More Killings to Come

by Reise

Last Thursday another shooting happened in the United States, this time on Umpqua Community College campus in Oregon[1]. It was the 297th mass shooting this year[2]. If this statistic isn’t already alarming, knowing that there have been 281 days so far in 2015 makes this moral panic frightening. Gun violence has become an increasing issue in the United States over the past decade. Mass shootings occur everyday, young lives are becoming disposable because individuals have access to as many guns as they would like. The shooting that occurred October 1st was a result of one man and thirteen automatic weapons. Yet even though gun violence is becoming an epidemic, why have no major laws been changed to counter-act these criminal acts?

Since the constitution was created in 1787, Americans have viewed guns as a symbol of freedom. Often the Second Amendment is cited by those who oppose gun-control reform. As of a 2014 Gallup poll, 47% of Americans believe there should be more strict laws concerning firearms; just 38% of Americans would prefer they be kept as is[3]. So, why has no change to gun-control laws been made if people want it? Geertz’s symbolic-interpretive theory[4] would suggest gun laws have been relatively consistent in the United States for many years because guns are a symbol of American values such as freedom and individualism. The Second Amendment has a long history to it, entertaining the fullest mentality of freedom for years. Though, all this history doesn’t explain the hesitation to change after all lives lost from gun-violence; rather it shows the pervasive power of symbols in American life.

Often times in today’s society, masculinity is argued for when these shootings happen. This is argued because the shooters of these mass killings are predominantly white young males. Whether mental illness or gun control can be argued, looking at this phenomenon through a feminist anthropological lens sheds a different view. Why are so many shooters men and so many victims of gun violence women? Feminist Anthropology holds that everything is gendered in society[5]. Thus maintaining the masculine ideology of gun rights is a sign of strength. This theory explains hierarchy through gender, and why there have been so many copy-cats of gun violence. When men see other men gaining power and entitlement through taking the lives of others, it reinforces the gendered preface of hierarchy. Men should traditionally be the bread-maker, be courageous, and work towards the American Dream. Today’s American Dream is compromised by entitled males taking the lives of others, especially women. A recent study showed women are twice as likely to die in school shootings than men[6]. We can see how the American Dream and its values of strength, power, and individualism are gendered masculine. Feminist anthropologists would say this makes America a patriarchy, and thus look at how the gendering of gun violence fits into this phenomenon.

 

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/04/oregon-shooting-state-universities-campus-gun-laws-concealed-carry

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2015/oct/07/gun-demanding-control-firearms-psychology, accessed October 7th,2015

[3] http://www.gallup.com/poll/179045/less-half-americans-support-stricter-gun-laws.aspx

[4] Clifford Geertz, “Thicke Description: Toward an interpretive Theory of Culture,” in The Interpretation of Cultures, New York:Basic Books, 1973, pp3-30

[5] http://anthrotheory.pbworks.com/w/page/29532632/Feminist%20Anthropology#MainPoints, accessed October 7th,2015

[6] https://davinasquirrel.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/ss-table-alldata.png, accessed October 7th,2015

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38 Responses to More Killings to Come

  1. Greta Schock (Recitation #11) says:

    I genuinely found thought provoking. While it is established in the Constitution of the United States that citizens have the right to bear arms, I find this to be right to be outdated due to the transformation of gun advancement. At the time of the establishment of the Constitution, the primary gun of use was a musket, taking an average of 15 seconds to reload and fire again. Now, with the presence of mass shootings, guns are able to fire many rounds in a matter of seconds, making the weapon itself much more deadly. Although this perspective of Geertz’s symbolic-interpretive point of view may state that the symbol of guns is the symbol if the American identity, for me, this concept is outdated.

    As for the perspective of masculine gender identity in guns through Feminist Anthropology, I have reservations. Although the demographic of mass shooters does fall within the male/white spectrum, I think that the matter of mental illness should be taken into perspective for your essay.

    Again, very thought provoking, those statistics are frightening. As a college student, with no changes to gun laws, I am (at times) scared to go to class. We are all vulnerable, with increasing numbers of shootings.

  2. Larissa Hunt says:

    I found your essay really really eye powerful and persuading in its look at gun violence. I think your analysis on gun violence looked at through the feminist perspective was very unique because that isn’t a critique that most people use. Gendered gun violence is very prominent as you cited that most women are more likely to die in shootings vs men. You really did your research for this essay and it shows how much you care about the subject.
    I also think it would be really interesting to look at how guns as a symbol have changed throughout these past couple of years. Or what they symbolize to different people (ex: different races/genders) or even different political affiliations.

