Thursday, October 8, 2015
myth verses reality
This is long and I've written about our nation's gun problem before. I debated whether or not to post it in two installments but decided to just get it over with. Read it or don't.
The NRA has convinced a large segment of the population that the only thing standing between themselves and chaos is a good guy with a gun, preferably themselves but that's why we have a police force. That's their job. The NRA's creed of an armed society is a polite society has filled this country with guns. As it stands now, there are enough guns in the population for every man, woman, and child. And still the gun nuts don't feel safe.
This is what it has come to. With the exception of the instability in the Middle East, the drug wars in Central America, and some rogue African nations, America is the most dangerous country in the world and the danger comes from our own citizens. You wouldn't expect the biggest 1st World nation to also be the most dangerous. But we are. Now instead of just worrying about being killed by the police with their tendency to shoot first and ask questions later, we have to worry about every stranger on the street as well.
Cases in point...
1. A man witnesses a carjacking and whips out his gun and starts shooting. He does not stop the carjacking and shoots the victim in the head instead. Then he gathered up all his shell casings and fled the scene.
2. A woman witnesses a man coming out of Home Depot being chased by a store employee. The man gets in his car and starts to flee the scene. She whips out her gun and starts shooting at the fleeing car. She does not, in fact, know whether this man has shoplifted anything and yet she takes it upon herself to shoot at him instead of just taking down his car license and a description of the vehicle to give to police.
In both these instances, which happened in one week, these citizens appointed themselves judge, jury, and executioner. In the Home Depot case, she didn't even know if a crime had been committed. And since when did we give start giving the death penalty for theft? They are lucky they didn't kill anyone (the head shot victim lived). The woman could have killed a child in that car or the driver whose moving car would have then careened into some other family or she could have just as easily shot one of the many people who were in the parking lot.
This is called vigilantism and it is against the law. Just because you have a license to carry does not mean you can whip out your gun and start firing away anytime you want to. The law is very clear about when you can use a gun to protect yourself or someone else and theft, not even of your own property, isn't one of the reasons. You can see a thief carrying your fancy TV or whatever out of your house and you still cannot legally shoot and kill that person.
Did you know that the only time a gun buyer is subjected to the briefest background check is when they buy a gun from a gun store? Once a person owns that gun, they can sell it to anybody they want as long as that person has the money to buy it. No background checks needed. You also don't need any kind of background check to buy a gun on-line or at a gun show. There is no limit on how many guns you can own or how much ammunition you can buy.
Here's a few myths that need dispelling...
Good guy with a gun: well, I think that one has already been addressed above but in the case of mass shootings about which the NRA loves to tell us the solution is more guns, anyone who is not highly trained is not going to be effective and will likely just get themselves shot or shoot other innocents. Any combat veteran can explain the fallacy of John Doe citizen bringing down a shooter while all hell is breaking loose. Target practice or plinking at cans does not equal 'highly trained'. Target practice or plinking at cans is not going to give you the training to ignore that adrenaline dump with your brain screaming at you to run away while scrambling for your weapon with trembling fingers. You are not Rambo and real life is not like the movies. And even in the few cases where a good guy with a gun was present and did manage to prevent or stop the shooter, the few lives saved does not in any way make up for the thousands who are killed by the over abundance of and easy access to guns in this country.
An armed society is a polite society: Right, that's why people with guns shoot at other cars in road rage. That's why people get in an argument and before you know it, someone has pulled out a gun and started shooting. That's why these open carry idiots strut around with their guns and get in your face and insult and threaten you because you don't agree with them. That's why back in the frontier days the sheriffs made you check your guns in at the office when you came to town.
If you ban guns, only criminals will have guns: You do know where criminals get their guns, right? They get them by buying a weapon that has already been legally purchased or they steal them from people who legally purchased them. Less guns in the population means less guns available to criminals. Did you know a gun company created a gun that would only fire if it was being held by it's owner? Yeah and the NRA put all it's might behind making sure that it didn't make it to market or failed to find buyers.
Guns are needed to prevent the government from becoming tyrannical, also known as we need guns to protect ourselves from the government: Almost 250 years and not one tyrant that needed to be or was brought down by citizens with guns. The system works folks, or it did until Citizen's United and the Lobby consortium took the power away from the people. It's not the government we need to fear or bring down, it's the corporations who think they can buy the government. And really, the largest and most advanced military in the world is not going to be brought to its knees by a bunch of untrained yahoos with guns, not even by those private self-styled 'militias'. I don't care how many guns they have. If the government wants to take your guns or take you down, it will succeed.
Guns don't kill people, people kill people: Yes, and they do it with freaking guns! If a person is determined to kill someone, they will find a way. Knife, poison, hit 'em with a car, use a baseball bat or iron skillet, yeah, people will kill. A gun takes no determination. All a gun takes is a little twitch of the finger and you don't even have to get close. If people had to get up close to kill there would probably be a whole lot less killing.
Freedom!: Sorry, your freedom will not be abridged because you can't have a fucking personal armory. No one is coming to get you unless you become a threat with your fucking armory. We live in a civilized society where, yes, bad things do happen but on the whole people go about their daily lives for their whole lives without ever needing a gun. And your right to freedom does not allow you to abridge the rights of others. We have the right not to be afraid every time we go out because of some yahoo carrying a gun.
The 2nd amendment was written because the Founding Fathers want people to be able to rise up against the government: Wrong. That's a myth. The second amendment was written to appease the slave holding states that had their private militias to hunt down escaped slaves look it up. This gave them the authority to continue to do that (you know, the 'well regulated militia part'). Also, they recognized that many people needed their arms, which consisted of muskets and cap and ball pistols, for food and safety on the frontier. It was the Supreme Court that twisted the 2nd Amendment into what it is today and we are reaping the results of that in thousands of deaths a year.
Liberals want to ban guns: Well, that would be nice but it's never going to happen. What liberals want is extensive background checks every time a gun is sold or re-sold, required extensive training, waiting periods, limits on the amount of ammunition that can be bought, limits on the type and quantity of guns an individual can own, insurance so that if and when you are irresponsible with your gun you will be responsible for the damage. We want you to have to show a need for that gun and we want you to keep it in your house and locked up with exceptions when you can show a need to take it out in public. And we want all that reviewed every year. Any of or all that would be great. Why should it be harder to own a car than a gun?
I'm not against guns per se. I know there are people out there who are justified in owning their gun...people who hunt, those who live out in the country and have to deal with things like venomous snakes and wild hogs, people who are isolated and any call for help would take a long response time, people in urban areas who have to be in high crime rate areas, people who transport large sums of money or other valuables, people who have a reasonable fear of assault, etc. I grew up in a time when people carried their hunting rifles on the gun rack and my father had guns that he kept locked up, I've gone skeet shooting. But this unfettered access to a ridiculous array of weaponry combined with a complete lack of mental health care and the glorification of violence (we are the most war mongering nation on the planet, have been in one war or another for nearly every year of our national existence look it up) and division and this particular national feeling of entitlement to whatever we want and want to do, because America!, has got to stop!
Right now, we don't need foreign enemies because we have lost more people to gun violence than to all the wars and terrorism. And we did it to ourselves. We've had more mass shootings than days of the year so far just this year alone and that doesn't count all the other forms of gun violence.
What the fuck is wrong with us as a nation that we do not have what it takes to do what it has to take.