I: U.S. Gun Control Cannot Work

 
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(Part I discusses the conditions and causes of Chicago gun violence.  Part II addresses the choices required to reduce and prevent gun violence in Chicago, and to “build the peace”.  They may be printed separately or together.)

 

The political flurry to stop the extraordinary gun violence in the United States will fail.  It will fail because gun violence or gun control are merely one component of the more comprehensive Culture of Violence that has permeated the entire history of this country, from religious fanaticism (Puritanism) to the current use of military drones, from the revolutionary need for guns to the current superpower fire power of the US, guns are central to American power and therefore, American culture. The issue is the violence of power and the power of violence in the US.

 

Guns are arguably more fundamental and more cherished to American supremacy than democracy. Thus Clint Eastwood proclaimed, threatening a presumed criminal with his big gun, “Go ahead, make my day.” Guns are more American than apple pie and it may be easier to get a gun in America than an apple pie. 

 

The conditions of gun violence are unique to the United States. The US has had more mass gun shootings than all other countries combined. Husbands kill spouses three times more often than individuals killed by strangers.  Gun suicides are more common than gun homicides.   Yet the mass killings and the black on black shootings get almost all the media coverage. The US has the highest rate of private gun ownership in the world, with one or more weapons in perhaps half of American homes. There are an estimated 350,000,000 million privately and publically owned guns in America. But the Chicago Police Department prides itself in seizing 7,000 or more guns annually! In the last fifteen years an estimated 5,352 people have been shot in Chicago and 24,392 wounded.   That makes certain neighborhoods in Chicago among the most dangerous spots worldwide.  Gun control will fail because according to the Institute for Economics and Peace (2012),  the “Violence Containment” industry in the US amounts to $2.16 trillion or 15% of the US economy and has become a far larger component of the Gross Domestic Product than what President Eisenhower described in his 1961 farewell address as  the “military industrial complex.”  Gun control will fail because 27% of Americans 18 and over suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder annually.  Extreme racism, extreme inequality and extreme violence are a product of and reproduce everyday mental illness.  Wide spread mental illness and widespread gun access can only spell disaster.  

 

The causes of gun violence are also unique to the United States. Nationally, the unnecessary 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, states rights, being the #1 seller of guns worldwide, the idealization of gun culture or the military industrial complex,  are all systemic factors. One need only examine the budgets of cities, counties, states and even the federal budget, to understand that  “violence containment,” is big business.  The violence of the law is greater than the violence that the law was intended to control. The strategy of containment has produced the largest prison population in the world, and the US leads all industrial countries in the number of incarcerated youth. Yet, in no industrial country is violence less contained than in the US.  The result has been dozens of decimated African American communities, gangs as a response to toxic social conditions, and a largely irrational and counter productive city, county and state criminal justice system.  

 

It is not the case that the wave of gun shootings is “senseless.”  When weapons of mass killing are available to almost anyone for decades, construct an economy and culture centered on war and warriors, idealize gun violence in the culture from cradle to grave, pursue corporate “global city” strategies that increase neighborhood inequality and insure a failing education system, creating an internal colonization for poor African Americans, gun violence is only one fruit from a poisonous tree.


April 15, 2013