It has occurred to me that I have never really stated my position on gun control. Recently, I got thinking about this issue and the various factors around it.
The one thing I’ve mentioned before is that “gun control,” whenever it is considered, is never, ever applied to the one category of people who own, use and abuse guns the most: law enforcement. This is bizarre, to say the least, that the kind of people who abuse guns the most, who use guns in a criminal manner the most, are also the ones who are never put into question by gun control rhetoric. Liberals wouldn’t touch that with a ten-foot pole. And yet it is a necessary part of abolishing gun crime.
I don’t reject gun control out of hand. I would heartily agree to gun control if, and only if, there was a proportional commitment from law enforcement not to use guns as well: a mutual disarmament policy, just as was implemented for nuclear weapons. The less guns are allowed in the general population, the less they should be allowed to policemen as well.
One good example of this system would be the Greek system, where policemen are only allowed to wield guns when authorized by a warrant, although of course illegal gun use is reported. Theoretically, mutual disarmament would give incentive to law enforcement to find more effective way to reduce gun abuse, because their lives would be on the line. That’s really the only way you can get law enforcement to effectively prevent anything: otherwise they just take the route of least effort.
The underlying problem is the fact that policemen are a higher class of citizens with special rights, able to get away with criminal behaviour under the cloak of a uniform because no one can really stand up to them effectively. That is by far the biggest obstacle to the reduction of gun abuse. Nothing will ever really get done unless law enforcement is reintegrated as an integral part of society, instead of a class above it.
The mainstream discussions center around scares of weapons falling into the hands of maniacs who then proceed to shoot schools up. Some of these scares refer to reality, and I don’t deny that. But this is not the reality for most of the population. People are much, much more likely to be exposed to policemen abusing weapons than they are to be exposed to a private criminal abusing weapons.
Unfortunately, it is not only a problem of dueling narratives, because the media outright refuses to report on the crimes of law enforcement as crimes. They push the “bad apples” line over and over and over again instead of confronting the reality. So we have an extremely distorted view, and I don’t think anyone who has such a distorted view (including myself and anyone else who currently comments on gun abuse) can really have a rational opinion on the subject. All debate is absolutely, completely hopeless unless this distortion ends.
Gun control is only one parcel of a much greater issue, which is that of violence. But gun control receives a great deal more attention than that of violence as a whole. It is not really an issue of complexity: the issue of gun control is just as complicated as that of violence itself.
I think the reason for concentrating on gun control is obvious once we look at who puts opinions forward, for or against. By and large those people are capitalists, whether liberals or conservatives. They all believe in absolute property rights, with only mild disagreements as to how conflicts between two people’s property rights, including ownership of their own bodies, must be resolved. So they both agree that we have a right to own guns as a piece of property, merely on the extent to which that right should be respected or regulated.
As capitalists, therefore, they have all the interest to reduce the issue to gun control and other property issues, as it plays to their common assumptions about ownership. And when we let them do that, we’re implicitly conceding the validity of property-based discourse.
If we expand beyond gun control and look at it as an issue of violence, then it’s a lot more complicated than a property issue. Why do countries with almost as much gun ownership than the United States fare a lot better in homicide rates? (see table below) There is in fact no correlation between gun ownership and homicide rates, or between gun ownership and firearm homicide rates. So the assumption that gun ownership makes us more secure on the whole seems unjustified.
Countries that top the gun ownership list:
United States- 88.8 firearms/100, 5.0 homicides per 100,000
Serbia- 58.2 firearms/100, 1.73 homicides per 100,000
Yemen- 54.8 firearms/100, 4.0 homicides per 100,000
Switzerland- 45.7 firearms/100, 0.71 homicides per 100,000
Cyprus- 36.4 firearms/100, 2.4 homicides per 100,000
Saudi Arabia- 35.0 firearms/100, 1.04 homicides per 100,000
(these numbers, of course, do not include law enforcement/judicial/military homicides, which are not recognized as such)
What does seem to be the case is that, in countries where gun ownership is banned, homicides tend to be almost entirely non-firearm related, but in countries where gun ownership is permitted to various degrees, the proportion of firearm homicides rises. Firearms explain the nature of homicides, but not the rates of homicide in general.
So the question we have to ask is, why is the United States peculiarly violent, with homicide rates on par with countries torn with civil unrest like North Ireland or high risk countries like Argentina? Could it be that property-centered discourse and policies, with all the inequality and hatred that they generate, are one of the very root causes of violence, and is that why the capitalists desperately try to divert the issue?
I mean think about it… divide and conquer is how they operate. What better way to divert attention from their idiotic dogma than to divide people over a relatively irrelevant issue over which they will argue over and over because no one will ever convince the other side? The very same propertarian orientation which centers discourse around gun control also underlies market dogma, the capitalist planned economy with the property owner at the center, “sink or swim” rhetoric, and so on.
Indeed, it is the very connection between economic power and gun ownership which permits corporations like Standard Oil and Chiquita to raise their own private armies to kill protestors in Third World countries and increase the inequality within our own countries even more. It is bullshit to visualize the gun control debate as being about a guy shooting his wife, when the reality of it is primarily about cops shooting innocent people, private armies shooting protestors, and American guns being exported to war-torn countries.
In the end, the gun control debate is engineered to take your attention away from economic and political power, and to get you to accept that power as necessary to “maintain the peace.” And that’s exactly what people do! Christians say the best trick Satan pulled is to make people believe he doesn’t exist; the power elite one-upped that and makes us believe that we need them. And the gullible sheep fall for this trap every fucking time.