One final remark and I will leave the Zimmerman case. It is now possible to carry concealed guns in all fifty states.
It’s a long, long time ago now, but I lived in Central Brooklyn and Inner City Detroit when both were not safe. The way you survive in a rough neighborhood is to pay attention and exercise ordinary common sense. Guns are a lot less useful than alertness and street smarts.
That is one point. The other is, crime — except for white collar crime practiced by bankers and politicians — has been falling in the US for years. The paranoid fear of one’s neighbors is just that — paranoia and craziness. In many cases, it is about racism as well as irrational fear. The US is changing, and a lot of white people cannot handle this fact. Their fear of the future diffuses into a fear of almost everything, but especially people of color, and more especially young men of color.
There is no good reason to carry a handgun, unless it’s required by your job. There is no reason to own any gun, unless you need it for sport; and sport should not include hunting other humans.
I am really, really tired of the NRA and frightened white people. I realized that frightened people come in all colors. But I think a large part of the power of the NRA is white fear.
There is more than one reason for this fear. People’s lives are getting worse. Pay has been level or falling for decades now. The cost of health care is way up, and many people no longer get health care through their jobs. The cost of education is ridiculous. Jobs are unstable. Unions, which used to be some protection for workers and which helped keep wages up, even for non-union workers, cover only 11% of the work force now. The government is clearly run for the benefit of the rich, who appear to be looting the economy, rather than building anything useful. What lies ahead? More poverty. More instability. Environmental degradation. Global warming.
People of color have always had to deal with hard times and prejudice. But there was a period, for several decades after World War Two, when life was pretty good for white working guys. That period has ended.
It is rational to be afraid, but the problem is not people of color or women or gays; and it cannot be solved by guns.
The answer, as union activists have told us for decades, is to organize — at the work place and in the neighborhood and city and state. Handguns are not any help in this situation. It is crazy to fear the other ordinary people who face hard times like you and should be your allies.