Levi’s Does “Something!”

In the latest corporate effort at political posturing over “gun violence”, a major denim pants manufacturer recently threw their hats and money in with Everytown for Gun Grabbing.

Levi’s, a company that started out by outfitting hardscrabble miners in the gun-filled Old West, announced that it “simply cannot stand by silently” anymore.

Why that statement is both worrisome and amusing is because when large organizations get a case of the impotent “Something’s” – as in “We have to DO Something!” – we need to prepare to be baffled by bullshit. It apparently doesn’t matter if that “Something!” is useful, productive or actually addresses the problem, as long as the organization is seen to be “Doing Something!”. It’s the visibility that’s the important thing, not the viability of the plan or the production of actual results. Levi’s seems to be following that playbook precisely.

According to Levi’s press release, what is supposedly on the agenda are,  “…common-sense, measurable steps — like criminal background checks on all gun sales — that will save lives.”

This, after claiming that they aren’t after a repeal of the Second Amendment, or claiming that gun owners are irresponsible. Apparently no one has told Levi’s that all the recent adult mass shooters DID pass background checks, and that other criminals buy their guns on the street illegally, or simply steal them from someone else. More background checks only affect people who buy their firearms through legal channels.

As far as “saving lives” goes, even the American Academy of Pediatrics has recently published research indicating that urban youth criminal activity drives most of the statistics on shootings of young people. Despite all of the breathless headlines about “child deaths from gun violence”, toddlers are NOT dropping like flies in the streets of suburbia, and lawful firearms owners are NOT the ones who are doing the shooting.

Here are two quotes from that recently published research:

“In previous research, it has been identified that male sex, nonwhite race, low median income, and older adolescent age are risk factors for sustaining both fatal and nonfatal firearm injuries; these data, however, are largely driven by firearm assaults in urban settings.”

“Urban 15- to 19-year-olds account for >75% of all pediatric firearm-related hospitalizations, and they average over 5500 hospitalizations each year or ∼15 hospitalizations per day. Specifically, more than two-thirds of these hospitalizations are related to firearm injuries due to assault, and 15- to 19-year-olds in urban areas are hospitalized for firearm assaults at a rate 8 times higher than 15- to 19-year-olds in rural areas.”

It would seem then, that Levi’s sinking their money into programs addressing the social ills that produce youth gangs in places like Chicago might be a better strategy to “save lives” than additional background checks targeting lawful citizens. Chicago is already a “gun free zone” yet regularly experiences appalling levels of “gun violence” 

Stringent gun control hasn’t worked out so well for places like Chicago thus far. But we wouldn’t want facts and logic to interfere with Levi’s virtuous “Something!” plan, now would we?

Considering that suicide also drives a huge number of annual “death by firearm” statistics, there are plenty of programs working on suicide prevention that Levi’s could funnel their money to that would NOT involve infringing on the rights of lawful citizens. But that is apparently not what is going to happen.

Levi’s will be establishing something called “The Safer Tomorrow Fund” which will supposedly send money to “non-profits and youth activists”.  Despite the lofty yet vague name of the fund, it remains to be seen whether that money will go to combating youth gang activity (where it might actually help), or to funding “activists” like that loudmouth kid from Florida instead. We probably shouldn’t hold our breath on that one.

In the end this is just another politico-publicity stunt by a name brand corporation. It seems the move was motivated less by civic-mindedness than by an attempt at marketing-by-moral-posturing. 

The real question is – Do overpriced blue jeans even HAVE a morality? We’d probably have to ask the Asian sweatshops they’re made in.