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Gun Violence Is State Violence


In the wake of the massive March for Our Lives, which recently took the streets in many US cities to protest government inaction in the face of gun violence, Judith Levine examines “state violence” as gun violence in the Boston Review. She argues that interpersonal gun violence is a direct consequence of the US government’s obsession with “security” and its militarization of popular culture. Here’s an excerpt:

So far the lion’s share of the anti-gun movement’s passion has been trained on just that: guns—and preventing individuals from using them to act out their personal psychopathology, racist paranoia, familial rage, territorial dominance, or suicidal depression. In this construction, there are bad guys with guns, and good guys. The police are on the same side as the protestors.

They are not. As Black Lives Matter recognizes, a violent street culture has its roots in political and economic disenfranchisement, enforced by police surveillance and the state-sanctioned murders of people of color. Now, black students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., are demanding that this message—in their voices—be amplified.

Moving from liberal reform to a truly radical movement will require articulating the connection between interpersonal violence and official, “licit” violence.

Image: March for Our Lives, Seattle, March 24, 2018. Via Seattle Times.