US gun violence: Capitalism is the culprit / by Belén Fernández

Semiautomatic rifles fill a wall at a gun shop in Lynnwood, Washington, the United States [File: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson]

Originally published in Aljazeera on July 31, 2022

To fix gun violence in America, we need an assault on capitalism.

On July 27, two top executives from prominent US gun companies – Marty Daniel of Daniel Defense and Christopher Killoy of Sturm, Ruger & Co – appeared before the United States House Committee on Oversight and Reform chaired by New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney. The hearing came on the heels of the latest succession of massacres – the Buffalo supermarket, the Uvalde elementary school, the Highland Park July 4 parade – that have come to define life in America.

As the Guardian noted, this “marked the first time in nearly two decades that the CEOs of leading gun manufacturers testified before Congress”. The CEO of Smith & Wesson Brands – which according to the committee earned at least $125m in 2021 alone from the sale of assault-style rifles, a frequent prop in mass shootings – had declined to participate in the attempt at “oversight”.

But the two willing invitees presumably spoke for the US gun industry as a whole when they shot down the notion that their products and aggressive marketing practices have anything to do with rampant killing.

Killoy insisted that a firearm is an “inanimate object” that cannot accrue responsibility, while Daniel – whose firm manufactured the inanimate object that slaughtered 19 school kids and two teachers in Uvalde – maintained that the blame must be assigned to the individual “murderers”. In Daniel’s view, “these murders are local problems that have to be solved locally”.

For her part, Maloney took the opportunity at the hearing to express her “hope [that] the American people are paying attention today”, noting “it is clear that gun makers are not going to change unless Congress forces them to finally put people over profits”.

But were we Americans really paying attention, we would have noticed long ago that our country is entirely predicated on putting profits over people – from the corporate destruction of the environment to the manic incarceration of poor minorities to a healthcare system that is decidedly ill. This is not to mention US behaviour abroad, where the “war on terror” and other forms of military slaughter with US-made weapons have also produced many, um, “local problems”.

In her initial invitation to the three arms executives to testify before the House committee, incidentally, Maloney encouraged them to “explain to Congress and the American people why they continue to sell products to civilians that are meant to be used in the battlefield”.

Which brings us to the following question: When the US converts the world into a battlefield, how do Americans know where to draw the line? More precisely put, it is not immensely shocking that a country that inculcates its citizenry with a macho, shoot-’em-up attitude vis-à-vis other human populations might end up with some, well, “murderers” on its hands – particularly when the domestic panorama is one of dystopian capitalism and acute alienation.

As for the culpability of US gun manufacturers in scenes of armed sociopathy from Buffalo to Uvalde, there is no denying that the industry itself is morally depraved – and yet it is merely fulfilling a nefariously lucrative function made possible by general systemic depravity. The fundamental blame for mass shootings does not lie with the CEOs of Daniel Defense and Sturm Ruger – just as the blame for US-bound migrant deaths does not lie with oft-scapegoated human smugglers, whose reprehensible business is only made possible by America’s brand of deadly capitalism and profit-driven border militarisation schemes.

On July 29, two days after the House Committee on Oversight hearing, the US House voted to ban assault weapons – although the measure hardly stands a chance in clearing the Senate. In its report on the vote, CNN referenced the committee’s “investigation, which alleges gun manufactures selling assault-style rifles have employed questionable marketing tactics, including appealing to White supremacists, ‘preying’ on the masculinity of young men, and running advertisements that mimic video games”.

But to pretend that predatory advertising – or the toxic propagation of the conception of life as a video game – is anything but all-American only does the disservice of distracting from the fact that America’s current blood-soaked predicament is not one that can be resolved via piecemeal legislation. In the end, it’s either profit over people or people over profit – and, if the latter arrangement is ever to be obtained, it requires nothing less than a comprehensive overhaul of society.

Unfortunately for optimists and luckily for profiteers, this is easier said than done, and any such societal rectification is unlikely to occur prior to planetary self-destruction. The failure to see capitalism as America’s underlying disease — against which all other symptoms must be diagnosed and treated accordingly — means that the country’s increasingly violent episodes will continue to be seen as “local problems”, to borrow Daniel’s words.

For evidence of the system’s pathological nature, one need look no further than this year’s dispatch from American journalist Todd Miller, author of Empire of Borders, at the 15th annual Border Security Expo in San Antonio, Texas – a venue for the discussion of weapons-mountable robotic dogs and other demented imperial visions.

He describes an expo panel featuring former US officials who had passed through the revolving establishment door into private employment, and who received a question from an audience member alluding to the ever-more lucrative field of border security: “Why would you even want a solution?”

Silence ensued – a silence that also suffices to explain why, barring an assault on capitalism, America will never get its gun crisis under control.

