9.13.2008

new year, new possibilities, same ol' bullsh*T!

i'm rarely surprised by the continued rhetoric of pro-gun folks who say that we shouldn't blame the gun; that guns don't kill people, people kill people, etc... however, during her interview with charlie gibson on 20/20, sarah palin, when asked about gun control - specifically the fact that she does not support a ban on semi-automatic guns (a ban that over 70% of this country supports, btw), palin's response incensed me anew. palin and gibson had the following exchange:
charlie: isn't gun violence in america a health issue? we spend billions of dollars a year, every year, treating people who are victims of gun violence. nothing we can do about that?

sarah: do you think that all of that gun violence, though, is caused by people pulling a trigger who would have followed any law anyway?
she goes on to worry about the constraints that gun control laws may place constraints on the 2nd amendment rights of "law abiding citizens" and states that "it's going to be the bad guys who have the guns."

having spent most of the nearly 15 years talking, learning, and thinking with adolescents living in two of the major northeastern cities in the united states, there is fact that remains uncontested: guns are readily available, and in many cases more readily available than what one might consider "basic needs" - e.g., food, shelter, utilities... i say this not to sensationalize the lives of the young people with whom i've spent time, but rather to highlight an assumption that is embedded in palin's statement above: that people who use guns to commit violent acts are not and would not be "law abiding citizens", under any circumstance, and more importantly, that guns are only misused by "bad guys"... what would she (and others who share her view) say, i wonder, when asked to consider the reality of a thriving gun market in our urban neighborhoods; the overabundance of and ready access to automatic and semi-automatic weapons must be taken seriously, and not set within a pedestrian framework of good and bad, law-abiding and unlawful,

the likely truth is that lifetime gun association members aren't thinking about the lives lost and dreams squandered when they repeatedly lobby against legislation that would, in no way, hinder their hunting and sport-related gun needs. unless there is a sport that involves literally shattering game into a million pieces, i'm at a loss when it comes to understanding how a ban on semi-automatic 'weapons of mass destruction' theatens anyone's hunting 'privilege' and gun toting rights.

do i favor a land without guns. certainly. but the larger issue is this: if legislators continue to associate gun violence with an inherent 'bad' trait or disposition, we will only continue the cycle of incarceration, rising health care costs, and urban neighborhoods whose populations are largely under some form of correctional control. a limit on the sheer numbers of guns on the streets and in the hands of children will have an impact in the reduction of, at the very least, gun violence. additionally, when we shift our gaze away from an ontological assumption of illegality, we are better able to address problems in effective and useful ways. if we ban semi-automatic weapons, and we increase support for, e.g., higher education, we open up possibilities that are not only about not doing something, but also about pursuing new avenues. this is not, contrary to popular belief, a fairytale.

as a final rejoinder to ms. palin's assertion, i offer this video:


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