TW: gun violence, racist criminalization, sexism
Obviously the United States has some sort of a problem with the availability of firearms. I don’t really even have to make an argument – I can just list geographic locations, from a movie theater in Aurora, to an elementary school in Sandy Hook, and to a gurdwara in Oak Creek. I don’t have to even reach back to older memories of a high school in Columbine or a certain street corner in Tuscon, because so many incidents of extreme gun violence have happened in the past few months alone. The difficulty we face is frankly undeniable.
That being said, I don’t like debating about guns. No, not because I don’t have opinions on it, but because there’s so little consistency in how even the same policies are or might be applied. We can’t have a substantive national conversation on the issue for a variety of reasons, but that’s the one that frankly sets me off the most. I’ve already talking about how many of us seem to search for some “other people” that can be restricted in new ways to prevent the next tragedy, but beyond that, the laws and principles that we all supposedly live by now are so easily reinterpreted and found to mysteriously apply differently based on a few principles.
In Florida, for example, many people know about how the radical Stand Your Ground laws have essentially forced mass protest to occur to hold one White Latino adult responsible for the death of a young man who was Black. Of course, the same laws were found by the same state police and same state courts to not apply in the context of Marissa Alexander’s self defense against her abusive husband. When the person wielding the gun was a Black woman, rather than a White man, somehow the laws don’t produce the same police and judicial procedures. In Zimmerman’s case, he almost didn’t even stand trial. In Alexander’s case, she’s been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
(Alexander as she was being sentenced. From here.)
This is sometimes more subtly expressed though. As this recent batch of mass shootings was just beginning to heat up, the National Rifle Association (NRA) released in anticipation a list of people and organizations it “opposes” to its members (who, by definition, are owners of weapons that can easily kill). The list contained in some cases the work addresses and phone numbers of some of the people it listed. Can you spot the obvious security risk in an organization suggesting that these people are threats and then providing its members with information on how to reach them?
The discrepancy might not be as obvious, but the NRA has been the primary force in opposing a national database of gun purchases, as a means of monitoring the sale of weapons to catch illegal activities. Its reason for this should be clear to anyone remotely familiar with the NRA – the fear of information on gun owners being used to target them. The information the NRA puts out about other individuals, however, is seemingly of no concern.
In short, some of the people in this discussion are fighting dirty, and the real issue seems to be less about access to weaponry rather than whose access to firearms. This isn’t a conversation about rights, but privileges.