Sunday, May 20, 2018

Gun Control from an International Relations Theory Perspective - Ryan Lorig

Pepitone presents a fascinating argument in her article titled “Using International Relations Theory to Understand Gun Violence.” The two main arguments for the reasons behind gun violence have been mental illness and most obviously, the guns themselves. “If psychological imbalances motivate mass shooters, then why does mental illness rarely lead to mass shootings? If guns themselves are the issue, why did the 1994 federal assault rifle ban produce no evidence of reducing gun violence?” Pepitone really captures key problems with both sides of the gun control argument with this quote, using previous examples of the very things Americans are arguing about today. Albeit, her examples are relatively dated and vague, but the sentiment of the argument remains; both sides of the argument have key flaws. Pepitone offers an alternative explanation through what she describes as the three main schools of international relations theory; realism, liberalism, and constructivism. Pepitone explains that a realism perspective argues gun regulation is insufficient as “people kill people.” While a liberal would argue for reforming gun control legislation based on the precedent Australia set in 1996 that has resulted in no mass shootings in the country since. Pepitone explains that both accounts assume an objective version of reality and fall short in providing compelling solutions to gun violence. Pepitone then argues a constructivist would argue that this nation needs to actively uncouple the “toxic masculinity from a patriotic gun fanaticism.” This really hits home and drives home a powerful point, as many Americans see owning gun as their “God given right,” or even as something that makes them feel powerful. This, Pepitone argues, is the driving force behind gun violence. I agree that this is a powerful point and likely the root of many causes of gun violence in the United States, but dismantling this gun fanaticism is a difficult task with no clear path to success. Unfortunately, the current path we are on (responding to mass shootings) seems to be an effective path to the “de-masculization” of guns. Seeing families torn apart and using an “egos” approach to force current and potential gun owners to sympathize with these families through mass media is, in my opinion, decreasing this “patriotic gun fanaticism” Pepitone talks about. Unfortunately, people should not have to be dying for guns to lose their lust, but the course seems like there must be a breaking point eventually. And for all of us, eventually cannot come soon enough.

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