Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Roots of American Gun Violence

The Edmonton Journal Op-Ed by Jason Opal, associate professor of history at McGill University in Montreal.

For more than 200 years, the men who most needed personal sovereignty were slave owners. Their demands - for work, sex or amusement - carried the force of law on their farms and plantations, in the sense that enslaved people who denied those demands could be whipped, beaten and, yes, shot. Most masters preferred persuasion, but they retained the right of violent force rather than granting that power to the larger social good as expressed in law. As a result, they loved the local and state governments that they controlled and hated all other governments, be they British or federal. 

The other major demand for sovereignty came from frontier leaders and communities terrorized by native peoples. American history is littered with frontier violence, much of which took place outside the purview of the national government.
Isn't that a hoot? Slavery and frontier vigilantism are the parents of today's cherished individual sovereignty.

What's your opinion?  Does the professor have a point? 

Please leave a comment.


  1. So we are informed by a Canadian. I'd tell you that he's entitled to his opinion, but you'd then call me a slave-owning white guy...

  2. I know that if I needed workers I'd maim, cripple or kill them instead of having them being productive for my profit.
    Makes perfect sense.
    How in the hell do these people come up with this crap?
    orlin sellers