a federal ruling that ordered states to desegregate public schools “with all deliberate speed“. Implementation was left to the States who all implemented differently depending on their political leaning.
According to Wikipedia: in Texas, Attorney General John Ben Shepperd reacted by organizing a campaign to generate legal obstacles to implementation of desegregation, in Arkansas Governor Faubus called in the state’s National Guard to block African students from entering schools. And in the North, many cities implemented de facto segregation policies, which created a gulf in educational resources between black and white communities. My point is – legislation is implemented in various ways depending on leaders in power.
African-Americans disproportionately make up a considerable percentage of “criminals” in America as a result of the black body being a commodity in the school-to-prison pipeline and prison-industrial complex, so who’s to say that African Americans won’t be affected the most by the proposed background checks? What about other minorities and also people in low-income communities? This also doesn’t take into account that majority of recent mass shooters had no prior criminal record.
Background checks are necessary. However, mandating a government database to track and store citizen criminal, medical, and personal data is a bit extreme. Prohibiting criminals or the severely mentally ill from purchasing guns seems like a great idea until implementation is put in the hands of an ill leader.
How does this prevent the types of mass shootings we’ve recently seen? How can we assure that these checks are not unnecessarily discriminatory in their implementation?
#4 Change privacy laws to allow mental healthcare providers to communicate with law enforcement
How did poor communication between health care providers and law enforcement directly lead to 17 dead students? I am not immediately in favor of striking to privacy laws in reaction to an event ala Patriot Act & 9/11. I’d like them to flesh out a bit more of what they’re suggesting here.
What specific privacy law are you suggesting to eliminate and how will this decrease the total number of mass shootings in America?
#5 Close gun show and secondhand sales loopholes
I am in favor of closing the gun show loophole. But it seems that we are veering a bit off-topic. The gun show loophole is indeed an egregious alternative to buying a gun without being properly vetted, but what percentage of mass shootings were committed using guns bought a gun shows? I am genuinely curious.
#6 Allow CDC to make recommendations for gun reform
I am in favor of allowing the CDC to conduct research on the dangers of gun violence.
#7 Raise the firearm purchase age to 21
Yet again, we are veering off-topic and should focus on the goal of decreasing the total number of mass shootings in America. I have a few questions in response to the above suggestion:
- What correlation does the age 21 have with mass shootings in America?
- What role did the age of the shooter play in recent mass shootings?
- How many recent mass shootings were committed by a shooter under age 21?
If the answer to the above questions are “none” then we should re-think creating unnecessary laws.
Before the age of 21, many Americans live independently of their guardians, reside in dangerous neighborhoods, have kids, and own property. Why should these adults not be allowed to purchase a firearm? This puts lives at risk and is an unnecessary regulation.
#8 Dedicate more funds to mental health research and professionals
I agree with allocating resources for increased mental health services to the public and in schools.
However, how this will be implemented, who will receive the funding, and where the money will be allocated from is hugely important and points of contention. This cannot turn into an opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry and insurance companies to take advantage of and exploits American citizens during this time of mourning.
#9 Increase funding for school security
I agree with ensuring school security but I warn against rallying for increased police presence on schools.
As someone who attended a heavily-policed high school in San Bernardino county, complete with tall gates and squad cars on campus I warn against this becoming a slippery slope because the psychological effects of attending heavily police-occupied schools are documented and this begs the question:
- Whose communities will be affected disproportionately by this?
- How will this be implemented?
- Are we going to train and deploy tens of thousands of more police officers across in every school covering all school districts? Or only some?
- How much will this cost and will this be effective in preventing mass shootings?
Despite this, a life saved is priceless.
In a perfect world, there’d be no guns and no weapons. We’d live in shared peace and harmony – but that’s not our reality in the current capitalistic society, so we strategize well-thought out measures in place to prevent mass shootings and not succumb to the appeal of pathos resulting in reactionary laws that are more destructive than productive.