Gun control is back in the spotlight again. The focus is on the state of Virginia this time where Democrats are seeking to pass numerous laws to ban certain weapons and restrict access to others. Many consider these laws extremely draconian and odious setting tensions in the state of Virginia (and even the nation) on edge. Demonstrations against these laws were planned leading the governor of the state to declare a state of emergency for fear of violence. Many fear the outbreak of civil war over these laws as many, including local officials, say they will refuse to abide by these laws.
Gun control is nothing new in America. The political Left has long seen gun control as necessary in order to stop the supposed rise in armed, violent crime as well as mass shootings. Every time a mass shooting occurs, you can be sure to have sprawling media coverage with pundits calling for something to be done to protect citizens: namely, ban certain if not all firearms. Critics point out that the worst tyrants in history (e.g. Hitler, Stalin, Mao, the Kim family, Pot) all used gun control as a means of carrying out the worst atrocities the world has ever seen. Protection from this kind of tyranny is one of the primary reasons for the 2ndAmendment, it is argued. The Left, however, does not seem to be moved by these arguments given their continued support of gun control.
There is, however, another reason that the political Left should oppose gun control. Gun control, it can be argued, is white privilege. Within the last decade, the US has witnessed the rise to prominence of the social justice movement. This movement seeks to advance the interests of certain minority groups that are considered to be treated unjustly in society. This injustice could be either cultural, economic, or political, and overcoming this injustice calls for breaking down barriers to opportunity, mobility, and participation in any aspect of society (i.e. employment, health care, voting, etc.). Acknowledging one’s privilege due to people’s past actions is a constant refrain. Often such injustice goes unrecognized because it is so ingrained in the culture. People simply fail to recognize that they are privileged. As a result, a critical theory is necessary to explain what is wrong in society, identify who can change society, and provide the means and principles to enforce that change.
This injustice can be exemplified in many ways. Selling faux cotton is racist; holding a door open for a woman is sexist; wearing certain jewelry is cultural appropriation; liking white meat is racist; mathematics is infected with whiteness. Even logic and science can be considered improper because of its white, western history. In all of these cases, the social justice movement argues that white people are asserting their cultural dominance over minorities. White people take other people’s cultures and use aspects of it for white people’s benefit. White people force minorities to accept the white, western worldview squashing any other minority viewpoint. White people ignore the suffering of minorities and commit microaggressions that trigger negative emotional responses amongst minorities. This privilege is a subtle form of racism and bigotry that needs to be recognized and ended. The political Left has claimed to be the ardent champion of the social justice movement; therefore, the Left ought to bring an end to this white privilege.
Given the social justice movement’s philosophical standpoint, one should immediately conclude that gun control is white privilege. White westerners have used gun control as a means of suppressing minorities all over the globe for centuries. Gun control has been an integral part of European colonialism, something the social justice movement condemns. Everywhere Europeans colonized, they denied the local inhabitants the right to own firearms so as to keep them in submission. In the US in particular, African Americans and Native Americans were all denied access to firearms at one point leading them to be enslaved and even massacred. Let us also not forget how the Jews were denied firearms and subsequently massacred by the Germans in what is considered to be one the greatest atrocities of history. Who knows how much suffering these minorities undergo every time gun control is proposed? How many microaggressions have these people experienced as they remember how gun control was used to traumatize their ancestors and place them where they are now?
If the political Left truly cares about minorities and delivering social justice to them, then the Left would immediately repudiate gun control. The Left, however, does the complete opposite, which is puzzling. Perhaps the political Left does not realize that it is promoting white privilege. Perhaps it is unaware of the privilege latent in the notion of gun control according to social justice philosophy. If so, then they need to be made aware of how they are promulgating injustice. The next time someone on the Left espouses gun control, make them aware of their privilege. Make them aware of the microaggression they have committed. Only then will they be able to see the experiences of minorities and deliver to them the social justice they deserve: the ability to possess firearms of all kinds just like white people. Hopefully, the political Left will see the error of its ways, be consistent with its philosophy, and abandon gun control before more minorities are hurt.
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For more on the notion of “privilege,” see Joshua Rothman, “The Origins of ‘Privilege’,” The New Yorker, March 12, 2014, https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/the-origins-of-privilege, accessed May 15, 2019.
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