Blog Clique

news / life? / art / culture / / hashtag

Culture Control: Why the American ‘Gun Problem’ isn’t just about Smith and Wesson

A Real American

A Real American

The following is a discussion about America, written by a non-American.

Who is a real American?

Americanism is not static nor a constant trait. It is debated, traded, and exchanged; it can be validated, questioned, and denied; all because it is merely an idea that no one owns.

One often hears politicians – particularly conservative ones- refer to the real America. It is a place that is non-academic, working class and primarily white. This might only be due to the fact that the above presumably represents the base of the Republican Party. But it also represents a falsely idealized sense of the American way that has extended much further than conservative political discourse. This is America’s residual self-image, and it is woefully inaccurate.

This sense of Americanism is crucial to the topic that has become America’s current fixation: gun control.

It has largely been mass shootings that have reinvigorated the debate over America’s fondness for firearms, although these events, however horrific and shocking, are responsible for few of the total yearly deaths attributed to guns.

In response to the notorious Sandy Hook Elementary shooting NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre said, “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun”. This is the disease of thought that affects America’s national consciousness. Obvious logical flaw aside (what if the bad guy just didn’t have a gun in the first place?) this absurd notion of heroism in the face of danger reveals the kind of grandiose delusion we’re dealing with. It’s fine; all we need is Stallone strapped head to toe with gats standing at the door of every school. Insanity.


Around the world people have no doubt been asking themselves, “why not just give up the guns America?” The answer, I believe, has two parts, both having very much to do with the idea of being an American.

In an article in The American Conservative, Rod Dreher investigated gun crime stats in the Baton Rouge area of Louisiana after a black flash mob startled mall goers, raising questions again over America’s attitude towards race. He found that, overwhelmingly, guns were used by young black men to kill other young black men. Fellow conservative writer David Frum paraphrased him (perhaps poorly) in an article for CNN that argued Dreher’s conclusion was dismissive. While it is unlikely Dreher himself felt that the conclusion that gun crime was a ‘black problem’ and felt relief, it is not a sentiment entirely unheard of.

For instance, gun murder was on the rise in Toronto at the turn of the millennium, particularly in northwestern Toronto, and particularly again amongst young black male Torontonians. This rise largely went unnoticed by the media until Boxing Day 2005 when a young white girl named Jane Creba was caught in the crossfire of an alleged gang shooting. One Police Services member remarked, “Toronto has finally lost its innocence. I think we’re going to feel this day for a long time to come.”

Why was this the particular moment our loss of innocence? Why did Toronto not lose its innocence one month earlier when 18-year-old Amon Beckles was shot dead exiting the church where he was attending the funeral of his friend Jamal Hemmings, also fatally shot?

It largely has to do with the question I started with, “who is a real American?” There is a fundamental disconnect between a gunmen killing twenty children in Sandy Hook, and the many gunmen killing 40 mostly black men in Chicago over a weekend in 2010. An American politician does not refer to the south side of Chicago as the real America, and, according to the media attention it receives; the epidemic of gun crime amongst young, poor black men is not a truly American problem. It’s a problem for the other America, for the other American.

The gun problem in America is a cultural one. By that I do not mean that America, as it has been argued in the past, is a necessarily violent country, whose temptation to kill can seemingly not be restrained. I mean that as long as the American discourse is dominated by a self-image that is mostly white and affluent, the epidemic of gun violence amongst its poor, non-white population will continue to go unchecked.

The answer to our question “why not just give up the guns?” has to do with another dominating feature of American culture: ownership.

After the Sandy Hook shooting, it was not only out of fear and the gun-owning-public’s presumed need to defend itself that influenced the climbing sales of guns in America, it was also fear that the guns they already owned might be taken away, or that guns they might want to own someday would be soon banned.

White Picket Fence

“Gee billy, I heard those Washington fat-cats are taking our guns away.”