Belén Fernández is the author of Checkpoint Zipolite: Quarantine in a Small Place (OR Books, 2021), Exile: Rejecting America and Finding the World (OR Books, 2019), Martyrs Never Die: Travels through South Lebanon (Warscapes, 2016), and The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work (Verso, 2011). She is a contributing editor at Jacobin Magazine, and has written for the New York Times, the London Review of Books blog, Current Affairs, and Middle East Eye, among numerous other publications.

Opinion: To end gun violence we also need to end poverty / by Stephen Carnahan

Photo: Alex Wong, Getty Images

When I’m not feeling angry, I’m sad. When I’m not feeling sad, I’m angry. 

The sadness is because of the loss of young, innocent lives. It’s so hard to watch the news and see the faces of the children in Uvalde, Texas or parade goers in Chicago. It makes me so sad to know that there are people from California to New Hampshire who have been shot because…well who knows why? It makes me sad to know that people have been shot in large numbers because they were Black or gay or Jewish or just enjoying a music festival. Maybe even just driving down the road. I see our society closing its eyes to all this because its just too much to take. 

And I’m angry. I’m angry at a nation that has decided to let this happen. We alone of the developed nations of the world kill ourselves like this. We have decided we are okay with it.

We let people become desperate. We allow many of our people to live in poverty. Poverty creates desperation and desperate people can become violent. We allow our people to survive with inadequate housing, or none at all. We allow people to build mansions, and let other people sleep in doorways. We let one in every eight people try to get by without enough food. Often we restrict people’s freedom and let inequality reign, despite what we say in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Poverty, lack of housing, prejudice, hunger—all these things create desperation. Desperation creates crime and violence. 

We have then decided, as a nation, to make sure those desperate people have access to plenty of powerful weapons. A troubled young man can walk into a store on the day after he turns 18. He can buy two powerful rifles and plenty of ammunition. He can use them to take 21 lives, 19 of them beautiful little children. So, yes, I’m angry! And so very sad.

I am sad because it doesn’t have to be this way. I have been working with the Maine People’s Alliance for about two years and have learned that there are many solutions to the problems of the people, but that we have to twist arms and march and protest to get our leaders to take the actions we need. 

Not all of them, of course. There are many good legislators who are doing their best to improve the lives of Mainers. I do not want this letter to be seen as implying that the problem is poor people. It’s poverty itself that troubles us.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t have to be always dealing with sadness and anger. We can deal with poverty. We can make sure people in Maine have enough food and adequate health care. And we certainly can, we certainly must, change our laws to make it harder for desperate people to get their hands on powerful weapons. 

Stephen Carnahan is a retired pastor who has been living in Maine for 24 years and has worked in congregations of the United Church of Christ for 35 years. Prior to that, Stephen worked as a high school teacher on Long Island, NY. He currently lives in Auburn on Taylor Pond and has two grown children, one of whom lives in Maine and the other travels all over. Stephen volunteers with the Maine People’s Alliance and can also be frequently found at Sea Dogs games in Portland.

Maine Beacon, July 5, 2022,

The Supreme Court’s Gun Ruling Yesterday Shows It Isn’t Pro-Life / An Interview with Adam Winkler

A protester holds up a sign during a rally against gun violence outside the US Capitol on June 6, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

The Supreme Court isn’t pro-life — yesterday, it struck down a New York State law limiting who can carry concealed handguns in public, a ruling that could invalidate most gun control laws throughout the country. The court doesn’t care about mass death

Interview by David Sirota

The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a New York state law limiting who can carry concealed handguns in public, a ruling that could invalidate most gun control laws throughout the country.

Critics say the court’s decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen will likely increase gun violence, and comes one month after a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, in which a white supremacist drove two hundred miles to specifically kill black people in a grocery store.

Authored by Justice Clarence Thomas, the ruling creates an onerous new standard for whether gun control measures are constitutional.

“To justify its regulation, the government may not simply posit that the regulation promotes an important interest,” Thomas wrote. “Rather, the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with this nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. Only if a firearm regulation is consistent with this nation’s historical tradition may a court conclude that the individual’s conduct falls outside the Second Amendment’s ‘unqualified command.’”

According to UCLA law professor Adam Winkler, one of the country’s top experts on gun laws, the ruling could affect a new bipartisan gun safety bill that the Senate passed on Thursday. That bill would encourage states to implement so-called “red flag” laws, which allow firearms to be temporarily confiscated from those who are deemed to be a risk to themselves or others. It would also close the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” a gap in federal law that allows some domestic abusers to keep their weapons.

“The Court’s Second Amendment ruling calls into question key parts of the Senate gun bill,” Winkler tweeted after the decision came down. “Thomas says only gun regulations consistent with historical regulation of guns are permissible. Red flag laws, however, are a modern invention. So too bans on domestic abusers.”

