Re: bias and concealed weapons

Date: Fri Jun 11 2004 - 13:01:07 PDT

I just would like to add to the great analysis of Jay that the fact
that this is happening at the richest country of the world, the same
country that has at its disposal the most sophisticated ways of self-
defense, makes the issue both more absurd and scarier. When I read a
few months ago about new military trials of long range missiles for
self defense I could not help but wonder from whom are these guys
trying to protect themselves?!

What is absurd is that lots of the fears of the average American
citizen look manufactured and invented when compared with the life and
problems of an average refugee or citizen of the third world. The
American guy has the resources to be happy and is in fear.

What makes the issue scary, of course, is that the same guy is willing
to act based on his or her fears and to produce an Irak or a Columbine.

And what makes the issue more disgusting is that with the money used in
arms, small and of mass destruction, we could likely solve most of the
nutritional problems of earth. How could the same country that has the
leading research universities in the world to produce such distorted
view of reality? How could the country that has total technological
control of earth be living in panic?


Quoting Jay Lemke <>:

> Evidently this is an issue in quite a few states. I recall a few
> years ago
> hearing about a Texas church that had to post a No Firearms sign
> outside.
> One aspect of this issue is that, like gay rights or gay marriage or
> abortion, it is one of those "wedge" issues that have been identified
> by
> the organized ultra-conservatives (largely funded by a small number
> of
> wealthy sources) as ways to generate wider interest and support for
> their
> agenda, and draw support away from their more liberal political
> opponents,
> by focusing attention on a few issues and taking attention away from
> larger
> across-the-board policy differences on issues where they know they
> have
> little popular support.
> This is also a political tactic that has been used by many other
> factions.
> It exploits one of the weaknesses of democracy, especially in a
> highly
> under-educated society like the US. (In the Netherlands, for
> instance, the
> national news organization, similar to the BBC, has election year
> websites
> where you can go, vote your opinion on about twenty different major
> issues,
> rank the importance of these issues to you, and the site then tells
> you
> which political party's positions most closely fit your views. It's
> very
> popular in a country with a dozen or more viable political parties.
> And an
> electorate that is actually informed about this wide range of issues
> and
> has some sense of the political history of these various parties.
> They also
> have a measure of voter apathy, as in the US, but they are
> well-enough
> informed and educated to actually make their democracy work fairly
> well.)
> Beyond that, there is the question of just why this particular issue
> attracts significant support for what seems to the rest of us to be
> an
> insane policy. In part there is the substantial political
> organization of
> the National Rifle Association, whose largest member base are rural
> hunters, joined more recently by those concerned about
> "self-defense". They
> have a rather fanatical position based on never having actually read
> the
> part of the US Constitution which supposedly guarantees citizens the
> right
> to keep and bear arms (it actually gives states the right to organize
> citizen militias, and the members of these militias the right to
> bring
> their own guns). They are trying to broaden their political base (and
> smaller-stakes contributions and membership dues) by exploiting what
> seems
> to be primarily a fear among European-Americans than "non-Whites"
> (since
> the 1970s African-Americans, and in various places also Latinos/as,
> and
> most recently I suppose "terrorists" who are portrayed always as
> ethnically
> if not racially distinct) will attack them in their homes or on the
> streets.
> This fear is actually quite real. It exists mainly in urban areas,
> where
> there are not many hunters, but growing NRA membership. It also
> exists in
> areas where homes are somewhat isolated by distance from neighbors or
> police. This latter group was recruited by the NRA in earlier
> campaigns
> along with women living alone, elderly people, etc. who feared attack
> in
> their homes. The new "concealed weapons" campaign has a different
> target:
> people who are afraid to walk the streets. There was a media-famous
> case in
> New York a number of years ago of a man ("white") who was threatened,
> and
> perhaps attacked, depending on versions of the story, by a group of
> young
> African-Americans on a subway train. He had a concealed handgun and
> shot a
> few of them, killing at least one I think. He pleaded self-defense,
> and
> there was a considerable debate at the time about the justice,
> legality,
> and notoriety of the case.
> The fear is mainly generated by the media, except for people who live
> in
> very high-crime urban areas (most of whom are not among the groups
> being
> recruited to these campaigns or to the NRA). It is fairly well
> documented
> in media studies that the "race" of violent criminals is prominent in
> the
> media, esp. when they are not "White". Similarly, portrayals of
> terrorists
> recently tend to show them with a definite "racial" stereotype. It is
> not
> just the news media that are involved. Hollywood films, television
> fiction
> and "reality" fiction, and many other media promote these
> stereotypes. It
> has even been to the advantage of the government to encourage such
> hysterias to justify policies, and of course it is highly profitable
> for
> the media. It would also be profitable for the small arms industry if
> the
> law allowed it, as it is quite profitable for the "home security
> systems"
> industry. But being safe in your home is not enough. You also need to
> feel
> safe on the street, hence "concealed weapons" ... as a right (the NRA
> thinks you have a constitutional right to equip yourself with
> weapons,
> concealed or not, everywhere, just like James Bond or Arnold
> Schwarzenegger). Many Americans have lost all sense of reality and
> commonsense because of the twin forces of media hysteria about the
> dangers
> of violent Others and media and now political portrayals of a fantasy
> of a
> nation of armed citizen-vigilantes. The real danger is that many
> politicians and legislators will actually vote to pander to these
> hysterias
> and fantasies.
> This is a historical pattern that has led to disaster in many parts
> of the
> world many times in the past. It can certainly happen here, too.
> JAY.
> At 01:51 PM 6/11/2004, you wrote:
> >Utah's legislature has been trying to pass laws that allow concealed
> weapons
> >in schools, churches, and court buildings. The Univ. of Utah refused
> to
> >allow concealed weapons on campus, and was taken to court. Justices
> in
> >the Federal court building in Salt Lake City also refused to allow
> guns
> >in the building, and had to justify their actions by appealing to
> some
> >special provision in a little-known regulation.
> >
> >curiouser and curiouser!
> >Nancy
> >
> >
> >
> >Jay Lemke wrote:
> >tells the story of how Wisconsin gun enthusiasts and libertarian (if
> that's
> >the right word) Republicans in the Wisconsin legistlature came
> within one
> >vote of over-riding the governor's veto of a bill actually passed by
> both
> >houses of the legislature TO MAKE IT LEGAL TO CARRY CONCEALED
> >the state, reversing law and policy that dates from 1873.
> Jay Lemke
> Professor
> University of Michigan
> School of Education
> 610 East University
> Ann Arbor, MI 48109
> Tel. 734-763-9276
> Email.
> Website.

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