‘Long term capital decisions’ are the root cause of the US epidemic of gun violence

by Ken Sehested

Now that the search for the mass shooter in Maine is completed (though the trauma of Lewiston’s citizens will carry on for who-knows-how-long), this is a timely moment to turn public attention to the culprits that escalate the capacity for such carnage.

Two weeks ago the New York Times ran a review of a new book by Cameron McWhirter and Zusha Elinson, “American Gun: The True Story of the AR-15.”

Here are two key paragraphs:

“After the [assault rife ban signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1995] ended, in 2004, the door burst open [for its expanded manufacture and sale]. A gun enthusiast of a private equity firm entered the market, and, with a company called Freedom Group, flooded the country with AR-15-style guns. McWhirter and Elinson obtained internal documents from Freedom Group, including a ‘confidential’ memo by the marketing team arguing for allowing the company’s guns to be featured in violent video games as a way to help ‘create brand preference among the next generation who experience these games.’ In an email, a company executive marveled at how well this strategy seemed to work. . . .

“The day that Sandy Hook [Elementary School mass shooting that killed 20 children and six adults on 14 December 2012] funerals began, Freedom Group’s board of directors held an emergency meeting, voting to acquire a gun barrel manufacturer that would make the company’s AR-15-style rifles even more profitable. Sandy Hook ‘was an awful horrific huge tragedy,’ Freedom Group’s chief executive later remarked in a disposition, ‘but its impact on the long-term capital decisions of the business were not a factor.’” —review by Mike Spies, New York Times Book Review, 15 October 2023, pp. 14-15

 Two takeaways:

  • Notice how the language of “freedom” is associated with a weapon whose sole purpose is to kill humans with great efficiency.
  • Notice how “awful horrific huge tragedy” cannot override the priority of “capital decisions.”

Three references documenting the fact that just economic relations are a consistent thread throughout Scripture and indicator of spiritual health:

  • For a long essay on this topic, see Ched Myers’ “The Biblical Vision of Sabbath Economics.”
  • For a book length study, see Walter Brueggemann’s “Money and Possessions.”
  • For additional other resources, see the Faith and Money Network site.

One conclusion:

Gun manufacturers in the US, significantly aided and abetted by their public relations firm, the National Rifle Association, are indirectly responsible for more fatalities and injuries than all the illicit drug manufacturers (everywhere in the world) combined.

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After posting my recent “Trenched by sorrow” prose poem, I found myself compiling a collection of my favorite musical requiems and laments. That list is now posted here.

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