By Subhash Kateel
“Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)
“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of your hand to do it.” (Proverbs 3:27)
“…and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.” (Surah 5:32)
It was those verses, from three different faiths, all swirling around my head as I watched the carnage in Sandy Hook on TV several weeks ago. 2012 marked a year in which many people I know had already lost so many loved ones. For a while, I had no thoughts, no analysis, no theories…just verses.
Then the debates emerged. To say that they became poisoned by posturing, divisiveness and sanctimony is both understandable and an understatement. People’s anger, sadness and defensiveness charged a discussion in ways I haven’t seen since 9/11. In our current climate, it is increasingly hard to see how some of the alternating proposals flowing from these debates, namely, a “good guy with a gun” in every school or a generic “gun control” that bans all bad guns (“assault weapons”) and gun accessories (magazines, pistol grips etc.) will be anything but a distraction from truly understanding and addressing the root of what is causing people to die.
My own beliefs on the culture of violence have put me at odds with many friends. I consider myself a progressive to the bone. I am pro-immigrant, anti-war on drugs and anti just about any war based on false pretenses and built on destruction. Like many people, I have seen enough needless death and violence to know how much I hate it, whether it comes from the barrel of a gun, the blade of a knife, the missile of a drone, a US-issued Stinger in the hands of the Taliban or a baseball bat. But even though my parents never owned guns, I grew up around many people that did and I have always believed in what the Second Amendment fundamentally stands for. I never saw the label progressive as meaning a little left of liberal. To me, it always meant that we address the root cause of every problem we face in a way that challenges ourselves as much as we challenge the powers creating those problems.
As a community organizer, I witnessed with my own eyes a War on Drugs that left communities littered with drugs, violence and mass incarceration, a War on Terror that terrorized communities and an undeclared War on Immigrants meant to “secure communities” that has left many families torn apart. So when I hear folks recite the mantra of “gun control” or “a good guy with a gun” as the cure-all for the culture of violence in this country, I pause.
For another “banning of bad guns” or a “giving all good guys guns” proposal to be held up as a solution to any of this madness means that we are answering our own questions with self-serving facts that reinforce what we are already thinking. The actual facts don’t support any side of this debate completely and desperately scream out for new solutions.
The facts behind “the facts”
Among the most self-serving facts are the constant comparisons between violence in the US and what Piers Morgan calls “the civilized” world. So yes, America leads most of Europe in an intentionally misleading measure of violence called gun deaths. But over half of US gun deaths are suicides that may have still happened without a gun and over a third of US murders take place without any gun whatsoever. For perspective, if every suicide in gun death-less Japan happened with a gun, it would have a much higher gun death rate than the United States because it has way more suicides. If all gun murders in America miraculously disappeared, we would still have a much higher murder rate than Japan.
Gun rights advocates who point to Switzerland’s’ high rates of gun ownership and low rates of… Read more here
Subhash Kateel is the co-host of Let’s Talk About It!, a real talk radio program that talks about the real issues that affect the lives of real people. Subhash Kateel has been organizing immigrant communities for over twelve years. He was the initiator of the detention and deportation work for Desis Rising Up and Moving and of co-Founder of Families For Freedom, a multi-ethnic network of immigrants facing and fighting deportation in 2002. He was also an organizer with the Florida Immigrant Coalition helping to develop community responses to ICE raids, detentions and deportations. Besides facilitating some of the most sought after know your rights trainings in the South East, he helped lead the We Are Florida! campaign that successfully stopped an Arizona-style anti-immigrant bill from passing in the Florida legislature. He is now the co-host of Let’s Talk About It! He has called many places home, including Saginaw, Michigan, Brooklyn, New York and now Miami Florida.