In the interest of full disclosure, I am not now, nor have I ever been, a gun owner.
I am not a hunter. I don’t enjoy shooting at targets or at living things like ducks, birds, rabbits, deer, moose, or bears. I suck at video games involving shooting opponents. I don’t keep a gun in my home. I am such a klutz that I fear I’m more likely to shoot myself or a member of my family than I am to shoot a trespasser.
Having said that, I can understand that there are those who do enjoy hunting and the Second Amendment guarantees them the right to use guns and rifles to hunt game. I also understand that some people feel safer when they have guns in their homes for self defense, also guaranteed by the Second Amendment.
Interestingly enough, New York Times Columnist Timothy Egan reported on study pointing out that a gun in the home is 12 times more likely to result in the death of a household member, or a visitor, than an intruder.
According to Egan, there are around 300 million guns in private hands in the United States. That is nearly one gun for every man, woman, and child in this country, and it makes the US the most armed society in the world, ranked first among 179 nations in the rate of gun ownership. Among the 23 wealthiest countries, the US is far and away the bloodiest, with homicide gun rates nearly 20 times higher here than in other high-income countries.
Thanks to the powerful NRA, the US is a nation of gun-toters. What I don’t understand, though, is why the NRA and gun advocates feel there is a need for general availability of military-grade assault weapons. Such weaponry has but one purpose, and it’s not defensive and it’s not for hunting game.
One of the weapons used by Adam Lanza to shoot 26 people, including 20 young children, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT this past Friday was a Bushmaster AR-15, a semi-automatic assault-type weapon. It can discharge up to 60 rounds per minute. Can anyone offer a rational argument as to why everyday citizens should be permitted to purchase and arm themselves with semi-automatic assault weapons like that?
Just listen to what the NRA and gun supporters argue. US Congressman Louis Gohmert, for example, a Republican Representative from Texas, said he wished Dawn Hochsprung, the principal of the Sandy Hook Elementary School, was armed with an M-4 assault rifle when she confronted Lanza, the shooter who killed those 20 children.
Arguing that greater access to guns could help prevent mass killings, Gohmert told Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday that “every mass killing of more than three people in recent history has been in a place where guns were prohibited.” Gohmert added, “They choose this place. They know no one will be armed.”
This same Congressman, by the way, after the movie theater shootings in Aurora, CO this past summer, blamed that shooting on this country’s move away from its “Judeo-Christian beliefs,” which, he said, is the reason why God is withdrawing his “protective hand” from the country.
Guns don’t kill people, people kill people
Yes. But people armed with, um, guns kill people. Gun rights activist Jeff Dunhill suggested that the best way to prevent gun violence in schools is to arm teachers. Dunhill advanced the NRA argument that “it wasn’t the gun’s fault, it was the 20-year-old kid who pulled the trigger.” Given the number of guns in the country already, he said, the playing field needs to be leveled. What better way to do that than to make sure everyone has his or her own gun?
One letter to the editor writer in the local paper asked, “Where was God in Newtown, CT? Is that the same God who was kicked out of public schools? Is that the same God who was erased from town squares at Christmastime?” Another letter writer blamed the media, saying that “the motive for public shooting is publicity and attention, something the loner-type killers never got in life.”
Others point the finger at our inability to deal effectively with mental illness, and that keeping guns from getting into the hands of people with mental illness would help solve the problem of gun homicides.
On this last point, it’s interesting to note that, according to an article in the New York Times, there were nearly 120,000 gun-related homicides in the US between 2001 and 2010. Few were perpetrated by people with mental illness. In fact, the vast majority of homicides are carried out by seemingly normal people who have nearly unfettered access to deadly force.
The NRA and gun proponents would have you believe that the root causes for gun violence in this country have nothing to do with access to or availability of all kinds of guns, from hunting rifles to pistols to semi-automatic assault weapons.
No, the root causes, they say, are that too few citizens are armed; that we, as a society, have lost our Judeo-Christian beliefs and have forsaken God, who has, in turn, forsaken us; that the media immortalizes publicity hungry mass murders; and that there is too much mental illness in this country.
Surely some nutcases will no doubt blame these mass shootings on the wrath of God visited upon our sick society due to homosexuality and gay marriage.
I am not suggesting that mentally unstable people like Adam Lanza and others who walked into public places and started shooting would not have attempted to kill people if they didn’t have access to armaments. But without the firepower of assault weapons, how many innocent people who had the misfortune to be at the wrong place at the wrong time would have died before the perpetrator could have been subdued? One? Two? Three? Certainly not 26.
Other developed countries have placed very tight controls on gun access and availability. In Australia, for example, after enduring 13 mass shootings in less than two decades, the government initiated a complete ban against all semiautomatic weapons in 1996. There has not been a single incident of mass shootings since then, and suicide shootings have also fallen dramatically. What does that tell you?
The more I read, the more I feel compelled to rail against the insanity. I’m not talking about the insanity of those obviously deranged individuals who use guns to commit mass murders; I’m talking about the insanity of those who defend the use of guns and even espouse greater availability and access to these weapons. I’m talking about the insanity of our politicians who are so fear struck by the power of the National Rifle Association that they won’t even talk about tougher gun control laws or reinstating the ban on assault-type rifles.
Seriously, America, it’s time to stop the proliferation of guns in this country. It’s time to stop the insanity.