    • Atlas Catlett says:

      Larissa, I’m glad you mentioned looking at gun violence through symbolic theory as well. I thought the connection between gun violence and masculinity was strong, but a lot of the analysis in Reise’s essay is centered around the symbolism surrounding guns [guns being a symbol of violence, masculinity or power within a society]. That being said, it is clear that this can also be interpreted through the lens of feminist anthropology, as Reise did. I find the connection between these two fields very interesting and this topic is a great one to explore that through.

  3. This essay was incredibly interesting and thought provoking. Being Boulder residents surrounded by what can only be described as a uniquely ‘Boulder’ outlook and atmosphere we generally share or at least see everyday the idea of non violence and the need for stricter gun control. It is interesting to realize that we are such a small part of the population and there are many more people in the country who think the opposite. I do think that what is important to many of the American citizens that defend their right to own guns as stated in the Constitution is just that, not a love for guns necessarily but the thought that if they opposed the amendment they would be bad Americans. I do think that Symbolic/Interpretive Anthropology is the best way of looking at the phenomena of guns and the daily conversations that surround them in our country because the ability to own and operate them is believed by many citizens to be important in showing who Americans are and what our country is built on. No matter what is believed by the majority or minority though, reading the statistics in this essay that are rarely heard about mass shootings, it is clear that something has to be done even if it is just to find a middle ground between safety, non violence and the right of American people.

  4. Max Liebers says:

    Being at a large university like the one we all attend, this makes me worry. We technically are always at a risk of a shooting. It’s funny because people say “there’s nothing we can do about it’ while dozens of other countries around the globe have nothing like the issue we have. Although your argument from a feminist anthropology theory is interesting, I would account for mental illness because usually that is why people in the U.S. conduct shootings. It’s a big place with a lot of crazy people. When you give insane people guns, not much good will come from that. Anyways, very interesting and eye opening essay.

  5. Sarah says:

    Very interesting post! I like how you incorporated feminist anthropology to describe this epidemic. I think that a feminist anthropologist would also be interested in one of the biggest motivations of this particular shooter, which was that he was upset that he did not have a girlfriend. This motive, unfortunately, is shared by other mass shooters who have committed these tragedies throughout the years. I think a feminist anthropologist would also look into the effect that this frightening reality has on women who may be afraid to turn down a date from someone they feel could hurt them.

  6. Very thought provoking blog. I would have never thought to connect something like gun-control and mass shootings to this assignment but I think you executed it well. If you were to expand on this idea I think it would be really interesting talking about what specific things within our culture seems to be contributing to the growing number of shootings especially compared to other cultures around the world. I like how you linked feminist anthropology to this topic and would be interested in looking at how, like the hierarchy between genders, race and socio-economic hierarchy could be analyzed in these situations.

  7. Keilynn Swindle says:

    My first memory of a school shooting is from kindergarten at Westside Elementary School. Two boys had pulled a fire alarm making everyone go outside after which they began to shoot. They killed 4 people all of which were female. It was frightening and has left me with a strong opinion when it comes to gun violence. I agree with your point that men and boys use guns as a means to show power and masculinity and thus shows that America is primarily a patriarchal society. The shooting I witnessed occurred primarily because one of the boys was picked on and the other was rejected by a popular girl he attended school with. It is strange too that so much resistance is met in regards to changing gun laws with so much gun violence happening around us. I do want to make a point though, the changes being made are not so much to further examine individuals who want to buy guns, they are aimed more at taking guns away from individuals. I believe that is the fear; we as a country who bears arms to protect ourselves do not want to lose our means of protection. A longer wait period to obtain a weapon and further background checks should be put into place. I personally think pawn shops shouldn’t be allowed to sell guns and that individuals should not be allowed to sell guns. Basically my point here with all of this is that guns are a means to commit the crime, people are the ones who pull the trigger.

