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Mass Shootings Occur in USA Because It is a Third-World Country

February 22, 2018 18 comments

Regular readers of my blog would be aware that I have written numerous posts on the causes of mass shootings in USA (link 1, link 2, link 3) as well as the futility of gun control (link 4, link 5) in this country. While I encourage you to read the above linked posts, as well as others on related topics, we often keep coming back to the same question- Why are mass shootings and incidents of gun-related violence common in USA but almost unheard of in other first-world countries? Why is the USA so.. exceptional?

Well.. the headline of this post does provide a very brief answer to that question. Moreover, I am not the first to make the connection between socio-economic conditions in this country and mass shootings. Over a decade ago, Mark Ames wrote a reasonably well-known book on that topic. To make a long story short, he makes the case that social atomization and alienation combined with extreme capitalism, an inadequate social safety net and a system which takes pride in crapping on its arbitrarily chosen “losers” are the perfect conditions for creating spree killers with nothing to lose.

One of my older posts on this topic (link 6) put forth the idea that post-1980 USA is far closer to being a third-world banana republic that most supposedly “serious people” are willing to acknowledge. In the remainder of this post, I will develop that idea further and show you how USA is a third-world country, in all but name, for its median citizens. But before we go there, let us briefly talk about what I mean by terms like ‘first-world country’ and ‘third-world country’. While some believe that those labels correlate with skin pigmentation of people who reside in those countries, the reality is rather different.

First world countries are defined by the quality of life enjoyed by their median resident, as are third world countries. For example- Japan, South Korea, France, Germany etc are seen as first world countries because of the high quality of life for their median residents. Living in such countries is characterized by things such as excellent universal healthcare, fairly stable and well-paying jobs for the majority of its residents, reasonably good formal and informal social safety nets and an overall lack of extremely poor and desperate people. In other words, life for the median resident in these countries is very good and even the less fortunate are doing better than treading water.

Now contrast this to the overall quality of life in countries such as Mexico, Brazil, India and yes.. USA. While these countries have no shortage of billionaires and lesser rich people with fabulous lifestyles- things are pretty shitty for their median residents. Most people in these countries have precarious jobs and livelihoods which often do not pay enough for the ever-increasing costs of sub-standard housing, healthcare and education. The government in these countries work solely for the benefit of the rich minority and does not provide adequate social goods such as healthcare, education, housing, sanitation or a usable social safety net.

Then there is the issue of state-sponsored or abetted repression and murder of its residents. First world countries tend to have very low rates of incarceration, favor restorative justice over revenge-based version and are not full of militarized police who go about robbing, raping and shooting the people they are supposed to protect. In contrast to that, third-world countries often have high rates of incarceration (for non-rich people), a justice system that is basically useless to average people and cops who act as if they are the law. Channeling money and power from everyone else to a few rich people is the main function of legal systems in third-world countries.

But what does any of this have to with the unusually high frequency of mass shootings in USA? And how is it connected to the certain failure of attempts at gun control in USA.

Let us compare rates of homicide by guns in USA versus other countries. If you follow this link, and go to the column titled ‘Homicides’ you will see that most first-world countries have very low rates (below 1 per 100,000 persons/ year) of such incidents compared to USA (almost 4 per 100,000/ year). Some of you might see this as an argument for gun control. But wait.. have a look at the rates of homicide by guns for Mexico (6-7 per 100,000/ year) and Brazil (20 per 100,000/ year). I should remind you that both of these countries have far stricter regulations for gun ownership than USA, and yet.. both have very high of rates of gun-related homicides. But why?

Why do tough gun control laws in first-world countries seem to correlate with low rates of gun-related homicides but have basically no effect on that rate in third-world countries? Also where do people in those countries get their guns from? The answer to the first question is linked to understanding why anybody would kill someone else, in the first place. The vast majority of people with stable, comfortable and secure lives have too much invested in maintaining the status quo to go around killing other people. People living precarious lives with little to no hope for a better future, on the other hand, have nothing to lose by breaking the rules.

Now apply that concept to attempts at gun control in USA. Do you really think that passing inane laws restricting scary-looking guns is going to change the overall downward trajectory for the average person in USA? Is it going to provide them with freedom from worrying about medical bills, housing costs, student loans etc? Is it going to provide them with stable, well-paying jobs or livelihoods? Is it going to change how american social system treats its non-rich members? To summarize, creating socio-economic conditions similar to third-world countries will always results in replication of other less savory statistics from those countries.

And by the way, most privately owned guns found in those countries were either “lost” from government arsenals or procured from some place half-way around the world. Are you so sure that something along those lines would not occur in USA in the aftermath of attempts at gun control?

What do you think? Comments?