The National Rifle Association and the White Male Identity

Eitches, Eliana Rae

On Friday, July 20, 2012, James Holmes entered a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado armed with a 100-round drum magazine, a Smith and Wesson M and P15 assault rifle (the “civilian version of the Military’s M-16) capable of firing 60 bullets per minute, a Remington shotgun, and a .40 caliber handgun. On that day, Holmes used those weapons to shoot 71 people, twelve of whom died. Less than six months later, on December 14, 2012, 20-year old Adam Lanza, immediately after shooting and killing his mother in their home, proceeded to Sandy Hook Elementary School where he shot and killed 26 people - 20 children and 6 adults - before killing himself. After the bodies were carried away, the final body count stood at 28, making it the second most deadly school shooting in United States history. In response to Aurora, many cried for stricter gun control laws while others determined to arm themselves: Colorado saw a 41% increase in background checks for hopeful gun owners in the direct aftermath of the incident, a response “not unusual” after a mass shooting. Media attention was lavished on these two aforementioned mass murders because their spectacular violence and seemingly-random nature incites the curiosity of the nation; synchronously, the attention these events receive is disproportionate compared to the negligible attention received by the 276 people shot daily in the United States, 84 of whom will die as a result of their injuries. Yet, it is these mass violence spectacles that demonstrate why the debate surrounding gun control and gun protection is so fierce: incidences of mass violence either incite fear, causing one to support protection measures via gun ownership or via stricter gun legislation. The driving force behind one side of the “culture war” surrounding arms is the National Rifle Association.

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February 4, 2013