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Is the USA Different? Why do Americans need guns?

AP

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Re: Is the USA Different? Why do Americans need guns?
« Reply #15 on: August 11, 2018, 05:57:12 PM »
So we called the cops. They said they'd have someone out to us in a few minutes.

...

I called back and asked where the police who were being dispatched were.

"Oh, did you want them to come to your house?"

Holy shit.  What did they mean by "sending someone out" then?  I would have flipped out on them.

I'm surprised I maintained my composure like I did, but I was very smartassed with the dispatcher when she said that.

They sent a guy to the general area I live in.

So they just sent a guy somewhere within a few blocks of your house and expected you would know exactly where the guy was and happily leave your home despite the potential danger of a psycho standing outside your front door.  Then, what, chat with the officer before walking all the way back to your house with the still-looming threat?  That is beyond stupid.

HalloweenJack

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Re: Is the USA Different? Why do Americans need guns?
« Reply #16 on: August 11, 2018, 05:59:03 PM »
So we called the cops. They said they'd have someone out to us in a few minutes.

...

I called back and asked where the police who were being dispatched were.

"Oh, did you want them to come to your house?"

Holy shit.  What did they mean by "sending someone out" then?  I would have flipped out on them.

I'm surprised I maintained my composure like I did, but I was very smartassed with the dispatcher when she said that.

They sent a guy to the general area I live in.

So they just sent a guy somewhere within a few blocks of your house and expected you would know exactly where the guy was and happily leave your home despite the potential danger of a psycho standing outside your front door.  Then, what, chat with the officer before walking all the way back to your house with the still-looming threat?  That is beyond stupid.

KENTUCKY!

superlurker

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Re: Is the USA Different? Why do Americans need guns?
« Reply #17 on: August 11, 2018, 07:50:34 PM »
Access to guns is an issue, but there are more deep-seated social and cultural issues as well that contribute to gun violence. The U.S. has always been different than Europe in that the U.S. started out as a slave-owning nation, and the aftereffects of that is still something that has a deep effect on society today, through inherited inequality and lack of trust at a societal level. Poverty and inequality translate into crime and violence, lack of trust translates into focusing on the use of force for guarding against the threat of violence, rather than trying to solve the more fundamental problems.

Taking away the most potent means of violence would no doubt lead to fewer deaths overall, but the entire gun issue is more or less a proxy for larger issues. People that feel threatened feel the need for protection. And lots of Americans feel threatened -- whether it's a vague sense of unease at the America they know changing, or more real threats due to living in areas with socioeconomic issues that lead to high crime rates. Without forces like that, the number of full-on gun nuts would very likely be much smaller.

AP

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Re: Is the USA Different? Why do Americans need guns?
« Reply #18 on: August 11, 2018, 07:54:50 PM »
The U.S. has always been different than Europe in that the U.S. started out as a slave-owning nation, and the aftereffects of that is still something that has a deep effect on society today

Every European country started out a slave-owning nation.

HalloweenJack

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Re: Is the USA Different? Why do Americans need guns?
« Reply #19 on: August 11, 2018, 08:12:17 PM »
Lurk's not wrong though. This was a pretty safe, decent place to live when I was growing up, but the opioid epidemic really changed things around here in the last 20 years or so.

NeoGreenLantern

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Re: Is the USA Different? Why do Americans need guns?
« Reply #20 on: August 11, 2018, 08:21:20 PM »
My town is actually on a social/cultural uptick. But now that I think about it the uptick seems to correlate to the amount of bears...

AP

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Re: Is the USA Different? Why do Americans need guns?
« Reply #21 on: August 11, 2018, 09:25:27 PM »
Lurk's not wrong though. This was a pretty safe, decent place to live when I was growing up, but the opioid epidemic really changed things around here in the last 20 years or so.

As far as drugs go, yeah, that creates an influx of crime.  It's one of the reasons why I think they should be decriminalized and heavily regulated.  That would cut down on crime and, incidently, cut down on gun violence.

superlurker

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Re: Is the USA Different? Why do Americans need guns?
« Reply #22 on: August 12, 2018, 02:46:56 AM »
The U.S. has always been different than Europe in that the U.S. started out as a slave-owning nation, and the aftereffects of that is still something that has a deep effect on society today

Every European country started out a slave-owning nation.

