Domestic terrorism or business as usual?

From Arizona to Virginia, from Colorado to Texas, from Wisconsin to everywhere else, mass murders are much in the news. All of these incidents one common factor: the victims were injured or killed by a bullet fired from a gun.  These guns were fired by people from diverse backgrounds.  Some of the crimes were motivated by ethnic or political hatred. Some were probably motivated by psychotic delusions. The murderers are different, their instruments are the same.

Most gun violence is of course committed not during mass shootings but during accidents, suicides, crimes, and gang violence.  If you ask convicted criminals, most will tell you they obtained their weapons illegally. But that’s not really the point.

There’s been a lot of chatter about whether to label shootings based on the ethnicity of victims or on political beliefs “domestic terrorism”.  This is unanswerable, because it’s the wrong question.

All gun violence is domestic terrorism.  Hundreds of thousands of Americans are victims of gun violence, and many times that live in fear of gun violence.  This is the terrorism.  Like jihadis with bombs, criminals who kill with guns are the hand of the terrorist, not the brain, not the soul. The heart and soul of terrorism is a culture that permits and encourages it. Whether it is Naziism, jihadism, or any other terrorist movement, there are those who lead, and those who kill.

In the U.S., we are terrorized by gun violence. There are those who lead the charge, who help cultivate the idea that guns are intrinsic to our way of life, that guns increase safety (!). They argue that “you” are the one who needs a gun, because “they” have them. They create both the threat and the solution. There are those that believe the lie. There are those who suffer. There are impotent legislators who wring their hands. There is you, and there is me.

Few civilized nations allow themselves to be terrorized by firearms. Why are we different? Is it our “tradition”? Should we re-think this tradition like we have other peculiar institutions?

First let’s admit the truth: all gun violence is domestic terrorism. And the guilty aren’t in prisons.

9 Comments

  1. I want to make sure I’m not overreaching on interpreting what you’ve written, but given what you’ve written I think the implication deserves explication. Are you saying all gun owners are terrorists, even the millions of gun owners that have never fired a shot at another person ever in their life and prefer that they never have to? It’s kind of hard to draw a different interpretation given you said this:

    Few civilized nations allow themselves to be terrorized by firearms. Why are we different? Is it our “tradition”? Should we re-think this tradition like we have other peculiar institutions?

    First let’s admit the truth: all gun violence is domestic terrorism. And the guilty aren’t in prisons.

    If I’m overreaching, I really think you need to clarify. Just who exactly are you calling “terrorists”?

    • He said gun violence is terrorism, not gun ownership. As to innocent gun owners, you have to consider that even the threat of gun violence would be, in a crude simplification of the original term, terrifying.
      Moreover, to have a gun usually means that you’re willing to use it. If the owner has the gun for self-defense, then this implies that they would be willing to shoot someone if he they thought it were necessary. So yeah, that’s a chilling thought for you.

      • brandishwar

         /  August 14, 2012

        Why must a gun be terrifying? If a gun is sitting on the table, would you run from it in fear or terror? I’d hope not. I’d hope you’d have the sense to know that a gun by itself does nothing. And most modern guns have safeties on them such that even if one were to drop while having a chambered round it would still pose no threat. It is only a threat if it were in someone’s hands, with a finger on the trigger, a round in the chamber, and that barrel pointed at someone with the trigger being depressed. At no other time is it a threat.

        The question that needs to be asked is what should you fear more: the gun, or the person holding it? Do you automatically fear anyone with a gun? If so, then you should fear walking out your door for several million people every day lawfully carry concealed. You’ve likely encountered them at the grocery store, Wal-Mart, or wherever you frequent. And close to all of them abide by laws enough to not take their weapons into statutory gun-free zones (schools, post office, courthouses, etc…) The ones to fear are the ones who ignore the law.

        And why is a gun in the hands of a police officer or military personnel any less of a threat than one in the hands of an ordinary citizen? As we saw with Fort Hood, even military personnel can turn deranged and start murdering innocent people. Cops can go bad as well and start killing innocent people. And cops have killed innocent people and animals.

        Now if a deranged person with a gun shows up at your door, what do you do? Run and call the police? As I learned this past weekend when I screamed at my wife to call the police because of a domestic disturbance below us that turned bad, causing two kids to flee into the hallway, when moments count, the police are minutes away. Police do not protect citizens. They are not obligated to protect citizens and you have no right to police “protection”. Police are, first and foremost, law enforcement officers.

