Allow me to correct the truthout headline for clarity.
We Need to
Talk About Cast the Blame on Gun Manufacturers
I had no concept of how curmudgeonly I could become in my mid-thirties, but op-eds like this just reinforce a post I saw this morning on Instagram. It just listed how older generations believe, correctly, that younger generations are stupid.
They are, they haven’t lived long enough yet to recognize that they were stupid when they were young because they are still young. I was stupid too. We all were. I firmly believe that the point you are self aware enough to recognize the massive pile of stupid things you believed and did as a naïve youngling is when you have reached your adult maturity arch. Some people never do.
That youthful activist naivety comes through full force here. You can catch the hint that it’s coming too, truthout uses the currently trending all lowercase text in its logo and has a lot of ‘activist’ language instead of journalist.
But allow me to limit my shallow aspersions on the aesthetic to that bit as it feels like it telegraphs their opinion to come.
The following piece of utopia fiction do betterism is worth far greater critique, but it is on brand for the aesthetic.
Here we go.
Americans cannot end gun violence without confronting the fact that the U.S. is the world’s primary supplier of weapons.
We honestly could just end it at the subheading if we wanted to keep this brief and blunt, but they don’t so neither am I obliged to.
Americans cannot end gun violence. Period. Full stop. It is impossible. We are actively promoting it, and participate in it professionally, anywhere we militarily intervene or support. I wonder how many contributors to this op-ed or readers who agree with it wholeheartedly have a Ukrainian flag in their social profiles, or have professed their unwavering support unironically for the Ukrainians fighting while decrying weapons here. Not the specific types of violence here, merely the existence of guns.
You don’t get to have it both ways.
Americans cannot end ‘gun’ violence because Americans cannot end violence. We cannot end violence because violence is force. Force is valuable, it is a currency, it has legitimacy. Force can be used in a moral, immoral, or amoral way and we cannot get rid of any of those. The ability to project force is and will always be valuable, especially to a social order. It is a fundamental component to social order. It exists in every social order.
We aren’t even to the article yet…
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Oh, they are proud of their work. Good for them. A more cynical person, wizened to the world, may read that quick donation line and see ‘Truthout is an indispensable tool for propagandists, people who need propaganda, and the idiots who will consume it without question everywhere.’
More cynical, yes, a more cynical reader might indeed infer that.
Onto the no doubt well reasoned and articulate reasoning that reasons gun makers are the baddies in a world that cannot exist as freely or as advanced as it does without the development of personal arms and their access to them.
There is a familiar pattern after the mass shootings that have become a well-known feature of American life.
Yes there is. Propagate the event everywhere and give the deranged lunatic(s) their anticipated attention, then cry about why it keeps happening. The Democrats reliably hem and haw about their pet gun control proposals, the Republicans bumble their way through a defense of the 2nd Amendment, and experts in this field shake their heads at both of them for being about as well read on the topic as a five year old.
The initial shock and grief gives way to demands for greater regulation of gun ownership by Democrats, while Republicans dismiss such measures and blame mental illness instead. But if we actually want to do something about it, we need to have new conversations.
The conversations need to take on a maturity that would leech them of all their value as political bargaining chips and therefore that will never happen. If we can keep people emoting, we can keep them spending on their favorite emotive cause.
But what are you thinking?
We often talk about where and how weapons are purchased — but rarely where and how they are ‘manufactured’. These realities challenge the conventional way we talk about guns in terms of a “culture war” between red and blue states.
I talk about how they’re manufactured quite a bit. It is actually what I like most about this industry, the technology and function. I find it fascinating. But you don’t mean where and how, you mean that they are manufactured at all. Especially in “BLUE STATES”, because how dare a Democrat be so hypocritical as to suggest weapons have any legitimacy ever anywhere.
And what you are seeing is just how shallow Democrats are in their commitment to a world of reduced weapon access, when only their most rabid and naïve members will propose hampering the weapons manufacturers too much. Since that political line costs them very real jobs and very real tax revenue for their very real voters, Democrats merely shop the idea of reduced weapons access because the idea is valuable. The end result is not, it is costly. Guns are not so bad that crushing people’s ability to make a living, and their blue state reelection chances, is ever too far on the table. Democrats may be stupid in many regards, but rarely that one.
