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tv   Washington Journal Dr. Jonathan Metzl  CSPAN  July 8, 2021 10:44am-11:07am EDT

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with vanderbilt university, the director of the department of medicine and health and the author of the book "dying of whiteness: how the politics of racial resentment is killing america's heartland." thank you for joining us. guest: thank you. host: can you start by talking about your background, particulate when it comes to the subject of gun violence. guest: i am trained across the board, i am an mba doctor, i trained in psychiatry and i went back to school and got a phd in sociology and politics. i tried to combine those in it to decade study of guns in america, not just on gun
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violence, but what guns mean, i have done a lot of work on the social political meetings of guns in america. i help run a group called a project -- a group in tennessee that brings people across lyrical divides to talk about how we can form, even though it seems impossible sometimes, to try to keep people in community safer and the last part is, as you mentioned, i had a book cannot about a year and a half ago called "dying of whiteness," and it has a lot of topics. i was doing research into missouri pro-gun communities and talking to people about guns and looking at that tension between liberty on one hand and safety on the other. host: statistics about gun violence, particular event this year, 10,000 people related to that in the first half of this year.
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from your background, what is the best way to understand the rising numbers? guest: i think it is a question, not an answer. in a way, with what we are seeing, it is a spike in certain kinds of gun related injuries and deaths. that comes in the context of coming out of a pandemic but in the pandemic, we saw a lot of guns -- sold a lot of guns and there are more shootings now and more gun owners. more guns in circulation. for me, what this says is on one hand, we need to do what governor cuomo started to do the other day, say this is an emergency impacting a lot of people, but i would also say we need to have a broader conversation about what it means to live in a society where there are so many millions of guns in circulation and come to some kind of common understanding, which seems likely -- seems
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impossible. host: imagine governor cuomo, he was describing the situation in response to this, there is a study -- a sortie in the paper saying that he is planning on bolstering the law enforcement presence in cities were shootings on the rise and saying the state will establish a new gun private desk and violence prevention office -- establish a new gun violence prevention office. and establish a council on gun violence reduction. as far as reactions to what he describes as an epidemic, what you think of those as reactions? guest: there is no silver bullet. new york can do what it wants and what it should do, but new york is one state in the united states and so it is hard for a state like new york to regulate guns. we have orders in this country and what is more important to anyone policy that governor
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cuomo did and i am happy to talk about this, the aspect of why i think this is important, is to try to change the narrative. in a way, we have this ridiculous gun debate with gun control seemingly on one side and gun liberty on the other. in a way, there is no room for change the debate. i'll communities are suffering right now. in, i think what he did as he won big and tried to at least shake up the narrative and have people talk about different things. that being said, i think there are things that he did that were important in terms of opening gun manufacturers for civil liability if they made false claims about their products and even more important, working with local communities. it is not just police, working in communities to engage with violence intervention and police community relationships and so,
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there were a lot of aspects. this is a starting point for -- what we should do -- for what we should do as a country. host: this is our guest and he will bs and -- we less -- with us until a: 45. (202) 748-8001 for independents. (202) 748-8002, when you talk about changing the narrative, what is the lead aspect? what is the first thing that needs to change? guest: empathy, understanding, although these things seem impossible right now. i am from missouri, i was born on a military base, i grew up knowing a lot of people who own guns. it is not like i have assumptions about people who are on any side of this. we have gotten in this position where there is no common conversation. i think we have a common interest in keeping our communities and families safe
