Guns, Gun Control and the Second Amendment

I would be more receptive to the gun control advocates alleged concern about human life if it in fact they were concerned about life at all. However, their concern appears to be only about guns, and the money they can generate because of people’s fear of guns, and it must be said that the other side makes money by stoking the fear that their guns might be taken away.

  • Would any additional law have stopped the Sandy Hook killings? No, for example gun ownership is far more regulated in Norway than would ever be tolerated in America, but even such strict regulation of firearms did not stop a similar atrocity there.
  • Would an expansion of background checks, or closing the “gun show loop hole” have made a difference in any of the recent mass shootings? No. None of the shooters were on any such list. None of the shooters acquired their gun at a gun show. Nor are any of the shooters ever likely to be on such a list in part because of doctor patient confidentiality rules. Since no one can tell when a looney-toon is about to become a dangerous looney-goon, doctors do not typically report their patients to the police.
  • Would a law that made it more difficult for the Sandy Hook killer to get 3 guns have stopped him, or would fewer guns have slowed him down? No, like many criminals he did not acquire his guns legally. He killed his mother and stole her guns. In any event, since he could only shoot one or at most two guns at a time any more than that just got in his way. Under one gun every thirty days laws, it would take him at most sixty days to get the 3 guns which he had with him if he did it legally.  Such mass killings are not usually spur of the moment.  So, such a law even if he abided by it would not stop a tragedy.
  • Would a law that made high-capacity magazines illegal have resulted in fewer deaths? No. For example, it was a malfunction in his high-capacity magazine that slowed the shooter down in the Aurora shooting and allowed him to be stopped. That is why the military does not use such magazines. The 20 round magazines I carried in Viet Nam were never loaded with more than 18 rounds and the thirty round magazines that were available then were rarely loaded with more than 25 rounds. The more rounds in a magazine, the more likely a malfunction. On the other hand, when cavalry men in the Civil War wanted more fire power, like the Sandy Hook killer, they just carried more guns. This meaningless focus on magazine size is very likely to drive such shooters to use much more effective shotguns instead. That will not be an improvement.
  • Would a law against “assault rifles” have reduced the carnage in Sandy Hook? Not likely, a professional would probably have used a shotgun and killed or wounded more people. In any event, assault weapon clones are rarely used in crimes. Among other reasons, they are rarely used by criminals is because they are so hard to hide.
  • Has the “gun lobby” distorted the Second Amendment? No. the Second Amendment was written by a group successful revolutionists that profoundly distrusted the executive branch of government. Any reasonable person reading the Second Amendment’s history will see that its clear purpose is an armed citizenry ready to resist an oppressive or coercive government. It is not for self-defense or hunting, it is for resistance to the government.

Here are a few facts that are also instructive.

The U.S. is the 12th in “Total firearm related death rate in the world” not first as is generally believed. The U. S. rate is about 1/7th of the leading countries rate (South Africa) but it is about double the rate in Canada. While you would not know it from the news media gun homicide in the United States is actually down 49% since 1993 as the number of privately owned guns has skyrocketed and right to carry laws have expanded across the nation.

The U. S. has a much higher gun homicide rate than Canada, the Canadian’s have a gun suicide rate of about 60% of America’s. For many, it is suicide that is the real gun problem. About three quarters of the people killed by guns in the US every year are suicides. However, when Australia profoundly reduced its gun suicide rate by buying up a lot of guns and making guns difficult to get, total suicides actually went up by 10%. Removing guns was not a cure for suicide. It had no effect at all.

While each is a tragedy, accidental gun deaths are statistically negligible in both Canada and the United States. For example, in 2007 there were 617 accidental gun deaths in the U S, but some 29,846 accidental deaths by poisoning. If saving life was really the issue, we would have safe pill bottles.

The number of handguns used in crime (approximately 7,500 per year) is very small compared to the approximately 70 million handguns in the United States (i.e., 0.011%), but it is handguns that are used in the vast majority of gun crimes, gun suicide, etc., not rifles of any type.  It is impossible to justify by the numbers any additional restrictions on long guns or on magazines for long guns.

According to the FBI, every year about 60% of the justifiable homicides in the US are by the police, and about 40% by gun owners protecting themselves and their families. The important point here is that in each of these justifiable civilian homicides, a dangerous crime was thwarted by the presence of a privately owned gun. The police almost always arrive after the fact, after the crime.

According to a recent CDC report guns are used in the US probably at least several hundred thousand times a year by law-abiding people to protect themselves from criminals. Therefore, it appears to be a mathematical certainty that any restriction on gun ownership is going to result in additional deaths and injuries that would have been prevented had an effective weapon been available to the victim for their protection.

