This month’s post is brought on by dealing with another aftermath of a mass shooting and the responses in the wake of devastation. I write this in ardent hope that this will start a discussion that will hopefully lead to change. That waking up to another massacre will not continue to become the norm. So, upcoming generations will not have gun violence and mass shooting a standard, another headline, another milestone of the highest causality in history.
Gun control is a hot topic. It is a polarizing topic. And it is a stigmatizing topic. Why is it so polarizing? Why are so many resistant to it?
When there was fires and mass deaths in factories in the 20s and 30s, unions and protestors demanded a change – fire alarms and sprinklers were required. When we realized that getting in front of a wheel of a car while intoxicated created deadly results, we created laws making it illegal. When fanatics hijacked planes and turned them into weapons, our nation drastically changed our travel procedures, borders, and security. So why? Why have we not changed the laws to try and prevent mass shootings? Why is it still possible to purchase weapons that can fire over 50 bullets in less than a minute?
Why are those who have been charged and convicted of domestic abuse and violent crimes still able to buy guns in many states? Why is it easier to get a gun then it is to get decent health and mental healthcare?
Gun Control has become a debate; and the two sides are extreme. The Opposing Side, (the NRA funded) and everyone else that has bought the hype, believe it is their God given right as American citizens to own ANY AND ALL guns.
They say that to deny any gun is an infringement of rights and a sign of a totalitarian regime. They produce propaganda that states that have sponsored gun control – which is incorrect, it was gun abolition – include those of Hitler, Stalin, Amin, and Mao. They have producde the propaganda that criminals do not obey laws so “gun control” won’t provide the answer. This fails to recognize the large amount of gun violence in the domestic realm, in the accidental shootings of children, in gun induced suicides. Or the actual meaning of the word control which does not mean elimination. Control or better yet, regulation, is the true heart of the matter.
This is where the other extreme side seeks the elimination of guns. Most likely why the opposing side only sees the Gun Control debate in this light instead of management and guidelines to ensure public safety. While a society without guns is a beautiful example of non-violence and the hope of less violence all around, it is not reasonable or doable in America; in a culture and society that has grown up with the 2nd Amendment, with the historical narrative that we are a country that was born in arms. The sad fact is that guns are as much Americana as Apple Pie and Baseball.
So, what made gun control so offensive? Why is gun control now equal to a restriction of liberties? Gun Control is not Gun erasure, it is not taking away the 2nd Amendment. Gun Control is not saying you do not have a right to own a gun for your protection, safety, and soundness of mind for you and your family. Gun Control is the notion of the laws which deem what kind of guns for meant for ownership. Protection of one’s life and home do not require a machine gun, an automatic weapon that holds 100 bullets. The government helps to supervise and organize flu shots, street lights, TSA guidelines, and many more other things. So why are so many against the government ensuring that our people are not gunned down while going about their lives? Why do I have to perform “Active Shooter” Drills in my classrooms?
Why are churches having to hire security guards and lock their doors during services? And we can no longer say it is a protection of the 2nd Amendment.
The 2nd Amendment was written during the early years of America during a time when guns took over 2 minutes to load between shots. The 2nd Amendment was put into law on December 15, 1791 and was part of the original Bill of Rights. It was made to preserve the right of self-defense, resistance to oppression, and the civic duty to protect the state. It was also first written to arm the revolution’s militia.
The 2nd Amendment was based on the English Bill of Rights of 1689. Ironically the English Bill of Rights and the “right to bear arms in it has not led to the devastating effects that America has seen. This might be due to the included line, “arms that are allowed by law.” England has a definite list of restricted and acceptable arms. Due to these restrictions, England has one of the lowest rates of gun homicide in the modern world. Citizens of the United Kingdom are allowed to own shotguns and shooting rifles (hunting variety. England banned handguns after a school shooting in 1996 that saw 16 children and a teacher killed. This is what gun control looks like. After the worst shooting massacre in British history, the parliament passed laws to ensure the safety of all citizens and safeguard against future massacres. They have since only seen one other gun killing spree, in 2010. Due to these restrictions, gun control, regulation – call it whatever you want, but it is the logical response – the citizens of the United Kingdom do not have to wonder if when they step into a movie theater, attend a music festival, go to work and school, or worship at a church that they could be savagely gunned down.
