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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.

Painting white boys and men as lone wolves has become a tradition of its own. Men don’t want to be seen as violent or toxic, and they don’t want to address sexism and misogyny.

“I knew he had to be Black. I said it: You can tell this is a [redacted] because ain’t no rhyme or reason to none of these attacks.” Said my grandmother, circa October 2012, about the DC Sniper. Apparently because the shootings seemed random, instead of calculated (at the time) was proof of Black deficiency, of intellectual inferiority. A white mass murderer would have planned, calculated, deduced. This was one of my earliest memories of terror—distant terror because I lived in the Midwest. But terror all the same. I was twelve, and this was obviously right after 9/11. The DC Sniper’s name was Muhammad. That was enough for him to be labeled a terrorist without mens rea. (I learned that term from Legally Blonde, by the way.) In actuality, according to this research, the amount of mass shootings committed by white men, Black men, etc. is directly proportionate to the population. The main common denominator, if we exclude military/imperialism, seems to be gender: men are more likely to commit murder or violence period, though the reasons why are oft-disputed. However, it seems that, while “terrorism” is the go-to name for Black and brown perpetrators of violence, there is a certain hesitation people have when the accused is white. Also, equally suspect is the fact that the definition of domestic terrorism was amended—not, it seems, to stop violence but for the US to be able to target activists, organizers, and protesters.

White supremacist patriarchy is deceptive and manipulative, not only making things disappear but making other things appear in its place.

White supremacy is a fatally insidious system. And when it intersects with the devastation of other systems of oppression, like cisheteropatriarchy, the results are catastrophic. This manifests clearly in privileging of white people over Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), often especially Black and Indigenous folks, across several social institutions like housing, education, wealth, employment, and healthcare. These are most prominent for white men as the same social institutions also disadvantage women and people of other marginalized genders. White people, men especially, are also uniquely positioned by these systems and structures, providing an unfettered kind of access, not only in social institutions but also to material forms of power. This leads to the disproportionate concentration of wealth in White men and nearly the majority possessing firearms in the US, powers which have been shown to manifest in violence. In particular, the majority of mass violence in the US has been committed by white men. Yet despite the clear evidence that implicates white supremacist patriarchal structures in positioning white folks, especially white men, to violent expressions of power, white supremacy, the patriarchy, and white men are scarcely discussed in the context of violence. White supremacy and those who perpetuate it are quick to absolve those perpetrating crime by virtue of their white maleness.

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