Friday, October 6, 2017

Gary Younge: Why Americans won’t give up their guns

The Guardian's Gary Younge writes a polemic article on America's gun laws, but he makes some good points, I thought.  

In a society that fetishises self-reliance, the gun speaks to rugged individualism – each person should be responsible for saving themselves. In a political culture that favours small government, the gun stands as a counterpoint to a lumbering and inefficient state – defend yourself, because by the time the police get there you’ll be dead. It underpins a certain sense of masculinity and homestead – a real man should be able to protect his family and home. The dispatcher told him to sit and wait; the NRA told him to stand and fight.

These claims for the gun are of course nonsense. Most people who are killed by guns kill themselves. People who have a gun in the house are far more likely to be shot dead than those who don’t. If more guns really made you safer, America would be one of the safest places in the world. As it is seven children or teenagers are shot dead on average every day. Once a week a toddler injures someone with a gun.

At home the gun is invoked as a cornerstone of America’s founding story and a safeguard against tyranny. “It’s about independence and freedom,” David Britt, a gun owner, explained to me at the NRA convention in 2012. “When you have a democratic system and an honourable people then you trust your citizens … In Europe they cede their rights and freedoms to their governments. But we think government should be subservient to us.”

These myths are, of course, partial. In a nation that became possible through genocide and slavery, among other things, the gun was central to a particular notion of racial power. If gun enthusiasts were seriously concerned about state tyranny they would have been marching alongside Black Lives Matter demonstrators protesting police shootings and calling for the mass armament of poor, black neighbourhoods. That’s not the kind of tyranny they object to.

Gary Younge: Why Americans won’t give up their guns

1 comment:

GLH said...

Don't the French have gun control? Didn't they not just have two mass shootings?