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Gun Violence Comes When the Dominoes Fall

Have you ever seen one of those domino videos? The elaborate ones, where the person spent days perfecting the setup of hundreds of pieces only to knock them all over in a satisfying and effortless looking display where it builds to a ball rolling into a cup? If not, a quick search on youtube will show you the light. Anyway, gun violence is the ball rolling so effortlessly into the cup. 

We’ve been dealing with firearms legislation recently. It’s true that gun violence in Indiana is growing, but it’s possible that there is something missing in this conversation. 

Gun violence is often the last step in a long line of actions and stressors. Putting 100% of the focus on firearms and their regulation is missing a point. Hurt people, hurt people. Rarely is the cause of a mass shooter random. There are typically factors that led to that act. The same can be said for intimate partner homicides. When looking at mass shootings from 2014-2019 in cases not drug or gang related, 60% of the shooters had a known history of violence against women or intimate partner violence or the mass shooting was a domestic violence incident. Read that again. 

We know that there are feelings of loss of power and control in someone’s life that leads them to violence. This culminates in a number of ways.

  • Job insecurity
  • Economic insecurity
  • Lack of affordable and safe housing
  • Lack of healthy support systems
  • Lack of time to incorporate pleasurable activities
  • Lack of affordable physical and mental healthcare
  • Food insecurity 
  • Lack of reliable transportation
  • Lack of affordable and safe childcare
  • Lack of affordable education services
  • Living and coping with racism, sexism, heterosexism, cis-sexism, ableism, xenophobia, ageism, classism, religious prejudice among other stressors. 

 

These are the hundreds of dominoes that push that ball effortlessly into that cup. 

 

Somewhere along the way, we lost, if we ever had, the idea of community care and have stubbornly held on to individualism, the idea that it’s on the individual, and only the individual, to make their situation better. Life isn’t lived monolithically. Just because you were able to end up at one outcome, does not mean everyone will end up at that outcome, you don’t know the dominoes that lie behind them. Individualism is likely one of the first, if not the first, domino in the long line of dominoes. Other dominoes will continue to fall unless we address this cultural ideology. Community care will slowly pull those other dominoes out of line, reducing the chance that they will all fall and cause the ball to roll effortlessly into that cup.

Strategies exist that can help reduce gun violence. Implementing them, and getting folks on board with the strategies, is the hard part. Think about this in terms of dismantling white supremacy. Do we need more laws to further the policing of BIPOC communities? Or do we need to work on all of the severe issues that white supremacy has helped create (like that entire list above) leading people to feeling like they have no power or control that helps lead them to violence that eventually escalates to picking up a firearm and participating in gun violence? 

Yes, people are dying by firearms at more alarming rates than ever in this country. Some changes can be made within the criminal system, under existing laws, as an intermediary step to help save lives. This isn’t the solution to prevent violence. We need to step away from putting all of the energy on anti-gun laws and into community care, because until our criminal justice system is fixed, the laws won’t do much. Work on healing trauma. Work on dismantling systems of oppression. Work on relieving stress. Work on achieving and maintaining thriving communities. Working on the final step in a long line of dominoes doesn’t prevent the pieces from falling. 

To read more on this topic, read our firearms report.