Opinion

Background checks not enough for gun control

Two of the worst mass shootings in American history have occurred within

the last two months. According to the Gun Violence Archive, there is an average of one mass shooting per day in America. Over 33,000 people died as a result of gun violence in 2016.

The media would have us believe that there are exactly two possible solutions to this crisis: we either enact a handful of basic gun control measures, or we do not. No one is permitted to ask whether the problem goes any deeper.

I will disclose that I do think certain gun control laws should be implemented, but it’s delusional to think that this would solve any significant part of the problem. Fifty- four percent of all mass shootings in the United States are related to domestic or family violence. Twenty-five percent of the fatalities were children. A study conducted by Every Town Research made the following conclusion:

“The true picture of mass shootings in the U.S. is different than headlines suggest. While there are prominent attacks on public places — like the Pulse nightclub in Orlando — the majority of these shootings occur in the home, between spouses, partners, and family members.”

Something deeply nihilistic has seeped into the American psyche, and it is related more than anything to our rapidly deteriorating quality of life.

The life expectancy of middle-aged white Americans, the most likely demographic to commit mass murder, has been rapidly declining since 1999.

The overwhelming cause has been the explosion of what economists call “deaths of despair,” i.e. suicide, alcoholism, and drug overdose.

The North American Free Trade Agreement and the Trans-Pacific Partnership sent hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs overseas, leaving once vibrant towns to wallow in misery and decay. Pensions that were promised to workers and their children since birth were plundered by corporate bureaucrats and the corrupt unions that do their bidding.

Pharmaceutical companies incentivize doctors to overprescribe opioid painkillers, creating the worst drug epidemic in American history.

All the while, a relentless propaganda operation has worked to convince aging white men to engage in a culture of victimization.

The assault on communities of color has been even worse. The wealth of African-Americans was essentially wiped out by the Great Recession, and it is in no position to recover.

According to the Atlantic, “By 2031, the downturn will have decreased the wealth of the median black household by almost $100,000.” The prison-industrial complex works day and night to funnel blacks and Latinos into penitentiaries, most of them for non- violent crimes. People of color are

harassed, beaten, and shot with impunity by a fascistic and totalitarian police force.

Most of us accept that evil acts we hear about in certain other countries are at least partially the result of chronic social and economic conditions. Why should America be any different? Why is a lack of gun control the only explanation we’re willing to consider? Is it because we’re afraid to talk about how bad things really are? Or is it because the people who control our sources of information don’t want us to talk about it?

People who already suffer from a serious mental health condition, or who come from an extremely troubled past, can be pushed over the edge under desperate conditions. By focusing only on gun control, we continue to deny the severity of our situation. The killing will not stop until we take back control. America must be transformed into a place where the safety, equality and economic well-being of every citizen is guaranteed.

The misery so many of us are forced to endure leads inevitably to psychological collapse. Most turn to drugs, alcohol, self-harm, or other forms of hedonism and despair; many others lash out in increasingly violent ways. To save the next innocent life will require far more than calling for cursory background checks.

What can we do to solve America’s problems, specifically gun control? Please send any and all of your questions and comments to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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