Beyond Gun Control

Photo by Fuzzy Gerdes | CC BY 2.0

Another mass shooting, another call for gun control. I scroll through my Facebook feed and it’s all liberals calling for common sense reform. The argument I have heard a million times. We are all for hunting (I’m not), but there is no need for a gun that shoots that many times! Before his recent infatuation with the militarist Hillary Clinton, Michael Moore made a good movie on this subject. His conclusions were that this is a problem that goes far beyond the gun laws.

Republicans run from this issue, and it is clearly because of the NRA. But they are not wrong when they call it a mental health issue. They just don’t want to fund anything related to mental health. It is also an educational issue. And both parties have really abandoned education. Beware of Corey Booker, 2020, one of the greatest threats to public education. My best teacher I’ve ever had told us the point of an education is to make good citizens. Critical thinkers, compassionate, curious, informed people.

I also wonder how the police state that we live in would respond to stricter gun laws. White men are almost always the ones doing these attacks. Would they be the ones the police confront? Would illegal guns simply be another law for the racist police state to use to justify mass incarceration? Would illegal guns be used as a justification to further the surveillance state? I have already heard the word terrorism being used in liberal circles. God forbid if gun reform becomes a “national security” issue. Mass surveillance, body searches, more power to the police.

The police themselves continue to be militarized by both parties. It really is frightening. When will this begin to be questioned? Do the police really need the guns they have? Surely their use goes beyond hunting! Although I trust the pigs would rack up carcasses either way.

But the biggest reason for these tragedies is the grotesque militarism abroad. Not only does this drain education and health care at home (sadly this still seems to be Bernie Sander’s only reason for curbing the military spending modestly). This militarism completely destroys entire countries without remorse and creates a truly decrepit culture in the United States.

Children are taught that violence is not only necessary, but that they are entitled to it. How else do we explain the fact that these shooters are angry white men? Can we not link it to the mass militarism abroad? The assumption that we can kill anybody in the name of America? That there is no need for international law. Our superior judgement, intelligence, morality, dare I say, blood, can judge what is right and what needs to be solved through force.

Clearly these shooters have problems before they get a gun, whether that be through legal means or not. We need to provide our citizens with other ways to solve problems. Increasingly we are turning to drugs, guns and hate. This is a cultural issue, an educational issue. But it also can be helped by giving people a living wage, a full time job and health care.

Sadly, it seems that in the age of twitter, all political positions are reactionary. A storm brings aid, not green energy solutions. A violent act brings security measures, not a cultural transformation. Let’s do gun reform. Deescalate the nuclear arms race, rather than lead it. Stop all our wars. Demilitarize our police. Provide our citizens with education and mental health care. And after all of that, if we are still killing each other, let’s abandon useless semi-automatics.

Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at