There was slavery in Europe too, obviously, but for the most part, as an institution, that far predates the modern idea of nationhood. Besides that, European slavery never saw a massive population importation of people that were very visibly different from the rest of the population. The main form of slave labor was through feudal institutions such as serfdom, which was pretty much gone from Western Europe by the time the idea of nation-states started to develop.

Conversely, the U.S. was founded at a time when the concept of nationalism and nationhood was developing, but with a slave population that were not part of the nation. I think there's a very long line from that up until Trump's calls for "making America great again" today, through the Civil War and Civil Rights Movement. Basically, the underlying idea that there are people around who are not part of the nation and thus form a potentially violent threat is a form of poison that was there from the beginning and has permeated parts of American culture since.

The other side of that was ongoing conflicts with the Native Americans, who were also not proper Americans, and likely another contributor.

There are plenty of other aspects to this as well, such as ideals of independence, the requirement of people in sparsely settled lands to be self-sufficient and a suspicion of government which may have arisen either from colonial experience or carried from immigrant homelands that all contribute to gun culture. The reasons are not the same across the U.S. But the idea of otherness within the nation -- slaves in particular -- has always been there and kept a sort of siege mentality going. European nation-building, by contrast, didn't start out with the same issue of having people considered profoundly less worth than others, or profoundly threatening.

Uhtceare

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Re: Is the USA Different? Why do Americans need guns?
« Reply #23 on: August 12, 2018, 05:29:44 AM »
Yeah, I don't buy any of that. It's not in tune with the polls of what the majority of Americans actually want. If you go issue by issue, the American populace is very much in line with Europe. The reason why our laws and it's enforcement is so different isn't cultural, but rather because of flaws in the design of our Democracy, which allows corporations inordinate amounts of political power.

The Citizens United decision essentially legalized bribery. If our Democracy only had that single flaw, it would already be an oligarchy. It allows the rich to drown out candidates that would favor the working class. This means our politicians will always favor business over the working class. Business wants to sell guns, and business wants to profit off of slave-labor via for-profit prisons. And so we have virtually unregulated gun-sales and the largest prison population in the world.

Gerrymandering allows politicians to pick their voters instead of voters picking their populations. This results in many states being effectively one-party. Which in turn means that the rich only need to corrupt the leadership of that one party. This has resulted in the Republicans being utterly corrupt, and the Democrats becoming an only slightly less corrupt pro-business party. Essentially, the Republicans are the pro-rich guys who also occasionally throw a bone to evangelicals, and the Democrats are the pro-rich party who also throw a bone to feminist issues occasionally.

There is no pro-worker party in America, only a couple of pro-rich parties that disagree on abortion and a couple of other social issues.

Frankly, your argument just sounds like a fancy version of the typical European view of Americans, which is that we are just a bunch of barbarians who don't think like Europeans, and therefore vote in crazy ways. It's not that we're barbarians, it's that we don't live in a democracy. We just don't. We live in an oligarchy with limited democratic elements. We have juuuuust enough democratic elements to act as a release valve and prevent riots. Indeed, our limited democratic elements actually serve the oligarchy, providing just enough of an illusion of the people having power to prevent a revolution.

AP

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Re: Is the USA Different? Why do Americans need guns?
« Reply #24 on: August 12, 2018, 06:55:28 AM »
Yeah, Europe had slave trades all the way up until the 1800's.  They absolutely had people from Africa shipped over under harsh circumstances in order to be sold into slavery.  That's before we get into slave labor that existed under different European dictators which is within living memory in Europe.  White supremacy, ethnic cleansing, anti-antisemitism, and good old fashioned racism have also played a large part in European history and is still felt today.  European nations are every bit as guilty of that stuff as America.  Slavery has nothing to do with gun violence.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2018, 06:57:35 AM by AP »

superlurker

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Re: Is the USA Different? Why do Americans need guns?
« Reply #25 on: August 12, 2018, 07:23:05 AM »
Yeah, I don't buy any of that. It's not in tune with the polls of what the majority of Americans actually want. If you go issue by issue, the American populace is very much in line with Europe. The reason why our laws and it's enforcement is so different isn't cultural, but rather because of flaws in the design of our Democracy, which allows corporations inordinate amounts of political power.

