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Open Anthro Vol 6-1 Enough- Anthropologists Take on Gun Violence



Open Anthropology, gun violence, anthropology guns, guns, violence, anthropology violence


The Editors’ Note: Enough: Anthropologists Take on Gun Violence Sallie Han, Department of Anthropology, SUNY Oneonta Jason Antrosio, Department of Anthropology, Hartwick College

What does it mean to say “enough”?

In the present conversation on gun violence in the United States, it is not about what satisfies or suffices. Instead, it is about having both surpassed the limits of our acceptance and fallen woefully short of our expectation. It is about the surfeit of thoughts and prayers and the deficit of change and action. “Enough” is simultaneously more than enough and not enough at all. We take up the cry and challenge of “enough” in this issue of Open Anthropology. As anthropologists, we have committed ourselves to an understanding of human experiences in all of their complexity and diversity. We do so through thoughtful, reasoned, and careful research and scholarship involving a range of methods; diverse kinds and forms of knowledge, information, and data; and various modes of analysis and interpretation. We can make sense of what has frequently been called “senseless” gun violence.

There are more than enough questions and not enough answers, as has been noted time and again. In February 2018, in the aftermath of the murders of 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the American Anthropological Association reiterated the urgent need for a comprehensive evidence-based approach to prevent gun violence. Yet, despite the lack of sustained and systematic support for studies on guns, anthropologists and other concerned researchers and scholars have persisted in their investigations. As OA co-editor Jason Antrosio notes in his recent post on the blog Living Anthropologically, “there is quite enough research already available to take legislative action.”

“Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” is the oft-quoted claim of the National Rifle Association. People, of course, are the central concern of anthropology. In this issue, our focus is on people and the ways that we live and die, with and by guns. Featured in this collection are fourteen articles and one book review culled from the publications of the American Anthropological Association. The cultivation of fear—and of particular fears about particular groups of people—is a recurring theme across the selections here, especially as it contributes to the market (and marketing) of small arms and to the rendering of U.S. schools as places now requiring heightened surveillance and militarized policing. Some of the works precede what is remembered today as the Columbine High School massacre on April 20, 1999. Other pieces respond directly to the murders at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012 and at the Pulse nightclub in June 2016. They comment on the litany of so-called mass shootings and the mass of shootings that have resulted in more than 35,000 gun-deaths in the U.S. each year between 2012 and 2016. We also include selections that consider gun violence from a comparative and global perspective, with ethnographic accounts from outside the U.S.


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