Earlier this week, the Lever’s David Sirota spoke with Winkler, author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, about the New York State Rifle case and the state of US gun laws. Below is an abridged version of their discussion; stay tuned for next week’s Lever Time podcast episode to hear the entire conversation.


Before we get to the current Supreme Court case, just lay out for us where we are at this moment when it comes to how the current Supreme Court looks at gun laws in America.


Well, it’s significant that the Second Amendment had never been authoritatively interpreted by the Supreme Court to protect an individual’s right to have a firearm until 2008. In fact, for most of that time, when the court did rule on Second Amendment cases, the Court said it was only about protecting a well-regulated militia from federal interference.

But in 2008, in a case called DC v. Heller, the Supreme Court said that the Second Amendment does protect an individual right to bear arms, and struck down a law banning handguns in Washington, DC. But the court didn’t provide much other guidance as to the scope of the right to bear arms, such as whether it allowed people to have military-style assault rifles or whether states could restrict concealed carry.

In the fourteen years since Heller, there’s been just a tidal wave of litigation in the federal courts challenging any number of federal gun laws and the court seemed to stay out of it, until Donald Trump had his three appointees to the Supreme Court. And that changed everything.

The court now has a big case out of New York [New York State Rifle] on concealed carry. And we’re expecting a ruling any day now. In that case, most people predict that the court is going to broadly interpret the Second Amendment to say you have a right to carry guns in public, and I think it may make it harder to defend almost any kind of gun law.


What’s the explanation for how much the court itself has shifted? Is it just individual appointees, or was there a movement specifically to put judges on the court that had a different view of guns?


The truth is, the Second Amendment is like every other constitutional provision we have, which means it is a reflection of an evolving and living society and the impact of social movements. And there’s been a real movement to change how the Second Amendment is interpreted in the courts and elsewhere. Donald Trump got elected in part by promising to elect judges that were going to broadly read the Second Amendment. That worked for him, he got elected, and then he appointed those justices. And now they’re going to do that work.

So constitutional law does not exist in a vacuum. It exists in a political environment. And we the people in America have decided we want gun rights. The Supreme Court’s reflecting that, I think.


Can you talk about how gun politics have shifted, and why and how it changed into a partisan issue?


Well, I think gun politics in America were transformed overnight. And I don’t say that to be hyperbolic.

There was a rising movement for gun owners who wanted to have guns for personal protection in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was, like our own era, a time of social disruption and the feeling that maybe people were insecure. And there were very high crime rates at the time as well.

The leadership of the NRA [National Rifle Association] at the time was pretty moderate. They were opposed to a lot of gun control laws, but the leadership hatched a plan to move to Colorado Springs to refocus the organization away from political activity and toward recreational sports, hunting, and conservation.

This really angered a group of hardliners in the membership. And at the annual membership meeting in 1977 in Cincinnati, these hardliners staged a coup of the NRA, where they used the rules of order to elect a whole new board of directors.

Literally when the sun rose the next day, the NRA had been transformed. And the new directors were all committed to political advocacy, fighting gun control, and being much more politically assertive. And that group became an active part of the coalition that led to Ronald Reagan being elected president in 1980, and has since become an even stronger part of the Republican conservative coalition.


Tell us what the New York State Rifle case really is about, and explain how the Supreme Court gets to deregulate guns under the banner of a Second Amendment that says that arms effectively are supposed to be well-regulated.


Most states allow you to carry a concealed firearm if you have a permit — and a growing number of states don’t even require a permit. New York is one of eight states that say you can only carry a gun with a permit. And to get a permit, you have to show that you have some unusual and particularly strong reasons to carry a gun, like you’re being stalked, you’ve been threatened, or you carry a tremendous amount of cash or jewelry with you.

What this case does is question whether that’s a violation of the Second Amendment to so heavily restrict access to concealed carry permits. And the Supreme Court seems almost certain, based on the oral arguments, to say that, yes, the Second Amendment is violated by New York’s rule. The court is probably going to say you can have some training and objective requirements before you let people carry a gun on the street, but you have to provide some mechanism for people to be able to defend themselves.

This will be a great expansion of the Second Amendment. In over two hundred years of history, the Supreme Court has never said that. We’ve had restrictions on concealed carry, like New York’s, for well over one hundred years. In fact, up until the 1980s, most states had exactly the law that New York has today.

But again, that political movement to change America’s gun laws has been affected by the NRA, since they have led a nationwide effort, going state by state, to loosen gun laws. And now they’re going to go after the few remaining holdouts with this Supreme Court case.

I think that spells trouble for the gun safety movement’s agenda on a lot of issues. I think bans on military-style rifles and on high-capacity magazines will likely be called into question in the coming years.


