Recently Steven Rosenfeld, a writer for Salon published an article criticizing Barbara Boxer’s idiotic and fascistic legislation which proposes that we deploy national guard troops in public schools. I agree that it is a horrendous proposition, on par with right-wing demagogue Wayne La Pierre’s cranky diatribe in which he advocated essentially the same thing while simultaneously articulating the standard curmudgeonly scapegoating of video games and movies. (Julian Sanchez summed up the absurdity of this all too common practice on twitter.)
The article was generally well-written and to his credit Rosenfeld has in the past criticized Obama’s dismal record on Civil Liberties. However I believe that a far greater threat than ceding the gun control debate to the right is the possibility of the left ceding the rhetoric of liberty and anti-authoritarianism to conservatives. One of the reasons that I have in the past been skeptical of gun control was because my real political coming of age was in the paranoid environment of post 9/11 hysteria. Everything from the Patriot Act to wars against countries that never attacked us to torture was justified under the guise of “keeping us safer” and “preventing another 9/11.” I took seriously Ben Franklin’s proposition that “Those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty or safety.” Still my position on guns is by no means static and provided the constitutional right to bear arms is respected I could get behind some common sense safety measures if they would make atrocities like Newtown and Aurora less likely.
However there are many reprehensible aspects of state policy which those of us on the left should be loudly opposed to. The war on drugs for instance has led to nearly 60,000 deaths in Mexico. It has also given the United States the infamous distinction of having the highest incarceration rate in the world. Over the past decade grants from the Department of Homeland Security have led to militarized police departments. If one is concerned as Rosenfeld is (and I share his concern) with the nature of a heavily armed society than one should also be opposed to arming police to the teeth. One should also oppose the deplorable drone strikes in Pakistan which have led to the deaths of countless civilians. In short there are far greater obstacles to achieving a more peaceful world then America’s gun culture. It would be a shame if those of us who care about justice failed to speak out about them.