The for-profit business of shooting our students

I was recently having a conversation on Facebook with a conservative woman about gun control and school shootings. She gave me the typical nonsense: guns don’t kill people, people kill people.

Being a writer and not wanting to miss the chance to one-up a cliche with a more truthful turn-of-phrase, I responded by saying that yes, guns do kill people because gun violence is impossible without guns.

I went on to say that among developed nations, America had a fairly unique gun violence problem. We can’t continue with business as usual and keep watching students get gunned down. Something needs to change.

The conservative responded immediately by posting the Israel teacher meme, it’s a pic of an Israeli teacher standing behind a group of kids with an assault rifle slung over her shoulder.

Do we really want that for our schools and for our kids? Most Americans don’t, but if we armed teachers, that sure would be good for gun manufacturers. Profits would boom, stock prices would soar, and the money would come rolling in.

Guns in schools

As I discuss quite a bit on this blog, what Americans think doesn’t really matter anymore. Politicians only respond to money, and in America, gun manufacturers and the NRA have a lot of money invested in making sure that gun control legislation doesn’t pass. And they’ve succeeded.

In the 2016 election cycle, Republicans received nearly $6 million from the gun lobby. Democrats, by contrast, received $106,000. This is one of the few issues where Democrats actually do present a stark contrast to Republicans, which simply means that conservative propaganda can tap into the rage and make this a liberal issue.

Liberals want to take your guns!

Liberals want to take away your freedoms!

Liberals don’t want to arm teachers because they want to kill students!

Rage against liberals works everytime it’s tried, especially these days.

America armed to the teeth

When I was chatting with the woman on Facebook, she immediately went from zero to sixty. I usually find that there is at least some small window for rational discourse before the blood pressure spikes and liberal rage gets pumped into the system. In truth, I’ve had very productive conversations with conservatives and libertarians over the years. What I’m saying is, they aren’t all simply irrational facilitaters of Fox News propaganda. There are a few exceptions, exceptions that unfortunately prove the rule. In this particular case and in this particular Facebook conversation, there was no window of opportunity, whatsoever. Arm our teachers! Save our kids!

After all, it would be a boon for business. After the recent Florida shooting, stock prices got a bump, as they always do after a mass shooting. Fearing the possibility of gun control legislation, gun owners make sure that they are well-stocked.

American Guns

Gun manufacturers have already flooded the nation with firearms, but there’s always room to expand the market. And just think, if teachers were required to carry firearms, it would be a big boost to our economy!

What is more, what if every citizen were armed? What if all of America were a place where there were enough mass shootings that we all felt like we had to be armed and ready, no matter where we were?

America armed to the teeth.

Individuals taking personal responsibility for their safety. This could be good for the economy, and it would fit with the conservative worldview, a worldview where each individual focuses on themselves and no one takes responsibility for anything or anyone, other than themselves.

Maybe that will be our future, or maybe not. No one can say for certain. What we do know, with absolute certainty, is that right now it isn’t up to us. Our democratic process does not really exist, in any meaningful sense.

We can turn a buck on anything, even student shootings

A majority of Americans favor stricter gun control, and have for quite some time. It isn’t a strong majority — from what I can tell it’s usually just over 50% — but a majority all the same. After 8 years of an Obama Presidency, a President who cared very deeply about gun control, nothing changed in any substantial way. (In actual fact, our nation experienced another flood of guns, as gun owners rushed to get their guns whilst the gettin’ was good, i.e., before the liberal President took them all away.)

What you and I think about gun control will not affect legislation, at least not anytime soon. Our politicians respond primarily to lobbyists. Our government is lubricated by the the corporate money of lobbyists and by their power to network and provide favors to politicians and those who support them.

In other words, capitalism is working well here in America. We can turn a buck on anything, even student shootings.

You may protest. You may think I’m overstating the case by bringing capitalism into the picture, but time and again, corporations profit handsomely from death and destruction, whether this means destroying forests, ramping up plastic production, cramming terrorized animals into cages to be raised for meat, pumping carbon into the air, profiting from war and violence, or making money from flooding America with assault rifles and other weapons.

Capitalism is about turning a profit as fast as you can and by any means necessary. The health and well-being of society simply doesn’t factor into the equation, and neither does the safety of America’s kids. Flooding America with guns is good for business.

Published by

Jonathan Erdman

Writer. In the summers, I live and work in the incredible state of Alaska, in the bush community of McCarthy, as the Executive Director of the Wrangell Mountain Center. When not in McCarthy, you'll typically find me in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, writing and working with local activists. My primary writing project right now is a novel set in remote bush Alaska, of the magical realism genre wherein an earnest and independent young woman finds a mysterious radio belonging to her grandmother, a device that has paranormal bandwidth and a disturbing ability to mess with one's mental stability.