Are we going to get to a place where the court is basically going to say that there is no line, that you can’t regulate weapons or guns based on how powerful they are? I mean, is that a legitimate thing that may actually happen?


I think what the court is going to say is that only those arms that are in common use for lawful purposes by the citizenry already are constitutionally protected. I think the court would easily say that things like shoulder-launch missiles or nuclear weapons or hand grenades, or even machine guns, are not in common use, they’re not commonly owned by law-abiding people.

The difficulty about this test is it means that if there is a political stalemate, and you can’t get regulation for some amount of years, gun owners can just go out and buy all those weapons, and then all of a sudden they become in common use. That’s basically what’s happening with military-style assault rifles. The gun owners have just gone out and bought tens of millions of these firearms since the end of the federal assault weapons ban in 2004, and now they’re in common use.

And we might see this with 3D-printed guns. It may be that if 3D-printed guns are something that Congress were to regulate or prohibit today, then they wouldn’t be in common use. But if we wait twenty years, then maybe they are in common use, and then they’re constitutionally protected.


As somebody who’s studied this so much, do you really legitimately think that there is a future in America being as heavily armed a country as we are? Can we be this heavily armed, and also have a “normal” rate of gun deaths, as it relates to other countries?


I don’t think we can get down to the levels of gun violence that they have in England or Japan or other countries that don’t have such ready access to guns. That’s just not realistic. But we can reduce our numbers. And that should be our goal in the meantime.

The guns are here to stay. There’s just too many of them, the political movement in favor of them is too strong. The NRA is always talking about people coming in and confiscating your guns. We could never get all the guns if we wanted to. So I think we have to focus on reducing gun violence and doing what we can in a bad situation.

Adam Winkler is a professor of constitutional law at the UCLA School of Law. He is the author of We the Corporations: How American Businesses Won Their Civil Rights.

David Sirota is editor-at-large at Jacobin. He edits the Lever and previously served as a senior adviser and speechwriter on Bernie Sanders’s 2020 presidential campaign.

Jacobin, June 24, 2022,

Opinion: The politicians have failed on guns. Time to go to the people / by Ethan Strimling

Photo: Students protest for gun reform outside the White House | Lorie Shaull/Creative Commons via Flickr

Because we have a Democratic governor who once earned an A+ from the NRA while serving as a state legislator and as governor watered down the only gun safety initiative she was willing to sign (even gun rights groups endorsed it after deeming it basically useless) being challenged by a former Republican governor who signed a law allowing people to carry hidden fully loaded weapons into Maine supermarkets, churches, and nightclubs, I don’t have much hope that anything will happen in Augusta to protect our residents from the gun violence we have seen strewn across America.

Because, tragically, we know something will happen here at some point. Guns are simply too prevalent in our state, too easy to buy, and too easy to carry around. 

There is already ample evidence that people buy their guns in Maine to use in crimes elsewhere because our laws are so lax, so it is just a matter of time before we have our own Columbine, Buffalo, Newtown, Uvalde, Orlando,  Las Vegas, Virginia Tech, El Paso, Aurora, Pittsburgh, Parkland, etc, etc, etc.

Similarly, since we know Congress will never act, as Republicans continue to carry water for the NRA and their most crazed members, protection from the federal level is hopeless. 

And since state law prevents municipal elected officials from passing common sense gun laws that will protect our children, (see paragraph one if you have hope that will change), we really only have one path left in our democracy to pass sensible gun safety measures. 


With that in mind, here are five common-sense gun laws we should work to put on the ballot. 2024 would likely be our best bet, as turnout will be highest (polling is clear that Maine people support reasonable gun laws so the more people who vote, the better). 

  1. A Ban on Assault Weapons. This one goes without saying. Literally every mass shooting I list above, and 90% of the mass shootings we hear about, are with semi-automatic assault weapons. They serve no purpose other than to kill randomly and with abandon. Ban them, as we did in America for 10 years from 1994-2004.
  2. A 10-day waiting period on gun purchases. We had a five-day waiting period on all gun purchases nationally from 1994-1998. It was very successful at keeping guns out of the hands of impulse shooters like the Uvalde shooter who bought his weapons a week before the massacre.
  3. A 10 bullet limit on magazine capacity. Even Sen. Angus King has said he supports this one. And while 10 is likely higher than anyone needs to hunt or protect themselves, slowing a shooter down by forcing them to reload after every 10 shots can provide a vital window for law-enforcement to intervene.
  4. Require permits for all concealed carry. This was the law of Maine for generations and we should bring it back. Allowing people to carry concealed weapons into churches, libraries, bars, restaurants, etc. is simply asking for trouble and provides no benefit to the individual or the public.
  5.  Universal background checks on all gun transfers. Sadly, although supported by a large majority of Maine people, this lost in a ballot initiative in 2016. But the campaign messaging was unemotional and poorly executed. Plus, Former President nDonald Trump did way better than anyone expected. But as with Equal Marriage, a second run might get this across the finish line.