  8. Cierra Russ says:

    I think it is interesting how both sides of the argument approach the issue of violent mass shootings after they occur. The right often makes claims such as it is our constitutional right to bear arms, that they want to be able to have a gun to protect themselves if it were to happen to them, and that this is an issue of mental health not of making stricter gun laws. Yes, mental health is treated extremely poorly in the United States and this issue does need to be addressed, but this is not necessarily the only problem we face in this mass shooting epidemic. In terms of the argument of needing guns to protect ourselves from people who will find access to guns regardless of the law, why shoot at a bulletproof vest when you could prevent the shots in the first place? Yes, we do have the constitutional right to bear arms, but there has to be some compromise to face the real issue at hand.

    In terms of gender, that is an interesting angle from which to approach this issue that I hadn’t thought about before. While yes, women are faced with a lot of issues due to gender, the pressure on men to be a certain way is often overlooked, and this can have the power to be just as harmful.

  9. comc9215 says:

    Your essay was incredibly important in addressing an issue that has become increasing prevalent in the political and social landscape of the United States, and many points of it hold true and are issues that at the very least need to be revisited and revised by policy makers in congress. That being said I feel like there is at least some degree for a need to play “devil’s advocate” as this is an issue that has multiple facets and very staunchly opposed sides.

    One of the key points that I found confusing was where you said that the lens of feminist anthropology explains gun violence essentially in a way that makes it seem as if men killing women was the major result of the shootings and that these men in America were trying to be act dominant and kill women, yet when you look at the table cited for this in the essay (I did because I was very interested), in all but one of the american shootings shown there were more male casualties than female. Which while it could still be analyzed within the feminist anthropology lens, differentiates from your original argument about the motivations of the killers.

    That being said it was a very intriguing way to look at gun violence within our society, and I applaud your use of both this and the symbolic/interpretive perspectives, which brought forth an interesting point in its own right.

  10. Emma Gerona says:

    I totally agree with what you said about the gun being seen as a symbol of American culture by a symbolic interpretive anthropologist, which is also very concerning. It would be interesting to look more into the persistence of the gun as a cultural symbol, even after so many shootings and deaths. I really like that you included the hard facts and statistics about shootings in the US because it made this concept more graspable and less abstract. I think that the gun as a symbol often makes this concept more abstract because of its representation of American freedom, which I think has added to the difficulty of changing gun laws.
    Also the way you connected this to feminist anthropology was great. I am really interested to know how the mass shooting rates in a more matriarchal society, or at least one built on less of a hierarchy of power and more on values of equality, with similar gun laws as the US would compare to our own. It would be interesting to know if our importance placed on masculinity and power increase gun violence?

  11. Colin Mulligan says:

    As others have stated, this was a very thought provoking post, and the statistics are truly frightening. I certainly agree that guns seem to represent a symbol of freedom and masculinity within America, which helps explain the strong resistance to legal reform/gun control. Furthermore, the feminist theory provides a unique perspective into this issue that I never would have thought to examine.

  12. Lily Mindel says:

    I think your essay is really touching on a subject matter that is relevant to what is going on today. Your opening paragraph caught my attention right away, by addressing the issue on how guns have become a major issue in the past decade, and by addressing a recent shooting. I liked how you incorporated some history to help set up the reader for the rest of the paper. It was interesting that you used feminist theory to help further along your argument. You say “Thus maintaining the masculine ideology of gun rights is a sign of strength. This theory explains hierarchy through gender, and why there have been so many copy-cats of gun violence.” I think think these two sentences were ones that really furthered a long your argument, and got my agreeing with you.
    Great essay!

  13. Orion Felice says:

    You start this essay by drawing from solid facts, like the shooting at Umpqua being the 297th shooting only 77% through the year of 2015. Based on that stat, between today (November 6th, 2015) and Thanksgiving there will be 22 shootings, and between Thanksgiving and Christmas there will be 30 more. The most horrifying truth however is not what we can predict, but what we can’t – where those 52 shootings will take place.

    Using symbolic interpretative analysis, you dissected why Americans are so reluctant to relinquish guns – the 2nd amendment. The constitution represents Americans freedom from colonialism, and the amendments of the constitution exist as a promise of freedom to the citizens of the United States. However, what most Americans take out of context is the actual act to “bear arms.” Some Americans use the second amendment to justify ownership of a gun, and publicly carrying it, should be as natural as wearing clothing… being not just a right but also a requirement. This is a ridiculous twisting of words. The second amendment was created in order to protect citizens from foreign invasion and marital law, not on the way to the grocery store. You point out that American cultural roots obstruct changing these practices, and by using the 2nd amendment you firmly establish this claim.

