Gun violence in the U.
S. can exhibit many different aspects from the modem liberal theories of Kant, Locke, and Smith. First, Kant’s exploration of social criticism can play a key role in why people participate in gun violence. Not all, but many perpetrators who use firearms to harm people in their community feel victimized or threatened by the structure or acts of society. A key example of this can be seen in school shootings. Often times, kids experience bullying or unfair treatment for either physical features, academic performance, or other character traits that they have no control over.
When experiencing such negative feedback from society, many shooters feel as though they need to take social criticism into their own hands. Some examples of bullied kids taking action against society include the Columbine High School shooters as well as Nikolas Cruz, the recent graduate of a Florida high school who opened fire on his alma mater.
Two more theories can be applied to gun violence in the U.S. Smith’s idea of self-interest as a foundation of liberal social order may be connected to individuals’ tendencies to purchase guns simply for their protection. Having a gun may put them at the top of the social pyramid. Additionally, gun violence can be attributed to Locke’s idea of tabula rasa. This concept, which means “blank slate,” stipulates how people are products of experience. When people experience violence in the home in their early life, they may be more inclined to participate in violent tendencies in the future.
This idea is also paralleled in the presence of guns in a child’s home. When guns are present throughout a person’s childhood, it may seem commonplace for guns to be around.
By definition, terrorism is “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims” (Oxford dictionary). No modern liberal theory can explain this better than the critique of social systems and government. Acts of domestic terrorism are perpetrated by individuals who feel that radical change will only happen if they take violent action against the political systems that control society. Kant’s idea of social criticism made the firm distinction between free thinking and disobedience. While terrorists try to make a forceful stand against the systems they deem unfit for society, they definitely do cross over to the side of disobedience. International terrorists are different in their motivation, so I will not expand on them.
Terrorism may act as a counter culture against the social contract, which constitutes that people follow a universal moral order. Locke’s social contract says that no one is forced to be a member of society; one must opt to be a member, or they will remain in the state of nature. Terrorists contradict the social contract by committing violent acts against their own people (or people of another country for international terrorists).