FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Ending Gun Violence

In my field of Peace and Conflict Transformation, we analyze the outbreak of destructive conflict as requiring three levels of causation. If any of the three are missing, the conflict will not turn destructive.

First, there are a few necessary conditions without which a conflict cannot become destructive. These necessary conditions are primarily that the means to destroy are available and that a conflict party is willing and able to employ them.

Second, that the mix and intensity of contributory causes is growing toward the third level of causation.

Third, that the mix and intensity of those contributory causes, coupled with the necessary causes, reaches sufficiency, at which point the conflict becomes destructive. Once that tipping point is reached the primary question is how destructive the conflict will become.

A destructive conflict could be a war, could be lawsuit, could be a disagreement over a barking dog (actually the most common conflict in the US community mediation services) that turns violent or generally lose-lose. Increasingly, for example, the competition for electoral office has generally transmogrified (the opposite of transformation) from competition to destructive conflict. Results include massive disgust, disapproval, and disrespect for members of Congress, many of whom got there and stay there using negative attack strategies. Yes, they destroy their political opponents, but they also dissolve the admiration that polls suggest Americans once had for elected officials—back when politics more resembled a tennis match, not the current affinity for no-holds-barred Ultimate Fighting.

Knowing all this, what can we imagine would be important to ending gun violence in our increasingly Tombstone Territory USA, where cars are getting safer and guns are getting more lethal? I’d offer four starter steps toward addressing a combination of necessary and contributory causes.

1. Repeal the Second Amendment. It undergirds every rotten Supreme Court ruling that deprives states and local governments of their jurisdictional rights to regulate firearms as they see fit. While the Founders did not contemplate the Second Amendment as an anti-democracy measure, it is. Without it, guns can be regulated or not, left entirely alone or completely banned and everything in-between. The stupid Second Amendment is a guarantor of more Dylann Roof acts of terror, more Jared Loughner slaughters of innocents, more James Holmes delusional mass murders, more Seung Hui-Cho insane massacres.

2. Closeout US operations and leave Camp Lemonier, Djibouti, just one of many forward Pentagon bases we do not need. The US has needs at home, and should stop sending troops and guns to Africa. It would save almost $60 million just in one recent contract and untold millions more over the next few years. Use that money to fund auxiliary education in nonviolent conflict management methods for US schoolchildren and de-escalation training for school security personnel.

3. For states that want to radically reduce gun violence, institute much more effective background evaluations that would keep guns out of the hands of those who have websites or any other activities or histories advocating race war or any other violent abomination. Can we use a bit of common sense here?

4. Invest in dialog. Explore grievances. Invite open public hearings so people feel heard, not shut down and shut out. Yes, have ground rules. Establish social norms that preclude identity attack and focus on the impacts of our behavior toward one another instead. We need to learn to listen to each other. People need to begin to feel like society is fair, or at least that it listens when people say it is unfair. If you feel that I am unwilling to hear your words, you may consider fists, and if your fists aren’t able to force me to hear you, a gun may be next. Let’s walk it back to words, said and heard.

Will these four steps end all gun violence and save all 32,000 lives we are likely to lose to guns next year, a gun fatality rate 20 times worse than any other developed country? No, but what if we did these things and “only” saved 3,489 lives in America next year? That would be the same number as all US military and military contractor lives lost in Afghanistan since September 11, 2001. In other words, we are waging a war in the US against ourselves every year that is almost equal to an entire 14-year war overseas. Time to take these four steps and many more to bring some semblance of sanity to our country.

Tom H. Hastings is Founding Director of PeaceVoice

More articles by:

Tom H. Hastings is core faculty in the Conflict Resolution Department at Portland State University and founding director of PeaceVoice

July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail