By now the academy is well aware of the latest mass shooting that occurred yesterday at Umpqua Community College in Oregon and claimed ten lives as of reporting this morning. While my social media has exploded with outrage by colleagues, professors, and academics that fear for their safety and the safety of their students, the “academy” has remained silent. I checked the websites of the professional associations that are supposed to advocate for me and my profession—the American Association of University Professors (AAUP); American Political Science Association (APSA); Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA); and the American Association of University Women (AAUW)—not one of them has made a public statement on the shooting in Oregon, not one of them has issued a call for action, not one of them has launched an advocacy campaign. You might think that it is too early, the bureaucratic machines have not yet had the time to carefully craft a political statement, but my research assistants and I looked through the on-line archives of these professional organizations, there have been no statements issued in response to any of the following campus shootings as far as we can tell from the on-line archives (timeline data compiled from here, here and here) . Continue reading
**This is a guest post by Dr. Christopher Neff, Lecturer in Public Policy at University of Sydney.**
This past week President Obama marked one year since legislative efforts at gun control failed in the Congress. He lamented at the normalization of school shootings in the United States, noting, “my biggest frustration is that this society has not been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who can do unbelievable damage.” What the President and his aides fail to realize is that mass shootings today make gun control less like to pass, not more likely. Why? It’s all about emotional nature of the issues and the strength of the policy community, which is consistent with my research regarding policy responses to shark bites. Here’s how:
First, mass shootings and gun violence ‘turns off’ the wider public from the politics of ‘gun control.’ Mass shootings at schools create a series of aversive emotional conditions that cause emotional overload. These events become “temporally combined” (Linville and Fischer, 1991) in the minds of the public into one larger, more intense emotional event. For example, the shooting of each individual in a school tragedy get placed in the context of a larger event, such as “Columbine,” “Virginia Tech,” or “Sandy Hook.” We also see the public sharing lists and maps of mass shootings across the country in the past decade. The size and intensity of this emotional weight limits the number of people who have a capacity to engage. The natural response for the public therefore is to seek emotional relief from this condition and dreaded outcome. Simply put, people will not- and cannot- rally toward prolonged emotional distress. As a result, this limits the number of people who can compete with the entrenched gun rights lobby.
Secondly, the occurrence of mass shootings ‘turns on’ the support of gun rights advocates. Continue reading
“All the fake news that’s fit to print”
I feel the need to make a disclaimer here. If you think I am trying to get a tasteless laugh out of a tragic situation, you are incorrect. I have made my views about the gun lobby known here. In light of recent NRA proposals to place armed guards in every school in the country, real life is more farcical than this issue of the Canard. The point, it should be clear, is to illluminate the absurdity of the group’s position.
In the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newton, Connecticut, the National Rifle Association is advocating a new alternative policy for prevent gun violence – the arming of children of all ages. Wayne LaPierre, spokesperson for the NRA, issued a statement declaring: “Bad guys will think twice about entering a school to hurt kids if they know the kids are packing too. I know America’s youth. They are not going down without a fight. Even kindergartners need to know the price of liberty. This is about the future of American democracy.”
The NRA is citing studies by prominent international relations academics who argue that the proliferation of weapons actually makes all safer. The absence of weapons, it is argued, invites aggression, whereas the presence of weapons serves to deter. They cite the profound peace and stability that currently exists in the Indian subcontinent as an example.
Brad Delong calls this “hoisted from the archives,” which is clearly a better term for what I’m doing. But, as that’s taken and I’m not as smart as the great economics professor, I guess I’ll just have to stick with this alternative.
Guns and Genocide, version 96.12b
From 11 June 2005
After the 1989 massacre of pro-democracy advocates in Tiananmen Square by the People’s Liberation Army, the NRA ran advertisements claiming that if the protesters had been armed, they could’ve defended themselves and thus prevented the anti-democracy crackdown. This kind of argument, rooted in the (correct) conviction that the ultimate recourse against tyranny is armed insurrection, has a long history both in political theory and in gun-rights advocacy.
If you haven’t been over there yet, the folks at The Monkey Cage are providing a slew of stuff on gun-control, gun-violence, and cognate topics.*
“First they came for the AK-47s…..”
In the wake of the Connecticut shootings and in light of the hints dropped by Obama at the vigil for the victims, it seems we should be prepared for a debate in the coming weeks and months between those who advocate greater gun control to protect innocent lives and those who make a competing moral claim that such regulations infringe on the more important right to bear arms, which is supposed to be part of a general value of freedom. But that’s bullshit. Human beings with a moral compass who live in any kind of society do not have total freedom. Never have and never will. Total freedom is incompatible with any notion of morality, whether liberal or conservative, and makes collective living impossible.
This must be satire. It isn’t? No, it has to be. I mean… seriously?
In a post on his Twitter account, Calderón offered his condolences to the victims but then added that the incident showed that “the American Congress must review its mistaken legislation on guns. It’s doing damage to us all.”
It was hardly a new theme from Mexico’s lame-duck president. But his latest statement requires an extraordinary amount of gall. During Calderón’s presidency, more than fifty thousand of his people have died in the war on drugs that he chose to escalate. A foreign leader with that awful of a track record daring to lecture the United States on its policies regarding firearms is not likely to sit well with most Americans.
But there can be no doubt that this sort of thing does not sit well with Americans. As the saying goes, with great power comes the right to lecture, and not be lectured to.
Remember the threat terrorism was supposed to pose to shopping malls? Actually, some of these warnings are quite recent.
For years, some have feared that terrorists might go into shopping malls and start killing innocent shoppers or service employees. Often, the warnings are associated with popular holidays like Halloween or Christmas.
Here’s how Michelle Malkin might handle the latest developments in Omaha — if she worried about the ready availability of handguns, assault rifles and other terrifying weapons in the US:
Reports are, of course, quick to stress that accused
jihadi Shareef [killer Robert Hawkins] allegedly acted as a “lone wolf.”
He is not alone.
“Lone wolves” who believe in violent
jihad [pathways to celebrity] add up.
Sadly, the U.S. leads the industrialized world in death by gun violence.
The narrative from yesterday is all too familiar. A distressed individual snaps, perhaps triggered by loss of a job or personal relationship, shoots a bunch of innocent people in a public place, and then kills himself (the shooter is typically male).
Most of the IR bloggers at the Duck are interested in the development and diffusion of international norms that affect the behavior of states.
Sometimes, I wonder why the U.S. is not more like the rest of the industrialized world — embracing universal health care, gun control, longer vacations, and other progressive ideas.