Gun regulation must become our future if we are do live in a world that does not include waking up to another headline “Deadliest Mass Shooting…”
Anjeanette LeBoeuf is a doctoral Candidate in Women Studies in Religion at Claremont Graduate University. She is the Queer Advocate for the Western Region of the American Academy of Religion. She is currently a Lecturer of Asian Religions at Whittier College. Anjeanette also writes the for activist blog, Engaged Gaze. Her focuses are divided between South Asian religions and religion and popular culture. She has become focused on exploring the representations of women in all forms of popular culture and how religion plays into them. She is an avid supporter of both soccer and hockey. She is also a television and movie buff which probably takes way too much of her time, but she enjoys every minute of it. Anjeanette has had a love affair with books from a very young age and always finds time in her demanding academic career to crack open a new book.
9 thoughts on “The Act of Gun Control by Anjeanette LeBoeuf”
Thank you for this succinct, rational, historical overview of an irrational debate. I think it is a good idea to change the language from control (which has become synonymous in some people’s minds to having guns forcibly taken away) to regulation. It’s worth a try anyway. It’s hunting season, and where I live the countryside is loud with the sound of gunshot. Not my favorite time of year, but I know some of my neighbors feed their families this way. I don’t know what it will take to reassure hunters the government is not out disarm them. Thanks for your articulation!
Great illustrations! Especially the one about the Second Amendment. I’m one of those people who think no one should own a gun. Not even armies. I don’t understand the thrill of shooting anything, not even hunting.
I remember as a child in N.J. what I wanted most for Christmas was a pair of “six shooters”, like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers had. There was, (and still is?) a fascination with guns that is unique in the US. There seems to be a national mental illness around this matter that intertwines with other national myths about being “the best”, “the good and virtuous”, etc. As long as children’s heroes carry guns and shoot them with abandon, it seems to me there will be no change.
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“Why have we not changed the laws to try and prevent mass shootings? Why is it still possible to purchase weapons that can fire over 50 bullets in less than a minute?
Why are those who have been charged and convicted of domestic abuse and violent crimes still able to buy guns in many states? Why is it easier to get a gun then it is to get decent health and mental healthcare?”
My answer to this question is that Americans are not willing to give up the sense of POWER that they feel when they have a gun in their hands.
It has little to do with the 2nd Amendment, I am afraid.
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The comparison with UK is excellent and should be more widely known!
Great post, I just thought I would add my two cents… for whatever that’s worth…
While only a fool would not sympathize with the families of the fallen victims of these heinous acts of violence, using them as a platform to promote a call for gun control is just patently absurd. Let me just ask you this…are the deaths of innocent people at the hands of drunk drivers any less tragic than the deaths of the innocent people in Las Vegas? Why then do we not call for the immediate ban and restriction on the sale of motor vehicles throughout the US? After all, those drunks couldn’t have killed anybody without the car. Of course, that is absurd. It’s just as absurd as calling for gun control because disturbed people use them to kill. If they didn’t have the gun, don’t you think they would google themselves a recipe for making pipe bombs? Car bombs? Do you really think for a minute that if there weren’t even a single gun available illegally that these people would not still kill indiscriminately? Of course they would. That’s why this argument is foolish. We as Americans should seek instead to promote better treatment for people who exhibit symptoms of mental illness and overt irrationality.
With all due respect, the comparison between guns and cars is flawed. Guns are designed to kill – that is their sole purpose. Cars are designed as a mode of transport and, certainly here in the UK (I assume it to be the same in the US), you need to have extensive lessons, then pass a written test, then a practical one, before being issued with a license.
Whereas what procedures are in place regarding guns? The Las Vegas shooter had 49 guns – all acquired legally.
People will always try to harm other people, but it’s a lot easier with weapons specifically designed for that purpose.