History Helps Explain US Gun Violence Patterns, Says Maine Writer

Maine author Colin Woodard argues that America’s distant past in the center of the present Controversy about what to do with gun violence.

Woodard, a reporter for the Portland Press-Herald, is currently director of the Nationhood Lab at Salve Regina University Pell Center.

He wrote that the United States was actually a collection of regional states formed by immigrants who settled in the country from the 1600s to the mid-1800s.

Interview with Colin Lockport.png

Maine writer Colin Woodard

And he told Maine Public’s Irwin Gratz that the incidence of gun violence varies markedly in these areas.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Woodard: Each of these societies makes a set of assumptions about who we are, what the good life is, the relationship between individual liberty and the common good, the relationship between church and state, and so on. I was. It was defeated by the early founders as a kind of dominant premise and spirit. And it, you know, was embedded and remained in many institutional and religious frameworks and cultures that the rest of us arrived at later and had to deal with as a kind of field fact.

Gratz: Well, what did your analysis tell you about gun violence?

We knew that many indicators of gun violence, and indeed violence, varied widely geographically. We found surprising variability in the various indices, 2- and 3-fold differences. You know, we looked at gun deaths overall, we looked at gun suicides and homicides, we looked at just gun homicides and suicides by white victims from one neighborhood to another, we just looked at cities. .

And no matter how you slice it, it turns out there’s a 2x, 3x difference with Yankee Dam. Yankee Dam is the larger New England region that Maine belongs to, but it extends into upstate New York, the Old Western Reserve of Connecticut, and Ohio. , and the Upper Great Lakes states, you know, are two, three times safer than the Deep South.

And when it comes to the Deep South and the New Netherlands (the Dutch settlement roughly equivalent to the New York metropolitan area today), New York City is by far the safest place on the continent by any stretch of the imagination. So. Seven times, eight times safer than the deep South.

And then there were the surprising ones, like the Far West, the interior west, the Pacific coastal regions, and the Southwest, which was effectively colonized by Nuweiba Spain. That is, the area that occupies one-third of the continent. In fact, the area is pretty safe in terms of gun homicides per capita, but incredibly bad in terms of gun suicides. This is not a pattern seen elsewhere and raises an entirely different question. why is that?

[Woodard also addressed why some findings defied expectations, such as Black people seeming less safe in some northern cities.]

New Holland was still very safe when you look at the black casualties in these big cities. But suddenly the left bank of the Midlands and Yankee Dam are the most dangerous places for gun murder. In other words, the previously safest northern regions. And indeed, the Deep South and the Appalachian metropolitan area suddenly became relatively safe. I don’t know why. But looking at the map, slicing like that, I could see that it was a select group of hotspot cities where the problem was concentrated. In that sense, and not many others, the current Republican arguments about gun violence are correct. Cities like Chicago, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Kansas City and Oakland all have such high rates of gun violence.

But there are other northern cities, such as Seattle and Boston, where this is not the case. Boston has a terrible history of racism and discrimination. Why is Boston safe and parts of other cities aren’t? If I were a gun researcher, I would be wondering exactly these things.

So what does this tell us about the ability or inability of this country to do something about the level of gun violence we are seeing?

If you belong to a Commonwealth governed by a federal government, then federal law of any kind must be enacted with the consent of Congress. Congressional agreements were carefully designed to prevent one region from dominating another during the early days of the Republic. It is necessary to form a large-scale agreement between regions. And what do you think? The provinces have no agreement on this.

In the deep South of Appalachia, the solution to mass shootings is to get more people to carry guns, but in Yankeedum and New Holland, perhaps people have less access to, you know, the arsenal of all weapons. That is.

Each state can take its own gun control measures. But the current Supreme Court has handed down a number of rulings since 2008 that make that even more difficult, including thoughts on the Second Amendment, which gives individuals the right to carry firearms. Between the current interpretation of the meaning of the Second Amendment in our country’s Supreme Court and the lack of consensus among federal agencies seeking agreement, it is difficult to actually make changes that would bring the gun homicide rate in line with what it has in the past. is becoming very difficult to achieve. our peer democracies. We are several orders of magnitude different from the UK, Belgium, Japan and other countries. Because, in that respect, we have a different gun policy regime.

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