I’m sure you know what I’m referring to. Yeah, another — the latest (?) — mass shooting in the United States, this one at Old National Bank in Louisville, Kentucky, on April 10, two days ago as I write. Five killed, eight injured. The shooter, an employee of the bank, was killed in a shootout with police. Three officers were injured, including a rookie officer (ten days on the job), who was shot in the head and is struggling to survive. The gunman’s weapon was a nice, reliable AR-15-style rifle, legally purchased at a local gun shop a week earlier.
When we conceptualize the power that maintains capitalism, violence and ideology readily come to mind. Despite the vast inequality, grotesque exploitation, contempt for life and the environment, chronic instability and the rebellions that repeatedly arise and sometimes take power, capitalism seems firmer in the saddle than ever, spreading its suffocating tentacles to virtually every place on Earth.
“One way to undermine this lionization of violence and guns would be to downsize policing in as many ways as we possibly can and undermine these kind of cultural myths of people with guns as the solvers of all our problems.” — Alex Vitale
The twisted irony here — the irony of the brutal murder of Tyre Nichols in Memphis, Tennessee last month — is that his killers were the ones hired and trained to keep the city safe. Instead, they created half an hour of hell for the young man, kicking and beating and tasing him to death a short distance away from his mother’s house, after a random, and perhaps unjustified, traffic stop.
Whatever one thinks of the politics of Nancy Pelosi, American Democratic Speaker of the House, the violence perpetrated against her husband was nothing short of terrifying, and for many reasons. No spin can erase the fact that this was political violence. And it is becoming normalized in a country that has been rapidly unraveling for several years.
What would we do in a world lacking police, prisons, surveillance, borders, wars, nuclear weapons, and capitalism? Well, we might survive. We might sustain life on this little blue dot a little longer. That — in contrast to the status quo — ought to be sufficient. We might, in addition, do a lot more than sustain life. We might transform the lives of billions of people including each person reading these words. We might have lives with less fear and worry, more joy and accomplishment, more control and cooperation.
We have a violence problem. It runs through our nation like an invisible road system, touching every front door, cutting through each town and city. Mass shootings kill our children in their schools. Forty-five thousand people will take their own lives this year. An additional 14,000 are likely to be killed by gun violence. Twelve million of our fellow citizens will experience intimate partner violence this year. More than ten million children face violence in the forms of maltreatment, verbal abuse, sexual assault, extreme neglect, and physical abuse.
On Jan. 9, 1966, the White Knights of the Mississippi Ku Klux Klan murdered the Black civil rights activist Vernon Dahmer in Hattiesburg, Mississippi after fire-bombing and shooting into his house. It was one of thousands of hate crimes conducted in the south by whites who waged a reign of terror against Blacks to frighten them from abandoning calls for desegregation and voting rights.
It is extremely easy in the United States to obtain guns, to find places to practice using them, and to find trainers willing to teach you to use them. There’s no need to have any contact with the U.S. military in order to dress and act as if you’re in the military, as many mass-shooters do, some of them waging their own delusional wars against immigrants or other groups. But it is remarkable that at least 36% of U.S. mass shooters (and quite possibly more) have in fact been trained by the U.S. military.
Boston teacher Nino Brown, of the ANSWER Coalition, speaks with TRNN’s Ben Norton about the links between US militarism, gun violence, and police brutality. He connects the epidemic of school shootings domestically to the endless wars internationally.
Co-hosts Tyrel Ventura and Tabetha Wallace venture down under to Australia to interview a number of experts, including Pulitzer Prize winner John Pilger, on gun violence, gun culture, and the differences between gun ownership in the US and Australia.