Last week we were witnessing a resurgence of the gun-activists’ rhetoric in response to the national debates on ending domestic mass-killings and armed violence. Surprisingly (not really), the main concern of the pro-gun discourse was not the violence itself, but the gun ownership rights. All types of excuses (as seen in this propaganda cartoon) were recruited into campaign, and all types of red herrings were thrown around just to divert attention from the main task of preventing the armed violence.
Some of the red herrings were really dangerous in the form proposed by the gun-advocates. For example the mental health accessibility, in the light of the recent world and domestic history, when Nazi Germany exterminated mentally ill and US conducted sterilization program on them, or just recent events when members of American Psychological Association and American Psychiatry Association were participating as experts in “coercive interrogation techniques” (torture), is the way one likely does not want to go by.
However, if we think beyond the limited ways of gun-advocates (usually wild capitalism advocates by “coincidence” as well), a blanket access to the socialized medicine in general (which is the standard in all developed countries) is an integral part of the complex armed violence reduction solution. As well as the measures in reducing poverty and strengthening the social safety net.
Or, the proposal to arm teachers in schools and preschools, after appropriate training, of course. What do you mean by the word “appropriate”? Do you mean a real training? Do you really want our kids be taught by the merciless killing machines, produced by the training our military and, in many ways, police receive? (No offense to you, guys in uniform – the more effective killing machine you are, the better service you render to your country).
Or you mean just a check box in the personal file of teachers? Do you really want the light-headed, spaced-out, exalted and flying in the clouds teachers of literature carry guns and ammo in their purses? (No offense to you, teachers – the more exalted and and flying in the clouds you are, the better service you render to your country).
Still, we are missing the Elephant in a Kitchen. The main premise of the gun-admirers’ argument, that the responsible gun-owners are not the problem, but the solution of the gun violence, is deeply flawed.
First fallacy is that the everybody’s rights of gun ownership is blessed by the Founding Fathers. Meanwhile, why the 2nd Amendment (and other Amendments of the Bill of Rights) is an Amendment, but not the part of the Constitution? Because it (and other articles of the future Bill of Rights) was consciously and unanimously (10 to 0 votes) rejected by Constitutional Convention. By the way, why 10 to 0? Because the famous beginning of the Preamble to the Constitution – “We the People of the United States” – is an accidental improvisation to hastily deal with embarrassment of the signing the Constitution by only 10 states out of 13. Originally it was the business of the States to come up with the Constitution, and that was stated in the original project of the Preamble.
Second, the Preamble says about insuring “domestic Tranquility”, and that meant to address the problem of armed uprisings (the biggest was Shay’s rebellion) from which the loose Union of 1780-s was suffering greatly. Of course the Founders were using pro-rebellion rhetoric during their insurgence against the Crown, but after they’ve gotten grip on power, they had to think more responsibly. The Republic was built on Founders’ understanding of the Enlightenment thought – a hybrid of the British (Hobbes and Locke) and French (Montesquieu) philosophy. The main idea (especially for the British school) was the concept of a Social Compact. According to Hobbes and Locke, prehistoric men were conducting an endless warfare against each other, and their lives were fast, short and full of fear. But, at some point of history, they realized that if they surrender their unbound (and burdensome) freedom and sovereignty, and establish some rules of play (Social Compact), they will live much longer, safer and more prosperous lives. For Hobbes that was not a pure theorizing, but a first-hand experience of the horrors of the England’s Civil War.
What is really alarming in the gun-admirers’ rhetoric that “the best solution against the bad guy with a gun is the good guy with a gun”, and the mass proliferation of guns in the US population is an indication of implicit rejection of the Social Compact and social institutions by the large number of Americans. The mass-shootings conducted by insane people are not just tragic incidents – it’s an overflow of what is cooking inside the “respected” society. The wide mass of people who rely on their arms for their safety and ignore social institutions could not be called “responsible” or even sane. Why it happen that a lot of Americans lost their trust in the society and its institutions is an interesting, but separate question.
But the only prospective path for such mass of people (they can’t be called society) is the path back to the Hobbes’ prehistoric war of each against the other. You don’t believe that? Let’s see how gun ownership solves the problem of the violent crime for residents of inner cities.