Jesse Valencia

Everyone Is to Blame for Gun Violence

Jesse Valencia aims to get to the heart of the matter involving gun violence in America: government failure, citizen complacence, and the culture of violence.

 

It sickens me about the lives lost in Orlando. I can only imagine what the families, friends, and loved ones of the victims are going through. I’m at a loss for words trying to describe my exact feelings, but I’m not about to jump on any bandwagon pushing love as the best way to fight hate. That’s not very practical.

An assault weapons ban? Sure. But we’re talking about terrorists here. Whether they’re white racists shooting up black churches, paranoid schizophrenic would-be assassins, or homophobes pledging allegiance to Daesh/ISIS, the problem isn’t guns so much as it is the culture of violence in America, and no I don’t mean shoot ’em up video games, violent movies, gangsta rap, or any of those nonsensical arguments; it’s that violence is expected. We hear about it on the news, we see clips of it online. Everyone goes on with their lives and eventually forgets about it. Everyone except the people it affects, anyways, and their voices will never be enough to convince the gun lobby to have a little empathy. There has to be another route. Because whether there’s an assault weapons ban or no, the bad guys will still figure it out.

An assault weapons ban isn’t going to make anyone safer. I’m sorry. That’s not how this works. An assault weapons ban will make you feel safer, and that’s enough for the people who will never find themselves victims. Like I said, they’ll go on with their lives and forget about it until it happens to them.

There’s this thing called “the normalcy bias.” It basically is an opinion people form when they think nothing too disastrous will happen to them, even in the face of total destruction. Like Hurricane Katrina. People refused to leave their homes because they figured the water wouldn’t reach them. They’d been there for years and weathered several hurricanes, right? They weren’t going to get flooded out. Guess who found themselves chest-high in water?

That’s what we’re dealing with here. It isn’t just the guns themselves. It’s that public places aren’t secure enough. It’s that thorough background checks aren’t being done. It’s that gun safety programs aren’t provided. It’s that current gun policy is not being enforced. Police departments should be working with communities and businesses to make them as safe and secure as possible, not waiting until something happens and then doing something about it. The infrastructure of security in America is a joke. Nobody wants to live in a world where gun violence is a thing, but that’s the world we live in, so we should be smart about it.

It bothers me that Omar Mateen was investigated by the FBI more than once for alleged ties to radical Islamic terrorist groups and yet was still able to legally buy weapons. There are nonviolent, peace-loving felons with no ties to anything who can’t even do that. There are nonviolent people rotting in prisons for growing marijuana as the next shooter plots and plans his big moment in the spotlight, and that’s supposed to make people safer, and the weird part is that it does for a lot of folks.

My question is this: where is the oversight? What good is NSA-level Orwellian surveillance if you let all the big ones slip through the cracks? If there’s a “Thought Police,” they totally suck at their jobs.

Gun violence is something beyond a specific religion or ideology. It is people you have to watch out for. I personally don’t think stricter gun policies will do much in the end, though an assault weapons ban for people with a violent criminal record or who are inclined to be mentally unstable is a good start. You can’t ban guns from everybody; there are too many people who’d fight it. That’s just not going to fly.

If you’re dealing with some crazed ideologue, whether they’re hajji or whitey, they’re going to figure out a way to kill people. That’s just the way it is.

What needs to be done is the government needs to do its job protecting its citizens by profiling potential terrorists, whatever their background, and spy on them. Spy the hell out of them. Inject them with a microchip and track them everywhere they go, and if they make one bad move, off they go into the dark never to be heard from again. Once you make up your mind you’re going to kill people in the name of some stupid cause like Islam or the Confederacy, to me your Constitutional rights are as dead as you’re gonna be once they find you.

I’ll say it again: you don’t fight hate with love. The world does not work that way. You fight hate with vigilance, with intelligence, with patience, and with righteous anger. Don’t buy into the hype that Islamic terrorism is to blame, or racism, or white male privilege, or any of that garbage.

The culture of violence is something we have to work together as a society to try and change. Awareness, security, and sound policy are all going to be important aspects of that. All the filth being thrown across the political aisles right now about what happened in Orlando makes me sick. It dishonors the memory of those who fell prey to Omar Mateen’s evil and disgusting actions, as well as the memories of everyone who’s ever been the victim of a mass shooting of terrorism. All the rhetoric in the world isn’t going to bring them back or stop the next terrorist attack.

I don’t blame Islam, maleness, or whiteness. I don’t blame assault weapons or lax gun laws. You won’t see me pointing fingers. It’s so much more than that.

I blame everyone. Even myself.

 

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Jesse Valencia

Jesse Valencia is an actor, musician, writer, and filmmaker from Northern Arizona whose writing has appeared in Phoenix New Times, Flagstaff Live!, and The Big Smoke. He first appeared onscreen opposite Tom Sizemore in the indie crime drama Durant’s Never Closes, and is currently studying screenwriting at the David Lynch Graduate School for Cinematic Arts at the Maharishi University of Management. He plays music with the band, Gorky, who've put out the records The Gork…And How To Get It!, More Electric Music, and Mathemagician. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in Literature from Northern Arizona University, is a veteran of the U.S. Army, and is currently at work on his first feature film.

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