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October 3, 2019

Turning tide

Opinion

October 3, 2019

According to a Gallup poll, 63 percent of Americans support stricter gun regulations - reflecting an increase in recent years from a record low of 44 percent in 2011, and a record high of 78 percent in 1991.

While the transformation of public opinion in the US, brought about by years of activism by the families of gun violence victims, is heartening, it is not nearly enough.

Stemming the tide of mass shootings from assault weapons is crucial, but it does not address the myriad issues concerning gun violence. For example, of the more than 36,000 people who die from gun violence each year, under 13,000 are murdered, while more than 22,000 commit suicide.

Guns in the US are linked to a culture of toxic masculinity domestic abuse and misogyny. Over half of women who are murdered in a domestic partner homicide are killed with a gun. Further women in the US are 21 times more likely to die from a gun than are women in other high-income nations.

Mass shooters and domestic terrorists tend to be more often than not white men. Communities of colour are disproportionately impacted by guns, which are the leading cause of death for black children. Further, unarmed black men are our times more likely to be killed by police than their white counterparts.

Ultimately, the country must confront and liberate itself from the culture of the gun, which is wrapped up in notions of patriotism and white supremacy and which ultimately has its roots in this country’s colonial practices of enslavement of Africans and the dislocation and genocide of Native peoples.

Educating the public, particularly school children on the national legacy of racism and the history of oppression, subjugation and violence must be part of the solution. Schools must teach children alternatives to violence and instruct them in conflict resolution and learning to resolve their differences through communication and cooperation rather than the use of force.

Public health research must study the economic, social and other factors behind America’s high suicide rate, and consider implementing programmes to stem the tide of gun homicides in economically distressed and traumatized populations.

The country should determine why young white men are turning to domestic terrorism, and promote initiatives to counter the rise of white supremacist violence. Arms seizures and gun buyback programmes are necessary and inevitable, but society must also utilise iniatives, which enable young men to confront their toxic masculinity and its impact on their incarceration and life of violence.

Any effort to end gun proliferation is doomed to fail if it does not take such a holistic approach in addressing the underlying and interconnected social conditions, above and beyond easy access to the weapons themselves.

Excerpted from: ‘The tide is turning for gun control in the US’.

Courtesy: AlJazeera.com