VOICES: Why cede more power to a state that does not protect us?

Kevin Minus is a cyber security professional and a graduate student. He lives with his wife and two daughters in southern Ohio.

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Kevin Minus is a cyber security professional and a graduate student. He lives with his wife and two daughters in southern Ohio.

We have been living in a time of grief and introspection in the “home of the brave.” Thirty-five people were murdered by three mass murderers in the last several weeks.

When systems fail, people demand order. In this case, there are calls for protection that are both predictable and understandable. The state takes freedom in exchange for security. This is part of Rousseau’s Social Contract that we implicitly sign as members of a modern society. I would only like to remind you all of our shared history. Two years ago, I watched protests where we told the police that we did not trust them and we did not think they could keep us safe. I watched us passionately declare that we can protect ourselves and that we will trust ourselves. I watched us, as an outside observer, skeptical but curious.

We are now calling for police to do what we said they were unable and unwilling to do. We are now screaming not at the state, but at our fellow citizens, claiming we have all failed ourselves and we are collectively at fault.

In a post-George Floyd world, what is the justification to cede more power to the state when law enforcement has been found to be insufficient at best, as the dwindling clearance rates for murders and other violent crime shows, and as a litany of civil rights and misconduct lawsuits show, malicious at worst? Law enforcement legally does not have to protect you and the lack of equal protection birthed the largest Civil Rights movement in history just a few short years ago.

The complex racial history of guns is now a mainstream topic, especially after the slaying of Philando Castile and the criticism Black gun owners had for the NRA. Despite these facts (or perhaps, because of them) many Black Americans and women decided that arming themselves was necessary during a time of increasing turmoil and instability. Are we to tell them that their choice is wrong, their concerns are unfounded and that the desire to secure their own protection is unwise, foolish or an unnecessary risk?

Payton Gendron and Salvador Ramos, acquired weapons in New York and Texas, respectively. The laws in both states were not an impediment. In both cases, the shooters had known, checkered histories and both announced their intent to kill on multiple forums, multiple times. Despite this, there are yet still more calls for gun owners to acquiesce. Calls to stop prospective gun owners from buying high-capacity magazines, to stop having gun shows on public grounds and to stop buying assault weapons (a term which includes everything from the AR-15 and AK-47 to many handguns, depending on the context and speaker) have all been made in the last few weeks, months and years.

This debate is about the distribution of power between the state and citizens in our society. While some think this exercise is pointless, those who wish to curtail our rights further should meditate on the lasting questions the post-George Floyd world has yet to answer.

Kevin Minus is a cyber security professional and a graduate student. He lives with his wife and two daughters in southern Ohio.

More mass shootings, more empty promises?

Uvalde Strong

The recent gun violence in Buffalo, Uvalde and Tulsa dredges up difficult memories for those in our communities still traumatized by the events of August 4, 2019. We’ve published a number of different perspectives on what should be done to prevent another such tragedy throughout the last week and we are continuing that coverage in Ideas & Voices.

We have received a large number of submissions on this topic and we understand how important it is to readers. Ideas & Voices is committed to giving space to your views. If you are interested in providing a 150-200 word letter to the editor or a 500-600 contributed column, please email your submission to edletter@coxohio.com.

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