Let’s talk about genocide.Genocide does require many individual acts of murder, but there’s a lot more to it. Gun violence kills about 30,000 Americans a year. If the victims were people with hazel eyes, if people with hazel eyes were being terrorized and forced to live in fear, then US gun violence would be genocide. As it is, it’s just a national tragedy, a failure of public health, and an embarrassment.
Genocide is organized, it’s systematic, it’s supported by people in power. It’s aim to to terrorize and murder large groups of people who share a trait. One could argue that many of Stalin’s millions of murders were not genocide as the targets shared little in common other than Stalin wanted them dead (there are obvious exceptions with some Soviet ethnic minorities). Naziism still serves as our best example of genocide.
Once the Nazi regime decided that Jews would be the target, they systematically drove German Jews out of business, destroyed their places of worship, shot them, beat them, put them in rail cars segregating and murdering them. The entire power of the state was set against an ethnic group. The Germans, who a few years before had been reduced to an impoverished country with little military might, built a dictatorship and a powerful military using the consent of the people, terror, murder, and propaganda. The majority of Germans didn’t oppose this. Any ethnic minority who was labelled to die did just that because an entire state was set against them.
Lately, a segment of the US gun-nut population has been (non-ironically) comparing gun control to Naziism. It’s really hard to believe any explanation for this idiocy is necessary, but let’s look at this analogy a bit.
What is the supposed tyranny gun nuts want to oppose? When you break it down, read their literature, much of it is directed at the US government and at President Obama in particular. When he was first elected, guns and ammunition flew off the shelves. People completely lost their shit, if they ever had it in the first place.
Obama and Hitler share one common trait: they started as democratically-elected leaders. Barely, in Hitler’s case, as his terror gangs helped ensure his political opponents were in no shape to oppose him. In Obama’s case, Americans decided they wanted him to be president, not any of the other guys. This happened despite attempts to dis-enfranchise likely-Democratic voters. Because we are a fundamentally stable democracy, elections work.
Guns have never played a part in the maintenance of a democracy in the US. Gun ownership in the colonies, which existed for more than a century before the revolution perhaps made it easier to form an army to oppose the Brits, but really, without the external support of France, without the distances involved, the war would have lasted much longer. The colonies were, fundamentally, un-rulable and the real question was how much blood would have to be spilled to prove it.
The civil war, in which a large number of Americans rebelled against what they saw as an unjust government killed people—lots of people. It destroyed large swaths of the country. And the war was not won because Unionists kept guns at home, but because the industrial north could manufacture sophisticated weapons in large numbers.
The so-called disarming of the population feared by the gun-nuts isn’t happening, and if it did (we can only hope), it wouldn’t change our form of government, wouldn’t change our ability to resist tyranny from home or abroad. If the US government really wanted to become a dictatorship (unlikely to ever happen), disarming the population wouldn’t even be necessary. The navy could simply drop a JDAM on people they didn’t like.
But we do have constitutional protections against dictatorship, and they’ve worked for centuries. We have a tripartite government with checks and balances, we have a military that is forbidden from intervening domestically, and frankly, Americans simply haven’t been interested in tyranny as a form of government and have rejected leaders who were interested in it.
The government doesn’t want your guns. But many of us Americans want better control of the firearms trade, want military-style weapons off the market, and would like to see far fewer than 30,000 gun deaths a year. And because we’re sane, we don’t think that gun control means Obama is going to ship some ethnic group or another to camps and kill them.
America hasn’t done genocide well for a long time. When we nearly destroyed the entire indigenous American population we were un-apologetic, but we’ve managed not to repeat ourselves, and we’re unlikely to in the future.