Last Thursday another shooting happened in the United States, this time on Umpqua Community College campus in Oregon. It was the 297th mass shooting this year. 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. So, why has no change to gun-control laws been made if people want it? Geertz’s symbolic-interpretive theory 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. 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. 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.
 http://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2015/oct/07/gun-demanding-control-firearms-psychology, accessed October 7th,2015
 Clifford Geertz, “Thicke Description: Toward an interpretive Theory of Culture,” in The Interpretation of Cultures, New York:Basic Books, 1973, pp3-30
 http://anthrotheory.pbworks.com/w/page/29532632/Feminist%20Anthropology#MainPoints, accessed October 7th,2015
 https://davinasquirrel.files.wordpress.com/2012/04/ss-table-alldata.png, accessed October 7th,2015