America has always had a peculiar, if not disturbing relationship with property. The American Dream itself is quickly described by its relationship to ownership. It is a house, a white picket fence and a car, just as much as it as a family.  Many feel that, not only does the second amendment detail their right to own firearms; their ownership of firearms protects their right to ownership in general. The sentiment follows that when the government comes to take their guns, soon they will take everything; guns are their defense against tyranny.

This is why there are still state militias. This is why people bring assault rifles to Tea Party gatherings. As long as gun ownership is seen as a right in America, it will be defended as such. Until a serious movement challenges the legality of that claim under the constitution, serious efforts aimed at limiting the sale of guns in America are essentially futile.

Outside of America we are confused by the ‘gun problem’ because we phrase it differently. The popular American discourse seems to suggest that instead of the problem being guns and the solution being less of them, the problem is that other American, and the solution is more guns.

by Jesse B


11 comments on “Culture Control: Why the American ‘Gun Problem’ isn’t just about Smith and Wesson

  1. OutTheFed
    January 28, 2013

    Jesse B – may I suggest you read Ecoscience (co-authored by Obama’s science czar John P. Holdren) and Tragedy and Hope (Carroll Quigley). You will understand that this essay is greatly flawed when those are completed.

  2. Ross
    January 28, 2013

    OutTheFed – may I suggest you read “The Paranoid Style in American Politics” by Richard J. Hofstadter? Really, no one is or ever has been clever enough to pull off the sort of grand conspiracy you seem to suggest.

  3. crysis ati drivers
    January 30, 2013

    But the the main thing is a lot of your personal data is out there whether it’s health information, bank card details or even as the Albuquerque mishap shows courtroom files. Stored energy printers. Wherever you click you are instantly overwhelmed with special offers: book this, buy that, fly with us, hop on this, reserve that. With an average annual fee of 10,000 pounds, representing between 25% – 36% of professional incomes this has risen assiduously by 41% in the last five years. Many consumers worry about their security when making purchases over the internet. For an in depth guide to the E8400 chip, I highly recommend reading this article: Final Thoughts on the Intel E8400. We actually become happier people. In fact the publicly owned Ecopetrol has seen an immense FDI surge in the past few years and in spite of being overvalued to some, the stock still is a good bet due to the growth potential it has. The players have to buy the weapons to use from the available shops and weapon stores. I died numerous times because of the stupid reload system.

  4. Willard
    March 8, 2013

    Good day! This post could not be written any better!
    Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept chatting
    about this. I will forward this article to him.

    Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for

  5. miracle weight loss
    August 10, 2013

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate
    you writing this article and the rest of the website is also
    really good.

  6. google
    December 30, 2013

    Google Adsense is an adverting revenue sharing program by Google that any website owners can
    put Google ads in their websites and can earn revenue from Google for successful promotion.
    For Facebook, the average user is logged in or active about 8 to 10 hours a month.

    Google allows you to utilize as much as 10 pictures and I motivate you to utilize each 1 of them.

  7. Accident attorneys are those specialized lawyers who claim compensation on behalf of their clients for the damages caused to them
    and also help them seeking it. The ligaments such as
    disks hold the joints of the neck together keeping the nerves from being pressed upon and stretched.
    As before, it is important to document every amount of money you lost or had to spend that is a result of
    your injuries.

  8. best pest inspectors
    July 6, 2014

    Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea
    shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell
    to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and
    it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!
    LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell someone!

    August 10, 2014

    Hi there i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anyplace, when i
    read this iece of writing i thought i could also make comment due to this brilliant post.

  10. drama method
    September 20, 2014

    Aw, this was a really good post. Taking the time and actual effort to produce a superb
    article… but what can I say… I put things off a
    whole lot and don’t seem to get nearly anything done.

  11. I am regular visitor, how are you everybody? This paragraph posted at this web page is in fact pleasant.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on January 26, 2013 by in Culture and tagged , , , , .

Follow Blog Clique

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

%d bloggers like this: