OPINION: It’s Time to Take Radical Action to Stop Gun Violence — Boycott America

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At memorial to the victims of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando created by Steven Reigns and Jackie Steele at Crescent Heights and Santa Monica Boulevard.
A memorial to the victims of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando created by Steven Reigns and Jackie Steele at WeHo’s Crescent Heights and Santa Monica Boulevard.

Sunday it was the worst mass murder in the United States since 9/11, with 50 people killed and at least 50 others wounded by a single gunman at a gay club in Orlando, Fla.

In December 2012, 27 children and teachers were shot to death by a single gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

And then, of course, there were the mass murders in San Bernardino last year (14 dead), in Washington, D.C., in 2013 (12 dead); in Aurora, Colo., in 2012 (12 dead); in Fort Hood, Tex. (13 dead) and Binghamton, N.Y. (13 dead) in 2009, in Blacksburg, Va., (32 dead) in 2008, and on and on and on. And that’s not counting the other 5,912 gun deaths and 12,190 injuries in the United States thus far this year.

Yes, the president of the United States has declared his anger and anguish about the Orlando killings. So have members of the LGBT community and the mayor of West Hollywood, which sees itself as the gay capitol of Southern California. The murders really came home this weekend when people attending the annual LA Pride parade and festival learned that a man who said he was headed to West Hollywood for Gay Pride was arrested in Santa Monica and found in possession of automatic weapons and bomb materials. That prompted the admirable Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles and Women Against Gun Violence to stage a vigil in West Hollywood to call for an end to such violence.

But let’s get real. That isn’t going to happen without some radical action. If the murder of 27 teachers and children in 2012 didn’t sway conservative lawmakers, why would the death of 50, or even 200, gay and lesbian people make a difference to them?

So what can we do? There’s no easy answer. But history shows that, at least in this country, money matters more than human lives. That’s evident in the fact that we have one of the highest birth mortality rates in the Western world and aren’t willing to fund basic healthcare, as every other industrialized Western nation does. We are willing, however, to give hedge fund managers a cut on their income taxes and tolerate a growing income inequality in which Americans in the top 1% average more than 38 times more income than the rest of us in the bottom 90%.

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So a pinch in the pocket is likely to be more powerful when it comes to gun violence than another proclamation by the president or another TV video of mothers crying over the deaths of their daughters and sons.

What we need is a boycott. Not a boycott of  states with particularly loose gun laws of of gun manufacturers (who can pay legislators to find a way out of it). I’m calling for a boycott of the United States of America.

Such boycotts have worked. Consider the British Anti-Apartheid Movement (AMA), which began in 1959 to urge British consumers not to buy goods made in South Africa or to travel there so long as that country segregated black people from whites. AMA’s fight against apartheid was long and difficult, with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher resisting calls for a boycott and the United States and other Western nations initially very reluctant to support it. But consumers got on board, and eventually it became embarrassing to admit that one had travelled to South Africa or purchased goods from companies based there. In 1990 Nelson Mandela was released from prison. The boycott ended in 1993 when South Africa decided to hold open elections.

Currently there are boycotts underway of states such as North Carolina, whose anti-transgender bathroom law has caused major companies to refuse to expand there and event producers and performers to pull away. West Hollywood has banned its city employees from making official trips there.

Yes, we live in the United States of America. So we can’t boycott our own country to bring an end to gun violence. But we can call on other nations to. We need to reach out to Francois Hollande, Angela Merkel, David Trudeau, David Cameron, Matteo Renzi, Malcolm Turnbull and the other leaders of democratic countries whose aggregate number of gun deaths in a year is a fraction of ours — countries where gun deaths actually are pretty unusual. Just as our State Department issues warnings to travelers about dangers in Africa and Asia, their countries should be warning their citizens of the risk of being murdered in a country like ours that is unwilling to seriously regulate gun possession. Our gun control activists should work with activists in those countries to call for their residents to stop buying products made in the United States or by American-based countries until we in the U.S. take steps to radically reduce our unconscionable murder rate.

What would those steps be? There is no easy answer in a country where in 2009 the estimated 310 million weapons surpassed our total population. But there are ideas worth exploring: The late U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s proposal to radically restrict the sale of bullets (why should one be able to buy a bullet for a weapon designed for mass murder?) Proposals to heavily tax all bullet sales — even those eventually deemed legal. A requirement that all existing gun owners register their weapons within a six-month period and re-register them every year, with a mandatory prison sentence for those who don’t.