Nothing too radical here. Just laws that were on the books in America within the past generation, or that are already in place in other states. Putting these on the ballot as a slate will be a great chance to see which policies are the ones Maine people most want to see.

It’s likely our only hope.

Ethan Strimling served ten years as Mayor and State Senator for Portland, Maine.

Maine Beacon, May 27, 2022,

NRA convenes in Texas as gun stocks soar on Wall Street / C.J. Atkins

Then-President Donald Trump speaks at a National Rifle Association event in 2019. Trump will be the featured speaker at the NRA’s convention in Houston this weekend. | Michael Conroy / AP

The funerals haven’t even been held yet in Texas for the 19 schoolchildren and two teachers murdered at Robb Elementary School on Tuesday. Families remain grief-stricken, pleading for information about why law enforcement reportedly dithered as their loved ones were being gunned down.

But that’s not stopping former President Donald Trump, other Republican lawmakers, and firearms marketers from descending on Houston this weekend for a three-day celebration of guns at the National Rifle Association’s annual convention.

Meanwhile on Wall Street, the country’s biggest gun and ammunition manufacturers are also having a party—because their stock prices are swelling. Smith & Wesson added 8.4% in the days immediately after the massacre. Sturm, Ruger, & Co. tacked on 5.7%. For bullet maker Olin, the gain was 3.8%. The biggest winner was Ammo Inc., an Arizona-based manufacturer of ammunition and owner of, billed as the largest online marketplace for guns. Its share price jumped more than 12%.

By now it’s all a familiar story. After a mass shooting, the NRA rushes to deflect blame from itself for promoting the culture of violence, all the while encouraging more gun purchases in the name of safety. In Washington and in state capitals around the country, the gun lobby’s political arm—the Republican Party—does its utmost to sabotage any possible firearms regulation. And the gun companies reward them both for the effort spent to protect their profits.

The 21 victims—including 19 children and two teachers—of the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on May 24. | Family handouts

The whole affair is premised on transforming fear into votes for the GOP and into dollars for shareholders.

Gun party met with protests

Though some politicians and singers pulled out of the NRA’s Houston confab, Trump will be the headline speaker. He’ll be joined by other darlings of the far right, such as Sen. Ted Cruz and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem. Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott—who said a few years ago that he was “embarrassed” his state wasn’t number one in the nation for gun purchases—won’t be showing up. Instead, he’ll address the meeting via video.

Comments from Rocky Marshall, a former NRA board member, previewed what’s expected to be the message from the organization. Marshall said that the Uvalde massacre “does put the meeting in a bad light,” but said that the free and easy availability of military-grade assault rifles is not the problem. Instead, he shifted the blame to mental illness and inadequate school security.

The nation certainly faces a crisis of mental health care accessibility, but the NRA’s attempt to deflect from its role in blocking common sense gun regulation like stronger background checks and limits on semi-automatic weapons sales isn’t fooling public safety activists.

They’re organizing massive protests to greet convention-goers and keeping tabs on which political leaders show up to pledge their fealty to the gun lobby.

“The real question now is which elected officials will choose to side with violence and go kiss the ring in Houston this weekend instead of siding with communities crying out for public safety,” Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, told the press.

Cesar Espinosa is executive director of the Houston-based immigrant rights group FIEL (Familias Inmigrantes y Estudiantes en la Lucha / Immigrant Families and Students in the Struggle). FIEL is among the organizations leading the protests this weekend.

“This is not the time or place to have this convention,” Espinosa said. “We must not just have thoughts and prayers from legislators, but rather we need action to address this public health crisis that is affecting our communities.”

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner had a similar message for the Republicans converging on his city. “You can’t pray and send condolences on one day and then be going and championing guns on the next,” he said. “That’s wrong.”

The NRA isn’t listening, though. In 1999, immediately after the school shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, the group invaded Denver to hold a big gun meeting. In Houston this weekend, they’re just following the same pattern of spitting in the faces of victims’ families.

Making a killing off of killing

When it comes to the political economy of mass shootings, the pattern at work is really quite simple. Once a mass shooting occurs, there is inevitably talk of stricter gun control legislation. This comes from activists and Democrats determined to do something about automated murder, as well as from right-wingers who want to exploit the situation for the sake of selling more guns.

“Why are we willing to live with this carnage?” President Joe Biden, a longtime crusader for gun control when he was in the Senate, asked after Uvalde. “Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone?”

The answer, of course, is to be found in Congress and on Wall Street.

