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We Can Fight for Gun Control Without Locking People Up

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent fires a handgun as part of qualifications test. Taking on America’s gun culture must mean disarming the state, as well. (John Moore/Getty Images)

Solutions rooted in policing and prisons just contribute to a culture of violence.

Mass shootings, as mainstream gun control advocates contend, no doubt confirm that AR-15s shouldn’t be on the street. But they can obscure more ordinary forms of individual gun violence—interpersonal neighborhood feuds, suicides, domestic violence—and also the violence perpetrated by government, which through mass policing, incarceration and global warfare has made armed force the preferred language of state even as violent street crime has declined dramatically.

To address all this, we need a transformative politics that disarms America, state and citizen alike, and confronts the roots of violence perpetrated at home and abroad. That means a long, methodical and radical political project to reduce not only the prevalence of lethal weapons but also the socio-economic conditions that encourage people to use them.

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