    Moving to Feminist anthropology is what makes your analysis phenomenal. There does seem to be a crisis of male masculinity within American society, and you implied that this may be the rationale shooters use to justify their actions. As society slowly works towards gender equality many are bound not to agree. But still, shooting other people is not the right way to handle disagreement and no problem should ever justify that, you recognize this as well. Even more so, these actions carried out by shooters are unfortunately reinforcing a gendered hierarchy. As they do, other white male shooters follow suit and exhibit the “group phenomenon.” I’m sure you would agree that it is sickening to know that our country refuses to put a stop to these massacres because it may “infringe” on our citizen rights, but we both know the truth shows that guns do stratify people in society and result in the death of many. The crisis of masculinity is grounded on the idea that men are also “inherent” to certain roles in society – this claim has absolutely no authority and that is why I strongly agree with you point. Gender entitlement should not exist. We are all equal, when did we forget that? Somewhere along the way the American dream transformed into a nightmare.

  14. Amber Dombroski says:

    This topic has caused so much controversy within our society, completely pitting people against each other and causing others to jump to extremes in order to defend themselves. I’ve often observed that during debates for gun control individuals are more concerned with defending themselves and their opinions than actually paying attention to facts. Our society has become polarized over the issue and only caused more controversy and disagreement. I completely agree with your essay and thought process mainly because you lay out the cold hard facts and then back up your reasoning with anthropological analysis. Your point about guns and shootings being gendered is my favorite part of the essay because you apply feminist theory so accurately as to explain this problem in our country. I think that America has a specific problem with shootings because our young men are fed and obsessed with video games that glorify killing and make it seem fun. American culture has bred killers and created a dangerous mindset that has poisoned the minds of many.

  15. Colman Garthwaite says:

    I really like that you chose to talk about this topic. There is so much controversy surrounding it and to me it seems like the obvious choice is to create stricter gun laws. Still many others believe otherwise. Its interesting that women are twice as likely to be victims of shootings than males, that is a statistic that I had never heard before. I also enjoyed how you talked about the guns being a symbol of freedom. Although many people believe they are symbols of freedom, I think that is a belief that we need to somehow change. After all how can you be free if your living in fear that someone might come in shoot you if your just walking around your university or at a movie theatre or some other public place.

  16. Nicole Mattson says:

    I think symbolic/interpretive anthropology is a very interesting and important approach to consider when looking at Americans’ relationship with guns. It seems as though gun control is such a heated and widely debated topic because there are two conflicting viewpoints on what guns symbolize. To some people, guns symbolize death, destruction, and fear (this is the predominant view that is emphasized after such incidents as mass shootings). However, to others (such as those you mentioned who use the second amendment to justify the lack of gun control laws) guns symbolize freedom, but also protection and a sense of security. Therefore, it seems as though an argument could be made that such little legal action has taken place because these two conflicting symbolic meanings placed on guns are both widely held and prevalent within the United States. It will be interesting to see if or how the view on what guns symbolize might change within the next few decades. Will we be forced to pick a side (are guns used for destruction or protection?) or will some new symbolic view toward guns arise with time?

  17. Matt Levy says:

    It is definitely vital to understand that this is a gendered issue. By far, most mass shooters are in the same demographic (white, young, male) and we as a country have never really had a discussion about why. Also, since women are targeted much more in these instances, we must begin to look at the issue from a different angle and see why young white men shooting places up is so prolific . There’s already a national discourse about the epidemic we have in the US of mentally ill people having access to guns, and that’s a step in the right direction. But to really take the next step in combating this problem, we need to delve deeper into the background of the type of person who commits these acts.

  18. Victoria Prager says:

    School shootings and gun control are everyday topics that are constantly in the news, yet I never thought to relate them to anthropological theories. I agree with your case of symbolic interpretive anthropology, however I think you could have gone even farther with that theory. I would contest that the reason that gun laws are so lax is that guns are the “poster child” for our freedom altogether. There are many things being contested in relation to an increase in laws, interfering with our right to freedom. Just as the Scopes Monkey Trial was the national example for what should be taught in schools, gun control is the national example of how our “freedoms” are being violated in all aspects of our everyday lives. As for your relations of this topic to feminist anthropology, I agree with most of your points. I do agree that the shooters are gendered, I am not convinced that the victims are. I think in most cases the school shooter’s victims are chosen, not by gender, but by proximity or personal vendettas. However, in same cases you are totally right, for instance in the recent Santa Barbara shooting, the shooter targeted females. Either way, I think your essay was both very informative and well written.