13 thoughts on “The for-profit business of shooting our students”

  1. Jonathan, I’ve been to Israel and have had Israelis stay with our family, the real meme, the true one, is that they, and most of the world, are scared visiting the US because they know everyone is packing heat. I enjoy your calm writing, I lose my shit and write with venom after shootings and such. I need to work on this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Two things by way of limited response (well, maybe three)…

    I just watched Chris Rock’s new Netflix show… Chris Rock who years ago said it’s not gun control we need…. We need BULETT CONTROL! Made me laugh. He is a seer, no doubt.

    He called the bluff on the cliché you started with in his new stand up video. He said, Yes, Guns do kill people. No one is committing mass killings by stabbing. He goes on to make a funny remark about if a guy stabs 100 people, you call 97 of them stupid! No. Its the guns doing this damage. And I agree.

    That said, I am aware that there are complications too. It is not simply guns. It is the power trip of using a gun. And most gun owners get their power trip legally, but others don’t. Still, there are cultural and psych issues involved. Platitudes supporting either side of this debate never get the whole story out.

    But there is another thing I am thinking about now too. My dad informed me that when the AR15 was first produced, it was not marketed to civilians. The gun manufacturers didn’t even try to. And all us American citizens just accepted it. We had the 2nd Amendment then too, but no one was shouting about our infringed rights. Instead, the gun companies just deemed it responsible only to offer them to the military. Hmmm… What happened? What changed that? I don’t know. It was before my time, but I believe him.

    Also, Dad is an old sailor from the US Navy. He handled NUKEs when he was 19 years old. He knows a lot about them that the average joe on the streets does not. And he raises a good question in my mind: If everyone needs to be armed to the teeth, then why aren’t our citizens armed with NUKEs? Why hand guns, hunting rifles, assault rifles, and even tanks but no NUKEs? What’s up with that? If it makes sense for everyone to carry a gun, why not a NUKE?

    I think it is a terrible invention, the gun. Wish they never were invented at all. That said, I have had fun shooting them many times. I also think the issue is more complex than platitudes can handle. But I think this is one of those issues where us CONSERVATIVES are really being stupid.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Agent X: “My dad informed me that when the AR15 was first produced, it was not marketed to civilians. The gun manufacturers didn’t even try to…the gun companies just deemed it responsible only to offer them to the military. Hmmm… What happened? What changed that? I don’t know. It was before my time, but I believe him.”

    I believe him too. There has been a massive shift in our culture toward individualism and greed. There was a time when people considered it important to be citizens, which means that caring for others and for society mattered as much or more so than one’s individual desires. There was something important to people about being a good neighbor. Society mattered. Leaving the world a better place mattered. Paying it forward mattered. When JFK said , “ask not what your country can do for you but ask what you can do for your country,” this resonated with folks.

    This is not to over romanticize the past. This was a time when overt racism was rampant and a culture of conformity was stifling. But we seem to have way over corrected.

    Margaret Thatcher said “there’s no such thing as society,” and Reagan basically ran in the same kind of ideology. All these decades later we are paying the price for the belief that we only need focus on ourselves and everything else will work itself out – no sacrifice required.

    Corporations act only to maximize profit, even if that means that they poison people or harm society. Pay a fine, move on. Working purely for profit is a virtue, it’s practically a religious dogma among the wealthy and among conservatives.

    So it isn’t hard to imagine corporate execs at gun manufacturing companies salivating at the thought of providing teachers with guns.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel ya. Good neighbor… citizenship… care for others… That stuff of the past mostly anymore. We live in a look-out-for-number-one world now, more and more all the time.

      I agree. There is a lot about the past that is noble, but legalized, institutional racism went not only unchecked, but built in by design. So we need to take care not to romanticize it. It had problems ever bit as ugly as today, but they have shifted around a bit.

      Greed, both personal and corporate, is ravaging our society today. The corporate greed at FORD that came to light with the exploding Pinto when I was a kid. As big and dear an institution as FORD is, they should have been shamed out of business for that.

      Greed is manifest in more recent times (I should look it up, its a bit of research I should have at the tip of my tongue anyway) – the 1980’s I think – United Airlines had a junior exec (I think) make a name for himself when he proposed taking one single olive out of every inflight salad and saving the company a million dollars a year in the process. It was not actually a new idea, but he put it to use in that kind of forum and suddenly the doors of that type of business blew off the hinges all across the corporate world. All this accounting down to the millimeter rakes in tons of cash across America into the hands of the few every day! And that is just the legal stuff, nevermind ethical, moral, or charitable.

      Our world is getting hard and cold.

      Part of the reason I try to interact here is because I share a lot of your opinions on things alright, but also because I represent those who don’t at a lot of points too. I hope to do more than just soften those differences actually, though that is part of my desire. Even more, I hope to open up imaginations among both liberals and conservatives – groups that don’t listen or care much for one another generally with wholly other ways of thinking, acting and even goals to strive after which I think could prove so important as to make many of the old ones become insignificant.

      But this in no way negates where I share your passions in the slightest. And also, I like your adventures. If I hung out with you for a day, you would get tired of me, but I bet it would take a week before I got tired of you. On the other hand, I might find a zip line somewhere in the mountains a little too unnerving for me, and just have to watch you disappear with a Tarzan yell while I turn and head back home to vanilla Lubbock.