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and there are so many things we cannot talk about because this conversation is so inherently polarized and in a way, i think we should be having big, national conversations about what we can do about this in ways that lets people at least see where the other side is coming from and realize that is happening in the context of the pandemic where issues of mortality and life and death are really at the front of people's minds for some people having a gun is a way of protection against that or something like that. i think in a way, we are not talking to each other and thinking about the second you have before this. when we engage on each other just on social media, it foments an understanding -- a misunderstanding. i think there needs to be away to break out of this pro or anti-kind of debate we are having. the other point is there are a lot of times -- the most urgent
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is what i wrote my book about, gun suicide. about two thirds of gun death in this country. when we talk about numbers like 10,000, like you were saying before, we do not talk about the leading cause of gun deaths in this country. what can we do about gun suicide? again, i think polarization is not helping us right now. host: as of july 8, the gun violence archive highlights 22,000 gun violence deaths in the united states. homicide murder and unintentional death plus about 10,000 461 suicides, more than that, over 12,000 when it comes to deaths related to guns. president biden entering the conversation, dr. metzl, as far as this topic is concerned. i will play a bit of what he has to say and get your response to it. [video clip] pres. biden: it historically
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rises during the summer. as we emerge from this pandemic, our country opening back up again, the spike will be more pronounced than it usually is. for folks at home, here is what you need to know. i have been at this a long time. there are things we know that work that reduce gun violence and violent crime and things that we do not know. the things we know about, background checks, purchasing a firearm are important. ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. no one needs to have a weapon that can fire over 30, 40, 50, up to 100 unless you think -- community policing and programs that keep people safe and people out of trouble. these efforts work and save lives. over time, these policies were
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gutted and woefully underfunded. host: he lists a few things, but as far as this response and some of the things he brought up to the table, what you think? guest: one issue is first ball, i think it is important to focus on this issue and i appreciate the importance of doing these rudimentary background checks. if you get a car, you cannot start driving the car. you need to get a drivers license. this is like the smallest possible thing. part of the issue is what is you talk about in terms of background checks and community policing, these are important beginning steps. on the other hand, to be honest, presidents do not have a ton of power right now to implement gun policy there because a lot of gun policy is being set by the courts, being set by particular
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states, we have an important case in the fall that is going to look at national rates. there are so many things a person can do right now. -- there are only so many things a president can do right now. what a president can do in addition to talking about basic kinds of policy. he was also talking about the assault weapons ban on high-capacity magazines. it was in effect and some people argue reduced the number of deaths from mass shootings in late -- the late 2000's. again, most gun deaths are suicide, partner violence, accidental shootings. we need to have a bigger conversation than what he is suggesting. the president is doing the right thing by at least trying to focus the conversation in ways that might bring people
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together. host: let's start with catherine from st. joseph, michigan. catherine, you are on with our guest. caller: good morning. hello. i hope that we do have the background checks and that. i am 100% for that. i am surprised that you have not addressed the problem -- let me back up. you said that with the influx of people buy more guns, that there is more violence. people do not feel safe. that is why they are buying more guns. when we have people say defund the police, you defined the police and then you do not have that protection. this is why people are buying more guns. accidents, when you buy a gun, you have the response ability of making sure -- that response
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ability of making sure that gun is locked. you have not really touched on the aspect of what the real problem is. that is accountability. people go to jail and they can get out without a bond. and they go back and do the same thing. if they are not going to have their -- because of what they done, we will have a rotation of people coming in and out of jail. that is the primary thing in this country that we are having problems with. host: ok. catherine in michigan. dr., go ahead. guest: i appreciate the question. one is the question of safety which is important. it is on a lot of people's mine. safety could be the bigger conversation we have because if you think about it right now, on one hand, feeling unsafe in a pandemic is a natural response. there is a pathogen flooding that in the air.
