Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Extra Credit: Gun Control

I attended a Brown Bag Luncheon put on by the university. The talk was was about gun reform and its intersection with social justice movements, hosted by Amanda Gailey. Before listening to her speak, I had very limited knowledge about gun laws and controls. I had learned some facts attending meetings on campus of the UNL Young Democrats, but most of my knowledge about guns came from my family life. When I was growing up, my dad was a hunter. We have over a dozen rifles, shotguns, and pistols in a safe in the gun room in our basement, and all the permits required to travel and hunt with them. As a result of this, I never really questioned the American idealization of guns, I hardly even noticed. It was just a fact of life.
Amanda’s talk really opened my eyes about the gun industry. Obviously, guns can be  dangerous. No one on either side of the gun control debate is arguing that fact. But Amanda gave statistics stating that guns are responsible for 360,000 suicides and 1.5 million injuries a year. Compare that to the country of Japan, who had 11 gun deaths in 2008 compared to the US’s over 12 thousand that year. After giving those statistics, she said that someone made money off of every single one of those bullets that entered someone’s body. That really struck a chord with me because it was true. The gun industry makes money off of a weapon that was designed to do harm, and as Americans, we are doing very little to combat their agenda. She then began speaking about how the gun industry, or “big gun”, appeals to the masses.
Gailey believes that the gun industry successfully appeals to the public through idealizing a white, male, Christian image. Although “big gun” has been reaching out to women more in the past few years, the general theme has been to appeal to a white male’s masculinity, and make him feel powerful and patriotic by having a gun. We’re constantly surrounded by Christian or patriotic imagery that just happens to have a gun in it, and we’re conditioned to think that’s normal. There’s an estimated 300 million guns in America; that’s about one gun for every man, woman, and child. Compare that to Canada, who is believed to have about 9.95 million guns in their country. There’s no reason for the US to have almost thirty times more guns than Canada, and yet we’re conditioned to believe that guns are an integral part of our society, and many people will fight to keep their guns claiming that it’s their “Second Amendment Right” to have as many guns as they want.
Guns are so normalized in our society today that we hardly even bat an eye when we hear about another gun related death or injury. Every single night, there’s a new breaking story about another person injured in a drive-by shooting, or a robbery gone wrong. Not to mention the injuries due to gun negligence, which largely go unreported. Despite all of this, many people are still hesitant to propose banning guns outright. According to Gailey, most anti-gun movements still refuse to get rid of the Second Amendment, because they know they would lose a lot of potential supporters with that radical of a statement.
Regardless of where people may fall on the political spectrum, it’s time for Americans to acknowledge the power that the gun industry has over our heads. They have most of us brainwashed into believing that it’s normal for everyone to have guns, and that gun deaths or mass killings are just a fact of life. We need to work towards improving this country’s gun laws and improving gun safety so more people don’t suffer at the hands of a gun, whether it’s by accident or by use of force.


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