        So if a deranged person comes to your house with a gun intent on causing you harm, what do you do? If there’s a gun in the home, you do what a 14 year-old teenager in Phoenix recently did: you grab the gun and you neutralize the threat. And only after you know the threat is no longer a threat do you call in law enforcement to enforce the laws.

        What you do not hear are the crimes that are deterred every day because of a lawful citizen carrying for their own protection. Most crimes are deterred by merely brandishing the weapon — not aiming it, not doing anything more than revealing it or drawing it from its holster. You don’t hear about those stopped crimes, but more people are revealing their stories. Even when they did everything to avoid a bad situation and still ended up in one, those people are alive today because they had a means to deter a crime — without needing to fire a shot.

        You said in another comment that you think guns shouldn’t exist. I think you should change your assertion. Guns should not exist because guns should not be necessary. The unfortunate thing, however, is that they are.

  2. Reblogged this on First and Last and Always and commented:
    Concise and well put. I personally don’t think firearms should exist.

  3. Old Geezer

     /  August 13, 2012

    We are often told that if everyone were armed this type of thing wouldn’t happen. I submit that if every member of the theater audience were armed, not a single death would have been averted. One man with tear gas, body armor and automatic weaponry acted in the dark before anyone could react. He bought all of his gear legally and within the specifications put forth by the NRA. Living in a state where nearly everyone is a hunter, I do not see why we must protect the right to own fully automatic weapons. There are no serious hunters who take AK’s into the woods.

    • brandishwar

       /  August 14, 2012

      Living in a state where nearly everyone is a hunter, I do not see why we must protect the right to own fully automatic weapons. There are no serious hunters who take AK’s into the woods.

      Ever heard of sport-shooting? I own a .40 S&W that was former police issue. Right now it’s only purpose is tearing up pieces of paper. Nothing wrong with that in my opinion. And nothing wrong with owning an AR-15 or AK-47 for target shooting.

      We are often told that if everyone were armed this type of thing wouldn’t happen. I submit that if every member of the theater audience were armed, not a single death would have been averted. One man with tear gas, body armor and automatic weaponry acted in the dark before anyone could react.

      Hindsight is 20/20. We can analyze that situation for years on out, both the build-up to it and what was going on during. One person who was armed might not have prevented all of the deaths, but he could’ve drastically changed the odds of more people walking out of there, and more of them walking out alive. This is especially true when you look at the fact that he willingly submitted himself to police, showing he had no intention of going out in a body bag. One person putting fire on him could’ve changed the situation. Sure the situation could’ve swung in the wrong direction, but it’s also likely it could’ve stopped a bad situation before it became as bad as it did. We cannot know. All we can do is speculate.

  4. I think if you look carefully, you’ll see that most of the mass murders were committed by white males. That may seem diverse to you, but there’s a pattern that white males seem to think they can act violently towards other people in a big way. (If most of these murders were committed by Asian females, the media would not see them as diverse, even if they came from very different cultural backgrounds, Chinese, Korean, Hmong, Japanese.)

  5. becca

     /  August 14, 2012

    Wait, you say that like ethnic/political hatred isn’t a psychotic delusion…

    I also think the proportion of domestic gun violence that are suicides makes your argument complicated, as calling suicide terrorism doesn’t sit well with me (though I know people who would argue it is). You’re either using a non-standard definition of “violence” or your framing doesn’t quite work.

    That said, I think there is some point at which gun rights advocacy can cross the line to support of terrorism. A small handful of gun rights advocates are so extreme in their rhetoric they blame anyone who is killed (because they didn’t have a gun, or didn’t use it right, or basically always because they were ‘too weak’ in some way). It’s usually bravado to make themselves feel safer, but it has a destructive effect on society.

  6. JustaTech

     /  August 14, 2012

    There is a time and a place for guns (on the range, ~while hunting), but it drives me crazy when some peole act like a gun is the only way to protect yourself. Case in point: My lin-laws live in a gated housing development in a nice suburb of a nice city. They have a big, unfriendly (to strangers) dog. One day my father-in-law starts talking about how he needs a gun to keep them safe. To which my husband said “what about the fancy alarm system?” “Oh, we don’t turn that on. But I need a shotgun.” Arragh! No, you need to use the non-hazardous tools you already have!

    (Also, if you are almost completely blind without your galsses, maybe a gun by the bed is not the best idea. You have to see something to shoot it.)

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