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Colorado Shooting Is About More Than Gun Culture

Henry Giroux @ Truthout - The current reporting about the recent tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado, is very discouraging. The media response to the alleged murderous rampage by James Holmes largely focuses on the guns he used, the easy availability of the ammunition he stockpiled, the booby trapping of his apartment and the ways in which he meticulously prepared for the carnage he allegedly produced. This is a similar script we saw unfold after the massacres at Columbine high school; Virginia Tech; Fort Hood; the supermarket in Tucson, Arizona; and the more recent gang shootings in Chicago. Immediately following such events, there is the expected call for gun control, new legislation to limit the sale of assault rifles and a justifiable critique of the pernicious policies of the National Rifle Association. One consequence is that the American public is being inundated with figures about gun violence ranging from the fact that more than 84 people are killed daily with guns to the shocking statistic that there are more than 30,000 gun-related deaths annually. To bring home the deadly nature of firearms in America, Juan Cole has noted that in 2010 there were 8,775 murders by firearms in the US, while in Britain there were 638. These are startling figures, but they do not tell us enough about the cult and spectacle of violence in American society. Another emerging criticism is that neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney has spoken out about gun control in the aftermath of the Aurora shooting. Gun control matters, but it is only one factor in the culture of symbolic and institutional violence that has such a powerful grip on the everyday workings of American society. The issue of violence in America goes far beyond the issue of gun control, and in actuality, when removed from a broader narrative about violence in the United States, it can serve to deflect the most important questions that need to be raised.  Read more.

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