The Democratic-run House has passed several gun control measures, but the guarantee of a filibuster in the split Senate means that, once again, nothing will be done immediately to respond to this crisis. Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell has signaled he has no intention of giving gun legislation any hearing.

Same old, same old.

As soon as legislative proposals are made, the NRA and its allies are up in arms—figuratively and literally—about attacks on the Second Amendment. Americans are told that the government is plotting to take away all their guns.

Then what happens? Gun and ammunition manufacturers and retailers watch as sales soar. They, in turn, continue funding the operations of the NRA, which is a multimillion-dollar operation itself. Panic buying ensues, donations for the NRA pour in, and gun company shareholders cash in. (It’s worth noting that the only recent mass shooting which did not see an immediate jump in gun company share prices was the Buffalo grocery store massacre, where most of the victims were Black.)

Of course, the other beneficiaries of this cycle can’t be forgotten—McConnell and the Republican Party. The NRA, which is little more these days than the political arm of the gun industry, can be counted on to deliver its members’ votes and dollars into the GOP fold at every election. Republicans in Congress reciprocate by ensuring that no serious piece of gun legislation ever becomes law. And in the state legislatures they control, Republicans typically weaken existing gun laws after a mass shooting.

It is a mutually beneficial relationship that ties the gun industry, the gun lobby, and the Republican Party together.

The important role that mass shootings and the political machinations of the NRA-GOP alliance play in driving gun profits has been frankly admitted by many top executives in the industry.

At a global conference for retailers hosted by Goldman Sachs in 2015, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods, Ed Stack, announced that “The gun business was very much accelerated based on what happened after the [2012] election and then the tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook.” He was referring to the massacre of schoolchildren at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in 2012.

A year earlier, James Debney, the chief executive of Smith & Wesson, told an investor’s meeting that “the tragedy in Newtown and the legislative landscape” had driven sales up “significantly.” He commented that “fear and uncertainty that there might be increased gun control drove many people to buy firearms for the first time. You can see after a tragedy, there’s also a lot of buying.”

But Tommy Milner, the head of Cabela’s, one of the leading gun retailers, was even more blunt. Before a group of investors in Nebraska in 2015, he stated that his company’s business “went vertical…I mean it just went crazy.” The transcript from the conference says that Milner explained to shareholders that his company “didn’t blink as others did to stop selling the AR-15.”

The AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle based on the U.S. military’s M-16 and was the type of gun used at Sandy Hook, at Uvalde, and at so many other mass shootings. The decision to continue selling this particular gun was a competitive advantage for Cabela’s against other retailers and brought in “a lot of new customers.” Milner said the company benefitted from the “tailwinds of profitability.”

Breaking the GOP Senate blockade

Reversing the country’s crisis of gun violence is a long-term task that will take many different forms—political, cultural, and economic. There are already some measures that could be taken right away, though, if it wasn’t for Republican intransigence.

In March of last year, the House passed two different bills aimed at expanding and strengthening background checks for anyone trying to buy a gun.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has no intention of allowing gun legislation to pass. Any progress on the issue depends on breaking the GOP’s filibuster blockade. | Susan Walsh / AP

One of them would eliminate the so-called “Charleston loophole,” named after the 2015 massacre in South Carolina, which allows a person to buy a gun if their background check is not complete within three days. The other targets the “gun show loophole,” which lets private sales of firearms to go on totally unregulated, with no background checks at all, at gun shows or online.

Neither bill has been brought forward for a vote in the Senate because of McConnell and the GOP. With the chamber split almost evenly between Democrats and Republicans, the mere threat of a filibuster by the right-wing minority is enough to sink legislation before it even gets a hearing.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who introduced her own far-reaching but similarly doomed gun control package in 2019, expressed the frustration of the moment after Uvalde. “The breakdown of the political process has never been clearer. We can’t even act to keep our own children safe,” she said on Tuesday.

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin similarly placed the blame directly where it belongs: “We can’t budge the Republicans an inch on this issue of gun safety.”

With the Democratic Party unable to rally recalcitrant lawmakers in its own right-wing faction like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to eliminate the filibuster, it falls to voters and the people’s organizations to change the makeup of the Senate in the elections this fall.

Shrinking the GOP’s hold in the Senate below 40 seats to block their filibuster power and keeping them in the minority in the House are key to winning progress on gun legislation—as well as every other pro-people priority, from labor law reform to voting rights protections to COVID relief and more.

The right wing’s bullets and political dollars must be countered with our votes.

C.J. Atkins is the managing editor at People’s World. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from York University in Toronto and has a research and teaching background in political economy and the politics and ideas of the American left. In addition to his work at People’s World, C.J. currently serves as the Deputy Executive Director of ProudPolitics.