  19. Natalia Sabadell says:

    You did a great job of applying theory to a highly controversial topic. Gun violence and the fight to reform gun laws has been at the forefront for years now and it is incredible how little reform there has actually been. The statistics you added are staggering and prove how the Second Amendment is outdated. The amendment was created during a time when guns were not as easily available, nor anywhere near how advanced they are today, and during a time when guns were used more for protection. I agree with how guns are so symbolic in America and so ingrained into our culture that it makes people not want to make reforms at the risk of “becoming less American”.
    The Feminist Anthropology take on this is really interesting and unexpected, but has some great points. I immediately thought of the most famous mass shooting, Columbine. It was performed on Adolf Hitler’s birthday because the gunmen were influenced by the violence he performed and masculine power he held. However, I was surprised to hear about how females are more likely to die in a school shooting. I agree with some of the above comments that the targets are those within proximity or personal vendettas, not particularly women.

  20. This was an extremely thought provoking and well-written essay. I’m very happy that you looked at gun violence and school shootings from the lens of a symbolic/interpretive anthropologist. Guns, because of the Second Amendment and long history of gun use and personal freedoms within the United States, are definitely a symbol of our country. The visible meaning of different symbols across the world illustrate that culture is public. Guns, to many Americans, are symbols of freedom and of liberty, whereas, in other countries, particular Western Europe, guns are viewed as symbols of military and police force and rarely thought to be owned/used by the average citizen. Guns also, in most other countries, are associated with widespread military/police protection against war, criminals, terrorists, etc., but not necessarily associated with individual freedoms, individual protections, or random civilian (non-terrorist) murders or attacks, like they are in the United States. It is very interesting to determine how symbols are viewed by different cultures. It would also be intriguing to compare and contrast the symbolism behind guns for school shootings versus police shootings.

  21. Dear Reise,
    I was very intrigued when I read your essay. I understand your need for stricter gun laws but it seems at the end of the piece that you said mental illness is definitely a key problem. I am neither a republican nor a democrat but I feel like the 2nd amendment should remain the way it is. Many of the people committing these atrocities have mental issues. I believe if any policy should be passed, no one with mental illness or a close family member should be able to own a weapon. This would cause the amount of school shootings or shootings in general to decline instantly. Despite my feelings for this, I am appalled at the statistics from the shootings. Men mostly kill women? That’s very strange. I would imagine it would be equal but after doing more research, it is a very prominent statistic in shootings. Many women oppose the 2nd amendment and are looking for reform. Guns have absolutely become masculinized and have done so at the expense of females around the country.

  22. Natalie Bowes says:

    I thought that your essay was well written and insightful! I liked how you tied symbolic-interpretive theory to gun-control.I agree that in many ways, for most people in the U.S., the ability to posses guns serves primarily as a symbol of freedom rather than a necessary means of personal protection. I also think your use of feminist anthropology shed light on an aspect of gun violence that can easily be overlooked. This theory in relation to mass shootings made me think of Elliot Rodger who killed 6 people in 2014 in Santa Barbara, California. In the manifesto he released prior to the shooting, he declared his intention as a ‘war on women,’ which was incentivized by revenge on all the women who had rejected/deprived him over the years. This supports the idea of gun violence being gendered because it was used to exert power over women and simultaneously assert masculinity through violent means. I think that the vast majority of mass shooting being the doing of white males shows that misogyny is still alive and well in American society, and in the case of the Isla Vista shooting, is directly provoked by the belief that women inherently owe men obedience and adoration.

  23. Molly Mallgraf says:

    I thought the opening to your paper was very strong and a great way to grab the attention of the reader; the statistics were actually eye opening for me. The whole paper I thought was compelling with a very strong and assertive tone that I enjoyed since it dealt with such a serious and tough issue. Your use of multiple articles was also a good way to back up this assertive tone and have the reader take what your saying seriously. In most of the discussions I’ve had or articles I’ve read over gun laws I have never really taken into consideration the gender differences. I thought your feminist approach was an unique way to look at gun laws. However I feel that a feminist would read what you wrote about men killing people to fit the masculine appeal of the “American Dream” and say this outlook is outdated. A feminist would say that society today views women as “courageous” and “bread-winners” as much as men. Overall though I truly enjoyed this paper and thought you did a great job.

