Vigil held in Las Vegas to concert shooting victims. Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

A few weeks after the tragic shooting in Las Vegas, where over 50 people died at the hands of gun violence, The Paisano printed a front page article that included the following statement:

“While some view violence as chaotic, it is a tool of the protestor used when deemed necessary. There is a place for reactionary violence…in matters of dehumanization and systematic violence.”

In the spirit of academic debate, I respond:

Violence is not a tool. Violence, including self defense, leads to injury, hospitals, surgery, police encounters, holding cells, judges, prison time, war and funerals.

Violence is not a solution to systemic problems.

There isn’t a place for reactionary violence even in the face of dehumanizing and degrading laws or enforcement of laws.

If you rationalize reactionary violence then you open the door to rationalize systematic violence. What about reactionary violence to the reactionary violence?

News after the Las Vegas tragedy features a new statistic: 90 Americans die from gun violence every day.

Gun violence in America is like the Cold War: everyone says they need a gun because the other guy (the bad guy) has a gun. Sadly, this analogy is more than purely rhetorical.

Ninety percent of youth gang members said the bigger the guns the better. About 75 percent of young gang members said that they can actually get a hold of a gun and over 40 percent of them said that they had access to at least one Russian AK-47.

At least one of the youth in the study said he could get a rocket launcher.

Rocket launchers aside, currently there are about 300 million guns in the U.S. and not all of them are in the hands of responsible gun owners. In fact, researchers (Sanders, 1994) have shown that the influx of firearms in the U.S. in the 1980’s have been a driving influence behind the prevalence of drive by shootings.

In 2015, there were more than 370 mass shootings in the U.S during which over 400 people were killed.

There were 64 shootings at schools.

In 2010, there was over 19,000 firearm related suicides.

Gun violence and gun suicide are more dangerous to Americans than modern day warfare.

In total, over 13,000 people in the U.S. died from firearms in 2015 whereas 6,831 American soldiers have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

The time for southern idealism about responsible gun ownership and half-cocked nostalgia about fully automatic family heirlooms is over.

The argument that gun control laws will lead to oppressive enforcement and invasive surveillance holds some weight but there is still a growing problem of gun violence that needs to be solved.

Gun control laws help to solve the problem of gun violence. Solving the problems associated with the enforcement of gun control and surveillance is a matter of drafting better legislation and not an impossible dilemma.

Without gun control laws and peaceful protest of gun violence, oppressive enforcement, invasive surveillance and other forms of systematic violence can lead to a deadly cycle of reactionary violence instead of peaceful protest.

Put the rocket launchers away and protest.

Protest the cycle of violence. Protest by writing to your city officials, state legislators, your congressmen and your senators. Protest gun violence by not purchasing a firearm and by voting for gun control laws. Protest both systematic and reactionary violence with quiet defiance.

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