People’s World, May 27, 2022,

A country that fails to keep its children safe is a failed state / People’s Forum

A vigil for the victims of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. Photo: Billy Calzada/The San Antonio Express-News via AP

Marking the 212th mass shooting in the US this year alone, at least 21 people, including 19 children, were killed in a shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX. As more details are released around the massacre, people are questioning the role of the police who were present at the school. Customs and Border Protection agents were among the first to respond, and many parents were forced to weigh the risk of deportation when going to see if their child was safe. As massacres continue to take the lives of many, people are coming to the realization that the solution will only come from digging to the root of U.S. violence against its own children. 

People’s Forum, May 27, 2022,

In America, There Is Mass Death, Then There Is Nothing / by David Sirota

People become emotional at the City of Uvalde Town Square during a prayer vigil in the wake of a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022, in Uvalde, Texas. (Jordan Vonderhaar / Getty Images)

It doesn’t matter how many people are slaughtered. It doesn’t even matter if they’re children, as they were in Texas yesterday. In America, the response to gun violence is nothing.

There are no words. Even typing out this sentence feels ridiculous, pathetic, sickening.

What is there to say that hasn’t been uttered a million times before?

What can possibly be said when nineteen kids and a teacher are dead, days after another mass shooting, and another mass shooting before that, and another . . . and another?

What revelatory phrases or comments or “thoughts and prayers” can be uttered or tapped out on a keyboard or yelled into a microphone when we know from experience how this will almost certainly play out from here?

The massacre.

The press conferences updating the body count.

The official statements and tweets and Facebook posts and floor speeches expressing outrage.

Then more of the same.

The politicians heading to another National Rifle Association conference to scream about freedom.

The television pundits debating what’s politically “realistic” or “beneficial,” as if it’s all a game.

The clickbait ghouls crafting nuclear hot takes to try to get attention for themselves amid the carnage.

The false equivalence journalism insisting that since this horror is the product of so many awful cross currents, it means there is no singular solution . . . which allegedly means the only thing to do is shed some tears, grit your teeth, and bear it.

And then inevitably comes what’s best described as The Nothing.

The inaction.

The distraction.

The filibuster.

And the Supreme Court likely handing down yet another ruling making it even easier to buy even more of the weapons — and issuing that ruling on a case that arose in the same state where a massacre just happened.

And then within a few days or weeks, another slaughter.

Why am I even writing this? What is the fucking point? I don’t have a great answer. Maybe just to try to remain sane — or to at least remember the difference between insanity and sanity.

We know this status quo is insane because we know what sanity is — and we know it because other countries long ago showed us when they faced the same sort of tragedy and responded in a different, more rational way. Those choices didn’t solve everything, but they made some things better.

But in the name of some twisted form of exceptionalism, our society refuses to make those same choices.

Our political system is still OK with this being daily life.

Our country is still willing to be a place where when you drop your kids off at school, you must fear the unthinkable.

Our leaders are still insisting that this is “not who we are” — even as they make clear they are absolutely fine with this being exactly what America continues to be.

Maybe worst of all: on the whole, our nation is still fine with mass violence being political fodder for an unending culture war, rather than a problem to be addressed, confronted, and ultimately halted — or at least reduced.

This — whatever this hellish stasis is — is not even close to normal. Yet it is now the norm. It doesn’t have to be, but it always will be — unless enough of us do everything we can to end it.


Until then, take a few minutes away from the screen you’re reading this on and give your loved ones a hug.

Because in America, you never know if it will be the last one you get to give them.

David Sirota, is an award-winning journalist, and an Oscar-nominated writer who served as the presidential campaign speechwriter for Bernie Sanders.

Jacobin, May 25, 2022,

Children, teachers shot dead in Texas at yet another mass shooting / by Mark Gruenberg

People mourn in the wake of the Texas elementary school shooting. | William Luther/AP

WASHINGTON—After the latest gun massacre in a school, this time at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, teachers unions, Democratic President Joe Biden  and gun control groups are again demanding legislative crackdowns on guns.

“Why are we willing to live with this carnage?” an upset Biden, a longtime senatorial crusader for gun control, asked. “Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone?”

The short answer to Biden’s second question: The still-powerful and notorious gun lobby, the National Rifle Association. That key component of the radical right is holding its convention this coming weekend in Houston. Planned speakers include Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and Biden’s Republican Oval Office predecessor, Donald Trump.

The most-vehement statement about the Uvalde slaughter came from Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten. The 18-year-old shooter, Salvador Ramos, bought guns just after his birthday and murdered 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School before a police SWAT team killed him.

“Some things are clear: These are despicable acts of hatred designed to terrorize us all,” said Weingarten, a New York City civics teacher and crusader for much-stricter gun controls. “Buffalo and now Uvalde will join a long list of places that will never be the same. Our hearts are with all of them.