Where is the balance?  Is anybody even interested in the facts about guns and gun use in the United States?

The shooter attacked the Sandy Hook elementary school because essentially he was a coward and he was certain that there would be no guns there. He did not want a fight, he wanted to kill defenseless kids and the laws of the State Connecticut made them available for him to do exactly that. Why? Given all of the prior school shootings, the recent school shootings, why didn’t the people of Connecticut rise up in anger at those that put their children at risk? What idiot seriously thought that a “Gun Free Zone” sign would protect these children from a lunatic? Nobody responsible for the safety of children has the right to be that stupid.

In Israel since the school shooting at the Ma’alot massacre in 1974 there have been no more mass school shootings. Why? Golda Meir, as the PM immediately ordered armed guards posted in every school and allowed teachers in the schools, who are almost all reservists in the IDF, to bring their weapons with them to school. Now the terrorists in Israel go after busses because if they go to a school they know they will be shot. Finally, after a lot of useless posturing, the people of Connecticut have realized that it takes armed police to protect schools and they have provided them. Why did it take so long?

The shooter at Sandy Hook elementary school was 20 years old. He carried two pistols as well as a rifle. Since he was under 21, it was already illegal for him to be in possession of the two pistols. It was also illegal for him to kill his mother in order to get her guns. Any additional law restricting guns would not have had any effect on him at all. This harsh reality must be faced and understood, or any new gun laws will not have any protective effect.

The constant in such cases is not guns. Even if you could get rid of all the guns lunatics will find a way to hurt people. One lunatic in China slashed 22 kids and an adult recently with a knife. Two bozos blew up the Federal Building in Oklahoma several years ago with high nitrite fertilizer. The Boston Bombers also used bombs, as did the killer in Norway.  The killer in Norway blew people up before he went to the island to kill kids. In Israel right now Muslim fundamentalists are driving cars into groups of people in order to maim and kill them.  If guns are not available these looney-goons will find a way to hurt, maim and kill defenseless people. And that is one of the most important but often overlooked constants, they are looking for defenseless people.

What are the real constants? Mental illness is certainly one of them. Another constant according to a recent magazine article are the drugs that are used to treat mental illness today. These drugs may also be part of the problem. Many of these powerful, often beneficial, psychotropic medications already carry a warning about an increased risk of suicide, should they also carry a warning about increased risk of homicide? Gun free zones are also a constant. These killers are not looking for a fight. Schools are often a target as well.  Killing kids makes headlines.

The lunatic in Norway killed a bunch of kids on an island with a gun. There is little likelihood that Norway’s strict gun laws will ever be enacted in the US. If Norway’s strict laws did not stop a lunatic from getting a gun, what will it take?  The killers of cartoonists in France had no trouble getting automatic weapons for their recent rampage and France has very strict gun laws.

Israel stopped school attacks–they put armed guards in schools and many of the teachers carry guns. If someone has a better idea for protecting schools now would be a good time to bring it up-but if you are serious about protecting children, only Israel’s solution has actually worked so far. Not putting armed police in schools is a recipe for recurrent tragedy as well as being profoundly stupid, but many, even in Connecticut, nonetheless objected to it and pilloried the NRA for even suggesting it.  Who values ideology more than protecting kids?

The reality is that even with gun ownership in the United States increasing almost every year, gun crime has gone down every year since 1993. However, for a while Richmond, with some of the least restrictive gun laws in the nation battled Washington, DC, with the most restrictive gun laws in the nation for the title of Murder Capitol USA. Now Chicago, a city with very restrictive gun laws is awash with gun crime.  Why? The real answer is that nobody knows why, and unfortunately nobody cares enough to want to find out why. They would rather be for or against guns when it is violence that is killing people.

Short of outright confiscation, the CDC has stated that gun laws cannot be statistically proven to have had any effect on gun crime, total suicides or mass shootings. Think about that the next time a politician says that they are in favor of “sensible gun safety laws.” How “sensible” can a law be that has been proven time and again not to work? As of today the only gun safety laws, sensible or otherwise, that have been proven to be useful would be to require mandatory gun safety courses for everybody because these can be shown to reduce total gun accidents.

Two things seem clear: guns are not the problem; guns are not always the answer. People that blame modern violence on guns are either ignorant or they are lying, as are the people who say more guns will cure violence. Guns can and should be used to protect those that we love, but they cannot do more than that. Actually doing something useful about violence in our society will take work and a willingness to be objective.

Unfortunately, the reality is that a lot of people would rather use the bodies of dead children to make money by scaring people rather than actually working on the root problem of violence in modern society. Just like the shooter uses these childrens’ lives to give a terrible meaning to his own.

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