Guns, Fear, & US

18 Dec
2012

By now, all of you have read or heard about the mass killings in Newton, CT. The killing of twenty children and seven adults has sent the nation into another state of mourning, the fourth this year, just before the happy holidays.

There is a lot of talk now, as always after such a national tragedy. What happened? Why? Who was he? Why these babies? Why this school? Why his mother? Were the guns legal? Was he insane?

Some of these answers will take months to piece together, long after America forgets what happens and until we experience another national tragedy.

I had a very difficult time deciding both what to write and what angle to take. After several hours of writing drafts and researching, I still do not know. I wrote this post because many of you, as Swedes and Europeans believe us Americans are gun toting nutballs. There are many, but not all. And change, especially Constitutional change isn’t easy.

Bear with me, I’ve broken this post down in several parts in order address some issues. They are the tip of the iceberg and it was difficult to not be too emotional. Plus this post is really long and without pictures.

My first thoughts:

Guns. Gun control. Gun rights. Fear. Protection. God. The 2nd Amendment.

An infinite discussion with those on the left promoting “gun control” versus those on the right promoting “gun rights.”

Is this really productive? It is an eternal argument between the right and the left over who has more money, more lobbying power, and a louder mouth.

The 2nd Amendment
There is something that will unlikely happen now or in the future: repealment of the 2nd Amendment. It has happened only once that an amendment was repealed (the 18th Amendment, Prohibition). It was probably a dumb idea to morally control people by outright banning a substance, spending millions controlling the ban, and losing millions in potential taxation. The US came its senses, overturned it with the 21st Amendment and left it to the states to control alcohol.

With guns, we could take a similar approach. Repeal the 2nd amendment. We could create a new amendment, leave it to the states, or share the power between the state and federal government. Many Swedes and Europeans ask me why the United States doesn’t just repeal the amendment. The answer is simple: it’s complicated.

To repeal the 2nd amendment, a new amendment must be proposed, of which there are two ways:
BOTH the House of Representatives and the Senate approve the proposal by a two-thirds majority vote. The amendment does not require the signature of the President.
or
Two-thirds of the state legislatures ask Congress to call a national convention to propose amendments. This has never happened.

To ratify, or pass, the amendment, there are two ways:
Three-fourths of the state legislatures approve it.
or
The ratifying conventions in three-fourths of the states approve it. This method has been used only once — to ratify the 21st Amendment.

Any amount of common sense would tell us that getting this many Congressmen to the table AND a lot of states to sign on will neither be easy or cheap.

Which brings us to the point, guns will continue to exist in the US. These massacres are the price we pay for the freedom of some people who don’t want it regulated. Really, we should not be surprised when such events happens over and over and over again. Disgusting but happens.

Fear Factor
The NRA and many gun associations use fear as a tactic to promote gun ownership. Fear the government is taking over your freedom. Fear that Obama will restrict gun access (The White House hasn’t even tried these four years). Fear that the bad guys will have more firepower because they don’t care about the law anyway. Fear that, if someone starts shooting people, who’s gonna shot the shooter?!

“If only I had a gun, I could’ve killed him…” That is the rationale of many gun owners.

“I’m sitting in a theater, three rows in front of me a man stands up and starts shooting. Immediately I access my pistol, stand up and then end his life. He has killed 2 people, but 12 others will go home alive. You do the math,” said Cestlavie3, a user commentor on CNN.

So because this person has a concealed weapon he will somehow miraculously see the gunman in the dark, pull out his pistol, and shoot only him? Impressive. He probably hasn’t heard of friendly fire or understands the psychological impact of ending another person’s life but hey, he does have a gun and will save us all.

Therein lies the problem with Americans. Many of these gun tooters are a bunch of standoffish idiots who think they would become Batman and be able to save anyone with the blasting of a gun. Like, “I’d rather die with a gun in my hand trying to defend my family and myself than see them all die in front of me knowing I did nothing to try and stop it.” Good for you. I’d prefer you not accidentally shoot me though.

I know friends with guns. A few of them use their guns exclusively for hunting and would never carry a gun as a concealed weapon. They have handguns and rifles and feel that high ammunition cartridges are for people looking to kill people, not for shooting tea saucers.

