Friday, June 10, 2016

How can supposed 'freedom lovers' oppose gun control and support the death penalty?

At first it is puzzling to consider that there can be people who are against gun control on the basis of it being an undue violation of personal freedom by the state while also being in favor of that same state carrying out executions of its own citizens despite statistical evidence clearly showing that the death penalty does not serve as a deterrent to murder. This seeming inconsistency is embodied in Senator Ted Cruz, to name but one example, who until last month was running to be the Republican nominee in the upcoming presidential election.

(My assumption here is that many conservatives are prone to oppose gun control but support the death penalty. I realize there are also those who oppose both, which I can at least understand and respect regardless of whether or not I agree with that position.)

Note the above usage, however, of the term 'seeming inconsistency' (italics added this time around for emphasis), as I believe the apparent contradiction (if freedom from government tyranny is really the lens through which gun control is seen as objectionable) can be explained or at least potentially understood if we ask who is opposed to gun control and who is more at risk of being executed by the state. The may be found in the contrast between the two answers.

In reference to a study by the Pew Research Center, the Washington Post's Adam Winkler writes:

Polls show that whites tend to favor gun rights over gun control by a significant margin (57 percent to 40 percent). Yet whites, who comprise 63 percent of the population today, won’t be in the majority for long. Racial minorities are soon to be a majority, and they are the nation’s strongest supporters of strict gun laws.

Mike Weisser put it even more succinctly in an opinion piece in the Huffington Post: "Most NRA members are older, White men who listen to country music and live in Southern states and smaller, Midwestern towns."

On the other hand, as noted in my May 9, 2014 letter to Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin:

There is a sharp racial disparity among those sentenced to state execution, according to the Staff Report by the Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights Committee on the Judiciary (1994). According to the summary of that report, "Analysis of prosecutions under the federal death penalty provisions of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 reveals that 89% of the defendants selected for capital prosecution have been either African-American or Mexican-American.

Taking the above into consideration, is it an oversimplification to say that the contradiction at hand (people who oppose gun control in the name of freedom from state intervention also being in favor of state executions of citizens) as being resolved by framing the freedom in question being that enjoyed by whites and others lucky enough to be considered "privileged" in our society? Only then does it seem plausible that such people could on the other hand be so blithe about the that same 'oppressive state' taking the life of one of its own citizens, non-white as they are so likely to be.

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