Many of the gun deaths in America are suicides. Should we do something about that? As long as suicidal people have easy access to guns, that will continue. We have the highest rate of gun suicide and homicide of any civilized country. The guns matter. Sure people commit suicide and homicide by other methods and other countries show that people commit suicide in many other ways. But we are living in the U.S which has a particular problem- too many victims of bullets. Should we just let this happen without doing a thing? Should we allow the excuse that as long as people will find other methods of suicide if it isn't the guns, then why do anything about the guns? This kind of circular and specious reasoning, if you can call it that, is unacceptable. Herein likes big differences between the two ( or maybe three or four) sides of the gun issue.
This difference in world view is pretty much reflected in this column by New York Times columnist Gail Collins:
People like me are perceived as changing a life style of those who love their guns and love to use them for hunting and recreation. But that is a myth created by the NRA and the extremists. It is not true. My exchanges with gun advocates on this blog bring me up short. People have been led to believe some very ridiculous and inaccurate things. If regulating guns and ammunition to stop senseless shootings means changing the gun culture, then the changes won't be accepted, apparently. But if these common sense regulations are seen as making us more safe from shootings, as most in the public and even the gun owners believe, then life as we know it won't change much for the average guy with a gun.We are never going to have a sane national policy on guns until the gun advocates give up on the fantasy that the best protection against armed psychopaths bent on random violence is regular people with loaded pistols on their belts.Is there anything the other side can concede in return? Well, gun control advocates have to be careful not to say anything that demeans hunting. Virtually every politician in America has already gotten that message. (See: Senator Chuck Schumer holding dead pheasants.) But it’s true that some city-dwellers can be snotty on this point.“You don’t mess with hunting and fishing because that’s part of who we are,” says Kathy Cramer Walsh, a professor at the University of Wisconsin who specializes in civic engagement. “A lot of times, talk about regulating guns and ammunition is seen as the outside trying to change who we are.”
So should we try to stop shootings that occur on a daily basis? Or should we let them go as collateral damage? And would trying to stop shootings affect the daily lives of law abiding gun owners? I have yet to hear how but that is still the common view of the gun rights advocates. Should we or could we stop this shooting? Or this one? Or this one? Should we try or not? What should be done about this permit holder? One would think gun ranges are safe places but this is not the first time I have posted about or read articles about law abiding gun owners shooting themselves at gun ranges. These are the people who are supposed to be safe with their guns. What can be done? Perhaps fewer people should have permits to carry. We have enough evidence that there are more than a number of them who are using their guns carelessly in public places. That is not what is supposed to be happening. But happen it does. Just check out the Ohh Shoot and Kid Shootings blogs. On these blogs you will seen the many occurrences of accidental shootings by and of children and legal gun owners. These are not made up. These are facts. Raise your hand after reading these blog posts if you think this is acceptable in America. What's wrong with encouraging safe storage of guns? What's wrong with tightening up laws about who can carry guns in public? What's wrong with keeping guns away from dangerously mentally ill people or felons or children or domestic abusers? What's wrong with requiring background checks on all gun sales if it saves lives? What's wrong with wanting to reduce the number of people killed at one time in a mass shooting by limiting the size of ammunition magazines? The mere fact that the question even has to be worded that way reflects how ridiculous the debate about the gun issue has become.
The thing is, we used to be more reasonable in America. Ronald Reagan was in favor of common sense gun laws. President Nixon was in favor of reasonable gun laws. Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was once in favor of gun control. Now he sought and received the endorsement of none other than vile and extreme Ted Nugent ( Board member of the NRA). What is he thinking? What happened? Just listen to the ludicrous nonsense spouted by Nugent and the show's host on the video below:
Raise your hand if you think Nugent represents the majority of thought in America. It is extreme and ugly stuff. But the gun nuts parrot this crap on my blog and other blogs. They have their talking points and their talking points are extreme and crazy. The extremists on the far right have managed to win the debate and have turned the issue of public safety over to the well funded NRA whose leadership is a reflection of the far right wing of the Republican party. And now we have politicians who are too afraid to even mention the word gun because they are bought and paid for big money and special interests. Those politicians need to listen to Nugent and others to find out what kind of crazy people are deciding what our gun laws in America should be. If you don't believe this, just read this article about a Texas judge calling for insurrection if President Obama is re-elected:
“He is going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the U.N.,” Mr. Head said on Fox 34 last week. “O.K., what’s going to happen when that happens? I’m thinking worst-case scenario: civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war, maybe. And we’re not talking just a few riots here and demonstrations. We’re talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy.”Whoa there. This is dangerous and extremist talk coming from a judge, no less. What is going on here? And speaking of judges, check out this law abiding judge and his total lack of judgement with his guns and his gun permit. The man should not be allowed to have guns or a permit. He is dangerous. But this is our loose system of conceal and carry permitting in our country. These are the legal folks and the laws defended by the gun rights extremists. Crazy stuff. And people are dying every day. It is unacceptable. We are better than this.