For example, the blue states of Massachusetts and Connecticut have some of the strictest regulations on firearms carrying and possession. But they are also major sites of gun facturing [sic] in this country. The weapons used in the 2018 Parkland shooting, for example, were manufactured by Smith and Wesson, a gun manufacturer based in Massachusetts.
Oh? Blue states like housing large profitable businesses with DoD, DoJ, and international contracts?
The defense industry is both crucial and a multi-billion dollar revenue source? Firearm rights are constitutionally protected and therefore the industry that makes them is vital to both public and individual defense?
Who’d have guessed that they like money and can reason that housing vital and profitable businesses for the commercial and professional spaces makes them money?
Keep up kids.
The deeper and bigger point is that the U.S. is the world’s principal supplier of weapons.
As the third most populous nation on the planet with the best developed industry for that supply… yes? To borrow a line from the 1911 crowd, “Two World Wars!” and several long conflicts since.
The U.S. weapons industry makes both heavy weapons like military aircraft, bombs, and missiles, and small arms like rifles and handguns. As of 2021, over 40 percent of the world’s exported arms came from the United States — many of them manufactured in deep blue states.
World’s exported arms? Like F35’s? Or are we talking small arms, like rifles and handguns? Be specific, truthout. Obfuscation is a nasty habit we should all do our best to avoid. The whole of NATO is pretty much using the F35 platform as their next gen multi-role fighter and those are super expensive, what percentage of exports does that single plane account for in that 40?
Blue states with strict gun laws often suffer gun violence when weapons are trafficked in from red states with looser gun laws. Similarly, many countries surrounding the U.S. with high rates of gun violence, like Mexico, obtain guns both legally and illegally from this country.
Pause. Most crime guns are locals, truthout. Per ATF.
When firearms are recovered, they tend to be recovered in the state in which they were stolen (92%; 271,916). –ATF
Almost one third of crime guns are recovered less than 10 miles from where they were originally purchased. They didn’t go far before becoming a crime gun. Over 50% are recovered less than 25 miles from their FFL purchase location.
If they did go far, it took time.
With no system to effectively control and track who ends up with those guns, these weapons are often obtained by military units or police that have committed human rights abuses or who work with criminal groups.
How is the US, to say nothing of a private country simply selling rifles or handguns, supposed to police the weapons they sell once the enter the hands of a legitimate agency? How is Smith & Wesson, IWI, or H&K supposed to make sure guns sold to Mexican, or any other .gov entity of a foreign nation, remain always on team good guys? Forever? They can’t be stolen, nobody corrupt can ever touch them, they cannot be misused in any way so sayeth the builder?
Look up a fairly recent ATF initiative called Fast & Furious, where the ATF trafficked weapons to Mexico on purpose and failed utterly to control or track those. Those weapons were specifically meant to track weapon streams to the cartels and identify bad actors, they lost those. They couldn’t do it even when specifically paying attention to the guns and with the ATF, the US Agency specifically empowered to police guns, that agency failed to track, to intervene, and to make arrests. Numerous deaths in Mexico and Federal Agent Brian Terry of the CBP are dead at the hands of Fast & Furious guns. Now you want a private company to be responsible for ensuring that their weapons are only used by good folks forever?
So when at least some of the guns in Ukraine get swept up to worse places and uses in a few years, suddenly our supplying them will become a bad thing? It’s a good thing now, very necessary right? Ukraine flags all around. But then in the future it will be bad. Unintended consequences! Oh no! We can’t just mark guns as on ‘good team’ forever. It’s almost like they’re inanimate objects.
For example, in September 2014, local police in the state of Guerrero, Mexico were responsible for the disappearance and murder some 43 students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College. The police were armed with rifles that were supplied legally from Colt, a prominent U.S. gun manufacturer headquartered in Connecticut.
Police? Government?? Doing bad things?!? That would never happen here!
Oh… yeah… Kent State. But surely that was just once and awhile…
Ah, yeah… Waco. The event, caused by US federal agencies, that motivated the Oklahoma City bombing. So yeah, maybe all government agencies shouldn’t be assumed to be good or in the right just because they are US based.
