Here is a link to an article on what might be behind the plethora of young White men engaged in premeditated mass killings:
It came from the NTY and I found in it the sort of discussion that I would engage in. It is not a discussion for politicians, for legislators, who must take action; it is more reflective, probing the underlying dynamics of our society.
I relate it to my discomfort with the movement of the Democratic Party in the 70s as it overrode seniority and service in the interest of diversity. As a White male married to an African-American woman, both of us from working-class families though hers was certainly poor compared to mine, I applauded the moves to include women and minorities. Nevertheless, having grown up White in a small town in Ohio and then in Phoenix, I felt the ground moving under me as young White men struggled to find their footing in a world that no longer gave them the privilege of sex and race superiority.
Sure enough, within a decade or so, the forces of conservatism made their move, picking off the enraged Southern Whites, then the evangelicals, then the lunch-bucket ethnic Whites up north, then the just plain curmudgeons. Joan Walsh’s book, What’s The Matter With White People, captures the mood of those times and what caused solidly Democratic White northern ethnices, s to shift to the GOP.
Now a much broader shift is going on as huge numbers of young White men probe the society to find what will work for them. For those going to college, not even the Great Recession of 2008 reduced their employment as much as it reduced that of their cohorts sans college. For the latter, things look bleaker and bleaker.
So now I begin what I hope is a dialogue with anyone reading this blog. Chto delat’?. What Is To Be Done?
First, the education system. No matter how good the economy is, a worker without skills cannot work.
Then, the health care system, including mental health. Obama has done well here, not so well in education, though he has backed off NCLB.
Then employment, and jobs that offer a way up for people who are not academic. My brother-in-law was a street kid who found a job with HP on the loading dock. Due to HP’s forward thinking, and probably due to their desire to promote more African-Americans (thanks to affirmative action programs), he wound up 30 years later with an in-house engineering degree. Currently he heads up a huge youth basketball league in the Bay Area. What exists now in the way of such opportunities?
Then, the general culture, the toughest nut to crack. I read editorials urging not just the NRA to come to the table, but Hollywood and the game industry.
I will take up each of these according to my ability, obviously weak in some areas, pretty good in others. Right here I’d like to lay out what I hear about gun control and how I rank the points made:
- Guns are no good, no one needs to own a gun; that’s what the police are for.
A terrible argument. As someone raised in small town Ohio where hunting was the norm and having served on my high school rifle team, such failure to recognize the place of guns in our culture smacks of personal and cultural bias. As an MSNBC pundit remarked, the mayor of NY is the last face on gun control issues you want to present to someone in Arkansas.
- Any attempt to control guns will result in a ban on all guns and even confiscation.
A paranoid nightmare voiced by those whose fantasy life revolves around gunning down hordes of monkey-people attacking their blonde White women. Anyway, who could ever round up the over three hundred million guns in this country? We can’t even round up 11 million illegal aliens, who are much harder to hide than a gun.
- Only hunting rifles and target shooting guns can be owned.
Another idea that ignores the interests of gun collectors, shooters, and harmless gun-nuts. Lots of perfectly reasonable people like guns, collect them, like to shoot them, etc. There’s nothing wrong or lethal about that.
- Military-grade weapons like assault rifles can be owned but stored and used only at certified rife ranges where they can also be rented.
I like this idea. It allows people to own and shoot weapons we don’t want loose on the streets or even in anyone’s private home. While it will not satisfy those who hate authority nor those whose fantasies involve the use of such weapons nor those who want to stockpile weapons against the government, it respects people’s right to own a weapon whose lethality is only toward people and is far too high for self-protection.
- We all need weapons at home and in our car for self-protection.
Certainly there are people whose jobs demand a high level of personal security, like people in the repo and tow-truck business. With proper background checks, they could certainly carry a weapn, not concealed, for self-defense. The problem with the self-defense argument is that people usually wind up shooting their drunk brother-in-law trying to visit at 3 in the morning. But that aside, a weapon for self-protection could be a .38. Many times their bullets are not lethal, which is why the police got rid of them since they wouldn’t stop drug-addled crazy people, and they have to be reloaded. Nevertheless, they would protect against the sort of casual violence some people just seem to fear and in many cases rightly so. Getting a license might be intimidating as the police might like to know just why you think you need self-defense (gambling debts? unpaid drug-pusher? a rival gang?).
We know there would be real push-back from a lot of people. However, I understand the NRA membership does not stand with their leadership and is open to some efforts to control access. What I have seen is that people who have some kind of aversion to guns equal to the slavering love of guns of the gun-nut have led the debate, scaring legitimate hunters, outdoorsmen, people engaged in hazardous professions, women living alone, people living in blighted neighborhoods, and so forth. Allowance must be made for traditional gun usage and reasonable rationales for gun ownership. But the backyard howitzers have to go.
Oh, BTW, now is exactly the time to get political.