The Citizens United decision essentially legalized bribery. If our Democracy only had that single flaw, it would already be an oligarchy. It allows the rich to drown out candidates that would favor the working class. This means our politicians will always favor business over the working class. Business wants to sell guns, and business wants to profit off of slave-labor via for-profit prisons. And so we have virtually unregulated gun-sales and the largest prison population in the world.

Gerrymandering allows politicians to pick their voters instead of voters picking their populations. This results in many states being effectively one-party. Which in turn means that the rich only need to corrupt the leadership of that one party. This has resulted in the Republicans being utterly corrupt, and the Democrats becoming an only slightly less corrupt pro-business party. Essentially, the Republicans are the pro-rich guys who also occasionally throw a bone to evangelicals, and the Democrats are the pro-rich party who also throw a bone to feminist issues occasionally.

There is no pro-worker party in America, only a couple of pro-rich parties that disagree on abortion and a couple of other social issues.

Frankly, your argument just sounds like a fancy version of the typical European view of Americans, which is that we are just a bunch of barbarians who don't think like Europeans, and therefore vote in crazy ways. It's not that we're barbarians, it's that we don't live in a democracy. We just don't. We live in an oligarchy with limited democratic elements. We have juuuuust enough democratic elements to act as a release valve and prevent riots. Indeed, our limited democratic elements actually serve the oligarchy, providing just enough of an illusion of the people having power to prevent a revolution.

I'm pretty well aware of the shortcomings of the American political system, and the outcomes it leads to. The UK has similar problems, but with somewhat different party alignments. However, that also illustrates the difference to the U.S. -- the UK has a proper worker's party. In the U.S., there have been tendencies towards that, but the additional racial dimension has tended to hinder such movements on a national basis, because in large swathes of the U.S., you couldn't include blacks and whites in the same movement. To those white voters, both then and now, having someone beneath them hierarchically matters more than absolute material well-being. Because to them, if they are included in the same group as the blacks, they're suddenly at the bottom. It's why Trump fires them up so much -- because of the feeling that they'll be at the bottom of the hierarchy, and they definitely weren't back when America was great.

I don't think U.S. voters are "barbaric", but all political systems, political party systems and political fault lines have very long historical backgrounds. From a European perspective, for example, Protestant countries tend to have secular Conservative parties as the dominant center-right party, whereas Catholic countries tend to have Christian Democrat parties in the same role. There are several political conflict dimensions as well, which are represented in Europe with separate parties and that find different expressions in the U.S.; however, the conflict line between center and periphery is probably the one that's most strongly associated with gun rights.

My point here is that the U.S. gun culture in part stems from a mentality that is different in the U.S. than in Europe with regards to how the individual relates to society. U.S. nationhood was created with the idea that all men are created equal, unless they are not. European nations were formed from old empires, and threats were external. The U.S. didn't have much in the way of external threats, but there was a large subgroup that was considered subhuman and a potential internal threat. Even when slavery ended, that attitude didn't disappear, it just changed shape. That element also got in the way of the kind of class-based politics that Europe experienced from becoming a dominant force.

It also led the way to identity politics becoming a dominant force in American politics instead. And that just strengthens that pattern of lack of social trust which is the foundation of the strongest American gun culture -- that you can't trust other people because they're different, you can't trust the government because the government is run by those people, and so you're on your own. Ideas like those are pervasive in American culture, and the gun culture channels them very strongly.

And those trends are coming to Europe as populations diversify; you can see it in Eastern European resistance to immigration, how anti-immigrant/anti-other parties are becoming very large in many Western European countries. Brexit fits the same pattern. I don't think that will lead to a European gun culture in the same vein as the American one, because there's historical precedent against that -- but the political ideas are similar.

