First off, let’s start off with some facts that don’t care about the feelings of either side of the gun control debate:
Gun control in the US is disproportionately used to disarm people of color.
The gun control debate in general is used by both sides to demonize the “mentally ill,” a demographic which is more likely to be victims of gun violence than perpetrators, not to mention the all too frequent habit of state representatives referring to LGBTQ+, single women, communists, and basically anyone who’s viewed as a political or cultural threat as “mentally ill.”
Even if gun sales were immediately halted right now, there are over 100 guns per citizen in the US currently in circulation and guess who owns most of them.
The combination of the above factors, particularly that last point, culminate into an uncomfortable truth most gun control advocates refuse to confront and gun control opponents are terrified of: gun control in the US would be like slapping a piece of duct tape on a cracking dam without removing guns from circulation.
“Well, it worked in Australia, didn’t it? The buyback program was a resounding success–there haven’t been any mass shootings since it was implemented.” Okay, let’s talk about Australia, because a lot of key details get left out when this gets brought up, namely that gun violence was already declining before the 1996 buyback program and continued declining at roughly the same rate afterwards, meaning the buyback program was not some miraculous solution to gun violence, it was part of a larger cultural trend away from it.
In addition to the data simply not supporting the conclusion the buyback program was mainly responsible for declining gun death rates, let’s think about how that program actually worked. Essentially, they immediately banned specific types of guns like assault rifles, then instituted a mandatory buyback policy to remove those that were in circulation. At the time, there were less than 20 guns per 100 citizens in the country. Hopefully, you’re already starting to see how this solution would be wildly impractical in the US. Between the NRA’s well-funded and consistent “they’re coming to take your guns” fear-mongering propaganda coupled with the fact that, again, there are over 100 guns per person in the US that we know of, it doesn’t seem all that logical to assume a gun buyback program would be as effective as so many desperately want it to be. Let’s not lie to ourselves that terrorists are going to give up their guns to the government they are so proud of guarding against the tyranny of.
In a nation of rapidly developing fascism where white supremacy is emboldened and hate crimes are on the rise, this is not the time to push for gun control. Doing so would likely end up furthering the aims of white supremacist terrorists since they’re bound to hold on to their guns while the demographics they target are more likely to give them up.
What we can do–what we have to do–is far more complicated than confiscating guns or increasing the cost of ammo so only wealthy people can go on shooting sprees: we need to talk about misogyny masquerading as masculinity. The biggest and most indisputable common factor among mass shooters and murderers is not race or religion, it’s cis men. And while it’s hard to state in absolute terms just because of the lack of practical way to measure the correlation beyond a reasonable doubt, misogyny and toxic masculinity play huge roles in these events as well. There is a noticeable link between domestic abuse/harassment of women and mass shooters. Indeed, those are the two sole factors you can reasonably predict when the next shooting inevitably happens: the perpetrator will very likely be male and he will most likely have some sort of sordid past involving mistreatment of women.
Knowing that, the answer to this societal cancer is not bureaucratic tape and obstacles tagged with the blind hope it’ll be enough to dissuade these wrathful young men from obtaining weapons, but rather a purposeful, widespread, and thorough overhaul of the justice system aimed at taking sexual abuse, stalking, and harassment claims more seriously. We’ve been telling you there are monsters among us but you don’t ever want to listen unless a shopping trip gets ruined. Between thousands of untested rape kits, restraining orders being more or less worthless, online harassment and threats we’re told nothing can be done about, and the open mockery of any attempt such as the #metoo movement to get people to listen, these men have been conditioned to believe there are no consequences for their rage because all too often, there truly are none. Then they see others like them commit these shootings, they foam at the mouth at the thought of the notoriety, and get inspired to try one themselves.
Any attempts we make to divert this horrific cultural trend that fail to address the misogyny in our society will amount to putting bandaids on a severed limb. This insidious, corrupted version of masculinity has very real costs in terms of human suffering and that is what we need to be talking about right now, not bump stocks.