I personally do not know people who have guns and leave them in their handbag or backpack, but there are many. They don’t lock their gun up at home because it would take “too long to get the gun if a bad guy enters your home.” They would have their children invite friends over and still not have the guns locked away. Morons? Absolutely.

Case in point; there are about 130-170 deaths per year from accidental killings of children with firearms. It is not necessarily because laws are too lax but that parents are stupid. They believe having a gun is a right and not a responsibility and somehow magically, “guns don’t kill people, people do.” Well, those “people” are kids who may not even know what they’re playing with. The rationale might then be: Let’s blame those fucking kids for playing with guns and killings others!

The Israel Fear Factor
But let’s look at a country that has real imminent threat: Israel. A country geographically placed at the heart of religion has missiles, guns, and weapons always pointed at it. In the “hope” that one day, Israel could literally be wiped off the face of the Earth.

That’s frightening. That is fucking scary actually. Knowing everyday of your existence is only because of an armistice other countries brokered to keep your ass alive.

They all must be owning guns, tons of guns!

After all, Israelis are no stranger to pipe bombs, suicide bombers and shootings. Guns are visibly seen everywhere. And yet, citizens have to prove to the government that there is a need to own a gun. Hear that? Civilians don’t get to just waltz around and mazel-tov with guns.

People carrying those guns? They are security, military, police and some settlers. These civilians, usually those in settlement areas, that pack heat have to get approval by the government, law enforcement, trained professionals at shooting ranges, and medical professionals.

Shalom Bear wrote an op-ed piece piece in The Jewish Press, “Even though Israelis watch the same movies and play the same video games that glorify gun violence as Americans do, Israelis, unlike Americans, are taught from a young age a mature, respectful and structured interaction with their weapons. In America, it’s considered a right to carry a gun, but in Israel, it’s considered both right and a privilege.”

He hit the nail on the head. I know guns are not going to be banned anytime soon in the United States. I also believe people have the right to own firearms, within reason. I am not saying people shouldn’t own guns, I am saying use some common sense.

Switzerland’s Neutrality, Chocolate, & Guns
We all know Switzerland to be the land of the Alps, chocolate, and banks with clandestine clients. And gun uncontrol supporters (that’s my new phrase for people who want no government interference) point out Switzerland’s high gun ownership rate of “1 in 2 citizens.” Partially true. Conscripted Swiss men own guns, regular civilians and those out of the out military do not. Most conscripted men may keep their guns at home but each canton (province) is moving towards making those guns stored in depots, not at home. Ammunition, since 2007, has been forbidden to be kept at home. Also, non-miltary citizens do not get easy access to guns.

Therefore, the claim by gun uncontrol supporters is “look at Switzerland, guns don’t kill people, people do.” I agree, Switzerland has one of the lowest rates of homicide in the world with a firearm coupled with high gun ownership.

But let’s take this out of the vacuum and put the statement in reality. You know what else Switzerland is good at? Having the lowest mortality rates, lowest poverty rate, highest development, highest gender wage equality, and universal health insurance. Oh and 27% of the Swiss don’t believe in God.

Switzerland doesn’t have mass killings and firearm violence because the country and people believe in creating a strong society based on education, health, and equality. Does that sound like what America is today or ever has been?

Here’s the update to the cliche that guns don’t kill people, people do: guns don’t kill people, Americans do. Get that? The Swiss take care of the people so much more than the US that really, gun violence comes down to a culture thing. The Swiss know how to use their guns and treat them with respect, echoing Shalom point about Israeli treatment towards guns.

We can also see it as, Swedes admit to having little control over alcohol moderation and thus, leave it to the goverment to regulate, least we lose generations to Absolut drinking. But Americans are so crazyed and self obsessed with the right to own a gun and believe the end justifies the means, no matter what. Shooting in a school? We need more guns in schools. We need God in school. We need the militia guarding schools with giant fucking “assault rifles” to scare the bad guys away.

How about we get some common sense about respecting guns?

“What Do You Want ME To Do? Guns Don’t Kill People, People Do”
Point taken and as mentioned above, guns don’t kill people, Americans do. And part of the “only in America” blame stems from a lack of mental health treatment. Many of these mass killings are the result of mentally imbalanced people getting their hands on firearms, legal and otherwise. Yet, the American system of taking care of them is nearly non existant.

