Vote With a Bullet And Gun Control
By James Kennedy
**This looks longer than it is! I’ve broken it up into sections to make it more digestible & it covers a lot of different aspects, so please give it a chance! Also, these are MY views, not the views of the band Kyshera**
Part 1 – The Song
The new Kyshera song is called ‘Vote with a Bullet’ & in the Chorus we yell things like ‘Load up’ & ‘Pull the Trigger’ etc. That can only mean that we must just totally love Guns then yeah? Yeah, I like Guns like Randy Newman hates ‘Short People’ (< sarcasm). What I mean is, the lyrics to both songs just mentioned are written from the perspective of other people (not the person singing them) in order to highlight the mindset of certain types of people in society. In terms of Guns, I’m not saying that I’m ‘Pro-Gun’ or ‘Anti-Gun’ in the song (whatever that actually means!) but the Gun Control issue does highlight how our scope for debate has been reduced to that of being only the 2 extremes available on any issue these days (somethings either left or right, right or wrong, good or bad, with us or against us – with nothing inbetween!). There’s a whole range of other options for opinion & most of the time it all depends on context. Like “Are boycotts effective as a tool for influencing corporations”? Sometimes. It depends. It depends on the corporation, the issue, the timing, the size of the action & how long it is maintained etc. So sometimes a boycott is effective, sometimes not. It depends on the broader context. And so it is with everything else, including Gun Control. So, driven to write this solely in defence of our song ‘Vote with a Bullet’, here is my totally irrelevant opinion on the subject…
I’d better first do the unfortunate defensive preamble that anyone discussing anything at all, has to do these days. I don’t like Guns, I don’t own one, I don’t want one, I don’t like violence, I don’t like macho, redneck, patriotic assholes, I would much rather live in a country (and a world!) without weapons of any kind & I have no interest at all in promoting the proliferation of guns. I don’t like the things, they scare me & so do many of the people advocating them!
The viewpoint expressed in ‘Vote with a Bullet’ IS one that I can empathise with, within a certain context. Just to explain – it’s written from the viewpoint of a guy who feels so completely politically despondent and so powerless that he see’s his gun as his only remaining defence against what he see’s as his real enemy, the Government. He tried voting, nothing changed. He tried protesting, he got beaten up. So he starts to see that any attempt at democratic participation is just squashed by whoever has the most force – whether political or physical. As he starts to feel that the Police will only protect you if you are on the ‘right side’ of the system (and beat you up if you’re not), he seeks to protect himself by such force, as force seems to ultimately hold the final authority on an issue. In the song, I’m playing devils advocate for a viewpoint that I don’t completely agree with but I can’t say that I totally disagree with either!
Saying that western democracy is a facade, is not controversial, new or extreme. Anyone who’s being even remotely honest with themselves can see that the system is wrapped up tight & that your vote is irrelevant. The vote wasn’t always irrelevant – but then power found ways to make it so – so we as ‘the people’ need to adjust our strategies of resistance in order to keep up with our enemies moves, rather than just clinging lazily to the mantra of ‘no vote, no voice’. So I can empathise with the premise of these sentiments – again, I’m not saying that Guns are ‘right’ or ‘good’ but that I can understand how people could be so suspicious of the system that they feel they need them for protection from the state, as many people do. As Ice-T says at the start of the song; “The right to bear arms is because thats the last form of defence against Tyranny” & as long as Governments use their power monopoly against their own people & deny them any form of genuine democratic involvement, then I can see why some people see the removal of their guns as just another means of the Government removing their ‘last form of defence’ from them. I’m not saying I agree with them, but I can see why they feel that way.
So again, I’m not saying that Guns are cool (they’re not) but for me, its more complex than just taking a yes or no position. If I was a Gun owner, I would be happy to have the menace of guns removed from my society ONLY if it was complemented by an honouring of the democratic process. If people knew that they could genuinely influence their government without the need for potential armed warfare, then there wouldn’t be these awful gun crimes taking place around the world. These school shootings, gang empowerment, passion killings, accidents etc are all awful, unfortunate side effects of this complicated issue. Without a real democracy, this is what you’re going to get – guns or not.
As the guy in the songs says – “Leave us the Ballot. Or we vote with a Bullet” – unfortunately many people feel like that & they’re not without good reason.
So thats my totally unwanted opinion on the subject, for anyone that happens to care. As it turns out though, I do actually have an interest in the subjects I write about & I don’t just pull lyrics out of the air because they rhyme ;) – so for anyone wanting to read more (or with just way too much free time), here’s some extra shizz…
Part 2 – Guns
The Gun Control debate is hot news in the U.S. at the moment; the constant stream of opinions on the subject (mostly extreme) inspired me to write the song above, but my own opinion on the subject comes from several books I’ve read about Probability, Crime, History, the Media & Statistics. It’s only an opinion & I’m not saying that I think ‘I’m right’. Nobody holds the absolute truth on many subjects & anyone claiming to do so is more ignorant than they think. So for what its worth, here’s another irrelevant perspective…
Numbers & good news…
Guns kill people, thats they’re job. We all know that the US has more Gun deaths than the UK – it also has 250 million more people, most of whom have Guns, so thats kind of obvious & tells us nothing. The U.S. has over 313 Million people, with an 88% rate of Gun ownership & has just over 11,000 Gun Homicides a year. The U.S. in fact has the highest rate of Gun ownership in the world but is 28th place in terms of Gun Homicides, so Gun ownership isn’t the only factor causing the Homicides. It turns out that if you mix Guns with a certain something else, then they suddenly create Homicides – what is this magical other element? Poverty. If you live in a poor country with Guns, you are much more likely to experience Gun crime than if you live in a rich country with Guns. If you live in the poor part of a rich country with Guns, then you are much more likely to encounter gun crime than if you live in the rich part. This even holds true for a country like the UK where Guns are not legal or prevalent in society – if you live in one of the poorest parts of the UK, Guns suddenly start to become a reality. Contrary to what many people believe though, School shootings etc are incredibly rare (thankfully) & so long as you’re not involved with a gang or don't live in the poorest parts of the country, your chance of ever experiencing guns, is pretty much zero. This is good news isn’t it?