This is the divide between me and others who view the world similarly to me and the gun rights extremists. They chalk these incidents up as just another idiot who should know better. But when you have these articles showing up on a pretty regular basis, their arguments just don't hold water. Unfortunately they get "chalked up" as numbers of victims who, in real life, are either dead or have suffered serious injuries. I have also written about permit holders, some of them prominent gun rights advocates, using their guns in murders or murder/suicides. Why do these continue happening? Why do people think guns are the answer? When a gun is available, it just may get used. And in fact, a gun is more likely to injure or kill someone in your home than to be used in self defense. Just read the articles of actual shootings. 32 Americans a day are murdered by gun. That is unacceptable. 80 Americans a day die from bullet wounds, including suicide, homicide and accidental shootings. That is unacceptable. Collateral damage is unacceptable. We are better than this.
What to do?The NRA and its' minions continue to push for more people carrying more guns in more public places. They insist that they, themselves, would never do anything like the idiots in the stories. They also deflect the real issue- that of too many guns in too many places and too many dangerous people getting their hands on too many guns- by suggesting we should work on mental illness and veterans issues instead of talking about the guns. The problem with this argument is that it denies reality. This moving story about the sad life of Jeffrey Johnson, the New York City shooter, again, reveals the problems with our American gun culture. Johnson knew a gun would do what nothing else could. He lost his job. He was living a life of a recluse in New York City with likely very few financial resources. He lost touch with his family and his associates. He was trained in shooting skills while serving in the Coast Guard. A gun, purchased years ago in Florida, was his answer to what was wrong in his world. Guns are effective. He knew that. And now one a man is dead because of Johnson's paranoia, fear and mental illness.
As I write this, there are 3 more dead in this shooting in New Jersey. More details will come. So far, we know it took place at a grocery store that was closed. It's another example of the daily carnage. Should we just let it happen? As I write this, one person is dead after a shooting a hotel in Woodbury, Minnesota. As I write this, an 8 year old Minnesota boy is wounded from a bullet that ricocheted when it deflected from the ground after a sibling shot the gun. First of all, what was a young kid doing with a gun in the first place? But I digress. ( Remember now that some of the commenters on this blog thought they could have done better than the NYC police in the recent shooting. Bullets ricocheted and hit 9 innocent bystanders. The gun guys would not have let that happen! But happen it does. Here is proof) It's an American way of life. It shouldn't be. It's nothing about which to be proud and shouldn't be. The fact that we let it happen is irresponsible and just plain wrong. So if the gun rights advocates really think that stopping daily shootings will change their lives than so be it. They will go on feeling this way no matter the facts. They will go on lying and hyping up fear and paranoia but at what cost? That is why we need to demand a plan from our politicians and raise our voices for what's right.
I believe we are better than this. I believe that gun laws can make a difference. If they didn't why do other countries have far far fewer gun deaths than the U.S.? It's the gun laws, stupid. There are facts here. The facts tell us that we have a problem. The facts tell us that we could do something to make things better. Common sense tells us that we must do better than this. There is a divide. Some do not agree with me, obviously. So be it. We will disagree. But we will disagree based on facts. And then we can talk about what is the right thing to do.
Speaking of the Ohh Shoot blog, I must add this stupid and dangerous incident to the list of law abiding gun owners and their guns:
21-year-old Michael Wdowiak is a Florida National Guardsman out of Ocala, Florida. He is in Tampa with his unit to assist with the Republican National Convention. Thursday night he was in a hotel room in St. Petersburg with three other people. Another Florida Guardsman, 26-year-old Jeffrey Spurr, was checking out the grip on Wdowiak's .357 revolver when he unintentionally discharged the gun.Wdowiak was struck in the upper chest and hand and taken to the local hospital for surgery on the wounds.According to police alcohol does not appear to be a factor and currently no charges are being filed."The unit is here to assist at the RNC," said a spokesperson for the sheriff. She did not specify what their role at the RNC entailed.The incident comes just a day after a Secret Service agent assigned to Mitt Romney left her loaded handgun in the bathroom of the campaign plane. The gun was found by a CBS News producer.
We just have to be better than this!
I am not the only one thinking along the lines of doing something to stop the shootings. After the New Jersey mass shooting, it is another one to add to the list and making it one a week still. Here is what Sanjay Sanghoee has to offer by way of common sense:
You can check out the rest of his great suggestions in the article. Thank you Sanjay for another great article.The Founding Fathers were champions of freedom but were not weak on law enforcement. Faced with a debilitating threat to society, they would have enacted laws to ensure that citizens treated guns with respect and did not use them in a cavalier fashion. That would have included harsh penalties for unnecessary gun use in any situation, and even harsher penalties for casualties or injuries caused to others by guns. By invoking zero tolerance on gun violence, the Founding Fathers would have provided America with a safe and stable social order.In our country today, we have a serious problem with gun violence, as well as with the proliferation of guns and ammunition. That is not in doubt or a subject for debate. The only thing that is debatable is the best way to address that problem. The right to bear arms should be preserved, but in the context of stricter gun laws that enable law enforcement to control and track weapons, and to provide adequate disincentive for the abuse of firearms. This alone may not solve all of our problems, but it will definitely make an appreciable difference, and that is enough. If even one senseless gun murder is prevented by these laws, it will have been more than worth it.I bet the Founding Fathers would have agreed, and in fact taken the lead in this process.