Anything and everything is worth a try. But unless it involves financial pain, in the United States of America, where we keep saying we have liberty and justice for all without acknowledging that that comes at a price, it isn’t going to happen.

Reach out and send an email to the addresses following each name or found on the website following each name: Angela Merkel (Germany) http://bit.ly/25SjwTE; Francois Hollande (France) http://bit.ly/13LjkqX; David Cameron (United Kingdom) https://email.number10.gov.uk/; Justin Trudeau (Canada) http://bit.ly/1U3lPrX; Matteo Renzi (Italy) matteo@governo.it; Malcolm Turnbull (Australia) campaign@liberal.org.au; Mark Rutte (The Netherlands) info@minaz.nl; Stefan Löfven (Sweden) http://statsradsberedningen.registrator@gov.se, and Charles Michel (Belgium) charles.michel@premier.fed.be. Offer a link to this post. That’s a start.

An installation by Chad Michael Morrisette (Photo from Twitter @onmannequin)
An installation by Chad Michael Morrisette (Photo from Twitter @onmannequin)
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John Hollywood
8 years ago

I agree Henry with your post. And to the fools who keep saying if someone had a gun, this whole thing might not have happened need to get the facts straight. Someone was there with a gun. It was an Orlando Policeman. When he started shooter at the gunman, the killer retreated further back into the club and killed the majority of victims during that moment. What’s being suggested if a total lie.
http://www.gaypopbuzz.com/5-lies-orlando-massacre-need-stop-now/

fine7760
8 years ago

These guys have look a-like assault rifles not real ones. The same results would have been possible with that neat .22 many young boys receive for Christmas, they operate the same way. And what many liberals fail to realize is there is the Second Amendment which guarantees The Right To Bare Arms. Let’s be real. Ban the sales to those identified as terrorists or terrorists beliefs, ban sales to non citizens and lastly ban sales to convicted felons or convicted teens with long jail sentences for violation of the law.

Cy Husain
8 years ago

Must say an EXCELLENT article by Henry (Hank) Scott but, I would argue the American people along with the rest of the World are even MORE Progressive and understand that this gun violence is a symptom of a far deeper systemic problem. Now getting MORE guns will only make matters even worse, the “assault rifles” (yes they are assault rifles because most of the time assault rifles are used in semiautomatic mode) and high tech hand guns come from the civilian branch of the military industrial complex. The fallacy well nurtured by the military industrial that massively arming the entire… Read more »

blueeyedboy
blueeyedboy
8 years ago

If just one person from Pink Pistols (google it) had been there dozens of lives would have been saved. Rather than fewer guns, we need more guns in the hands of people who can stop this kind of slaughter in “soft” targets where the bad guys know no one will be armed. We don’t need more gun control laws; we need the ones that are already on the books to be enforced. By the way, what some in the media, and Hillary, are calling “assault rifles” are not that at all. Real assault rifles have been illegal since the 1930’s.… Read more »

luca d
luca d
8 years ago

thank you, hank. will you also call for the ban on pressure cookers, pipe bombs,and fertilizer. i’m all for keeping weapons out of the hands of the bad guys, the bad guys. how about an editorial about how the fbi blew it and did not flag this fine native born american while he was applying for guns, flying back and forth to saudi arabia and of course, his suddenly bewildered but supportive daddy who happens to love the taliban. and and while you’re at hank, how about banning throwing gay men off of rooftops…the sympathizers of this creep who killed… Read more »

scottzwartz
8 years ago

If we cannot handle our own problems, we should not shove that burden on to other people. America supports violence against other nations as well as against Americans at home. Can other nations make us give up the death penalty? We are a predatory nation and we are the problem as Pogo told us decades ago. We coddle the Christian right wing and we reward the fascist hate mongers by making Trump the GOP presidential standard bearer. We promote the idea that killing people solves problems — that is who we are as a nation, and it is our duty… Read more »

J.V.
J.V.
8 years ago

This is the stupidest op/ed piece I’ve read in a long time. Waste of cyberspace.,

Rudolf Martin
Rudolf Martin
8 years ago

Count me in for any and all boycotts of our morally bankrupt institutions! Like congress! This coward had repeatedly been on the radar of the FBI for suspected terrorist links and yet was able to legally purchase assault weapons thanks to Congress being owned by the NRA. Any idiot can procure weapons that facilitate mass killings (and they do) but they should not be able to do so legally, certainly not someone with this guy’s history. They still are, thanks to the NRA, who are already putting out talking points for their driveling minions to tweet that the people in… Read more »

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