Mitigating gun violence versus controlling gun access

Gun control is decisive.  Guns salve fear.  Fear is increasingly pervasive, mostly because it is an effective tool for manipulating the market or the masses, occasionally because it is warranted.

  • Fear-of-direct-bodily-harm-driven gun violence is most hazardous in places with higher population density.  More people in smaller spaces increases the opportunity for both ad hoc violence, where passionate disagreement too rapidly becomes deadly force because of easy access to killing technology, and the criminal use of violence in response to inequality, where those who have less see violence as a fast-path to getting more.
  • Racism is a kind of second-order fear that fosters stereotypes that unreasonably increase this fear-of-direct-bodily-harm salved by gun ownership because “the other is a threat” is deeply embedded in the racist ideology of “us” being superior to “them” while ignoring the irony of the self-fulfilling nature of such a belief system.
  • Constitutional extremism is a different kind of second-order fear that nurtures the historically unreasonable ideology that the Constitution is a strict and limited grant of exceptions to an a priori state of unbridled liberty that necessarily constrains the federal government to a very small, specific set of activities that lay readers would find self-evident, and that small arms are a sufficient and effective deterrent to government overreach while tapping into aging ideals of rugged independence and simmering anger over the impact to Main Street of globalization and income inequality in the name of geopolitical stability.
  • Armageddon extremism is a different kind of second-order fear grown in the hothouse of religion and pessimism that, in one way or another, expects the near-term collapse of civilization while simultaneously believing that the faithful and or the strong will survive the cataclysm as will enough nature to make long-term survival and rebuilding possible.

Unsurprisingly, these four kinds of fear are intertwined.  Extremists and racists tend to become bedfellows because they are each angry outsiders looking in at the mainstream, using the same techniques and rhetoric to recruit from the same pool of unhappy have-nots susceptible to the promise that they will land on a higher rung of the ladder (and, implicitly, higher than those they perceive to be wronging them today) when the “revolution” is done.  Unfortunately for them, history says most are merely bullet catchers, fodder for the battle who will be swept away as unnecessary by the new regime.

This then is the fear-scape that opposes making access to firearms more difficult than access to cold medicine or air plane rides.  It exists because it is useful to powerful people who want more power in what they believe is a zero-sum game.  Some of those people are actually racists and extremists, but most of them are just greedy.  For them, tens of  thousands of deaths per year is just the cost of doing business, a consumable resource cost for running the machine that generates wealth and power.  In this cold calculus, it doesn’t matter if those deaths are by gun, or by cop, or by toxic waste because they are a statistically insignificant sentimentalism so abstract that it doesn’t register as real.

In our always on, always new world, this scaremongering and the resulting actions of the afraid serve as an effective diversion away from the the over-arching schemes of those much nearer the top, only occasionally becoming the main story when two or more of these wealth and power generating machines find themselves in competition.  What the move from Nationalism to Globalism has done is to merge all of these machines together.  The new danger becomes the dis-unification of the global economy or the creation of an upstart wealth and power machine.  ISIS being an example of the latter, while the debate about what to do about ISIS and the crisis over refugees fleeing ISIS and the Syrian civil war to Europe being an example of the former.