Reducing this culture of violence — or even just this one instance of violence — as simply an issue of gun control erases and negates the real impact that white supremacy has in terrorizing.
In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, there’s a blanket sense of hopelessness and frustration that is gripping people across the country. It’s sobering to be confronted so directly with the violence that is so intertwined with this country’s history of colonization and upholding white supremacy, yet here we are. Though the sadness and grief of knowing that the victims of the shooting have lost their lives, we must still acknowledge and understand the ways that we make this violence possible.
Weapons are deadly, but it will never be enough to simply reduce these debates to gun-control.
Reducing this culture of violence — or even just this one instance of violence — as simply an issue of gun control erases and negates the real impact that white supremacy has in terrorizing. The truth is that gun control is only one face of the issue — white supremacy reaches far more than one side of this. Gun control alone isn’t enough to curb the culture of violence that certain groups of people have actively participated in and benefitted from. In and of itself, gun control could be yet another way to weaponize and control the access that marginalized people have to basic needs.
By refusing to speak on other issues that have just as much impact on the ways that marginalized people find themselves victims and survivors of terror, we’re inadvertently contributing to this culture of violence instead of breaking the cycle. That is something that we must reconcile and confront, first and foremost, before we can move forward.
It’s also necessary to see the connections to the broader culture of violence that gun control and the Las Vegas shooting has. It’s unsurprising that there’s so much pushback against seeing these connections — we’ve been conditioned not to.
Some of the things that also contribute to the state of these communities include funding of the military, police militarization, government-sponsored violence and treating the basics of human needs. Yet, even talking about these things is a taboo in and of itself. Why? Because we have been so conditioned to remove ourselves from the impact of our contributions to violence — to tell ourselves that we’re not like that — while at the same time, our silence itself is the consent to the violence happening all around us.
White supremacy and colonization is a multi-headed hydra. To reduce it to a single-point issue only serves to give it more power, and marginalized communities deserve so much more than that.
We’ve also seen the weaponization of basic human needs. Although we know that hyperbolically everyone is entitled to clean water, a roof over their heads, food on the table, and clothes on their back, too often we see these rights treated as privileges. Communities of color are especially vulnerable of this; Flint, Puerto Rico, Standing Rock… the ever-growing list of Black and brown communities taking to the public eye because they have become the latest public victims of white supremacy.
Marginalized communities deserve more than to just simply survive with the crumbs of necessities. We continue to collectively starve these communities of even the basics: food, clean water, good public education, lead-free housing etc. But it is impossible to separate our need to thrive and survive with the constant battle against white supremacy and colonization that we face. The two have been so vastly intertwined that now when instances of violence occur like this towards our communities, we are no longer shocked or surprised. It is to be expected.
Gun control may seem like a reasonable solution on its own, but it can quickly become another form of control and power of marginalized communities. It also erases the ways that communities of color, in particular, are already vulnerable to acts of violence rooted in gun control. It also negates that those responsible for most of these acts of violence are the “lone wolf” white male gunman. In erasing gun control’s connection to white supremacy at large, it still works as a way to protect whiteness from accountability and being the true catalyst for so much of this violence.
We have to start viewing violence as a cultural response to white supremacy and colonization, rather than singular, one-off instances that happen once in a while at random. In doing so, we’re moving one step closer towards understanding the true work that needs to be done and what we must do to combat the culture that we have create and upheld for too long.