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An All-American Slaughter: The Youthful Carnage of America’s Gun Culture


#1

An All-American Slaughter: The Youthful Carnage of America’s Gun Culture

Gary Younge

Every day, on average, seven kids and teens are shot dead in America. Election 2016 will undoubtedly prove consequential in many ways, but lowering that death count won’t be one of them. To grapple with fatalities on that scale -- 2,500 dead children annually -- a candidate would need a thoroughgoing plan for dealing with America's gun culture that goes well beyond background checks.


#2

Let me preface this by saying I totally support restrictions on gun ownership, esp. denying guns to anyone with a history of domestic abuse or any kind of mental illness.

Having said that, the author is using a bit of a red herring to make his case by suggesting that killings in poor neighborhoods aren't all "gang-related." That's not the point; it's not gang culture that is the only problem, it's gun culture, and violence culture, and materialistic culture that makes kids think that robbing or killing someone is OK in order to get "respect" or make some easy money. Jail isn't even seen as a liability, in fact I've read articles here on CD arguing that gangster and prison culture are unfairly criticized by outsiders.

The author also repeats the decades-old refrain about how kids "have to" join or associate with gangs. That's a pretty damn pessimistic view coming from someone allegedly sympathetic to this endemic violence. Hell, even I can think of one thing that would put a dent in gang culture: women could stop dating/marrying/having children with criminals, or intellectuals adults could stop defending prison/gangster culture as an inherent part of the black experience.


#4

We all know, or should know, that the oligarchy in the United States has pursued a racist policy since 1787.
Locking a permanent underclass (people of color) into place allows the 1% to grow more and more wealthy at the expense of the 99%.
Slaves were necessary to the colonial and post-colonial American economy because only slaves would do the stoop labor required to harvest cotton and tobacco. No freeman would do such work given an alternative.
Today's underclass keeps the lower and middle-class wage earner in-check through fear. The fear of joining the poor unless they accept the working conditions and wages offered to them by the plutocratic bosses.
Our current system is called feudalism.


#5

Unfortunately, you undermine your own argument against dismissing the "gang-related" deaths. You've also failed to make the connection between the gun culture associated with these young people, mainly of color, whose deaths White America dismisses with a 'tsk-tsk,' and that of the permitted-carrier collectors (largely White) who live in fear of having to defend their privilege. Kids are dying in both groups, though you may not have had any on your chosen day.


#6

Sorry, that's a suggestion from privilege and ignorance. There's a terrible fatalism settled among our young people of color, or in poor areas such as Appalachia. It assumes that the men will either die young, by violence, or will spend much to all of their adulthood in prison, mostly for doing violence to other young men. So they all know, if they are to have progeny, they must do their fathering early and widely. It's why we have the terms "baby mama/daddy." If women stopped having babies young, they would face lifetimes completely alone. There are no picket-fence dreams for the underclass.


#7

Point taken, but when I was poor I didn't see making a child as a priority (or even a good idea), but I'm male and we're talking about females so I'll try not to project.

That being the case, and widespread economic revolution not appearing to be in the cards, I'm not sure what solutions there are. The problems all seem to have causes that themselves can't be changed. That makes it all the more depressing.


#8

Interesting perspective. You speak as though the poor are sitting there contemplating their likelihood of reproducing and acting based on some sort of projection of probability. Having lived among and taught in rural/poor environments working with youth of different ethnicities, what I saw mostly was kids "hooking up" because it was the thing to do, and they had zero information about reproductive health. Many girls were having babies they couldn't support because there were few employment opportunities and the schools didn't have programs to help pregnant teens/young mothers stay in school. While these young women loved their babies, they weren't exactly having them to keep from being alone. They just didn't have the know-how or the means to prevent having them.


#9

Not at all, and certainly not rational choices. But look at the school-to-prison pipeline, listen in particular to urban youth. Check out the demographics and get back with your findings, or those of some reputable social scientists.

As to your own observations, you don't say when, and at most it's a different set of anecdotal evidence. But think of what we've heard from young people of color in Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston, Chicago, ... around unrest and police killings.


#10

Well, am completing my dissertation dealing with Native American girls...so
have decent background there. Backgrou,d is current, Latino families SW CO,
rural whites N Idaho, NA students AZ, African American relatives NY. A
cross section.


#11

Sorry, that's not a cross section, but 4 very different populations, and poorly defined at that. And you don't say what discipline your diss is in or anything about your methodology. I get a little cynical about "studies," but wish you well with your defense.


#12

Sorry, but the definition of a cross section is "" a small group that
includes examples of the different types of people or things in a larger
group," so yes--a cross section. I was going to issue an apology about the
DAPL pipeline--I did not realize the oil company had hurriedly purchased
the 7000 acre land the sacred Sioux sites were located upon, so I made an
error in stating they had acquired through eminent domain. And your
approval and/or cynicism mean nothing to me. Let's just stick to accuracy.
I'll keep working on my own.


#13

I don't know where you got that definition, but it doesn't hold up statistically. The term "cross section" is drawn from microscopic inspection of physical structures. You cut a thin slice right across something like a plant stem or an organ. But if it doesn't go all the way across, it doesn't qualify. In speaking of social populations, you can't take an example here and a handful there and draw useful conclusions for the whole. It would be like taking a wedge out of my arm, a syringe of blood, and a few of my hairs and attempting to say what kind of cook I am.

