In Brad Anderson’s “The Machinist”, the insomnia-ridden protagonist experiences a series of increasingly violent paranoid delusions. At the end of the film, we learn that his pitiable state is the result of a crime he himself had committed a year before. He attempts to repress his guilt by externalizing it, subconsciously projecting it onto hallucinations, which in turn, come to haunt him until he must face himself in horrible lucidity.
One wonders when liberals will finally have such an epiphany.
As another mass shooting fades from the public conscious, it is perhaps tempting to accept calls for stricter gun control as actual responses to gun violence. The mainstream political discourse can somehow say everything without saying anything, giving us little choice.
In truth, gun regulation in a white supremacist, patriarchal, police state such as our own is nothing more than a cynical bait-and-switch; a meaningless gesture toward vulnerable communities that obscures the structural origins of mass shootings as well as the other, more or less subtle, forms of violence that these communities must face every day.
The great political scholar and activist Angela Davis once remarked in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that she is in favor of “removing guns not only from citizens but also from the police.” Here, I am with her wholeheartedly, with the small and perhaps unnecessary addition that I would see guns stripped from the imperialist military as well.
That said, we should not kid ourselves as to what this would require. When heavily armed and armored police forces are being employed against largely unarmed civilians in the streets, it is obvious whose guns we should take away first.
In truth, without a profound structural upheaval, all gun control will accomplish is to render oppressed classes more vulnerable to the oppressor. One merely has to look at the shape of most gun control discourse for this to become clear.
For example, while the specter of “mental illness” always takes center stage after mass shootings, few in the mainstream stop to consider how horrifically ableist and factually empty such rhetoric is.
As many as one in five Americans are diagnosably mentally ill, while as little as one in twenty gun crimes are committed by this same population. Liberal gun control discourse, which consistently throws the neurodivergent under the bus, is thus as false as it is disgusting.
There is also, unsurprisingly, a classist element to such discourse. Gun regulations set in place by Obama prohibit gun sales not, as one may assume, to those who are labeled mentally ill, but to those that the Social Security Administration determine to be “financially unstable.” Given that the Obama administration’s aggressive neoliberal policy significantly furthered financial instability in the first place, such irony might be comical if it wasn’t so violently tragic.
Finally, gun control in America is heavily tainted with racism in both the past and the present. The National Rifle Association, which today is largely synonymous with the rabid right-wing’s stance on unmitigated gun access for the privileged. This stance played a significant role in restricting this same access to black communities in the ’60s. Today, one only has to look at the drastically different response by police toward armed communities of color as opposed to armed whites to realize that this racist history is alive and well.
Fortunately, despite Democrats’ incessant attempts to convince us otherwise, oppressed communities are far too intelligent to be taken in by the liberal gun control farce. Organizations such as the John Brown Gun Club and the Huey P. Newton Gun Club are keeping the tradition of armed community defense alive and well, and deserve the support of any who purport themselves to be on the side of the people against state oppression.
White supremacist, patriarchal violence will not end until the white supremacist, patriarchal state does. Until that day, leftists everywhere should see through the impotent gun control rhetoric of the liberal establishment. Supporting the empowerment of the oppressed is meaningless without supporting their right to defend themselves.
–Brad Waldraff is a philosophy senior