Conservatives immediately commandeered the coverage of the Paris attacks for politicized talking points on gun rights. This is ironic because conservatives always accuse President Obama of politicizing American mass shootings, but I do not understand how conservatives believe that the President politicizes the issue in the first place.
After every mass shooting, President Obama shakes his head in despair and makes a speech how nothing is going to be done to change our society in order to prevent the next mass shooting. This is hardly politicizing the issue, as some of Obama’s critics accuse the President of doing, and it seems to me like Obama gives up on the politics in a cynical act of political surrender and general despondency.
But like every national controversy now, our mass shootings provoke discussion and arguments with friends and family on our Facebook pages. And every argument we get into on Facebook ends with us saying that everybody—gun control advocates and gun rights advocates alike—can all agree on several, minor gun improvement laws, but that we shouldn’t give up our freedom like the Second Amendment says we should have. This is how we inevitably get tired of arguing and agree to disagree, and we shut up about the issue until the next mass shooting.
But then when you think about it you realize that, hey, these minor gun law improvements that we can all supposedly agree on have never come. And these gun massacres keep happening over and over. And each time we get back to our Facebook battles over more gun laws! and no gun laws! and again, nothing happens.
So why do we never get these minor improved laws? Why are the incremental changes that we ALL agree on never realized? These are important questions because while nothing is happening mass murder after mass murder is committed domestically.
And internationally, violence never stops either. International arms dealing produces so much profit selling guns to whoever wants them that arms deals are very lucrative business. And this is what allows terrorism to take place. There are military weapons everywhere, and America has been selling weapons for decades to present and future terrorists everywhere.
In fact, American foreign policy is often dependent on arms dealing, which, through the lenses of hindsight, has proven to be a depressingly ineffective foreign policy strategy. America gave the “freedom fighters” who would become the Afghan Taliban weapons to use against Russia in the 80’s, weapons that the Taliban used against us when we occupied Afghanistan. America gave Iraq weapons to use against Iran in the 80’s, too, weapons that Iraq would use against us in both Bush Iraq wars. America gave weapons to both the Iraqi army and Syrian rebels, weapons that would fall into the hands of ISIS, which are now being used against us and our national interests.
The reason that the Middle East is such a power keg region in the first place is because of America’s foreign policy in the region post-World War II. Since the 1950’s America has turned Saudi Arabia and Iran into the militaristic, regional super powers that they are today because of anti-Soviet, Cold War era military aid. And don’t forget our gluttonous military aid to Israel, and various terrorist groups who we have decided could give us short-term political advantage. Has this made the region more safe? Only as safe as any other arms race in history. And with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel and radical, fundamentalist Islamist terror groups fighting proxy wars against each other all over the Middle East, I think it is an uncontroversial statement to say that America’s Middle Eastern foreign policies have resulted in utter failure given that our national interests are routinely threatened in the Middle East by our own political efforts.
This is why the US needs a complete reversal in our philosophies on guns, international arms deals, and foreign policy. America has reached the point of eternal war, both domestically and globally, and a huge chunk of our economy is literally dependent on constant war.
But my question to those who disagree, and think that we need MORE guns on our streets, that we need MORE rogue groups with weapons, and that we need MORE American military adventures, is when, then, do we stop the arms race? From nuclear missiles to terroristic armies to national militaries to everyone in our fucking neighborhood having a gun for each and every family member, when do we stop the violence and the endlessly catalyzing hatred?
The idea that every other American or every other person on Earth might want to harm us, so we should all have unnecessarily deadly weapons to protect us only makes us more afraid, more paranoid, and more likely to actually kill people or get killed by people. This has to stop for the love of humanity!
Having this argument with a friend on Facebook, I was asked what my idea of a solution for all this militarization was. The truth is I have no idea, and I am skeptical a solution is possible. Like most problems in America, too many people and corporations are making too much money from the status quo to easily fix them. They’re impossible to change without some kind of a political revolution because somehow our political system is so screwed up that the incremental changes we can ALL agree on never happen. It’s a sign of a broken democracy that our society is wholly unable to put on a band-aid over a few of our problems, let alone stopping its own total self-destruction.
My only suggestion is that we need to take money out of politics and elections so that our legislative process can make long term decisions, and not just short term ones intended to raise campaign cash. For instance, rational gun law legislation is impossible while the NRA existentially opposes any gun laws with massive campaign money. Until we expel big money from American politics, the US will keep making terrible decisions based on reactionary representatives fanning the flames of public outrage in order to secure reelection funds, and our mass shootings and violence will never end.
Domestically America desperately needs those minor gun laws that everyone can apparently agree on, and this is the whole point of gun law reform. No one is calling for confiscating all guns.
Having an armed society does not make us more safe, it just allows people to more easily become mass shooters because access to firearms is so easy and convenient.
The only functional way to lessen gun crime is to make it really hard and inconvenient to get a gun so that mentally and emotionally unstable people do not have the opportunity to become mass shooters. And again, this is the whole point of gun control, not to steal law-abiding citizens’ handguns.
The idea is based on the opinion that society should want to make having a gun be such a serious, regulated endeavor that the only people who get guns are the people who will use them responsibly. Why is this a polarized and controversial opinion?
It means that we have psychologically tested gun owners to prove that they are not insane, that they have been subject to a background check to make sure they are not fugitives who are obviously looking to use guns for evil, that they have taken a course on gun safety to educate them on how to be responsible with their gun, and that they have had to wait to get their gun for more than the time it takes to pay for it so that the person getting a gun has some time to cool down if he or she is buying the gun simply out of anger to go and shoot someone.
Say I had a mental illness, and a mental illness that has been documented repeatedly: I could get mad at someone right now and go to a gun show and buy a gun and then ammo with no questions asked, and go out and shoot someone in a single day. Gun control is the opinion that no one should be able to buy a gun with such ease, and that the so-called “gun show loophole” should not be a way to circumvent our existing gun laws.
Gun control makes society safer, and it is in no way a loss of our freedom to have guns. Anyone can still get a gun, gun owners just have to prove that they will be the responsible gun owners that they say they are going to be. And any responsible gun owner should understand this, accept it, and love it.
Image via Justin Baragona