Thursday, December 27, 2012

In Poverty's Despair

Trey Smith

Many other gun deaths occur in neighborhoods plagued by violence and poverty. What's clear is that while some gun homicides are surely meticulously plotted by an evil-doer who would find a different weapon if no guns were available, the vast majority is lethal specifically because a gun was readily available.
~ from The Conservative Philosophy of Tragedy: Guns Don't Kill People, People Kill People by Jill Filipovic ~
While gun violence is spread across all socioeconomic categories, the majority of it takes place in those communities wracked with poverty. It is poor people killing poor people.

Why are ghettos, slums and shantytowns more likely to be violent places? Because poverty breeds despair and a person who despairs their life is less likely to value it. When you don't value something that is intrinsically yours, you are far less likely to value the same for somebody else.

Poverty instills in many the feeling of absolute and complete impotence. It seems no matter what you do, you can't escape the poverty that defines your existence. Since each of us wants to exert some power in some area of our lives, the ready access to guns provides you with a sense of power in your hands. As I wrote in a previous post today, a gun can provide you with the ability to play God, if only for a few scant moments or two.

You can preserve life -- by not shooting someone -- or you can take it away. With a gun in your hand, you become the judge, jury and executioner. In most situations, there is no one else your potential victim[s] can appeal to. All the power rests with you and you alone. This can be really heady stuff for someone who doesn't hold power over much of anyone or anything.

And so, in my estimation, while gun violence may be a virulent symptom, one of the root causes is poverty born of oppression and subjugation. When people are utterly disempowered, they will seek ways to exert power, often in malevolent forms.

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