That list includes Parkland, Fla., where Nikolas Cruz, then 19, gunned down three AFT-member teachers and 14 students at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, on Valentine’s Day, 2018, and Newtown, Conn., where another gunman murdered 20 students and six teachers years before.

Newtown’s tragedy gave rise to Everytown for Gun Safety, while the Parkland massacre produced the student-led March For Our Lives. A third shooting, of then-Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., and several constituents during a meet-and-greet in her district, produced a third anti-gun group. All of those groups denounced the murders, mourned the victims and recommitted themselves to the gun control cause.

“Only in America do people go grocery shopping and get mowed down by a shooter with hate in his heart; only in this country are parents not assured their kids will be safe at school,” Weingarten added.

“Gun violence is a cancer, and it’s one that none of us should tolerate for one single moment longer. We have made a choice to let this continue, and we can make a choice to finally do something—do anything—to put a stop to this madness.”

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, an Electrical Worker, tweeted, in part: “Gun violence is horrific & preventable and meaningful action is needed now,” without being specific.

“This tragedy once again underscores the very real dangers of a culture in which gun violence has become too much the norm and is too often the first way to resolve an argument or a grievance,” National Education Association President Becky Pringle and Texas State Teachers Association President Ovidia Molina said in a joint statement.

“We pray for the victims and their families, and we once again demand state and federal policymakers take action to keep firearms out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, whether that requires enacting new laws or better enforcing our existing laws.”

“It is up to all of us to find solutions that stop the spread of white supremacist politics and ideology that has aided and abetted the violence and bloodshed that have ripped this nation apart. We stand ready to work in coalition and cooperation with others to continue the fight,” National Nurses United President Jean Ross, RN, said after grocery store carnage days before in Buffalo and before the Uvalde massacre. Her union’s RNs see gun violence victims daily.

The Democratic-run House passed several gun control measures earlier in this Congress, but they’re likely to founder in the evenly split Senate, given the roadblock of the filibuster. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky summed up his party’s attitude by a “thoughts and prayers” tweet with nary a word about gun control legislation.

Police were still investigating Ramos’s motives for the Uvalde massacre. Former close friends of Ramos told reporters that within the last year-plus Ramos had taken a  dark turn towards violence in online postings. They also reported he injured himself, with a knife.

Besides the students and teachers he killed, Ramos wounded others at the school, after wounding his grandmother at her home beforehand. Those victims were flown to hospitals. Several were in serious condition.

Robb’s mass shooting was the second such massacre in fewer than two weeks, following one by an anti-Black gunman at the Buffalo grocery store killing ten people and wounding three.

Senate Democrats split between lamentations about the filibuster roadblock and supporting efforts by Majority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., to force votes on gun control.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently lamented the fact that Texas was second nationally in the number of guns sold and that California was number one. He called upon Texans to buy more guns and opposes even criminal background checks on buyers. Beto O’Rourke, a supporter of background checks, is running against him in November. | Tony Gutierrez/AP

“The breakdown of the political process has never been clearer. When we can’t even act to keep our own children safe,” an upset Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said. “ Is it worth taking a vote? Even if you don’t have 10 Republicans? Is it worth taking a vote? That’s the part that’s so frustrating.”

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who has made gun control a crusade ever since Newtown, is still trying to talk ten of the Senate’s 50 Republicans into backing gun control legislation. But even he admitted to MSNBC that “what’s possible is much smaller than what we need to do to protect kids.”

The Republicans, especially Texans, are another matter. In a recent campaign tweet, Gov. Abbott said he was “EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let’s pick up the pace Texans.” The capital letters are his.

On party-line votes, the Republican-dominated Texas legislature spent much of its recent session enacting bills to remove gun controls in the Lone Star State. And Trump and Abbott will address the NRA convention in Houston. Pro-gun GOP Sen. Ted Cruz reiterated his stand after the Uvalde massacre, but withdrew from a speaking commitment to the NRA. He pleaded “a scheduling conflict.”

Still, the carnage in Texas and the contrasting partisan attitudes to it point out the thin margin gun control backers have in the Democratic-run House—and the complete Republican roadblock in the Senate. That in turn adds yet another issue, along with abortion and worker rights, as reasons to elect progressive candidates this fall.

One hopeful sign: Gun control backers won in Georgia’s Democratic primary on May 25. In an incumbent-versus-incumbent faceoff due to Republican gerrymandering, Democratic Rep, Lucy McBath, who first ran several years ago on a strong gun-control platform after her son was murdered, defeated fellow Democratic Rep. Carolyn Bordeaux, who is more “moderate” on the issue.

Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People’s World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but a holy terror when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.

People’s World, May 25, 2022,