Another day, another shooting: quick thoughts on the politics of firearms.

I. Mass shootings are not the United State’s gun problem. They are symbolic of our gun problem. Deaths due to mass shootings make-up only a tiny percent of total deaths from gun violence. We report these instances of mass murder while paying relatively little attention to everyday gun violence victims (often in underprivileged communities). Tailoring gun control policy to stopping mass murders would barely address gun violence.

II. An assault weapons ban will barely put a dent in gun violence and Pushing for one is a waste of political capital and energy that can be better spent on more effective proposals.

III. Firearm suicides offer a more compelling reason to enact gun control than gun homicides.

IV. Expanding mental health resources is a good policy independent of its impact on gun violence. Though, we should be careful of how the way we talk about mental health in the context of gun violence can lead to discrimination against those who do not neatly fit our standards of “mental normalcy.” The mentally atypical are far more likely to be victims of gun violence than perpetrators.

V. Don’t name the shooter or dignify them through news coverage. Criminology experts are near certain that media attention drives mass shootings and inspires copycats.

VI. It is important to understand the worldview of the most zealous gun rights advocates; and the degree to which it was shaped by the Waco & Ruby Ridge sieges. These events confirmed what many on the “frontier far-right” thought to be the case, the federal government had become a tyrannical entity bent on murdering American citizens to enforce gun control. In the wake of those confrontations, conspiratorial anti-government militias developed and organized. I worry that any substantial efforts at gun control will lead to mobilization of these militias, bloody confrontations between them and the US gov, and a sharp uptick in domestic terrorism.

VII. Gun control had the potential to divide the left and the far left & criminal justice reform might need to come first. Would you be willing to give up a means of self-defense if you believe that law enforcement itself is the threat? Rebuilding trust between police forces and federal agencies & underprivileged communities by repealing criminal justice laws and systems that perpetuate racism will allow gun control to be more successful. This is especially important because cycles of gun violence and poverty created by years of racism is a if not the major barrier to justice & economic development..

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