Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Or Maybe Guns

On a radio show last week, GOP Representative Chris Sessions of Texas, reports Scott Keyes of Think Progress,

was asked to weigh in on the horrific shooting on live TV of two journalists in Virginia. After acknowledging that widespread gun violence is a daily occurrence in the United States, Sessions zeroed in on what he viewed as the real cause.

“It has a lot to do with distrust of people. Chris, I have been in lots of societies, we could say like Japan, where they have a homogeneous society, where people are more alike,” Sessions said. He went on to discuss “this thought process that we have to have diversity in America.”

Although Sessions did acknowledge that “we should and we need to work for” a kind of mutual respect across diverse groups, the thrust of his remarks was that diversity breeds a kind of mistrust that sparks gun violence. “We have a group of people that are in our country that we’re afraid of, that have created chaos and confusion. And now our country is confused” he told Salcedo, without elaborating on precisely who that group of people is.

It's an interesting theory, one not original with Sessions, although to assume the approach  Republicans take on climate change: I am not a sociologist (only a Bachelor's Degree there).  It is, at least and probably only, a better explanation than mental health.

But if ethnic diversity per se increases crime at all, the good Senator might want to explain why Hawaii has the lowest rate of gun-related deaths (table from The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, below; also, here) in the nation. Another website, determining the most diverse state in the nation, concluded

At the top of the list, understandably, the state that lies farthest from the homeland: the volcanic island paradise of Hawaii. Ranking first for its non-white population (69.8% in 2009) and mixed-race population (18% in 2009), Hawaii is far above the national average for all three categories. (It ranks sixth in foreign-born population.)

And it's not as if  Hawaiians are prone to use their fists, knives, or some other weapon because firearms are relatively unavailable.  Its murder rate is second lowest in the nation. The first is Iowa, which has the tenth most restrictive gun laws.

If he chose to, Sessions could point to Alaska, though he wouldn't, because it is GOP-dominated and very conservative. Alaska has a very high rate of murder, especially by firearm, and it's a relatively diverse state. However, it has the least restrictive firearm laws in the country. Louisiana is the next most lax- and has the highest rate of gun-related deaths.

Mental disease, diversity, too few guns, Democratic mayors, whatever: Sessions and other Republicans with an A+ from the National Rifle Association must find some excuse for the firearm violence more common here than practically anywhere else in the western world.

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