by Alex Kruse
I don’t usually quote Ronald Reagan. In fact, I try to avoid it at all costs, but when I do, it’s usually to teach some conservatives a lesson about their lovechild. But here, I don’t want to strictly attack conservatives for their hypocrisy, but the so-called liberals too. I am saving the quote for later as there is pressing business to attend to. With the Parkland school shooting, the debate over guns has kicked up yet again, and I’m certain that some other opinions have been registered in this issue of the Lorian. It’s all the same, some liberal will either want to ban all weapons or at least regulate their sale, and then some conservative will rest upon their 2nd Amendment rights, and that we should arm our teachers, or some other balderdash of that sort. Both opinions miss the point and overlook underlying societal issues. That is precisely why I must use the words of Reagan, for whom I have the deepest-rooted hatred, to point out how both groups miss the target.
At this point, I must confess my own view on the gun issue. I have never been into guns, and I don’t personally have a need for one, I obviously support the so-called “common sense” gun laws and I would like to abolish the policy. Have I said that I’m a pacifist?
This week, two articles stuck out to me amidst all of the voices screaming into the void of social media, those two articles being Mehdi Hasan’s “Hey Muslims, Let’s Join the NRA. We Could Help Solve Gun Violence” which appeared in The Intercept, and Harriet Fraad and Richard Wolff’s “American Hyper-Capitalism Breeds the Lonely, Alienated Men Who Become Mass Killers” as seen on AlterNet. I encourage all to read them. I want to use both articles as I want to use the Reagan’s words, to criticize both camps.
Let us first turn our critical gaze at the so-called liberals. I’m certain their arguments are well established on your Facebook feeds so there is no reason for me to repeat them here. The lesson to be learned from Hasan’s article is quite simple, the gun debate is highly racialized. Hasan points out that the NRA would be in shambles if Muslim-Americans joined. The reason they would be is in their past. The NRA and conservatives alike have tried to keep guns out of the hands of oppressed people, or simply people that are the target of their social prejudices. Reagan and the NRA both supported gun control legislation after a group of Black Panthers walked onto the state house steps openly carrying firearms legally.
Reagan’s said, “There’s no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.”
What do liberals need to learn from this? They need to learn that it is a privilege to not have to arm yourself. And no, I am not so naïve to believe that a small number of armed individuals would be able to take on the U.S. government, and the military industrial complex, but nonetheless not having to arm yourself is a privilege. The other thing that liberals miss is that they aren’t getting to the heart of the problem. This is where Fraad and Wolff’s article comes in. Getting rid of guns completely does not prevent the alienation that creates these men.
On that same point, conservatives need to learn that these aren’t “lone wolf attackers”, but that they are by-products of our society. To make a radical claim, we must all take responsibility.
To quote Huey Newton, “you can tell the tree by the fruit it bears. You see it through what the organization is delivering as far as a concrete program. If the tree’s fruit sours or grows brackish, the time has come to chop it down – bury it and walk over it and plant new seeds.”
The other thing that must be said to the conservatives comes from the NRA’s and Reagan’s pro-gun control position of the past, that conservatives are merely supporting white supremacy and attempting to keep weapons out of the hands of minority groups. Hasan’s method would expose the underlying racism among the conservatives.
Both of our predominant political camps are wrong when it comes to the gun debate. We mustn’t only be anti-gun, we must be anti-NRA. We mustn’t consider this a mental health problem because it creates the illusion that mentally ill individuals are more violent, and it isolates the problem in the individual rather than giving some societal responsibility. We must chop the tree of capitalism down.