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Voices / Letters from readers

Argument misses key factors of U.S. gun violence

RE: “Why schools are attractive targets for mass shooters” [Viewpoint, Mar. 7]:

According to Bob DePino, people are best saved from gun violence by adding more people with guns to the general population. By adding more people with guns (and presumably more guns) into Vermont’s communities, we will all be able to rest more easily.

It is very hard to see the logic in this argument.

He seems certain that “killers,” as he refers to them, will avoid heavily armed places and — rather than committing mass murder — will decide, instead, to shoot themselves.

So, if there are heavily armed people in every public or private institution, the rate of suicide among “killers” will go up and the death rate (from mass murder) will go down.

While the absurdity of this type of thinking is easy to see, the issues around gun violence are real. Although the chance of any student being killed in a school setting is infinitesimally low, these shootings are still horrifying and tragic.

Through distraction and hyperbole, DePino manages to miss the key factors at play in terms of U.S. gun violence.

The first is that even though the chance of someone being shot at a school is incredibly small, tens of thousands of people are killed by gun violence every year in the United States.

Much of this violence is driven by powerful sociological forces, like drug addiction (much of this driven by Big Pharma), lack of access to jobs and resources, misogyny, racism, and insufficient mental and physical health care.

These larger, systemic problems have less to do with guns and more to do with the racial, economic, and gender injustices that continue to define American life. One never hears these things discussed by the far right, unless it’s a call to arm oneself against the “threat” of people living in poverty.

The other reality, which is seldom mentioned, is the profit motive of the weapons manufacturers.

As the National Rifle Association spews forth about threats to the Second Amendment, stirring up indignation among its followers, it continues the work that is its true calling: acting as a lobbying agent for armament corporations.

U.S. weapons makers see domestic revenue well over $10 billion per year. In 2017, our country exported over $40 billion worth of arms to other countries. Many of these weapons are used by oppressive regimes to control popular resistance movements.

We cannot have a candid discussion about gun violence in the U.S. without understanding the true role of the gun lobby and without an honest appraisal of the social conditions and inequities that negatively impact the lives of working people.

Henry Zacchini
Brattleboro

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Originally published in The Commons issue #451 (Wednesday, March 21, 2018). This story appeared on page D2.

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