Usually with complete ignorance of how they work. Everyone likes ideas that sound good. Their opinions or only as valuable as their understanding of the ideas and the process goes. This is why things like the S.A.F.E Act and the Patriot Act get passed will all manner of suspect and dangerous nonsense within, they sound good. They have a nice title. Don’t look any deeper kids.
[But gun lobbies like the NRA, which are so influential in red states, don’t really represent gun owners — they represent gun manufacturers. In fact, of the NRA’s corporate partners, several are gun manufacturers based in blue states.
The NRA’s corporate partners are… corporations? Ones that exist wherever they are headquartered? Shocking.
As long as these corporations flood the U.S. and the world with guns, debate over who accesses these guns won’t get us very far.
Is this the part where we start singing “Imagine”, like those clueless celebs who pissed off their fan bases by being total clowns during COVID lockdowns? Who were sitting comfortably when people who live paycheck to paycheck instead of living seven to eight figure job to seven to eight figure job told them how to react to COVID? Is that where we are in the conversation now?
So our current conversation serves the status quo. It further divides people in this country according to a “culture war” narrative, where politicians clash in rhetoric, but everyone knows that the actual situation will not change.
Do they? Because most people in the conversation are under informed about the things they are discussing, often on all sides. Have you actually discussed what a background check is and involves with anyone who ‘supports background checks’? The conversations serve the ‘status quo’ but what is that? Define it for me please.
From the perspective of ending bloodshed, this isn’t working. We need to try something different, and it will mean some deeper interrogation about where these weapons come from.
There we go. Lofty motive. ‘Ending Bloodshed’ like if we just write it down on paper the right way the entirety of humanity’s history with the use of force will just be better.
So, completely ignoring motive. Got it. Just eliminate weapons, which have always existed in society and always will. Cool. Reality denial works so well as policy.
This could mean reviewing the practices and impacts of gun manufacturers,]
They make weapons. They are heavily regulated. But they make weapons. What are we going to review?
You want to know why these conversations seems circular? Because naive little utopian zealots never actually bother to follow through and understand what they are suggesting, ever. They just leave it at the pretty title and move on like they’ve actually improved the world.
[ demanding greater regulation,]
What? What regulation? What rule are we missing? We keep saying these things like we can regulate weapons into only being good weapons or regulate away the legitimate societal needs for weapons. We can’t.
[ and — as with any product that causes far reaching harm]
Like pharmaceuticals , alcohol, or vehicles?
[ — having a public conversation about whether companies should be allowed to make these weapons at all.
Okay so not those three other things.
I really want to hear what your alternative is to making these weapons, what would small arms would be replaced with, and if the US stops making guns what makes you think China, Russia, Turkey, or any other country would? Do we think sitting upon our moral and poorly thought through
The mass production of guns has been a disaster]
By what definition? If the mass production of guns has been a disaster, what does that make the 140,000 alcohol related deaths each year?
[ — one that has dire consequences not only for U.S. communities, but for those all over the world.]
Like being able to defend yourself or your communities from bad actors who don’t care about your good intentions?
[ New ways of thinking will help us fulfill our responsibility to protect vulnerable people not just in the U.S., but people everywhere.
Ah, “new ways of thinking” will help. What new ways?
Here’s the big problem with stupid, altruistic, naïve, utopia fantasies. These are all ideas that have been thought, tried, schemed, altered, rethought, rehashed, and repeated, and they keep being repeated because new young people who are not at the place in their life to recognize that we’ve tried it already.. yes that way.. yes that way too.. no, here’s why that’s a terrible plan, etc., are saying, “Let’s try this thing that has never been tried before! I will not look into the accuracy of that claim in the slightest.”
The intentions are good, but there’s a saying about good intentions and a road being paved for a good reason.
Among the greatest hubris of the young is that hard to shake concept of ‘because something is well intentioned it is both a good thing and incapable of causing harm.’ Ironically that is central to the “culture wars” of today. The idea that a thing is both good and capable of causing harm is difficult to compute, and because of the naïve and inexperienced nature of youth they are quick to declare, “Well we just don’t need cars, guns, oil, etc.” without any grounded understanding of where any of those things touch their own lives or the lives of those around them. They are too young to consider second and third order effects. That problem, that blind spot in their thinking, extends to most altruistic utopian fantasies, they cannot be re-grounded in reality.