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-- floating in the air. early on in the pandemic, the feeling of safety and i did a lot of interviews who -- with people who said they do not know about the coronavirus. from the very beginning, of the pandemic, and that is when we saw around the block guidelines. -- gun storylines. -- storelines. some people are feeling unsafe because of social political climate or police violence or police brutality, but i would just say that when you think about the problem of guns and by the way, i agree with the caller also, she highlights that there is a lot of support for gun owners for basic things like background checks. it is not like that is some huge thing. the survey suggests that about 80% of american, 90% of
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americans believe that we should have some kind of regulatory process for purchasing and carrying a gun. it is not like we are so divided when it comes to the everyday policy level. again, i would highlight that part of what my research shows is that on one hand, there are these sometimes racial stereotypes that we have that the reason we need -- the ceo of the nra, gang bangers and carjackers, others who are going to come get us, but when you look at the real risk of guns is, a lot of times, it is people who have never had a gun before who bring it into their home and they harm themselves in a moment of despair. it goes off accidentally. so bringing guns into people's homes is itself a form of risk that is not about the gang banger or whatever. it is about what it means to
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have a gun in your house. what i found out is, at least in the research i was doing, that was a risk predominantly among middle to lower income white men in missouri. there are a lot of these ways in which the popular conception of why people need guns and the real risk of guns sometimes are discarded. this does not discount what the caller said. i think we need to have a national conversation about safety and what needs to be safe. i think it is important to recognize the importance to organize our biases about who is a risk and what we need to do about it. host: from new york city, democrats line. caller: i would like to comment on one thing. did the united states government start this country with violence against the indigenous people of this land? and how gun violence --
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eliminating large segments of the indigenous people in this land. we do not talk about that. other than that, we have television and television shows across the countries that promote violence. they show every day, they show violence in the news, in the media, they show violence in olive these -- in a ball of these commercial shows -- in awl -- all of these commercial shows. we know that violence has started with the bank. -- klan. when this country was born, man was not allowed to have rights.
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there was not not many people in america when the founding fathers came here and -- host: dr. metzl, go ahead. guest: i have a lot of agreements with the caller. i would like people to pick up my book that goes into the history that color was referencing. -- caller was referencing. we live in a violent country. we live our daily lives -- i have done research in other parts of the world and it is funny, you go in the outside looking in, and even research has been about guns. you go to other con -- countries, i have been researching in other parts of europe and people who own guns there, wendy why they own a gun, -- when you asked them why they own a gun, they say they are defending their nation.
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in the united states, the narrative of why people own guns is about individual rights, property, things like that. we are very individual about guns. it leads to a lot of anxiety about every person for themselves and things like that. personally, we live in a country where we habituated a lot of violence and a lot of everyday violence that almost traumatized us as a nation and the caller is referencing the racial history of gun ownership, not just about what the previous caller was talking about in terms of threats, but he is right that there is a racial history of who gets to own a gun in this country. it predates the founding of the country. in my book, i talk about precolonial america. if you are allowed to carry a gun in public, you are either a
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white landowner or a white person working for a white man under his -- his job was to scorch uprisings by nigro's and indians at the time. that went on the way to the civil war and what were called black codes. the ku klux klan was meant to disarm african-american gun owners and that has gone through the 1960's, malcolm x, and people like robert williams wrote a book that said people have a right to defend themselves under the second amendment, and that is when the country discovered that gun control after 1968. there is a long history of racial politics of who is seen as a threat. and then who gets to carry a gun and who gets to defend themselves. there is this conversation about what is playing out now, which
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is in part about guns, but it is also about stereotypes, safety, immunity and it is a far bigger issue that ties into the racial history of the country. host: frank in new york, independent. hi. caller: good morning. good morning, dr. metzl. you were talking violence, guns, race, i think that for me, my opinion can be reduced to income disparities. in this country, we think it is around the procapitalist side or on the way to the left of socialism -- i want to get your
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opinion on how much that plays into although this. when i said income disparities. thank you. guest: thank you. quick question. -- great question. i feel like everyone should be on the independent life. -- independent line. we have an interest in finding common solutions. it is an epidemic on top of a pandemic right now. i think the caller raises an interesting point, this one, what is the role of private industry? do we want to regulate private industry? i say that not -- we have a constitution that guarantees a second amendment right for some people to carry firearms for sure, but i would also say that
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is there accountability for the industry? that is one thing governor cuomo brought up and what might be coming down the pike in new york and i say that because thinking about what we have been talked about in this conversation, there are different points along the way where gun manufacturers have promoted their products in ways that i personally find socially irresponsible. ins about -- things about targeting, are you afraid of the place if you are a black american? do not take a chance, take matters in your hands. in my book, i talk about how there is a lot of anxiety >> find more of this discussion by searching washington journal on our website read will take you live to the white house covid 19 response team with an update on the pandemic. >> loved ones in their communities. already in just over five

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