  24. Jevan Yamamoto says:

    This paper is very well written because it covers a very controversial topic. The research was thoroughly done and one can tell that there was a good use of outside sources. I really like that the author of this paper is able to get a point across and validate his standing on why / why not guns should be illegal without insulting the other side. Although, i do believe in the second amendment and i have a different stance on gun control, I can put differences aside and understand where you are coming from, and i respect that. Its awful to see and hear about mass shootings that happen in the United States. They happen all too often and good people suffer because of it. However, i don’t think that guns kill people, rather that people are the ones killing other people. My opinion is that we should still follow the second amendment, but there needs to be more regulation on gun control.

  25. Hayley Bibbiani says:

    Your introduction with the statistics really pulled me into wanting to read more. Your paper was really interesting and well thought out. This controversial topic was presented in this essay in a non biased way which was refreshing to see. Both of your connections are really thought provoking and show you understand both theories. I can clearly see where you are coming from with guns being a symbol of freedom in America, and by adding more statistics really proves your point. When I first read that you were going to relate it to feminist anthropology I was troubled trying to figure out what ways it could relate. After reading your connection, I was very intrigued and even more interested. It’s clear you did your research and are passionate about the topic.

  26. Marin Anderson says:

    Interesting and relevant topic. Gun control is something the US has struggled with for years and I can tell you’ve got a strong opinion on it. I would have never thought to analyze this issue through feminist anthropology but you explained yourself well. However, I think it goes deeper than “guns represent strength which represents man.” It’s not that simple. Nevertheless, great essay!

  27. Antonio Gomez says:

    What made this paper so strong and well written was how you picked such a relevant topic to compare it with the anthropological theories of symbolic anthropolgy and feminist anthropology. The first statistics really caught my attention since I truly did not think there would be more mass shootings than days in a year in America today. I think it was really interesting how talked about how guns in American culture symbolize freedom and individualism, and this the main reason why no laws are truly created to counter react against this mass shootings. This is probably the reason why in other countries mass shootings don’t occur as often, because people, especially young men can’t get ahold of guns that easily. Guns being used by adults can become a symbol of power to many young men that lose control when they get their hands on them. I also though it was really nice how you used feminist anthropology to analyze how guns truly represented a gendered part of culture, since men are the primary executors of mass shootings. Feminist anthropology can also clearly explain how women are the main victims of this gun violence, since it states that culture views men as stronger and women as weaker, therefore women would be the main victims of such mass murders.

  28. August Clausson says:

    You noted that everything is gendered and that women are more likely to be killed in a Mass Shooting then Men are, due to our supposed patriarchal system. When individuals enter a school with intent of killing, do you think gender is an unconscious thought, do you think it is innate for one to want to kill a women more then a man or does this question come up in the killers mind before he enters the school? A question to think about is whether or not this mental processing is innate or not, because if it is, problems of gender have a deeper complexity then we thought, perhaps some people are innately patriarchal.

  29. phoebe holasek says:

    I thought applying gender to this highly contested topic was an interesting stance. I’ve always been aware that white men tend to dominate the shooters category but I never thought of gender in relation to reforming gun control laws. I also thought beginning the article with such a shocking statistic really drew in the reader and grabbed attention well!

  30. Peter Koukov says:

    Nicely written essay! Kept me interested the whole way through. Bringing gender into this topic and viewing it from a feminists perspective i thought was very interesting. I never thought about how and why you only really hear about shootings with male killers. I honestly don’t think i’ve ever even heard of a female shooting before. This drives me to think why? How come certain males feel the drive to end so many peoples lives over sometimes nothing but females do not as often? This really interests me and also bothers me at the same time. Thank you for sharing your essay and making me think about this topic. Well done.

