Tag Archives: Gun-Control Advocates

Gun-Control Advocates — Check Your Privilege


I have my doubts about the utility of privilege theory (and strong concerns about the effects it has on civil discourse). But for those who take it seriously, one aspect of privilege that has been explored to a lesser extent is personal security. That is, if it is to be talked about at all, it is typically about how underprivileged groups are more likely to be the target of violence because of their identity, especially if the perpetrator is considered to belong to a privileged class.

Surprisingly, very little attention is given to the fact that state actors enjoy tremendous privileges (for example, notice how, in the event of police brutality, the focus is almost always on the races of the officer and victim and almost never on the privileges police enjoy, such as qualified immunity from civil liability, extra due process protections as listed in the “Law Enforcement Officer’s Bill of Rights,” and preferential treatment from investigating officers and prosecutors).

At least part of the reason for this lack of attention is that to criticize the privilege of government police is also to question the legitimacy of state power itself — something that adherents of privilege theory are hesitant to do as they tend to see state power as the solution to social problems. It is just that the right people need to be in charge of it.

This is probably also why we see so little criticism of gun control advocacy by privilege theorists (the overwhelming majority of whom are probably such advocates themselves), even though this — the ability of the individual, particularly the underprivileged individual, to legally possess the means of self-defense — ought to be jealously defended by them, for they argue that these individuals are precisely those who face the most danger in society. Based on the types of arguments made by privilege theorists on other issues, they should be highly critical of gun control advocates.

For one thing, notice the type of gun violence, as well as the type of gun, most focused upon by the media and by politicians — mass shootings and “assault-type” weapons. This is strange, if we are to believe they are truly concerned about providing an accurate portrayal of gun violence. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, less than one percent of all homicides each year in the U.S. are from shootings where 3 or more are killed. And between 1993 and 2011, 70 to 80 percent of firearm homicides (and 90 percent of nonfatal victimizations) were committed with a handgun, not a scary-looking assault rifle.

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