The historical difference I'm getting at is that the more homogeneous European countries, creating a sense of national unity was much easier. In the U.S., with the lingering racial tension in the South in particular, but across a lot of the rest of the country as well, the form of national unity is much different. And today, larger swathes of the country are experiencing it as a threat to their way of life (even though realistically, it is not).

Or, to put it yet another way; those parts of the U.S. where thinking about guns is most similar to Europe are also those parts where there was no slavery, and there's a stronger urban than rural population pattern. Those areas also tend to have higher levels of social capital and higher levels of material prosperity. However, even in parts of the U.S. that weren't slave states, there are other cultural aspects that may have been influenced indirectly.

superlurker

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Re: Is the USA Different? Why do Americans need guns?
« Reply #26 on: August 12, 2018, 07:35:55 AM »
Yeah, Europe had slave trades all the way up until the 1800's.  They absolutely had people from Africa shipped over under harsh circumstances in order to be sold into slavery.  That's before we get into slave labor that existed under different European dictators which is within living memory in Europe.  White supremacy, ethnic cleansing, anti-antisemitism, and good old fashioned racism have also played a large part in European history and is still felt today.  European nations are every bit as guilty of that stuff as America.  Slavery has nothing to do with gun violence.

European slave trade mainly went to the Americas, to run colonial plantations. The point here is about the effect on culture, and has nothing to do with issues of "guilt". And there's no case in Western Europe that created such a sharp racial divide as was the case in the U.S. The influx of black people to Europe before the modern era was relatively minimal, and didn't make up a significant block of the population. Europe was a source of net emigration at the time.

The most similar case in Europe was the persistent antisemitism, but Jews tended to be relatively integrated citizens by comparison with black slaves, most weren't too visibly different from the rest of the population, and they were generally relatively well off in Western Europe. There wasn't a culture of slavery; the racist imagery was rather that they were a form of parasite that worked stealthily. It led to WW2 after Hitler made Germany great again.

And yes, there was slave labor, but not as a way of long-term life for the populace as a whole.

AP

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Re: Is the USA Different? Why do Americans need guns?
« Reply #27 on: August 12, 2018, 08:00:07 AM »
European slave trade mainly went to the Americas, to run colonial plantations.

Actually, once America became sovereign, it stopped doing business as it had enough of a slave population to grow its own.  The slave trades had a much farther reach than the Americas.

Quote
The point here is about the effect on culture, and has nothing to do with issues of "guilt". And there's no case in Western Europe that created such a sharp racial divide as was the case in the U.S. The influx of black people to Europe before the modern era was relatively minimal, and didn't make up a significant block of the population. Europe was a source of net emigration at the time.

True, the US does have a larger black population.  And I think people at both parties use racial divide for their own advantages.  I don't think slavery in and of itself is the cause of this division.

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And yes, there was slave labor, but not as a way of long-term life for the populace as a whole.

Of course there was.  You are ignoring the history of Europe.

Uhtceare

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Re: Is the USA Different? Why do Americans need guns?
« Reply #28 on: August 12, 2018, 08:02:42 AM »
No. Just, no. 92% of Americans want gun-control. There isn't a "gun culture" in America. There is gun-manufacturer control over our politicians, leading to the greater prevalence of guns and gun-violence. Quite trying to come up with a cultural explanation when the reality is all about the money.

superlurker

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Re: Is the USA Different? Why do Americans need guns?
« Reply #29 on: August 12, 2018, 08:25:32 AM »
Actually, once America became sovereign, it stopped doing business as it had enough of a slave population to grow its own.  The slave trades had a much farther reach than the Americas.

And within a relatively short time frame, slave trade was outlawed across most of Europe.

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True, the US does have a larger black population.  And I think people at both parties use racial divide for their own advantages.  I don't think slavery in and of itself is the cause of this division.

The fact that the black population was imported as slaves to begin with has had lasting consequences that aren't over with. When slavery ended, they became "free" but second-rate citizens, and still remain at a distinct socioeconomic disadvantage.

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Of course there was.  You are ignoring the history of Europe.

No, you are ignoring the specific context here.