      God bless…


      Liked by 1 person

      1. I greatly appreciate your perspective as well. I also empathize as well as admire your struggle to speak about homelessness to those in the church who don’t want to hear it. Although my cause/s differed and were probably not as noble, I do know the frustration of the endeavor.

        As regards the zip line, that would be a bit of a challenge because I have a bit of a fear of heights. I did confront that fear once and did a sky dive, but it was the single most terrifying thing I’ve ever done.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yeah. I see something of a kindred spirit there that I appreciate too. Glad I found your blog.

        Maybe it’s just metaphorical zip line. I enjoy a good road trip, even some tame adventures. I would like to see more of the world, but I don’t have a need to see it all first hand. I grew up in SW Colorado playing in the cliff dwellings after hours when no park rangers were around. Now days the guided tour is the only tour and it is full of restrictions, so I know the difference, and I don’t want to see the guided tour of Jerusalem and all the trinkets for sale to make me feel closer to Jesus. But I don’t know enough to take the unguided tour either, and anyway, I am fine being a HOME body most of the time. So…

        yeah. metaphorical zip line, I guess.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I am back…

    When I first read the title you crafted here I sensed the crass edginess of it. “For profit” killing. Reminds me of that old Megadeth album: Killing is my business; business is good. That was all edgy 30 years ago. I felt the sting of it, and I sensed it intends to dig down and find a nerve. And I even thought about how I would probably temper that edge if it were my post.

    But really, I think about it again, and I find it too much on target. I think you are right. For the sake of a buck. And it’s all institutionalized, moralized, ethicalized, sanitized, judicialized and even baptized. But all that is just so much lipstick on a pig. And even though my conservative sensitivity wants to say your title is in bad taste and needlessly excessive, my search for a worthy defense just comes up short. I think you nailed it.


    Liked by 1 person

  5. I believe people kill people not guns. You left wingers can try rationalizing and reasoning, but it still dosen’t cover the truth that if all guns are rounded up, only bad guys will have guns. You can live in that world but I won’t.


  6. “Guns don’t kill people; people WITH guns kill people.”

    I have heard this all my life. What doesn’t make sense to me is how this supposedly supports gun rights. It sounds like the perfect reason to keep guns away from people.

    “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

    This is more recent rhetoric, and it’s not like I don’t get it, but shootouts are just not that simple really. And, for that matter, the statement is not accurate. Google “nurse Joan black” if you think the ONLY thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. It’s just not true. Other things stop them too.

    And as long as we search for these pithy statements and slogans to represent real life, it will be a political hot potato that never gets to the bottom of the issues.

    There is little doubt in my mind that a good guy with a gun is (or usually is) the most effective way to stop a bad guy with a gun, but when the bullets are flying and people are ducking for cover it can be hard to tell who is the good guy and who is the bad guy. I fear that if I were armed when a shooting breaks out at the post office, I might shoot the other good guy by mistake!

    And I haven’t even begun to deal with the power trip that goes with holding a gun whether good or bad. A lot of bad guys just are not that bad until they have a gun in their hands. It might be the wise thing to limit that to begin with…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. By and large the grassroots voters on the right rely on pithy platitudes rather than hard data, so far as gun control is concerned, but I get it. For many many decades conservatives have been fighting liberals and it’s all out tribal warfare at this point. I hope that the post-Baby Boomer generation can get away from the old toxic tribal politics. This divisive brand of politics only succeeds when both sides remain fairly closed minded. Bernie gives me hope, on that count. He’s doing politics in a very different way, with a different message — and it’s populism in the very best sense.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I like Bernie. I liked Obama too. Not straight down the line, but yeah…

        Bernie, I don’t know as well, of course. Obama … well, I like a lot of what he did, and I think he got a bum deal from the Right. I think he was sabotaged and sand bagged almost to death. He was not at all the strongest president we ever had, but neither was his predecessor. But, on the contrary, with the exception of maybe Jimmy Carter, no president has been more gracious and cool under pressure.

        I count myself among the conservatives at the end of the day, but only sorta. There are a handful of conservative issues I don’t budge on – chiefly abortion, and others I have leanings/sensitivities with. But I actually am just nearly as strong on other issues with liberals. We are by far the wealthiest nation in history and a “Christian nation” too – according to some (mostly from my neighborhood) (I don’t actually agree with that, but I can see why someone would say it). And thus I think we can afford to care for the poor rather than look down our nose at them. I have NO sympathy for those poor little rich people in their private jets with their call girls and cocaine and a senator in their back pocket.

        When it comes to guns, some of your own writings have given my liberal leanings cause for pause. When it comes to assault rifles and so forth, this is a no brainer for me. Guns made to kill people have no place in God’s creation. This is his world (I know I am out of bounds just now for most of my liberal friends)… this world is His, he made it and there is a certain kind of way it works, which I know about through faith. But even that is full of risk and love for neighbor and enemy and so forth. Any Bible-believing conservative should be stumped by this kind of talk, and I know I am.

        God bless…

        Thanx for sharing this…

        Liked by 1 person

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