Gun Violence is the Left’s Fault
February 15th, 2018 | In our current political climate, those on the broad left typically favor gun regulation and those on the broad right typically favor the status quo. Accordingly, it is easy for the left to blame the right for the epidemic of gun violence that has raged in the U.S. for decades.
The people who blame the right for this are, in fact, wrong.
There are two poles in the policy spectrum of gun regulation: total rights to purchase and own firearms, and the absolute banishment of said rights. Our current gun regulations place us towards the former end of that spectrum, placing the proponents of stricter gun laws against the status quo. Consequently, it is the responsibility of the resistance—to the status quo and gun violence—to advocate for better laws that prevent the mass shootings like the one we just saw in Parkland, Florida.
To say that the left does not advocate for stricter gun regulations at all is false, of course. Unfortunately, policy changes so tied up in the Constitution—and this one very much is—require a strategic fight of monumental effort. It is not a question of do you or don’t you advocate for change, but how do you and to what degree?
A good parallel for this is the religious right’s campaign against contraception and abortion. In the same spectrum of “total rights” or “absolute banishment,” the U.S. leans more towards total rights to access to contraception and abortion, mostly due to the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade on the constitutionality of such access. While the existence of true access to abortion is debatable in many states, it still stands that the religious right is “the resistance” in this matter, and therefore more responsible for reproductive rights than the left is for protecting them. This is something the religious right knows, and fights for constantly via annual protests, graphic billboard ads, church programs for children, illegal campaigns to sabotage Planned Parenthood, and so much more.
Particularly in this last two years, the broad left has had much to focus on. From the divisive Democratic primary to the election of Donald Trump and the related sweep of neo-nazist, “alt right” ideology throughout the global West, it has been chaotic for those who typically favor more gun regulations. While it would be lovely to say that the anti-gun violence movement has gotten lost in the fray, it barely existed in a cohesive way before any of the aforementioned policy diversions.
In the wake of movements such as #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, and the Women’s March on Washington, it begs the question of where exactly is the organization on this issue? The left must galvanize its own members to outpace the efforts of the relatively small, yet disproportionately effective gun lobby. It is not sustainable to appeal to those on the right at this juncture; as flag bearers of the status quo, they have the privilege of being able to ignore this issue. Until the left forces the right and the rest of the country to change, more lives will end. Whose fault is that, really?
Sophia Freuden is a legal assistant in criminal law and a former participant in the Fulbright Program in Russia.
The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of other Arbitror contributors or of Arbitror itself.
Photo by betancourt for Wikimedia with a CC BY 2.0 license.