I completed coursework for a PhD in sociology at an Ivy university and worked for a number of years in data collection for mostly federally funded studies conducted by 2 of the nation's leading social-research institutions. Some of the studies I worked on are cited every day in the press and government decision-making. Random selection of respondents was the be-all-end-all in having anything at all to say. The definition we used was, roughly, 'every person in the United States who meets the age or other qualifying characteristics has, as far as we can manage it, the same chance of being represented among respondents to this research.' One ethnicity from one state and another from a different state would never be funded.


#14

"Youthful carnage"? Just ask the NRA and their bought and paid for lobbyists in Congress and they will tell you that slaughtered American young people and children are the price of freedom!


#15

" In reality, the main cause, pathologically speaking, is a legislative system that refuses to control the distribution of firearms, "

Yes, cuz all those guns in "gang related" shootings were legally acquired.

In the case described in the article, Edwin Rajo was accidentally shot by his 15 year old friend "Camilla". As far as I know it is unlawful for a minor to purchase a handgun in Texas. It is also unlawful to leave a handgun available to minors.

Stanley Taylor shot by Demontre Rice with lengthy arrest record. My guess is there are laws in NC that prevent people like Demontre Rice to own a handgun.

So " in reality, pathologically speaking, the legislative system" is in place. It's just that some people tend to ignore laws.


#17

"the main cause, pathologically speaking, is a legislative system that refuses to control the distribution of firearms,

More to the point, it is a legislative and business system that sees people merely as commodities and offers no future to the less well off in a highly competitive money-driven environment where the individual is isolated deliberately. Add in easily accessible guns, Hollywood's trash and the reticulation of water through lead pipes in 90% of USAian cities and you will get killings by firearms.That is the USA. I inspected it some years ago.


#18

The American culture glorifies violence.
The culture equates violence with manhood.
The white kids want to be "gangsta". The white girls gain status by having a black boyfriend, or having a mixed-race baby.
I don't know why this society, in large part, romanticizes violence.
I had a gun pointed at my belly six nights ago, at my home, at two-thirty in the morning by a bandit who was committing an armed robbery with two other tweakers.
They weren't black, either. One was white, the other Hispanic. I don't know about the third one. I didn't see him.
My son was hurt and had to go to the emergency room, but is okay thank God. But it was THAT close.

They were wearing hats or hoods, and bandanas over their faces.
I think the only reason they knew this house resulted directly from my own 23-year-old son's fascination with the rap and gun culture.

Two of them were found and arrested within days. One is 20 and the other 21.
It's tragic. They are most likely never going to have a decent life.
On the other hand, such crimes can not be allowed to happen if they can be prevented.

This is a mid-western university town, not a ghetto. But in my view, this insanity happened because of the pervasive violence-worshiping culture, in particular because of the popular hip-hop/rap culture from the cities, and most importantly because of the influx of meth and heroin and the availability to youth of prescription drugs such as xanax and klonopin.
The drug epidemic (and I don't mean marijuana) seems to make even the worst crimes and abuses seem "mellow" * - acceptable to this 20-something and teen generation.

So right now I find it difficult to even relax in my own home on my peaceful street. I constantly check locks to barricade myself in away from the violence. Never have I felt the need to live this way until recently.
This new (here, anyway) state of things is not anything like the hippies of the 60's and early 70's with their pot and acid.
It's a culture of violence, infecting our children, because, among other causes, as a society we have believed the false justifications for violence and killing, torture and deception, anything goes mentality fed to us via TV by our "leaders".
To me mind, the change at home wrought by 9/11 has been the most destructive force on all of us in my lifetime.
If this society wants to find an answer, part of that answer means a hard, honest look at how we have been bamboozled and duped by the press and the military-ruled government- because our government functions at the pleasure of the Pentagon and the large corporations.

  • "are you upset? Take your pill, and you will feel better!"- but that makes the overall societal picture worse.

#19

I'm sorry for your very difficult experience. I think you're right about some parts, but of course it is just one anecdotal observation, subject to any number of variable factors, including, for instance, your son's behavior. I would also add to your list of drugs that we've allowed to become problematical, with all the opioids, approved by the FDA only for acute care, but aggressively marketed to doctors for management of chronic pain. They quickly fail to manage chronic pain and use turns to abuse, and when the abuse outruns the ability to get the medications legally, it leads to illegally obtaining the drugs, and/or to heroin.


#20

I would respectfully disagree with that statement. It is used as an excuse by losers. I know plenty of immigrants to the US who arrived with next to zero or less money and are now leading comfortable lives. Not sure how it was "during the good old times" (whenever that was) but it doesn't seem too complicated today. Find something you are good at, do it well and you will most likely succeed.

Here's bit of trivia: two thirds of billionaires in the US didn't start up as millionaires.


#21

Not everyone is a Horatio Alger. I will grant that immigrant families are likely to be extremely hard-working as they want a future for their kids; and I have no idea of whatever the good old times were in the USA. But what I saw was a culture that deliberately worked to isolate the individual, in contrast to the UK where indeed in the good old days (pre-Thatcher) people in society seemed to feel more responsible towards each other than I found at that time in the USA. Things in the UK have got worse, but nowhere near socially quite as bad as the USA. It is not just guns that are the problem with the USA, and problems there clearly are given the extremely high murder and incarceration rates in the USA. I don't think that the USA has got any more "losers" than any other country.


#22

Actually met a couple of brit families on an Asian vacation a few years ago and told them there plenty of nice places to visit in the US. They were reluctant to come exactly because of the "gun problem" you are mentioning. I have been living in the US for more than 20 years and have yet to hear a gunshot outside a shooting range (that is true for most Americans). There seems to be this twisted view Britain that the US is some kind of wild west. It's not. It's not any different that any other western country. Just like there certain places you are not welcome in London, Madrid or Munich, there are places to avoid in the US.