[RBG-Alliance] Guns

Austin, Andrew austina at uwgb.edu
Sat May 19 14:39:50 MDT 2001

Guns are a factor in a great many crimes. The crimes of oppressor war,
genocide, and even street crime. Just as it is a wise idea to limit the size
of the military and reduce its capacity to make war, it may be wise to limit
the availability of firearms, to reduce the capacity of those who would use
such weapons to perpetrate unjustified acts of violence. The most certain
way to reduce this capacity is to reduce those types of firearms that are
most often used in such violently criminal acts, namely handguns.

I agree that we should strive to reduce the myriad causes of street crime
and violence: unemployment, inequality, poverty, racism, sexism, and,
especially, the current property law system and the culture of consumption.
But without readily available handguns, the consequences of the push and
pull forces in current American street life would no doubt be greatly
lessened, just as the occurrence of traffic fatalities and injuries are
reduced with speed limits, safer roads, and safety regulations.

One must remember that those who live the urban street existence--the poor
and minority--are the most likely victims of crime and violence. For their
sake, we should consider controlling the availability and use of handguns
and go after the gun manufacturers and gun sellers who profit from traffic
in weapons. Along with these changes should be drastic restrictions in the
use of handguns by law enforcement and a comprehensive revision of the
doctrine of deadly force.

Such regulations (availability, licensing, registration, training programs)
would represent more freedom in American society. By restricting the
individual liberty of those who wish to endanger the public by carrying
firearms, as well as reducing the state's capacity to perpetrate violent
acts, the people would enjoy greater control over a source of unnecessary
harm in their society. By-standers, children, women, and minorities, would
live and work in a safer environment. These are democratic freedoms (not
libertarian ones).

Such regulations follow in principle the same logic that restricts access to
bazookas, tanks, and other weapons. They moreover follow similar logic used
in regulating the use of explosives, chemicals and other products and
activities dangerous to people and the environment. Just as a community has
a right/obligation to protect itself and its children from the harmful
activities of business firms, so should it have the right/obligation to
protect itself from the harmful activities of individuals.

I have studied this issue for many years now, and I am convinced that the
high level of gun violence in the United States is, along with other
factors, attributable to (a) the fact that America is awash in guns and (b)
to the existence of a pervasive culture of revenge, nihilism, and aggression
that glorifies gun violence.

Andrew Austin
Assistant Professor
Social Change and Development
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Green Bay, WI 54311-7001
(920) 465-2791
Webpage: http://www.uwgb.edu/austina

-----Original Message-----
From: Les Schaffer [mailto:schaffer at optonline.net]
Sent: Saturday, May 19, 2001 2:29 PM
To: marxmail
Subject: Re: [RBG-Alliance] Guns

[ Non-member submission from  TgRhiannon at aol.com]

Thank you, hunter, for another good point.

I feel the same way about pro-gun-control people and am quite frustrated
I hear of another group of suburban "million mom march" participants
in front of the capitol with the belief that guns are really the cause of
crime. What do you think could be done to alert people to and tackle the
causes of crime and the social circumstances that promote crime?

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