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How do we think about the George Floyd murder? Show more Show less
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On May 25 2020, George Floyd was suffocated to death by the police. Floyd had been arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill. In chilling footage that would go viral within 24 hours, officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than 8 minutes ignoring Floyd's repeated pleas for him to move. The asphyxiation led to his cardiac arrest. Floyd's death has so far inspired protests across more than 75 US cities, calling for an end to police brutality and institutional racism. The responses to these riots have included state-wide curfews, the threat of military intervention, attacks on the media and civilian arrests. The situation has given rise to a complex debate with commentators arguing over what precisely it has exposed about contemporary America. So, who are these groups, what do they stand for, and why?

George Floyd's murder is a structural issue: American gun laws are to blame Show more Show less

The US gun laws mean every police engagement is potentially life threatening. Corrupted by their power over life and death, police feel above the law, which feeds their behaviour and how others respond to them.
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Lax gun laws allow people to suppress the ideas of other people

Making it easier to obtain guns creates an environment that has the potential to silence others by intimidating them into submission, especially if the owners of the guns do not share the same ideologies as those they are trying to intimidate.
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The Argument

Having lax gun laws can create a setting that promotes ideological suppression. The relaxed nature of these laws would make it easier to obtain guns. The guns generated by the lax nature of these laws could then become an instrumental part of their owner's intimidation tactics. The incident in Crown Point, Indiana, is a good example. In this case, black protesters were demonstrating following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis when a group of white bystanders armed with rifles appeared at the protest. This group stood face to face with the protesters, carrying their rifles so that the protesters would be able to see their weapons. [1] The protesters' goal was to demonstrate their discontent regarding the death of George Floyd. By choosing to show the protesters that they were armed, one can make the case that these white bystanders were actively setting out to intimidate the protesters. In doing so, this intimidation tactic if successful, would have contributed towards the suppression of the ideas associated with the protesters. Additionally, those white bystanders were within their rights to carry their weapons the way they did because of the laws Indiana has in place regarding guns. The looseness of Indiana’s gun laws allowed this situation to transpire, had they been tighter, the white bystanders would not have been able to display their weapons the way they did. A similar event occurred during the protests in Kenosha, where a white 17-year-old boy named Kyle Rittenhouse arrived with a semi-automatic rifle and opened fire on black protesters. Rittenhouse killed two protesters and wounded another before turning himself in to authorities. [2] Here, like in the case of Crown Point, Indiana, the rifle was used to intimidate protesters into submission. The only difference was that in this instance, the gun was more effective due in part to its use proper. These two scenarios demonstrate that the role of the gun is one of suppression, the suppression of ideas, made possible by the lenient gun laws in place.

Counter arguments

At the same time, lax gun laws may not mean that they can be used to suppress ideas. Instead, they are likely used as a form of self-defense. In St. Louis, Missouri, Black Lives Matter protesters traversed through a private community to demonstrate in front of the mayor’s home. As they passed through, residents Mark and Patricia McCloskey stood in front of their home with their weapons (an assault rifle and a handgun respectively) in an attempt to keep protesters from approaching their estate. [3] As a result of seeing a large mass of protesters, one can make the case that the McCloskeys were only trying to defend themselves from a possible threat, as they had no way of accurately discerning the intentions of the approaching protesters.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://abc7.com/timely-armed-protesters-black-lives-matter-indiana-protest/6234854/
  2. https://apnews.com/article/97a0700564fb52d7f664d8de22066f88
  3. https://nypost.com/2020/07/20/missouri-ag-moves-to-dismiss-charges-against-st-louis-couple/
This page was last edited on Monday, 9 Nov 2020 at 23:09 UTC

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