Bang, Bang, You’re Dead, Part 2.


Israeli Uzi. IThis file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Ferkelparade at the English language Wikipedia.

This is an Israeli Uzi, the kind of submachine gun that a nine-year-old girl was recently (August, 2014) learning to use at an outdoor shooting range in Arizona when she lost control of the gun and shot and killed her instructor . She had parental permission to learn to fire this automatic weapon; indeed her parents were videotaping the lesson.

In 2008, at a gun expo in Massachusetts, eight-year-old Christopher Bizilj lost control of the Uzi he was firing and shot and killed himself .  His parents blamed 15-year-old Michael Spano, hired to assist visitors desiring to fire an Uzi.  Spano reports that he twice urged the father to pick a less powerful weapon for his son to shoot but the father insisted on the Uzi.

From the perspective of ecological theory, who is responsible for these violent losses of life? Ecological theory tells us that if we want to understand the contributing factors for any behavioral outcome, we need to look at multiple levels—the family, the community, and the macro culture.

In the case of these two children, what hypotheses do you have about the families that wanted their young children to fire those powerful weapons?  What are your thoughts about the culpability of states that allow children as young as 8 to fire an automatic weapon? And how about the NRA and associated organizations like NRA Women, sponsored by Smith & Wesson? or the online magazine that on August 7, 2014, published an article called  “7-ways children can have fun at the shooting range”?  Good wholesome family fun or another symptom of a culture of violence?

Any guesses about the likely outcomes for the 9-year-old girl who killed her instructor?

Posted in culture of violence, Understanding violence, Weaponry | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Bang, bang, you’re dead, Part 1

Children and teen gun death rate per 100,000. Data source: The Horrific Risk Of Gun Violence For Black Kids In America, In 4 Charts. By The Huffington Post. 19 August 2014. Author: Delphi234. Made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.

Stop, look, and bristle with anger at the image above.  The obscene rates at which American children are gunned down or left with life-altering physical and psychological scars from gun violence should horrify and activate us all.

What’s the story, anyway?  Are Americans genetically inferior to Canadians, Germans, the French, Slovakians, and citizens of all those other countries where there are so many fewer gun deaths of of children? Do most Americans lack a kindness gene? Do they uniformly inherit murderous violence?

Is there something in our polluted air that contaminates American minds and hearts, making people blind to the suffering of others, ready to kill anyone, anything that gets in the way?

I think the answer to these questions is No, but clearly the country has a big problem with deadly violence–a correlate, I believe, of structural violence and the corrosive collusion of too many Americans with structural violence laced with racism.

Structural violence is what helps the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.  Structural violence means that the powerful get to make the rules in ways they believe (perhaps mistakenly) serve their own interests; if having desperate people available to remove their garbage and tar their roads, then you can be sure the powerful will limit educational opportunity, employment opportunity, and freedom of movement to keep a substantial segment of our society trapped in poverty, undereducated, and locked up or shot if they are in anyway noncompliant.  Or look too different.

When you combine social injustice and social inequality with anger, frustration, and the ready availability of guns, does that sound like a mix that can explode in violence? Does that violence have the potential of spilling over in ways that destroy countless lives, including those of children and adolescents? Seems like a Yes to me.

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Nonviolent Protest Trumps Market Basket Scheme

Interior of the Market Basket in Chelsea, the second-largest supermarket in the New England region. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported. Attribution: Rlaferla.

By guest author, Dot Walsh

Many activists follow their inner guides and speak out, act out, and protest around many worthy issues. Sometimes there are positive results, as in the case of the new gun legislation in Massachusetts, but often not.

Then there is the Market Basket—its prices greatly appreciated by countless families being squeezed down and out of the  middle class.

Things changed dramatically on June 23, 2014, when Arthur T. Demoulas, known for his kindness and concern for employees, was removed as president of the company.  Dollar signs dancing in their brains, the Board of Directors, led by his cousin, wanted to emulate the strategies of supermarkets like Shaw’s and Stop and Shop; those stores are owned by Cerberus, an LTD  that also owns many of the area hospitals, businesses in other countries, and manufacturers of guns.  Are you surprised that this mega corporation has fingers in so many pies? The corporate world is generally all about profits and keeping the public in the dark.

In the case of Market Basket, the employees staged walkouts at all 71 locations, demanding the reinstatement of Arthur T.  Courageously, they put their jobs and salaries on the line for the man who meant more to them than their paychecks, joined by customers willing to take a stand. And the result? On Wednesday, August 27,the Board agreed to sell the majority of the company’s shares to Arthur T and his sisters. The protesters and the public won.

This outcome can have far reaching implications for power struggles arising between corporations and employees.  For anyone involved in social activism using nonviolent strategies, this is a story to embrace.  Without Arthur’s positive relationship with his employees, it might have ended very differently.

Dot Walsh is a lifelong peace activist and member of the Engaging Peace Board of Directors.

Posted in Nonviolence, Protest | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment