American Shooter: The Intersection of Alienation and Desperation Under Capitalism

It is easier to shirk the problem of violence onto police than to take responsibility for that violence and build communities that outmode violence and desperation.

Alt-right insurrectionists in a mixture tactical gear and civilian clothing march against the Capitol on January 6th 2020.
Insurrectionists march on the capitol resulting in 9 deaths.

America has always been a violent nation

America’s conception was of rich slave owners wanting resisting abolition. Its birth was from the vicious robbery of indigenous land. It spent its toddling years in a genocidal holy war against the peoples they displaced and has since failed to ween itself from the tit of bloodshed. It is no surprise that this young nation found it prudent to establish the right exclusively for Europeans to keep and bear the arms of war in the second amendment, but with the enshrinement of the second amendment also came gun control. That is to say gun control for people of color and indigenous people. These laws were violently upheld via slave patrols, among other mechanisms. The same slave patrols eventually became the American police force that upheld the black codes, further disenfranchising the rights of people of color to keep and bear arms, among many other rights. It is precisely these strategies of racial disparity that are the basis for our modern gun control as cited by Democratic Governor of California Gavin Newsom, yet despite knowing the intentions and histories of these laws, they are maintained and expanded.

Few people need a primer on just how absolute the American government's violence upon communities of color has been. From the slave ships bringing human wares from Africa, to the bombing of MOVE headquarters in 1987. From the Trail of Tears, to the current systematic criminalization of BIPOC lives and re-enslavement in the prison industrial complex. Day zero of America was marked with genocidal violence, and America has categorically failed to wash away the stains of that genocide. Why then should we trust that same state to disarm its people as the democrats have been shouting for? That same state already has shown a desire to continue to mete out its’ gun laws along racial lines. Why in a country of white supremacist police gangs like the Executioners and the Lynnwood Vikings should we trust that the police will confiscate guns without resorting to the bloodshed of marginalized communities? How can we trust that white supremacist militias will be disarmed in kind when we keep reading stories of police departments infested with klansmen or diverting arms to terrorist organizations? If the George Floyd Uprising has taught Americans anything it’s that we can’t trust the police, so why is it that supposed progressives are pushing for police to root guns out of our communities and criminalize otherwise law-abiding citizens?

The reason is that it is easier to shirk the problem of violence onto armed thugs than to take responsibility for that violence, and build communities that outmode violence and desperation. It’s much easier to tell someone else to address the symptoms of violence than to solve the root causes of violence yourself.

In recent weeks we have seen great violence used against our communities. We should hold no expectation that the police would be willing to stop such acts. We saw entire SWAT teams cower before an 18-year-old child with a long rifle as parents fought through the police to rescue their children themselves. We saw public officials fail to do anything about the signs and statements of intent to commit violence. Outsourcing violence prevention to the ever more militarized police has been a failed experiment. We need to take responsibility for this violence and do something about it. So the question is… “What is to be Done?”

Universal Healthcare and Easy Access Mental Health Services

59% of gun deaths are suicides. Getting healthcare in the United States is nigh impossible for many people whether it be the cost of services, lack of insurance, or the stigmatization that comes from seeking medically necessary mental health services. We need to make concerted efforts to ensure that anyone who needs healthcare can walk into a facility and get the help they need with no questions asked nor strings attached. Whether it is nationalizing healthcare or instituting dual power healthcare structures we need to get this done and we need to do it now. Getting people the healthcare they need drastically reduces rates of mental illness while also reducing the rates of economically motivated crime which is sometimes violent in nature.

In May 2002, The Secret Service published a report that examined school shootings. Among much else, they found that the majority of school shooters had difficulty coping with loss and personal failures, attempted suicide, felt persecuted, and exhibited alarming behaviors toward those around them. All of these are signs to immediately provide accessible healthcare, particularly mental healthcare. We need to be proactive about getting people the help they need. Simply scapegoating mental health issues as the conservative gun lobby does is about as helpful as thoughts and prayers. We need to directly address mental healthcare and build the systems that prevent violence.

Stable Food and Housing

Violence is quite often a symptom of economic distress. Ensuring the stable material conditions of a community not only reduces the incentive to commit economically motivated violent crime, but it also reduces interpersonal violent crime. We need to build communities that have affordable housing and accessible food. The fastest and easiest way to work towards both is to ban R1 zoning because this form of zoning creates food deserts, makes communities car dependent, and skyrockets the cost of housing. This is not to say that we should not be working on dual power structures in housing. We also need free lunch and breakfast programs run by local radicals and community-powered housing programs.

Abolish the Police

Americans are more likely to be killed by a cop than a school shooter. The straightforward approach of dismantling the police will remove a more grave threat with respect to gun violence than the more nebulous proposition of ending school shootings.

Another study published by the United States Secret Service suggests that the security theatre perpetrated by school resource officers is “unlikely to be helpful.” Instead, the increased presence of SROs jacks up the school-to-prison pipeline which induces economic distress on the individuals affected by it, thereby increasing the likelihood of economically motivated crime, which increases the volume of violent gun crime. Police in schools (as well as in general) provide no value to the communities they are purported to serve while inducing pure social and economic cost. Putting cops in schools produces the problems they were sent to prevent.

What are Non-Starters?

In the wake of tragic gun violence and mass casualty events, the anti-gun lobby spins up its fundraising machine and prints ineffectual propaganda to perpetuate itself. The whole idea that removing guns from the equation of violence will reduce violence is complete balderdash. When the method of committing violence is fungible, removing a method does not remove the violence. The OKC bombing killed 168 people and injured 680 more in a mere 7 seconds with what amounted to kitchen table explosives made from off-the-shelf ingredients. This attack was far more deadly than any mass shooting in America and still very much a threat of being repeated.

Ineffectuality aside, the prospect of implementing the complete removal of firearms from our nation is both laughable and terrifying. It is laughable as guns currently outnumber people in this country. There is no feasible way to round up all the guns without them being, as the common parlance, "lost in a boating accident". Even if all guns could suddenly be poofed out of existence, the prevalence of 3d printing would make acquiring a gun as simple as an Amazon purchase. There is no way to keep guns gone. It is terrifying as we can in no way anticipate that white supremacists would be disarmed as they both are in tight with the forces that would carry out the confiscation and are already predisposed to gun crime. With the most recent white supremacist mass shootings, it would be a terror to see law-abiding citizens become disarmed in the face of such terrorists. Additionally, we can anticipate that the most draconian and punitive interpretations of such laws and confiscations will be meted out most oppressively against our most vulnerable populations.

In Short

Kicking the can down the road for the police to stop violence by either taking guns away or even increasing their funding is not only burning money but is completely ineffectual. We have to take responsibility for what is happening in our communities. If our local, state, and federal governments won't get on board then we have to build these resilient communities one brick at a time in dual power structures.