Friday, December 21, 2012

Using Both Hands in My Land

If you're going to have any kind of productive dialog on any issue, you have to concede that people with opposing viewpoints are not disagreeing because they're evil, dishonest, or stupid (not to rule it out), but work under the assumption that they're just coming from a different place. So, although the right wing response to the slaughter of children has been mystifying, you have to hope they're being sincere when they say that fortifying our schools with semi-automatic weapons is going to make our children safer.

But with all due respect to these perspectives, they don't know what it's like to work in a school that has armed guards. People who suggest such things don't understand that many urban schools are already fortified like military camps. And in the end you may gain a measure of security, but you lose a lot in terms of what it means to have school.

Working in Baltimore, we had a policeman in the school. One day I turned the corner and their was a big cop with his finger in the chest of a 4th grader, warning him to not "act tough". I've never been arrested, but police have always made me nervous. I guess you could call it a Black male tic/survival mechanism. When you bring in men with guns, you bring in the energy of men with guns, which is generally an inhibiting force when it comes to free expression and learning. Nothing against the men with guns, Machiavelli knew what he was talking about when he said the unarmed prophet comes to grief, but arming the schools is not the answer.

Urban schools have had metal detectors for a couple decades now and our kids are still getting killed. The children that die in our community don't die because of one lone psychopath with access to high power fire arms. We've got plenty of psychos with fire power. Indiscriminate killing happens every month. Every week. And some days it seems like every damn day. Kids all over Chicago getting killed with weapons that people make money selling. The real psychopaths are the corporations that drain so much human resource, so much humanity, in the cause of increasing revenue.

Walmart had to know they were going to have trouble with this whole Bushmaster thing. You know, how you can find the incredibly powerful semi-automatic on their website. How people can really buy this damn thing and they make a lot of money off it. How this practice can be traced directly to what happened in Connecticut. In the hours and days after the killing, it would make sense to withdraw momentarily from the arms market so as to not draw undue attention. Instead, they waited. And why did they wait? Why not come right out and say you were suspending sales? Because they know that gun sales go through the roof after one of these mass killings. And that's what happened. They cashed in during the days after the tragedy and then finally took the Bushmaster off of their website only after the media reported on it. That's psychopathic behavior.

We do need to be the good guys on this one. Although conservatives are right when they say that this is a soul issue, their only problem is that they don't have a solution that doesn't involve excluding someone or bombing someplace. There is soul problem, but it's also inextricably linked to the economic issue
Instead of framing the conversation about firearms all around the crazy fringe who won't budge on gun rights, why don't we focus more on the corporations who stand to gain so much if gun policy doesn't change?

There are psychopaths out there with business suits and power ties. If we're serious about gun control, we have to let everyone know about the economics of the issue. I wonder if some of the 2nd amendment conservatives would be so willing to take arms for corporate rights, especially when corporations infringe upon the civil and economic liberties of their communities. People have to become more aware that someone is making some serious money selling misery.  This isn't about rights, it's about greed.

Every discussion that involves guns should mention that although the second amendment gives people rights, it doesn't cover corporations (even though Mitt tried to tell you that corporations are people to) and it doesn't state anyone has the right to sell death mechanisms unregulated. The production of firearms in this country needs to be more tightly monitored. We would demand accountability with any other consumer product. The things they sell are literally thousands of Americans every year. This is not a second amendment, it's a national security issue. And really it's a world security issue.

Not only are our psychopath corporations selling death mechanisms to kill Americans, they're making even more selling them around the world. Although I'm sure the world feels the pain of Newtown, unspeakable gun violence done to and by children is really nothing new to many places in the world. 

The UN proposed an international treaty regulating fire arm sales. According to Wikipedia, the treaty would have prevented sales if weapons were reasonably suspected to:
  • be used in serious violations of international human rights or humanitarian law, or acts of genocide or crimes against humanity;
  • facilitate terrorist attacks, a pattern of gender-based violence, violent crime or organized crime;
  • violate United Nations Charter obligations, including UN arms embargoes;
  • be diverted from its stated recipient;
  • adversely affect regional security; or seriously impair poverty reduction or socioeconomic development.
The Obama administration reversed the Bush position and came out for the treaty, but they faced stiff opposition from some "rogue" international states who were more concerned with how the treaty might limit their access to sell and buy guns. Venezuela, Cuba, Egypt, and Iran. However, the most effective opposition came from another rogue state, the gun lobby. You would think Republicans would be a bit concerned aligning themselves with the interest of these despotic regimes, but they successfully stalled discussion of the treaty until March.

So our job is not just to make Americans more safe from guns. We need to make the world more safe from these death mechanisms. And we have to admit that their presence in the American psyche has more to do with fear and containment than freedom and liberty. Without this realization, and the action it should herald, our children will never be safe, no matter how many guards we post.

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