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“It’s Simple Mathematics”

February 16, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: 2012 Election, Anti-Racism, Criminal Injustice Series, Economic Terrorism, Education, Housing, Intersectionality, Poverty, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege

 

Real Solutions Don’t Demand Marriage, Just lots of Math..

See also Prison Culture, The Atlantic and The Washington Post

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Art, Life, and Andy Warhol: Guns

January 11, 2013 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Criminal Injustice Series, Education, Intersectionality

Diversity of Voice: Views on Guns in the United States

The Warhol: Resources and Lessons

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CI Special Edition: Of Guns and Bitter

December 16, 2012 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Education, Intersectionality

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

Of Guns and Bitter
by nancy a heitzeg

“As a country, we have been through this too many times. Whether it’s an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago — these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”
~ Statement from The President on School Shooting in Newtown, Connecticut

In the face of yet another unspeakable tragedy - 28 Dead, 20 of them small children -  attention turns yet again to the ubiquity and ready availability of guns. There are more 300 million guns in private hands here — one for nearly every man woman and child in the United States. Since the 2004 expiration of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, some of these legally owned guns include semi-automatic assault weapons such as the AR-15.

In addition, these guns are more freely assessable due to a plethora of NRA/ALEC driven lax gun laws — some 99 reduced restrictions on permits, training, buying/selling, conceal and carry in the past three years alone. Their unfettered use is also increasingly supported by law; as detailed in CI last week, Stand Your Ground/Shoot First legislation allows shooters in 25 states to claim self-defense under situations that were once simply plain murder.

The expected result is a seemingly endless death toll. The United States ranks 5th in the World for murder by gun  – these shootings occur on the street, in homes and what seems to be a growing number of mass shootings at schools, places of work and worship, and public spaces.

And, in the face of these unspeakable tragedies, the reaction is often the same. Horror. Shock. The Tragedy of Silence is temporarily broken. Media attention that exploits individual and personal tragedy. Story lines that search for “motive” and individualized explanations. The “othering” of the shooter – labels of “mental illness” if the shooter is white; “thuggery” if not. The anger, the bitterness,  the blame.

And then the calls for tougher gun laws – certainly a renewed ban on assault weapons, but more improbable calls too, such as Repeal the Second Amendment.

A Word of Caution from Melissa Harris-Perry:
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“What I would caution–and I think it’s part of the lesson we learn as parents, and that we also have to learn as a country, vis-á-vis our children–is that we cannot make them safe at all times. And so we have to be careful about the reaction being, ‘Let’s build a moat, and a wall, and a metal detector around our whole worlds.’ We can, however, change the structural realities in which they exist that make them safer because there would be fewer available guns… we can’t exclusively lead with our hearts. We must also lead with our heads as we start thinking about reasonable reactions to this.”

I echo these concerns.

Full disclosure: I strongly support the reinstatement of the Assault Weapons Ban. I fully support the stricter regulations on the manufacture, sale and possession of guns and ammo, as well as the repeal of lax conceal/carry laws and Shoot First legislation. I am opposed to “sport hunting“, the tactics/politics of the odious NRA and the gun show loophole.

But I am not opposed to the Second Amendment, nor to the notion expressed in District of Columbia v. Heller that the “right to keep and bear arms” is an individual right. I support legitimate efforts at self-defense as both individual and collective community rights. By any means necessary – No Justice/No Peace.

I am also aware that “increasing criminalization would adversely affect certain populations”, most notably communities of color. Consider this:

  • The school security measures instituted post-Columbine ostensibly to “protect” students – security cameras., metal detectors, an on-site police presence  – became, in inner city majority Black/Brown schools,  a vehicle for  turning schools into mini-security states and  the grease for the “school to prison pipeline”.

We must be clear – the law has never saved us, calls for “law and order” and more more more criminalization never make us safer, In fact, for certain communities at least, it escalates the risk of institutionalized state violence.

So Yes, let us have that national conversation about reinstating the assault weapons ban, the repeal of Shoot First legislation and increasing the regulation of all guns and ammo.

But let’s make sure all voices are at the table and heeded too, especially those who will bear the brunt of our “solutions”. Let’s not replicate yet again our old “Law and Order” mistakes. Let’s discuss not just more legislation but an end to differential enforcement as well.

Let us remember too, that this will the beginning and not the end of the conversation –  guns are just another tool for violence in a culture that celebrates, commodifies and capitalizes on it at every turn.

The real conversation must ultimately be much broader – the  real solutions so much bolder.

I hope that we are finally ready…

namesGraphic: New York Times

CI: Standing Up to “Stand Your Ground”

December 05, 2012 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Anti-Racism, Civil Rights, Corrupt Judiciary, Corrupt Legislature, Criminal Defense, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, Prison Industrial Complex, White Privilege

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm.

Standing Up to “Stand Your Ground”
by nancy a heitzeg

A mere 9 months after Trayvon Martin, and here we are, mourning Jordan Davis, another 17 year old Florida teen shot down. This time “loud music” not “hoodies” was the proximate trigger, but the real reason, of course, irrational archtypical threat of The Criminal-Black-Man.

As Melissa Harris-Perry puts it, “No Country for Black Boys”.

Her Open Letter this week addresses the details and the larger concerns:
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CI: Who’s Afraid of Virgil Wayne Woolf? A Rant on Guns and Race

August 22, 2012 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Civil Rights, Criminal Injustice Series, Intersectionality, White Privilege

Criminal InJustice is a weekly series devoted to taking action against inequities in the U.S. criminal justice system. Nancy A. Heitzeg, Professor of Sociology and Race/Ethnicity, is the Editor of CI. Criminal Injustice is published every Wednesday at 6 pm CST.

Who’s Afraid of Virgil Wayne Woolf? A Rant on Guns and Race
by Badphairey

In the leader of the NRA Wayne LaPierre’s own words, Obama has “endorsed a total ban on the manufacture, sale, and possession of all handguns…[and] the sale or transfer of all semi-automatic firearms”. Never mind that Obama’s been in office for three years and has yet to suggest any substantive changes to gun laws of any kind at the Federal level.

Never mind that while the one of the few non-white groups (The Black Panther Party) to assert the Second Amendment had their leaders killed for their troubles, and were forcibly reminded by law enforcement that only one group is entitled to defend their Second Amendment rights. Militias, which are highly correlated with white pride groups, exist with almost complete impunity. There are no Militia Task Forces that correlate with the inevitable Gang Task Force in nearly every state. There are little to no social and quasi-legal sanctions for wearing white-power regalia, as there is with minority kids sagging their jeans.

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Requiem

July 21, 2012 By: nancy a heitzeg Category: Spirituality

“We can’t keep digging graves where common ground should be.”

 ~ Charles Blow, New York Times

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