December 24, 2012
The National Rifle Association's promise of "meaningful contributions" to the US debate about gun violence consisted of a denunciation of the media, the president, the culture, mental illness, and violent video games. N.R.A. president Wayne LaPierre proposed that armed volunteer guards be stationed at every school in America on the grounds that signs proclaiming schools to be "gun-free zones" are practically an invitation to killers. More guns equal more safety.
According to the NRA it is the unknowable numbers of deranged monsters roaming the streets who were responsible for gun crime. The NRA's position is that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. It was red meat for the conservative base--the angry, ageing white male southern base who fear that they are losing their power.
Christy Wampole in her Guns and the Decline of the Young Man opinion piece in the New York Times says that it is not just the angry, ageing white male who is angry. Writing in the NYT's The Stone forum she says that young men in southern USA are having a very hard time of it. They are unemployed or underemployed, sullen and full of rage. Wampole asks:
Can you imagine being in the shoes of the one who feels his power slipping away? Who can find nothing stable to believe in? Who feels himself becoming unnecessary? That powerlessness and fear ties a dark knot in his stomach. As this knot thickens, a centripetal hatred moves inward toward the self as a centrifugal hatred is cast outward at others: his parents, his girlfriend, his boss, his classmates, society, life.
And they are still not allowed to cry!
Her argument is that the women and people of color who are skyrocketing to the top of the heap and displacing the white male and that there is need to cultivate empathy for the young white male, because it appears to them that life seems to have stacked the cards against them.
Wampole doesn't really address the world view of the NRA's base. This world is one of a hyper toxic masculinity, where civil society has broken down, and people are paralyzed with fear. In this world the only way men can prove their worth--stop other men laughing at them--- is through a fistfight or a gunfight.
In the light of this Wampole’s cultivation of “empathic habit” through development of a school curriculum that centers around an empathic practice, particularly in courses such as history, social studies, literature, and political science” doesn't really cut it. The NRA's more guns only means more violence.