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Obama’s Move To Control Illegal Gun Sale Is Welcome, But Here’s What It Completely Misses

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By Jason Jayology:

U.S. President Barack Obama pauses while delivering a statement on steps the administration is taking to reduce gun violence in the East Room of the White House in Washington January 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria - RTX21563
Source: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

If you’re in the United States, tonight your Facebook newsfeeds will discharge with a lot of Obama admiration, and predictably, and uniformly with abomination for the administration’s executive action to combat illegal gun sales, and to abate mass shootings.

There have been 294 mass shootings in the United States over the course of the last year, robbing close to four hundred people of their existences, and that is not including Planned Parenthood attack in November, and the San Bernardino shooting, California in December.

Now, I will not contest the administration’s actions, as they are welcome, necessary, and evocative of a common sense that has long since expired from the public discourse in the United States, had it ever existed. The action targets the infamous ‘gun show loophole’ by requiring both background checks for those buying arms at gun shows, and a register of novice arms peddlers who vend these shows. As of now, if you were to walk into a gun shop, with an identification card to the state in which the gun bazaar is convoked, you can purchase an inventory of armaments at the digression of the arms dealer.

So, imposing a criminal background check doesn’t offend the perverted historically inaccurate interpretation of the 2nd Amendment to the United States Constitution so-called right to bear arms. By the way, just in case you don’t have a copy of the U.S. Constitution handy, the 2nd Amendment reads as follows: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” You don’t need to be a constitutional to interpret that prefacing clause to the right to bear arms signifies the weight of the Amendment on “A well regulated militia,” i.e. the National Guard which is called in when black and brown people attempt to exercise a more rigorously regulated 1st Amendment right to free speech, free press, right to freely worships ones divinity, or to assemble publicly in redress of government actions.

Sequentially, the executive action approaches the dark areas of illicit gun sales on the internet with no real specificity, one might guess greater surveillance by so-called appropriate agencies.

The President’s motion additionally earmarks five hundred million for mental health care access, which may seem like an astronomical amount of money till you contend that there are close to forty-thousand suicides in the U.S. annually and the U.S. spends 3.1 billion on military aid to Israel (that would be a lot of mental health clinics and community centres). Sadly, the only time that mental health care is taken seriously in the United States is when it becomes a contention of public trust in question of the community safety incensed by the fear of men and boys with guns, rather than the inherent rights of the mentally ill and suffering to adequate healthcare.

Concluding this all sounds very rudimentary, and after decades of inaction illuminating the professed polarized U.S. Congress, and Supreme Court mired by gun manufacturing lobbyists weighing down pockets, defence interests, arms traders, and special interests, namely the NRA, you will finally see a centimetre of decompression.

Now, there is nothing in the President’s plan that will truly abate the mass shootings we have unfortunately witnessed. Like most policy as interpreted by politicians we avoid truly cutting off the snake’s head, or applying medicine directed at the nucleus. Considering the contemporary violent diverse spectrum of degenerative social pathos of racism, Islamophobia, and violence against women, add guns, and lower the discourse to those catering to fanatics, and insulated by millions in special interests, and you have a better vantage to view the smoke bellowing from a burning United States.

In predictable anti-intellectual bombastic grandstanding, the Republican’s have collectively stipulated via U.S Congressional House Speaker Ryan that though they haven’t fully read the President’s plan they will dismantle it in the court, citing a fallacious constitutional battle from which I am sure you will hear some drivel about history and fundamental rights. Yes, the same group that is silent when children are shot in parks, or women are murdered in police custody, because the only true historical reality that has stretched the history of the United States is the lack of fundamental rights to exist while being black. Still, while Obama’s move is nominal and yet necessary, how will, or will it at all prevail over the mass shootings it is designed to target? How many of the mass shootings that have transpired this year, last year, or in the history of the United States, did the shooter have a history of mental illness? Subsequently, since when, does the government collect information on an accessible database, public or otherwise, of people’s mental health records to identify them as potential mass shooters?

Let’s examine the sensibility at play here. If you have say, run of the mill anxiety disorder – there is no run of the mill anxiety disorder, but anxiety disorder if common enough– you feel threatened because say, hypothetically, you were stalked inundating you with PTSD and the anxiety disorder is comorbid, you have less of a constitutional right to protect yourself by the letter of the law, than an ignorant racist white supremacist without any recorded mental health problems? Also, mass shootings tend to be less bank heist gone wrong, and more pinned to violent ideology. The most notable mass shootings in the U.S. over the course of the last two years facilitated by entitled white men with misogynistic, racist and Islamophobic world views. The mass shooting at University of California Santa Barbara was a white male, a gun, aiming to kill women. The Oak Creek Sikh Temple shooting, a white man with a gun seeking to kill Muslims but in the white supremacist gaze anyone who is brown is Muslim. The white supremacist who killed three promising humanitarians and students in Chapel Hill in South Carolina had no previous mental health record, and purchased his gun legally, as did Dylan Roof who walked into a chapel and unloaded his legally purchased gun into black parishioners who welcomed him into their congregation. The Lafayette shooting in Louisiania, another white man disseminating misogyny into a litany of hate through the horrid rhapsody of shots, and ammo shell casings writing off futures with each explosion.

Violent ideology, from violent minds prefaces violent purchases, that preamble violent actions. The United States has become the global moniker of anti-intellectualism, and phony polemics and cheap political bandages that cannot contain the reality bleed real blood daily. As I have espoused my points in discussions I am met with the cheap maxim of limited imagination, “at least it is something,” or “what more can he, the president do.” President Obama once quoted Martin Luther King Jr during a campaign rally, “The arc of moral universe is long but it bend toward justice,” adding, “but here’s the thing, it does not bend on its own, it bends because each of us in our own way puts our hands on the arc and bend it in the direction of justice because we organize and mobilize, we march…”

Gun violence in the United States disproportionately targets women, it is a life and death cycle in the vast margins of poverty, an armament of racism, Islamophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia, toted by fanatic white privilege and white terrorism, and it is four-hundred years overdue. It is 400 years unsettled that we rid the country of guns, and the misogyny of hyper-masculine ideology, the patriarchy of profiteering so-called democracy to cheap political rhetoric, cheap political solutions, the mediated speech of violence that emboldens and entrenches the prefacing ideologies. The United States likes to call itself the world’s police, well look at the state of the world. It’s time that the United States is stripped of its shield, and its gun, for the tranquillity and safety of the world it professes to police at home and abroad. It is time we demand more.

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  1. John Francis Moran Jr

    My policy when reading an essay is to stop at the first lie.

    Your first lie was to fixate on the militia clause of the 2A.

    Please tell me how the 2A does not protect a right to gun ownership, which is in the plain language of the text? Yet you don’t question the “rights” to abortion and gay marriage, which are not in plain text, only (allegedly) inferred in the 4A and 14A respectively.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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