The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Stopping Mass Shootings Will Take More than Politicians’ Talk

Apr 3, 2023

In Nashville, 28-year-old Audrey Hale broke into a private Christian elementary school and began shooting, killing six people, including three 9-year-old children. It was the 131st mass shooting of four or more people in the U.S. this year.

Quite understandably, this horrific event evoked a tremendous outcry, just as has occurred with many of the previous mass shootings. Many of these shootings have occurred at schools, and students from some of the schools have carried out walkouts and protests in response. Many have spoken of the devastating, lasting effects the shootings have left upon them.

Following each shooting, politicians and media commentators have been quick to jump into the fray as well. But Democrats and Republicans only offer technical answers, not addressing the root causes of the issue. Each time, Democratic Party politicians quickly seize on people’s anger to call for stronger gun control measures. They point out how much more common mass shootings like these are in the U.S. compared with other countries, and point to the availability of guns in this country as the cause.

Republicans, playing to their base among gun-rights advocates, have staked out their ground each time in opposing the Democrats on this one issue. In place of gun control, some on the right have called for arming teachers as the solution to the problem.

Certainly, the availability of guns, including semi-automatic weapons such as assault rifles, contributes to the problem, and that availability has grown over a period of many years. The vast majority of those weapons have been produced by companies right here in the U.S. and gun manufacturing has become a multi-billion-dollar industry.

The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) says that almost 170 million firearms have been produced in the U.S. in the last 30 years. That’s more than one for every two people in the country! And every time there is a mass shooting, gun sales go up even more. People are buying guns out of concern for their safety and that of their families.

For the politicians and the mainstream media, the discussion about how to stop mass shootings, and school shootings in particular, practically begins and ends there. Some have attempted to look at the motivations of some of the shooters. In some cases, it’s been shown that the shooters were motivated by racism, misogyny, homophobia, anti-Semitism and other oppressive attitudes prevalent in this society.

In the case of the Nashville shooting, it came out that Audrey Hale identified as a man. Some Republicans and far-right commentators like Donald Trump, Fox News host Tucker Carlson, and Marjorie Taylor Greene jumped on this fact to suggest this was somehow an example of a trend in transgender violence. In fact, biological men commit 96% of mass shootings, according to a study at Northeastern University.

The number of mass shootings in the U.S. has gone up considerably since 2020 compared with the six years from 2014 to 2019, from about 350 per year to about 650 per year. This is a time in which other stressors in life have increased with the pandemic and its related employment, financial, and family issues and social isolation.

Mass shootings are a social problem. Their increase reflects the despair felt by more and more people under a capitalist society in its period of decay. A society that produces endless wars, extreme poverty, mass imprisonment and little hope. To fix the problem, the whole system has to go.