Some of the “radical” responses to this most recent shooting grate our more human sensibilities. “Guns” are touted as having become a “fetish object”; there are calls that we need to promote “justice,” not the control of guns—specific, state-delineated efforts to define and control the “gun problem” are said to be “liberal.” We don’t need to decrease the supply of guns, we need to deal with the demand for them!
Well, okay, sure. Social justice and peace on earth: it’s the season to wish for impossible counterfactuals. Meanwhile, the miasma of capitalism that is “guns” in America continues to fester. Huge capitalist firms and their propaganda organizations like the NRA promote candidates whose package of ideological concerns is, to put it mildly, as corrosive as Coca Cola.
To this is added the fantasy that having an populace armed with personal firearms is somehow “democratic”: quaint and absurd, and, incidentally, the basis of new jingoist film remake (Heeeeeeyyyy Red Dawn reboot!). Irregular, blonde, nubile militiamen and women carrying rifles and resisting oppressive (non-white) regimes makes for a specific kind of cinematic imaginary, but the reality of resistance to state-power these days is nothing like it. It’s more banal and brutal as it reveals technological hegemony: humming drones and satellite guided bombs and the remote execution of figures on a screen. A couple of dudes who go shooting skeet on weekends are not going to stand up to the organized force of a state using modern weaponry. Alas.
But this being mere fantasy doesn’t stop it from nicely helping along the interests of the firms and middlemen who make a killing manufacturing and distributing tools very suitable for actual killing. So, these firms and middlemen love, love, love anything that distracts or reflects attention from anything that would decrease, regulate, or control the flow of capital in the gun market. And don’t think that they’d be committed to believing the content of their ruse: so long as it maintains their earnings, it is doing the job. Which means their techniques of distraction might also include calls to reform the moral integrity of society: we don’t need to actually stem the flow of weapons; we need to fix people’s desire to kill!
The gun lobby is so effective at ensuring easy access to guns in America that Mexican cartels come to the States to get weapons to smuggle back into Mexico. How’s that for a mindfuck: guns legally acquired in America arm drug warlords in Mexico! Another instance of American exceptionalism!
Of course, instating draconian gun control laws will not stop the “demand” for shooting much less prevent every mass-killing. It wouldn’t. But you know what? Having less guns around decreases the number of homicides. It does. And draconian gun control laws might lessen the global traffic in firearms and deaths in, say, domestic disputes that escalate. Humble goals.