Two Separate Problems that Sometimes Intersect: Guns and White Nationalism

4 Aug

The El Paso shooting highlighted two distinct problems in America, which occasionally, horrifically intersect. On the one hand there is guns, but that is a problem only rarely manifested in mass shootings (when compared to gun deaths in America as a whole). Mass shootings are of course terrible, but they make the news because they are seemingly random, and could theoretically affect anyone, including the white and wealthy. Most gun violence doesn’t hit that demographic. Gun suicides, homicides, and accidental shootings disproportionately affect poor and minority communities. That’s why measures to address gun violence really need to go beyond banning assault rifles. That of course would be a good thing, but reducing the circulation of handguns would have the biggest impact.

Then there’s the problem of white nationalist terrorism. What happened in El Paso was clearly a political attack, intended to provoke terror among non-white nationalists, and particularly minorities (latinx immigrants were the target in this case). Now this attack, and the one in Dayton, were able to kill so many people because of the easy availability of assault weapons. But because this is inspired by an ideology, one shared and promoted by our President, that gun control, background checks, and improved mental health care won’t solve. We have to accept that white nationalism terrorism is a political threat, and requires political action in opposition, rather than the apolitical language of law enforcement and gun control.

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