This weekend, in the West Side of Chicago there were many shootings. Supposedly these were gang-related. These tragic gunfires resulted in the death of four people, leaving others wounded. A woman was shot and left in a trash can, and a nine-year-old boy was also shot. The young boy was in a car and was accidentally struck by a bullet during the crossfire. Guns are too easily put in the wrong hands, and everyday lives are unnecessarily lost to gun violence.
Also this week, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn made insensitive and crude remarks regarding guns. At the Special Operations Forces Industry conference, Mayor Buckhorn joked about how journalists “cri[ed] like little girls” when he shot a .50-caliber machine gun during a Florida military show last year. Public figures’, such as Mayor Buckhorns, sexist and aloof comments regarding gun usage is not okay. These small acts, such as Buckhorns’ casual jokes about guns, normalize gun usage and can lead to subsequent violence.
Groups, such as Moms Demand Action, have been fearlessly fighting against the NRA’s agenda. On May 13, MDA tweeted that, “The South Carolina legislative session is over and, despite the gun lobby’s bests efforts, no dangerous gun bills passed!” Organizations such as MDA are crucial to fight against well-funded gun lobby groups’ legislative authority.
One of the videos we were required to watch for class resonated with my topic of gun violence. The video is called, “This teacher remembers her Muslim students who were murdered in a shooting.” This Upworthy video thoughtfully remembers the lives of three Muslim students who were murdered in North Carolina, and in this video we hear from one of the gun victims herself. In an interview with StoryCorps recorded before she was murdered, Yusor recounts how blessed she feels to grow up in America. Stories such as Yusors, remind us to take legislative action and to act to end gun violence in the U.S.
Just two days ago, Jordan Edwards was fatally shot by a local Dallas policeman. Edwards was leaving a house party and was in a car reversing. Officer Oliver shot the 15-year-old black teenager as he was reversing his car because allegedly Edwards did so in a “hostile” fashion. This tragedy has fueled Black Lives Matter protests because Jordan’s death was senseless and the officer committed a grossly out of line offense. The “Justice for Jordan” movement also has relations to my topic of gun safety. Although Officer Oliver could legally operate a gun, clearly much more police training on how to use a gun must happen. The Second Amendment right to bear arms comes with enormous responsibility. More thorough police training on when an officer should even reach for a gun is in order. Additionally, despite fervent protests such as the one on University of Georgia’s campus this week, Governor Deal of GA signed House Bill 280. This bill, with few exceptions, allows concealed carry of licensed guns on public campuses.
The Edwards shooting relates to our Habermas reading concerning the public sphere. Habermas lays out that a signifier of a public sphere is the ability of members to unite and discuss urgent issues affecting the community at large and not just pursue self-interest. The Dallas police chief, David Brown, has openly said that Jordan Edward’s death was completely unwarranted and unprovoked. By admitting that Jordan was not posing any threat to Officer Oliver when he was unjustly murdered, the Dallas police chief (one could argue) is working towards the overall good of the community not just personal interest. From a Public Relations standpoint Jordan’s death reflects horribly on Chief Brown since Brown heads the station that is responsible for robbing a teenager of his life. However, Chief Brown is working towards the public good of seeking justice for Jordan by firing Officer Oliver and admitting that the police was at fault in this tragic event. Although Chief Brown’s actions in no way bring back Jordan or compensate for his life, one could contend (following Habermas’ logic) that Brown is attempting to pursue the public good by taking full blame for the calamity.
I have been following and observing anti-Gun Violence activism on Twitter. On Martin Luther King Jr. day on April 4th, @Everytown tweeted that, “today we remember a man who understood the fierce urgency of now.” Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination reminds me of Freelon, McIlwain, and Clark’s work, “Beyond the Hashtags.” In this reading, these authors contend that the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality issues instigate public disgust and mobilization due to the graphic documentation of vicious acts of police violence against vulnerable civilians. More abstract movements, on the other hand, like Occupy Wall Street failed to effectively collectively mobilize and accomplish a plan. The argument put forth in the “Beyond the Hashtags” article is that more conceptual and less visually-provocative movements fail because immaterial notions, such as wealth inequality that was fundamental to the Occupy Movement, do not inspire a sense of urgency. @Everytown encourages us to emulate MLK Jr.’s sense of urgency to stop gun violence; Freelon, McIlwain, and Clark would contend that graphic and violent videos/photos inspire this collective resolution.
I not only have been tracking gun control outlets on Twitter, but I have also been following extremely conservative outlets like the NRA. Reading through tweets, I am reminded of Corder in his work, “Argument as Emergence, Rhetoric as Love.” The NRA, for example, has constructed its own narrative to support its ardent, ruthless protection of the second amendment (frequently tweeting #2A). Corder writes in his article that, “We are always, as the rhetorician might say, inventing the narratives that are our lives” (17). Earlier today, the NRA tweeted about Claire McCaskill, a Missourian Senator, and how she, “…turned her back on their [Missourians] freedoms by voting against Gorsuch.” The NRA is therefore creating a narrative regarding Senator McCaskill’s moral character due to her decision to vote against the conservative, Coloradoan judge for an open Supreme Court seat. Painting her as a traitor to the people of Missouri, the NRA is trying to create the narrative that Senator McCaskill is duplicitous and untrustworthy.
Recently, people have been tweeting about the man who shot himself at NRA Headquarters by accident. How’s that for irony?! The hashtags #GunSense #SafetyFirst have been erupting on my feed.
Over the past two weeks, more disheartening reports on gun violence have continued to come up on my social media feeds. I tweeted about these reports on my profile so my followers can easily keep up-to-date on gun violence as well. On April 18th, an ABC article reported disheartening yet sadly not surprising news. An eight-year-old girl in an elementary school in New Baunfels, Texas opened her bag in class to find a loaded gun inside. Thankfully the young girl immediately notified her teacher who called the police. Upon closer investigation, the girl’s parents claimed that they accidentally left the gun in their daughter’s backpack during the process of moving homes. That is crazy! This forgetful mistake could have resulted in the deaths of students and faculty — a sadly classic tale in U.S. history.
Along the same lines of gun violence in schools, groups such as Moms Demand Action tweeted on April 20th in remembrance of the Columbine High School shooting. The Moms Demand Action tweet read, “On this day in 1999, 13 people were killed and 31 were injured in the mass shooting.” These depressing statistics and the loss of so many innocent victims’ lives serve as a reminder to honor them by fighting against NRA legislative victories. It is only through gun sense legislation that feats in reducing, and ultimately ending gun violence, can be achieved.
Sadly, this week the NRA gloated that the Alabama Senate voted to let people carry concealed guns even if they do not have a permit. Now, how will officers discern criminals from “safe” gun owners? The NRA continues to be a scary, potent force that pushes for legislation that jeopardizes people’s lives.
Since over the last two weeks we have been listening to podcasts focusing mostly on helping us create our own podcasts, relating gun violence on social media to our homework is a little difficult. I did, however, see a connection between a podcast we listened to for class and my independent social media following of gun violence. Jake Greene in “Episode 1: What’s an Audio Rhetoric?” stresses the importance of defining any significant terms and then using lots of examples to discuss key points. The most compelling reasons for more gun regulation, in my opinion, are found in real life examples and testimonies. The article I read from ABC that was twitted about regarding the little girl from Texas bringing a gun to school is an instance of unsafe gun use that motivates audiences to get interested in gun legislation. Greene in his podcast argues that by using lots of examples, one draws in as many audiences as possible. I think this logic of using lots of stories/examples makes reports on gun violence more compelling as well.
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