Liza Long could be one of those mothers. In a heart wrenching and controversial piece entitled, “I am Adam Lanza’s Mom” she discusses her own son who has yet untreated mental imbalance. An imbalance that can make violent, angry, and scary. An imbalance that she had the police called to restrain him. Your own child. A 13 year old child. I cannot bear to think of the burden and difficulty it is to call law enforcement and press charges against a kid, your own.

For her, she doesn’t know what to do anymore. There are not many choices and those that exist are terrible ones. Give him away to an institution, put him jail, drug him. In all, the cause of his problems is not solved.

Let’s put this on the national agenda. Let us help this mom and every mom and every child out there to get the help they need to prevent future massacres by imbalanced people. Here’s my plug to donate to NAMI: http://www.nami.org/.

What about Compromise?
Gun owners, like Edwin says, “I have nothing that qualifies in the minds of most progressives as an “assault weapon,” but if I could afford one I would. They’re interesting, and enjoyable to shoot.”

Kudos to him and many of his fellow guns for being smart and keeping their locked up safely (unlike the moronic parents who don’t).

He doesn’t believe they should be illegal because hey, most gun owners are boring fellows who keep their guns safely and deserve to own them because they’re fun. And who’s the government to say they cannot have fun?

But here is the problem. He asks, “what do you want us [law abiding gun owners] to do?” He wants to own his fun “assault rifle” so there obviously isn’t room for debate there. He won’t give up any “fun” for the sake of the greater good.

Which is why comprising with gun owners is damn difficult. They want their fun even if means a few assholes every year mow down fellow Americans.

You know what I would love gun owners to do: how about have a little more common sense for the greater good? Society passes rules, written and unwritten, based on protecting and maintaining a healthy group. And the opportunity cost is sometimes losing some personal rights for the greater good. I know it sucks.

I want to blast Friday on my sound system at 2am but apparently there’s an ordinance against loud noise after midnight. Ironic, the government can take away my right to fun to play lame music on the boom box but not your right to fun to blast tea saucers with an “assault rifle.”

How about you say,

“We know as gun owners that there are some assholes out there who get guns and mow down little kids in schools with semi-automatic guns and other powerful weapons. Those weapons can easily spray a lot bullets quickly because their job is to kill people, not bunnies in the forest. So how about: 1) we agree to banning these kinds of weapons and high cartridge clips (or whatever weapons); 2) help sponsor tougher legislation for obtaining firearms so mentally imbalanced people can’t just order them online; 3) and push training classes for every person carrying a concealed weapon so they understand it is not the same as carrying a phone.

In return, these kinds of guns are legal {a list of guns we agree to} and we get to hang out at the shooting range enjoying a cola and learning about guns.”

Hey! I could sign on to that! People who want to ban every kind of gun are in their own deluded world unless they rip apart the Constitution so I’m not including them here. For the rest of us, let’s all meet in the middle somewhere. Guns exist, guns will always exist, but let’s say guns are a right AND A RESPONSIBILITY.

Finally, I’m going to be untactful and say what many Europeans, Americans, and probably cats think:

GUNS ARE A RESPONSIBILITY. Here’s a notice to you idiots who pass legislation allowing guns in bars, idiots who think “background” checks should be eliminated, and idiot gun owners who think they have the right to own every firearm available to mankind because dammit the Second Amendment didn’t say what *kind*. There is no way to be diplomatic, you are all idiots.

For every good, law abiding gun owner who believes in gun control *shock, they are some!*, you idiots fuck it up for everyone else.

If the cost of owning all these weapons is tacitly allowing mass shootings every so often, shame on you. Shame on me for not standing up. Shame on America for putting the lives of everyone at risk for weapons, power, and money.

But since I don’t have millions in the bank and a bunch of compass keychains to giveaway, no one cares what I think.

And that’s the point, my opinion does not matter on this issue as long as the other side has the political power, the money, and the keychains to beat down my First Amendment right to free speech of common sense. I’ll just have to hope one day people listen.

