Guns and Racism

It is unfortunately all too predictable in the USA.  We know we are going to have another mass shooting and we can predict what the reactions will be to the event.  I am not going to go on about the uselessness of “thoughts and prayers” but rather the other predictable aspect of the reactions.

When I first read the news of the shooting very early Monday morning, I was pretty sure it was carried out by a white guy.  How did I predict this given that the identity of the shooter had not been released yet?  Simple.  The police were already saying it was “not an act of terrorism” and that the shooter was probably a “lone wolf.”

These kinds of statements generally rule out a perpetrator with a foreign sounding name and dark skin.

Indeed through out the day the statements that politicians were issuing lead the conclusion of a white guy doing the shooting.

Member after Republican member of Congress expressed their “sadness” and offered “hopes and prayers” for the families.  Trump, after offering “warmest condolences” (what the hell are those?  Is he even a native speaker of English?) on Twitter, gave a speech full of bible verses of comfort for the victims.

If the shooter had been a dark skinned person with a foreign sounding name, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Republican Congress members and Trump would have been expressing anger much more than sadness.  Much more.

And instead of all this, “we shouldn’t politicize this moment with discussion of gun control” it would have been wall to wall, “See!  We need to clamp down the border!  Round those people up!”  Trump screamed this after every European attack, even when it turned out that the attacker was second or third generation European.

All of this is even more ironic given Trump’s campaign promise to “stop the carnage.”  His followers knew exactly what he meant, throwing even more inner city blacks into prison, while at the same time making it even easier for white guys to acquire huge arsenals, because, of course, they would “prevent crime.”

The NRA, the political third rail for Republicans, functions on the same sort of logic.  If for even a moment, the NRA were seen as a factor in allowing THEM to get guns, they would fall in shattered ruins.  But as long as they are able to portray themselves as allowing “law abiding citizens” (white people) to arm themselves for “self defense” (to shoot Black people) they can go merrily along.  Even mentioning gun control would shatter the Trump base, according to Steve Bannon.

Trump has shown he can screw over his base any number of ways, take away their healthcare, raise their taxes, continue filling the swamp and so on, but by god, you’ll be able to keep your guns!

In any kind of rational world, we would realize that people take up arms for all kinds of reasons ideological, religious, personal and even insanity.  Knowing that we can’t control the information people have access to or what kinds of beliefs they might hold (whether rational or not) that the answer is not trying to limit what people believe, but rather limiting their access to weaponry.

This is not to say that we should not try and prevent violence by those who announce their intentions, especially groups that do so, but how many times (like this one) have we heard the refrain after a shooting, “We had no idea he was thinking of such a thing.”  In the case of Las Vegas, the shooter had no criminal record and was actually seen as quite the high roller and business man.

Another interesting angle was added by Ann Telnaes, editorial cartoonist for the Washington Post: sexism.  To wit:  When was the last time you heard of a mass shooting committed by a woman?  We run around trying to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill, etc., but no one (except her, so far) seems to notice that we really should keep guns out of the hands of men.  Whether homicide or suicide, men are just damned dangerous when it comes to guns.

The only expressions of anger I saw yesterday were from Democratic representatives and others who think we need a more sensible gun control strategy.  I agree with them.  Why in the world should a guy be able to accumulate an armory’s worth of firearms which can rain down death on hundreds of strangers from half a block away?

Keeps gun companies rolling in money, Republicans in office and the rest of us in mourning.

Time for a change.


ps I am behind a school system firewall, so my sourcing is weak today.



  1. Siobhan says

    We run around trying to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the mentally ill, etc., but no one (except her, so far) seems to notice that we really should keep guns out of the hands of men. Whether homicide or suicide, men are just damned dangerous when it comes to guns.

    Very strong correlation between mass murderers and domestic violence, to be more precise. Another code phrase is “known to police.” When paired with “no criminal record,” it means police were regularly summoned to the house hold over domestic fights, but pressed no charges. But, as you say, if this were about logic, we would have talked about this decades ago, when it was also true.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    There is absolutely no history of domestic violence or any prior contact with police whatever in this case.

    That said: – 57% of mass shootings include victims in the shooter’s family, so, yeah. Except… the commonly accepted definition of “mass shooting” is such that it is obviously going to sweep up a lot of family violence. There are few other contexts where four people constitute a “mass”. It seems incongruous to talk about the events in Vegas, where an otherwise almost weirdly law-abiding person indiscriminately peppered a crowd with bullets from a distance and compare it to a known violent ass killing everyone in his house then turning the gun on himself. The latter is obviously horrific but it’s a crime of a qualitatively different type and the solutions are different.

    Specifically, background checks would drastically cut the sort of “mass shootings” that happen inside a single home and are perpetrated by the “known to police/no record” types. They would have done nothing to prevent Vegas. The only thing that would have prevented it was making owning and carrying those weapons illegal for civilians. The solutions are different because the crimes are different. One thing they do have in common is that they seem way more prevalent in the US than they are anywhere in the civilised world.

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