Gun Law Debate Doesn’t Address the Root Problem

The mass killings in Georgia and Colorado have again stimulated the debate about gun control that we’ve heard for years. One side calls for background checks, magazine limits, and assault rifle bans. The other says “people, not guns, kill people,” and that the Second Amendment prohibits any regulation. Yet both of their political talking points miss the point completely.

If people kill people with guns or any other way, the question is “why” and “why so many”? Why have so many people been driven to commit these massacres – from the University of Texas shooting in 1966, to the endless stream of school shootings since, to the continuous shootings at places of worship, to the slaughter in Las Vegas in 2017, the shooting in an El Paso Walmart in 2018, and to this week’s shootings and the many others that have come before?

We have to look at the system. Millions of working-class people struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis. Millions are without health insurance. Even fewer have access to mental health support. We are told to compete in order to get ahead, or fall behind. We are bombarded with messages to consume and live the dream, even though “the dream” is painfully out of reach for millions, who face a nightmare instead. Most people dislike their jobs, which hardly ever feel rewarding and rarely help society, but instead are designed to profit someone else, and leave most of us unable to pay our bills. We are bombarded with sexist messages about the roles of men and women in society. We are denied a decent education that might actually help us understand how the world really works. Many look to right-wing conspiracy theories from Infowars or Q-Anon to give them an easy answer for why they seem to be falling behind in a society that disregards the lives of working people. Much of the time people are driven to hostility towards others who face many of the same challenges from this society but happen to be of a different race, religion, or nationality.

This system is a disaster for working people, and it actually drives people insane. Millions are exploited, abused, misled, and deeply damaged while struggling to get by in this dog-eat-dog system. Is it any wonder a few of them turn into killers? But the politicians of both major parties are well aware of this, and only serve to maintain this oppressive system. We can’t count on them for the changes we need. It’s going to take a movement of ordinary folks to confront the insanity of the system we live under.