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Gun Control: The Classist-Racial Issue

By Jason Papallo, NCCJ Marketing & E-Communications Specialist

UPDATED Nov. 05, 2017

Gov. Greg Abbott confirmed that at least 26 people were killed in shooting in Texas Department of Public Safety official said the ages of the victims ranged from 18-months-old to 77-years-old. At least 20 others were injured.

The gunman, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley, opened fire at a small Baptist church in rural Texas on Sunday morning. He is now deceased.

“The paralysis you feel right now ― the impotent helplessness that washes over you as news of another mass slaughter scrolls across the television screen ― isn’t real. It’s a fiction created and methodically cultivated by the gun lobby,” said Sen. Chris Murphy in reaction to the devastating events (D-Conn.). 

13,294 people have died from gun violence this year. 308 of those were in mass shootings. The number keeps getting larger at quicker rates than ever before, but little to no action has been taken. 

We’re still waiting on sensible gun control. 

While our hearts and thoughts have been with all the victims and their loved ones, it’s far from enough, and not something worth propping up. With every message sending prayers for relief from the pain and suffering that the Las Vegas shooting brought on is another in a line that has the tonal quality of “I’m okay with inaction. I don’t mind sitting by complacent.”

That’s the issue with crimes of passion at this scale. If you’re human, it’s likely you’re horrified by actions of mass violence, and we all know that the empathetic are sad. Now stop bringing attention to yourself or your organization or whatever by expressing that on social media or in public or whenever. It’s attention seeking in its worst form, and an ego play at best. 

That’s what messages with “prayers, warmth, love” and all others from afar translate into. There’s no need to prop up your sadness. Sorrow needs no platform to survive. Sensible gun legislation does. Better education does. We need action in those arenas, and that’s where your voice will matter the most. 

We need real action

The point of “no return” has come and gone with events like this, which are far too common in our collective memory and too standard in our news headlines. Forging a new path is not impossible, but the obstacles are near overwhelming. The recent tragedy’s inability to move the conversation on reasonable gun control beyond a point of media frenzy fare is disappointing at best, and if anything, legislative inaction needs to be taken seriously as a major wakeup call by the American public. 

This is a mental health epidemic, but it's so much more. The societal issue: the culture of gun use intertwined with the way we sickly obsess over and romanticize the middle-class to wealthy white people committing these acts of violence

This character type was glamorized as recently as season one of American Horror Story, in which the most psychopathic character, a teenage ghost, Tate Langdon (played by Evan Peters), goes on a mass shooting spree at his high school in life only to continue his path of violence and murder from the spirit world. This media portrayal of a monster also became an audience favorite and a calling card for the show’s first season. 

We have stilted fear, and thus the culture of fear prevails, but for some reason, we’re not afraid of realities’ monsters, but rather the invented. In the attempts to try and find answers as to motive for the shooter’s massacre, there has been a winding trail towards establishing a narrative that in and of itself crafted a sympathetic narrative. That’s the biggest issue. If this man were any other race, there would be no room for sympathy, and his face would soon be the poster child for a slew of propaganda against anyone else except for a heteronormative, white, Christian friendly American.  

It’s a narrative that’s all too familiar, and all too false. 

Communities of color, however, are stilted into monsters attempting to infiltrate white suburban bubbles within their media misrepresentation, whether it be fictional or inherent to news bias, it’s very real. 

There is a failure of our culture to be empathic and honest, and that is due completely to our history as a country that moves counter to reality, oftentimes in favor of the narrative written by white supremacy while extinguishing all others.   

The National Rifle Association has spent a lot of money to make this happen. This narrative has had a healthy relationship with Hollywood, making the results that much more devastating to communities of color, only to be further burdened with the public perception of inherent evil and crime stricken communities that come with the package of racism. 

“There are terrorists and home invaders and drug cartels and carjackers and knockout gamers and rapers, haters, campus killers, airport killers, shopping mall killers, road-rage killers, and killers who scheme to destroy our country with massive storms of violence against our power grids, or vicious waves of chemicals or disease that could collapse the society that sustains us all,” NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre said in defense of less restricted gun laws in 2014.

“Post-racial” America has always been a myth because there has never been a “post-white-supremacy” America. It’s the biggest myth and the cruelest joke in the history of the United States. 

Other narratives are often quieted and extinguished in favor of the boisterous tones of generations of blind white privilege delivering the same garbage on repeat for generation after generation right on down the line. Our culture of inaction is perpetuated by the institution of racism because it pockets the threat in all other communities that are “non-white” without examining reality, and with no need to. 

At the end of the day, the main reason that this narrative is so prevalent is because of its immense profitability on all levels of income. Whether rich or poor, if you’re white, you’re a hell of a lot easier to sell a gun to.

This “white insecurity” stems from a fear that there’s a lacking collective cultural identity of whiteness, combined with the fact that our only unifier as white people is that of white privilege. It’s something that society must closely examine to move forward. Finding a common ground of resolution, while giving us policy that will make the chances of another needless tragedy of this scale slim to none, are faint at best due to the corruption that white supremacy brings in-tow.

While there are scared white people, there will be lots of guns in this country, and so it goes with our overflowing prisons, underfunding communities, and failing K-12 education system. White fear has and continues to damage the United States. 

The current narrative around gun laws are that “guns protect the weak from the villainous aggressors” that are lurking about around every corner. The reality is that lack of education and reasonable abortion policy over decades allowed for a segregation of values, placing the burden of survival on the poor and undereducated. Many of these communities, especially in urban hubs like the northeast, are redlined into communities of color, further perpetuating the myth of white vulnerability in a world where white supremacy exists. 

If there is to be a turning point, it must culturally come from within, and not just from the point of victims doing even more work. We must come together inclusively against the ongoing narrative that continues to poison our policy and politics, and take a public stance as people to say ENOUGH. 

ENOUGH violence. ENOUGH hate. ENOUGH dishonesty. 

ENOUGH of white supremacy’s narrative. 

Outlawing bump stocks isn’t enough. More debate on guns isn’t enough. 

Drawing out the toxicity of a culture that can’t understand its own undercurrents? It’s simply a place to begin, but the only one that will give us lasting success, and a more peaceful and just world where white supremacy is history, and nothing more.


About the National Conference for Community and Justice

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Sun, 5 July 2020