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Dangerous Discourses

Feminism, Gun Violence, and Civic Life

Edited By Catherine R. Squires

Dangerous Discourses brings together new work by feminist scholars who provide a multifaceted view of the ways contemporary media discourses inscribe particular understandings of gendered social identities, gun violence, and public policy.
The chapters examine multiple media locations where discourses about guns and violence against women proliferate, including social media, mainstream news, National Rifle Association-sponsored magazines, gun research, public policy debates, popular magazines, and television drama. 
Utilizing theory and empirical research, this book helps us see more clearly how gender, sexuality, and other intersecting identities must be included in analysis of media discourses of guns and gendered violence.  The authors discuss the role of patriarchal ideologies, and center feminist thought and concerns in order to get beyond the one-liners, sound bites, and truisms about bad guys, the Second Amendment, mental health, and personal freedom that currently dominate public debates about guns and violence. 
With its unique views on the ways gun violence and gender inflect each other in the United States, this book is designed for courses in media studies, women’s studies, and sociology.
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Chapter 2. Silencers: Governmentality, Gender, and the Ban on Gun Violence Research


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Governmentality, Gender, and the Ban on Gun Violence Research

Patty Sotirin

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 33,636 people died from gunfire in 2013. Of those, 21,175 were suicides and 11,208 were homicides.1 In the same year, 84,258 people suffered from non-fatal firearm injuries. From January 2012 to December 2013, there were twelve mass shootings (4 or more fatalities) resulting in 108 deaths and 90 people with injuries.2 One of the most horrific mass shootings was the December 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, shooting when a lone gunman killed his mother and twenty elementary school children along with six of their teachers.

Spurred by the Newtown killings, in January 2013 the White House issued a memorandum defining gun violence as a public health threat.3 The memorandum lifted a seventeen-year moratorium on federal funding for gun violence research. Yet two years on, there has been little increase in funded research. While I join others who are dismayed by the continued stalemate that stymies systematic research on gun violence, I contend that the lack of large-scale, federally-funded research is not only a failure of federal authority or public management, but also a productive cultural force organizing public knowledge, anxieties, and activities concerning gun violence, use, ownership, and policies. ← 27 | 28 →

In this chapter, I will explore the contestations over what we know and don’t know about gun violence, particularly in terms of...

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