"New Way To Stop Gun Violence" Isn't New At All

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And it’s not really a way to stop “gun violence,” as much as it is a way to impose new restrictions on the exercise of a constitutional right.


Consider this piece by Kristen Hoggatt-Abade an attempt at re-branding the gun control movement instead of a good faith effort to offer a truly new approach to tackling violent crime.

The accounts of gun violence are never ending these days. They’re becoming so common that many foreign-born people (I’m married to one of them) think this is just what life in the United States looks like. Isn’t that horrific? So I did some research to see if academia had something to offer and discovered actor-network-theory (ANT).

ANT is a theory being applied to a number of disciplines in higher ed. One of its main proponents, Bruno Latour, defined it as an anti-methodology, something that tells us how not to study things.

ANT emphasizes the relatedness between living and nonliving things, considering how each action triggers another action in an expanding network of players. Everything’s connected. I can’t drink my coffee without my cup and I can’t hold it comfortably without the handle.

Let’s examine what happens when a fatal shooting occurs: Is it the gun that kills people, as gun control advocates insist? Or is it the person holding the gun, as gun rights advocates insist?

ANT would say the answer lies in a different question, highlighting the matrix that enables the action: the pull of the trigger, the explosion of gunpowder, even the humidity of the air that the bullet travels through to reach its target.

With all due respect to Hoggatt-Abade, any approach that gives more weight to the humidity of the air that the bullet travels through than the person who actually pulled the trigger sounds like a bad idea to me. And as it turns out, even though Hoggatt-Abade presents her idea as a new approach, she still ends up calling for the same stale and tired gun control laws that anti-gun activists have demanded for years.


Considering ANT, one begins to see that the current gun debate fuels a false dichotomy. To prevent shooting deaths, we need to change the matrix: we need a multi-pronged approach to prevent more people from dying due to gun violence. That means better education. That means improved mental health services. That means more reliable tools for families to flag distressed relatives. That also means more gun control legislation to make guns harder to get.

Just hear me out: I’m not saying that we need to make guns impossible to get. Maybe it means that someone who wants a gun may have to work a little harder, but we all know that we put effort into something that’s really important to us.

Trust me: I’ve been married for 15 years to an Egyptian. It took effort to secure him a fiancé visa, and it takes effort to maintain a cross-cultural relationship — and considerable effort to accept the fact that, eight years ago, he purchased a firearm, which is always kept in a safe with a combination and a key lock.

So, Hoggatt-Abade’s husband purchased a gun and presumably didn’t have to work hard enough to get it, at least as far as his wife’s concerned. Yet he himself has acted safely and responsibly with that firearm in the eight years he’s owned it, which goes to show how simplistic and off-base her argument really is.

The criminals who are illegally obtaining and using firearms don’t care how hard it is to legally get a gun. As long as they can use the black market, straw purchases, and even print their own firearms, why would they give a damn about new restrictions on those hoping to legally acquire a gun? Hoggatt-Abade may believe she’s onto something new here, but in actuality she’s still embracing the “regulate and arrest our way to safety” approach that turns responsible citizens into non-violent criminals and leaves violent criminals to prey on a disarmed populace. She can call it whatever she likes, but she can’t change the fact that it’s an awful idea that’s been tried to no success in states like California and New York, which have restrictive gun control laws and plenty of violent criminals unconcerned and unaffected by each new regulation that’s put in place.


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