There are also the cultural aspects to consider as well. A country being armed isn’t the same as a country that “LOVES GUNS, YEEHAW!“. And in the U.S., their mindset when it comes to their general patriotic ‘love’ of guns is probably the result of having a government that depends on creating that mindset in society in order for it to accept the trigger happy, imperialistic, macho, bullying foreign policy that its government needs to maintain its grossly unjust empire. Lets not forget also, the interest that the Weapons industry has in pandering to these same sentiments in order to create profits in the billions!
However, if we’re interested in getting rid of societies biggest killers then Guns are not a priority yet. Guns in the West kill nowhere near as many people who die in Cars or Tobacco or Diet related illnesses or Cancer. Over 100,000 people died in the U.S. last year just from accidents! Nearly 600,000 died from Heart Disease. Remember, the U.S. has 280 million armed people & had 11,000 Gun homicides last year – whilst thats still 11,000 avoidable tragedies, the level of coverage the media gives the issue is very suspect compared to the HUNDREDS of thousands that die every year by other equally preventable causes. This does not mean I’m Pro-gun, it means I’m pro-truth, whether that truth fits my worldview or not. It’s not as easy as just saying ‘more of this equals more of this’, this isn’t Physics, this is human society & things depend on context, circumstance, time & place, randomness etc & nothing is ever set in stone, things change. And correlation doesn’t mean causation.
The media & bad news…
However, things can be made to SEEM as if they’re more prevalent than they are very easily. There’s a truism about the media industry – if something is reported in the news, its because its rare. News companies all want ‘that dramatic new story’ because it makes for novelty consumption (ratings). If the news was reporting on the real killers in our society, they’d be reporting non-stop on road deaths, tobacco deaths, cancer, natural deaths etc and after a while people would get so used to hearing it everyday, that they’d lose interest. They’d stop looking to the news for news because the news would be predictable! Thats how the human mind works, things become normal through repetition & we become immune to it (like those “this shit will f**king kill you!” stickers on cigarettes, that everyone just ignores). So when some new story breaks out about some ‘new’ type of tragedy, it sparks the sensationalist taste buds – it gets reported because its novelty & not part of the mundane reality of daily life. When a kid goes into their school & opens fire, its rare (thankfully, very, very rare) but the amount of media coverage it will get will be vastly more than all the causes of deaths that day by other means put together! Why? Because it makes for a better story for the press, nothing more. Murders are the media’s favourite subject – the more dramatic & extreme, the better – & because the news is then exploiting the story for as long as possible, trying to capitalise on every second of other people’s anguish that it can (and you love it too, viewer), we think that the type of crime being reported is actually more prevalent than it really is. This is called ‘The Example Rule’. Fortunately, it is the exact opposite. So if its in the news, its rare – which is good news for all of us, we now don’t have to worry about being “raped, stabbed, shot or just generally violated by a gay, gypsy, asylum seeking terrorist who wants our WELFARE!”. All that shit is in the news? Great then that means it hardly really exists, woo hoo! Remembering that Statistics can be bent in many ways & that the Media has a vested interest in tragedy always helps keep an open mind when these things come up. Bear that in mind before letting emotions over ride the brain when watching all this sensationalist news footage about gun crime (or anything else). Unless you’re really prepared to ban cars too?
It goes without saying that I mean no disrespect at all to any of the families affected by any of these horrific Gun tragedies (who are in the thousands) & it is so, so sad that there are people that are on the receiving end of this complicated & horrible issue. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to lose a loved one to such a senseless & avoidable act. I am glad that I am not a decision maker on the issue & am only commenting on it from the outside. It’s a complex subject that I don’t think a knee jerk response can solve. People are not going to want to give up their Guns as long as they are confronted with a monolithic corporate Government that beats them down, lies, cheats & denies them proper democratic power. People are also not going to want to give up their Guns when they have been made so fearful of their own Society by a Media that thrives on selling embellished tragedy. And in the chaos of all this, accidents will happen, mistakes will be made, lives will be ruined & the victims as always, will mostly be those at the bottom of the economic pile. Fortunately, it terms of Guns, these tragedies are actually very rare overall, statistically speaking, which whilst it isn’t perfect news, is certainly a million miles better than what we’re told by Politicians & the Media. Maybe the armed people of the world should make a pact with their governments : “we’ll give over our Guns if you nationalise the Central Bank & remove all forms of corporate influence from Politics”. D’ya think they’d go for that? Me neither…
Originally hosted at www.jameskennedystuff.com