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4 Responses to Guns, Fear, & US

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Apocalypse Nowish

December 19th, 2012 at 21:46

You barely mention the number 1 reason for the people to own and carry guns. The key reason, the reason why so many politicians, journalists and know-it-all are against gun ownership. The reason I believe in absolute freedom when it comes to guns is not mainly to protect myself and mine against rapists and robbers, although that too, no, it has to do with my right and every persons right to protect ourselves from government.
The main killer of man (Obama for example kills more kids monthly then all school shootings combined) is government. Historically, today, and I guess that will always be the case. Government is what we need to protect us from, not Mexican drug lords who are created because of prohibition and armed thanks to U.S. government.
If you say that a democratic government cannot turn on its own citizens and start wars and death camps, you are delusional. It has happen before, and sadly it will happen again.

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Catherine

January 20th, 2013 at 02:54

I just went to the range to practice for my conceal carry class, so that I may conceal and carry in the state of Kentucky. Which is actually an open carry state. Those who open carry are not forced to take any safety classes. To conceal and carry you are forced to pay hefty fees, take a class in which gun safety and gun laws are taught, you are subjected to a background check, and it is a several month process to be allowed to conceal carry.
The problem with this? In most conceal carry tests, you are only required to hit ‘center of mass’ half of the time you shoot. Even though I am pro gun, and pro conceal carry, this is a huge problem to me. You should not be able to conceal a gun, and hold lives in your hand, if you can not hit the intended target 100 % of the time and no one else. I kept my grouping of 30 shots in the size of a small melon (say, one you can pick up and hold easily in one hand).

I am certainly okay with background checks for any kind of gun. Even limitations on high cap, magazines.

In America we spend tons of money on anti smoking ads, on anti drug ads, on keeping people from drinking and driving, but we don’t have ads about the importance of gun safety, we don’t spend money to educate people about mental illnesses, or how to properly handle guns and store them safely. I think there can be some give and take from both sides of the gun line.

And I concur with Apocalypse Nowish, most people who own assault rifles are simple protecting themselves from history repeating, and it most certainly will. People who refuse to own guns, and hate them may very well some day be protected by the people whose lives they were happily willing to give up.

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Sapphire

January 21st, 2013 at 22:23

Hi Catherine, thanks for your comment. That is very scary that you don’t have to take any classes for open carry of weapon. How does open carrying of a weapon make one exempt from being a bad shooter? (Rhetorical question)

I agree, background checks on all gun sales coupled with proper training classes to own, carry, conceal a weapon is the bare minimum for possessing a weapon. In your state (since I do not know the laws of others), a person carrying a concealed weapon has a 50% chance of hitting their target, the other 50% of the time they could hit a victim. A poor outcome seems certain.

Why do you think people are so against proper training and classes on weapons ownership? It’s not common sense to me at least.

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rodrigo

February 10th, 2013 at 01:14

I’m absolutely against guns in the hands of ordinary people, they have too much destructive power. Cops and military only. Some civilian nobody could shoot up an entire classroom before the cops/guards get there.

Let’s think a bit about weapons. The USA doesn’t want Iran to have nukes, right? Because “they could use them against us”. Isn’t it quite the same thing for guns? Should your neighbor be allowed to carry a guy, or have one in his living room, if the possibility of him “using it” against you exists? Do you trust him with your life. Because if he has a gun and you don’t he can shoot your door open, rush in and kill you and your whole family before a cop can say “donut hole”.

Arent’ both nukes and guns things that in the wrong hands could cause massive damage before they can be stopped? We’re not talking about knives here!. Sure, nukes can end millions of lives, the gun can end dozens. But, shouldn’t both be eliminated? Doesn’t the same rationale govern both? Or should everybody have nukes and guns and when a psycho decides to press the button/trigger, a considerable bloodbath ensues? Is this the world we are striving to create and want our kids to live in?

So, USA, why is it OK for anybody to have guns in the states, but not OK for Iran to have nukes? You shouldn’t have to trust Iran, nor Mr Dongle from next door with powerful weapons, really. So, nobody should have them. No nukes for Iran, right, cause you can’t trust them, no guns for Mr Dongle, cause he could be a psycho.

I’m sure someone with more skills can see that there’s a valid argument in here somewhere…

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