Friday, January 18, 2013

That's a Hell of a Milestone

1017 as of 3:20 pm this afternoon.

There have been 1017 people killed by another person with a gun, in the US since the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings. That's 1017 lives ended by a firearm, in a month and four days. Let that sink in for a minute. One thousand, seventeen dead people, who but for the easy access to a firearm, may be alive today. One thousand, seventeen people killed in gun-violence in 35 days - in one country. Divide 365/35 and then multiply by 1017 and you get a projection of 10,605 gun-deaths in the US this year.

By comparison, England and Wales had 39 gun-deaths in two years in 2008/2009.

You see there was a spate (actually two) mass shootings in England in the early 2000's and the UK response was to simply ban the private ownership of handguns, semi-automatic rifles, and automatic weapons of any kind. Any NRA gun-nut who tells you "guns don't kill people, people kill people" and that without guns, people will find other ways to kill people are completely out of touch. The takeaway message from the UK is  crystal clear. Take away the guns and fewer people will die due to person-on-person violence. Period. There is no intelligent (or semi-intelligent) rebuttal to this fact. No guns = fewer violent deaths.

Ahh, says the NRA and the paranoid-tea-party-gun nuts, we have a constitutional right to bear arms, guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Have you ever read the second amendment? It does not say you can have any gun you want, for any reason you want to have it. In fact, it doesn't really say that anybody in the States has the right to have a gun, under any circumstances.

Here's what it says: "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."  Most pro-gun-advocates gloss over the first 1/2 of that statement in the original wording of the amendment. The part about "A well regulated militia" is grossly underestimated.

Jim-Bob in his safehouse/barn/basement/armoury/delusional-state is not "A well regulated militia." He's a guy with a bunch of guns. That's it. This is what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote "A well- regulated militia": The term militia (pron.: /mɨˈlɪʃə/),[1] or irregular army, is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as an army composed of ordinary citizens[2]rather than professional soldiers or the whole body of physically fit civilians eligible by law for military service to call for service in times of emergency. 

The people whose right "to keep and bear arms", are the people who would be expected to be called upon for service in times of a state or national emergency. However, we live in different times now. It's not 1776 any more. The second amendment has itself been amended by the supreme court of the US to include wording that allows for the lawful possession of a firearm for legitimate purposes; such as home-defence. The individual states have expanded that definition to allow for the argument that people need things like Barrett .50 calibre sniper rifles "for home defence", or "hunting". This is a rifle that fires a bullet the size of your thumb, through a concrete block.

Furthermore, the "well regulated militias" themselves have morphed into groups like the Connecticut 51st Militia or the Illinois Sons of Liberty whose stated goals seem to be related to the idea that the Federal government is coming to get them and take away their freedom; their freedom being the right to stockpile as many firearms as humanly possible. These aren't the only militia groups out there, convinced that "The State" is planning a campaign of tyranny against them. Here's a list of group who feel that the US government has absolutely nothing better to do, than invade them and take away their oddly-perverted view of "freedom".

It's these groups and their followers, the NRA, and the unaffiliated so-called Patriots, that are preventing the US from having an actual adult conversation about guns and gun violence. See, they just don't care about the 10,000 or so annual gun deaths in America. To these people and groups, it's more important to adhere blindly to a 237 idea that the citizens should be protecting their country and to do that, they have the right to own a gun.

Guess what, in 237 years, the US has managed to create the most powerful armed forces on the planet. They don't need militia groups to help protect the State. Addressing the other issue, if the American government really did want to overturn American freedoms and values, do these militia groups really think they can stand up to a military that has tanks, fighter planes, the largest navy in the world etc...? Really?

I think it's safe to say that the American way of life is secure. They are free to go on watching inordinate amounts of TV, free to eat all the processed food they can cram into their statistically unhealthy bodies, frack all the natural gas from the aquifers, and consume all the consumer goods they can (and can't) afford. The government isn't going to get in the way of any of that. They can continue to drive more cars per capita than anybody else on the planet, travel to whatever county will let them enter, and troll the internet looking for pictures of cats doing funny things. 

All the rest of the world wants, is for them to stop killing each other. We don't hate you America. If we did, we wouldn't hound you incessantly to rethink your antiquated gun laws. This is a plea from your concerned global community. Most of the rest of us have managed to get beyond the need to own and shoot guns at each other (at least domestically; we apparently have little trouble shooting people in other countries), and we want the same for you and your kids.

Have the discussion now. Asking you to give up guns that fire bullets as fast as you can pull the trigger, or to give up guns that can be hidden in a coat pocket, is not a sign that your freedom is under threat. Rather, it's a sign that the world thinks you are still too young to have the responsibility that your founding fathers gave you, those 237 years ago. You can't be trusted not to use your easily accessed, easily hidden firearms against each other, much like an alcoholic can't be trusted not to drink and drive. So, why not give up the most problematic guns? Call it FA, Firearms Anonymous. I'm sure the rest of us would help you write a 12 step program. The first step as always, is admitting you have a problem.

As of today there are already 1017 clues, that you have a problem to admit.

1 comment:

Red said...

It's difficult to hold a rational conversation with a guy who has a gun. Gun nuts don't like to be backed into that corner.
Great piece , Todd.