Can we address the socioeconomic and political climate in which people are killing one another?

That is an interesting and difficult question. Only Iceland and Liechtenstein have honestly claimed a zero murder rate in recent years.

Once you dig deeper into the the “why” of murders, it’s clear that the problem is not uniform across all parts of the country, nor across all demographics or social classes. There are entire US states where Americans kill at much lower rates than not just the US average, but lower even the average rate in Canada and many European nations.

Maybe we should turn the question around, and ask what does it take for people not to kill? Why are there so few killings in certain regions? Why don’t Icelanders and Liechtensteiners kill?

Can we replicate the factors that make some parts of the USA less violent than other parts, or would trying to force these conditions on other states be inherently unamerican?


Kind of hard to answer that question if we don’t know what those factors are.

If I had to generalize why killings happen, I would say that people let themselves get far too attached to things. By “things” I also mean, unfortunately, objectified people and ossified traditions. When people feel attached to property, they sometimes kill to acquire it, or to keep it. When people feel possessive of their friends, mates, spouses, children, etc - they can be willing to kill to preserve those relationships - or to “poison the well” for others. When some people feel that their traditions, their way of life is threatened, they lash out homicidally. As if other people living in ways they don’t like somehow prevents them from living as they themselves choose. US cultures often encourage, and even demand such attachment of people. It becomes a social ritual, license to hoard, and show of “strength”.

I do not relate to it in any way whatsoever. My - again, extremely general - advice would be to not be attached to things, people, traditions, ideas, etc. It doesn’t help. They will still exist whether you indulge your feeling of attachment to them or not. For future work, I see the creation of more kinds of “ownership” - including more kinds of collective ownership, or even explicit non-ownership. Also, creating groups such as companies, marriages, and families with either new kinds of finances, or no finances at all. When people know that they can create companies/cooperatives/collectives with goals which do not need to officially involve acquisition, transaction, influence, etc, then more people will do so instead of the same old tired scrambling for resources.

If you stop being possessive and/or territorial, the problem mostly takes care of itself.


I suspect a lot of people would call them socialist and say they were un-American.


If the US was truly a democracy, how could anything truly be un-American? (or un-USian)


There is public health research about risk and protective factors associated with violence. Framing gun violence issues as a public health problem would be a big step.


Too bad the NRA’s successful lobbying basically made that illegal. The CDC is massively restricted in what data it is allowed by law to collect with regard to gun violence and victim outcomes.


so, i am friends with… two murders. one not very well, one decently well, and his brother i count as one of my best friends.

the escalation happened because of firearms. there was abuse, there were a lot of things, but it would never have become murder unless johans dad hadn’t pulled a gun. this is no excuse for what he did, i don’t think the gun was loaded, and i really don’t believe johans father wanted to kill his son. but his son, johan, did believe it.

so he took two lives. brutally.

there is no apology to make up for what he did, no repentance. but if there hadn’t been a handgun there, it would have been a few black eyes and a short jail sentence for each of them.

Anne was the dean of the music school when i went to the U of O. Johan was my friend. His family are still very close to me. And damnit, i will not blame this on mental illness, it was violent escalation the entire fucking time.

So get rid of kill-sticks, and murders will go down. (maybe not black eyes or broken bones, but murders and homicides)

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“god is an american.”

Chew on that one…

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It’s not impossible. I used to bullseye womp rats in my T-16 back home. They’re not much bigger than two meters.


Well, first and foremost I think it’s important to look at the spectrum of groups that are generally far less likely to be violent with each other and/or kill each other, and then talk about things that cause comparable scenarios to result in murders, right?

Iceland’s a good example and they’re large enough that they’re possibly statistically relevant. Liechtenstein is a bit small honestly but still useful as a sample group. Singapore, Japan and Indonesia also have low murder rates and are plenty big, There’s also the huge swath of people over at who generally are cultures rather than nations. There are lots of articles and research on that site specifically on WHY some of those groups appear to be less harmful to each other and it’s an excellent resource.

There aren’t any perfect trends, but a few things that seem to be common and/or diverge from countries/regions at the other end of the spectrum are…

  • Lack of helplessness/destitution - there’s a trend towards strong and dignified safety nets for people.
  • Cultural non-violent immersion - lots of places where peacefulness is heavily valued and punishment (including prison) aren’t treated like important parts of society. When you get to the cultures there’s often a strong focus on forgiveness and people raised to believe that violating somebody else in any way (rape, etc.) is beyond shocking (here in the US ‘being weird’ is often more shocking than rape)
  • Stronger local influence - Iceland gives communities a lot of control over their local environment (especially with their new constitution), Most of the cultural groups often break into Dunbar’s number sized groups as they expand, etc.
  • Media/Government Interactions - This is kind of hard to put a finger on, but I’m seeing a common thread with government transparency and/or limitations in how the Media is expected to ‘get people riled up’. Japan and Iceland are on different ends of the spectrum there, but in the end there’s less of the ‘the other guy is evil!’ stuff from the media that the populace as a whole consumes.

Right off the bat those are sticking out a LOT more than things like gun ownership (heck, Switzerland is pretty low too, and they’ve got gobs of guns…and it’s not like some of the more tribal cultures are weapon-free either)…


I’dd add community engagement around violence norms generally (e.g. bullying, acquaintance violence, mental health trauma). Those are reasonably fundable, leverageable and partnerable issue areas in the current politcal situation which is an important practical consideration (per @LDoBe).


I kind of saw that as part of the cultural non-violent immersion, but it’s certainly worth additional mention!

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These are politically contested terms of art for many fields and esp. funders. The language references important history, research, statutes, administrative rules, contracts, relationships, constituencies, etc.

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