The shooting and mass murder in El Paso that occurred recently is an example of a toxic mix of a number of elements typical of the USA political violence culture – a few of which will be analyzed in this memo. Two elements are permanent features and the third is subject to temporal and spatial limitations. These elements are: (1) extraordinary accessibility by almost anyone to military-grade weapons used in mass shootings; (2) white nationalist ideology and the propensity towards dehumanizing the “other” – or using Giorgio Agamben’s term, homo sacer,1 - those who may be sacrificed without rights, including the right to live; and, (3) a populist leader in the White House who utilizes the media, social media especially, to portray a misperception of violence in the border region, although the specter of violence has been used by USA leaders previously.2 Trump has kept a campaign promise to “build a wall and have Mexico pay for it” given to his political base that includes, among others, immigration hardliners and the aforementioned white nationalists and proponents of the USA gun industry.
Illustrated and analyzed here are the problems of the gun violence culture, white nationalist ideology, and executive branch leadership in terms of promulgating and nurturing domestic terrorism in the USA. After the analysis, I will offer policy recommendations to rectify, or at least alleviate, much of the political violence associated with current public policies that are ineffective in terms of injuries and deaths of people affected by mass murderers with firearms.
Garrett, Terence, "Policy Memo: Political Violence and Terrorism on the Mexico-US Border" (2019). Political Science Faculty Publications and Presentations. 8.