  31. Donia Hanaei says:

    Your essay is very well written and the statistics are definitely frightening but the way I view this was similar to the way we view rape culture: If young men are killing women with guns, we need to take away the guns comparable to if young men are raping young women we need to take away the “enticement” (the “provocative” clothing, the flirting, the state of sobriety or lack there of). We’ve already established, however, that this is not the way we need to approach rape culture. So instead of taking away the guns why don’t we evaluate the real problem, the culture that these young men grow up in or their mental states? Also, how effective is gun control in a country where guns are such a pivotal part of our freedoms and culture? Gun education and openness to talk about weapons, I believe, would be more effective. Also, what are the factors that add up to the statistic that women are twice as likely to be shot during school shootings than men, because I would venture to guess that the frequency of each gender is not equal. I like that your essay made me think a lot about these topics and brought up so many questions especially those focusing on gender in school shootings.

  32. Natalie Buchholz says:

    This essay is extremely thought provoking. I especially like what you did with the last theory, delving into feminist theory. However, we can take this idea further and look at not only guns as a gendered issue, but also as a race issue. When we see black on black, or black on hispanic, or hispanic on hispanic, violence we write this violence off as “gang violence”, and treat it as such. When there is white on black violence, it is a hate crime. But when there is white on white violence, it is domestic issues or “mental illness” to blame. My question is this; why are types of violence categorized based on what race is attacking whom? Shouldn’t all violence be seen as just that, violence?

  33. Priya Byati says:

    Your essay raised some interesting points in possible causes for school shootings. In the case of feminist anthropology, it could be such a culturally ingrained that thing that the shooters themselves in most cases won’t even identify that as a cause. In response to your take on Geertz’s symbolic-interpretive theory, do you a think practice theory might even further explain how guns are used and therefore even further symbolized?

  34. Noemi Olivas says:

    I also found this particular part of the essay very intriguing. It would never have occurred to me to look at mass shootings as a gendered part of society. I never really realized how women typically are not the perpetrators these tragedies like these. The statistics that you gathered help to further prove your point. I don’t know that I agree with the idea that guns are a symbol of freedom. I think guns are more of result that come from the freedom of choice.

  35. Reilly Kahat says:

    Because a lot of the comments seem to make points similar to my initial thoughts I am going to branch off slightly, although someone else still might have done the same. Your entry mentions the significant contribution of attempting to display masculinity and the symbolic meaning of power behind defending the second amendment as possible explanations for gun violence/mass shootings. I agree with this, but would also like to say that it is reasonable to consider the thought that the increase in numbers of these horrible tragedies could in part be a result of all the different media coverage. Somebody who is mentally ill and feels the need to murder innocent people in order to prove masculinity would likely be encouraged by seeing such things on T.V or the Internet, social media etc….Covering murders is clearly needed as citizens have a right to know what is going on in our country but the placement, method, and timing of the coverage could probably be altered in a way that fully discloses the information without any unintended “glorification.” Now I don’t necessarily believe that this is what is going on but it felt like an interesting and related enough thought to comment.

  36. Ben Medalie says:

    I found this article quite thought provoking, as well. Nonsensical gun violence within America is being publicized and glorified at an alarming rate, especially in the last couple years. There is no simple remedy to cease this violence but gun control is possibly the only way to decrease these mass shootings. A popular counter to gun control would be the fact that if someone with that evil mental capacity is going to conduct a shooting no matter the cost, they will end up finding guns and weaponry legally or illegally. With this in mind, it is easy for gun lovers to scoff at the idea of taking away their right to bear arms, yet as more guns become circulated within the United States at legal outlets, then it will continue to become easier and easier to obtain a firearm. Do you think further gun control is the right way to go about solving these tragic mass killings?

  37. Amber Williams says:

    Mass shootings and gun violence have become an epidemic in this country, and I really enjoyed reading your essay because of its relevance and thought-provoking material. I thought using Geertz’s symbolic-interpretive theory was extremely powerful. However, I would argue that guns symbolize more than just American freedom and individualism. Obviously, the issue of banning guns is a controversial topic. But for the majority of US citizens who own guns, it serves as a means of protection and safety. These symbols are important to look at when addressing the issue of gun control and the power of symbols in US society.

    I was really impressed with your choice to use feminist anthropology. With mass killings predominantly occurring at the hands of white, young males, it is an important theory to look at. Why are men prone to this type of violence more than women? And why are women more likely to become victims of gun violence? Someone previously commented that mental illness should have been taken into the perspective. Although I would say mental illness may actually be less of an issue than some of the killers have claimed, a feminist anthropologist can still question why these men are also prone to these illnesses that lead to such actions.

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