Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Guns Kill


In 2009, there were fewer than 200 homicides in Canada due to the discharge of a firearm. In 2009, there were over 9,000 homicides in the United States due to the discharge of a firearm1.

I know that there is a deep-rooted history of gun ownership and gun usage in this country, but I see no reason why the future of this country has to continue in the same trajectory.  I understand that the second amendment exists.  I've also read it very carefully and I don't see a lot of folks I know who own firearms to be part of a well regulated militia.  I do see a lot of folks I know, die-hard NRA supporters, who say it is their right to own a gun (period, end of thought) and the government can not take away that right.  Well, guess what? Even the Constitution says that the militia should be well-regulated.  I see no reason why gun ownership can't be exceptionally controlled.

I know that what I am typing is unpopular, at least among the folks I see on my Facebook feed and who I believe represent a fair cross-section of the nation.  Guns kill. Let's take away the most dangerous weapons first and work our down from there.  You want to hunt? Go learn how to use a crossbow.  You want to go target shooting? They have those awesome laser guns.  You want to protect yourself in your home?  Take a self-defense class.  Get a security system. Get a dog.  Get a wooden bat.  Get a fucking Taser - they can kill, but generally don't.

Because, really, what I want is for the United States to continue on its strong tradition of fixing itself when it is broken.  Article V of the Constitution allows a procedure to amend the Constitution when necessary. I don't actually think that the second amendment gives citizens carte blanche to own whatever killing machine they think is appropriate, but if that's how it's going to be interpreted then I think we need to consider amending the amendment so that it takes away that reading and leaves legislators with some ability to actually legislate protection.

But I'm not a fool. I recognize that there isn't going to be a change to the Constitution. I also realize that as heartbreaking as the events of last week were, in two more weeks, after Christmas and another large winter storm has swept across the land, this will be a blip on the nation's timeline of events, and nothing will come of it.  Occasionally someone will remember the story and they will be sad for a minute or two, but there will be no long-term solution or action.  It doesn't matter how many letters I write to my senators or representatives, who have surely written me off as a lunatic by now for as deluged as their inboxes get with tirades from me.  It doesn't matter how many letters I write to the editors of local paper who don't care what I have to say, the strange underemployed woman who lives in a small town of little importance to their readership. It doesn't matter how many times I think about those poor children who watched and heard their schoolmates get shot.  It doesn't matter.

And I think that is what is most horrifying to me about what happened last week in Connecticut.  It doesn't matter. Nothing is going to change.  All of the victims - the kids, the teachers, the gunman's mother, and the gunman himself - will have died in vain because the system is broken.  The idea of checks and balances has turned into stalemate and deadlock.  Cooperation and compromise have given way to partisanship and rhetoric.

Let me be wrong. I hope I am.  Because right now I'm feeling hopeless. But I don't feel anywhere as bad as the families and friends who are trying to figure out how to continue on with their lives after the events at an elementary school left them without their loved ones.

1 The very awesome http://www.gunpolicy.org/ that compiles data of firearm usage internationally.

4 comments:

  1. For me, it seems like a lot of gun-rights supporters I know (not all, but most I've talked to) rail on about their rights but are the same people who want to deny rights to others. Maybe a lot of them have come a long way from being racists but they're still homophobic and...oh, wait, racists. It's about Muslims now. I'm sure they want to deny anyone with Middle-Eastern descent the right to bear arms. Because you know, Adam Lanza wasn't a suburban white kid.

    I know someone from my work who would cross the street if she saw someone who looked even vaguely Middle-Eastern / South Asian. She thinks homosexuals are to be called "it" and not "he" or "she" and gags when she sees a gay person but she has a tattoo and eats pork. And she proudly fights for the right to bear arms (but not for Muslims). It's frustrating how she tells people they shouldn't have any rights if she's uncomfortable but any rights of hers that maybe I'm uncomfortable with it's just too bad.

    I've read countless comments suggesting teachers be given carry/conceal licenses and be trained to shoot. "Maybe the killer would get one or two people but that's it!" Well, but no kindergarten teacher should be forced to ever make the decision about when to kill someone. And, that will only breed hair-trigger panic, because anyone vaguely suspicious could become a target.

    Also, my boss can't stop imagining her little boy (who is in kindergarten) as one of the kids. I know that must be extremely difficult. Her friends have all expressed that they're going to pull their children out of public school. What I try to remind her (delicately) is that a shooting can happen anywhere, and has, and that gun control is the only solution - not hiding her children and ignoring the bigger picture.

    On a strangely related side note: have you ever seen an old Looney Tunes short called Peace on Earth? I think it should be mandatory viewing every year.

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  2. I'm SO with you! That's exactly what I've been thinking. If someone HAS to own a gun, then they need to be part of a state militia. Kind of like the Army reserve. One day a month given to training and group accountability. I'm hoping and believing that this will turn the tide and cause the 295 Million Americans who AREN'T in the NRA to override the school yard bullies.

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  3. Perfectly said. And I also really like the comments I've just read. As a Canadian, well of course I'm all for gun control I can't help feeling that there would be less fear of something like this happening in Canada simply because there are not as many guns around. Thank you for the reference to the constitution because I've heard about it but didn't know exactly what it meant. There was a joke going through my Facebook feed from Canadian friends that said, "The second amendment refers to muskets!" I'm afraid but when it comes time for my daughter to start school, she'll be in public school. I will try to keep home that something will change and that people will be open to it.

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  4. Interestingly, Canada has fairly reasonable gun laws. All handguns are required to be registered and owners must pass a sfety course. Fully automatic firearms are prohibited and nunmber of rounds/cartridges are limited. I don't know what gun ownership per capita is in Canada, but for whatever reason, even though Canadians OWN guns? They don't kill people with the same regularity we here in the states do. I do own a handgun - very old (manufactured the same year that I was) and I know how to use it. I keep the gun under lock and key, the clip and the ammo both in separate locations. There is no possible way I could use it for self protection unless I had a good twenty minute heads-up that someone was coming to my house to murder me. Even then, I'd proably still let the dogs handle it. I see no reason anyone would need an automatic assault weapon and a 30+ round cartridge. None whatsoever. If you're that bad a shot or that lazy...you have no business handling a firearm.

    I grew up with guns, my dad was a hunter and we ate the deer he killed. He was a very responsible and careful gun owner; he has always taught us to treat guns with respect and care, never to point them at another person even in play. I'm not afraid of guns per se and I don't think it would be possible to ban all guns in the US, there are too many in circulation -- but I fully support limitations on what kinds of guns and ammunition people can have. Would Adam Lanza still have been able to commit murder without an automatic assault rifle? Sure...but if he'd only had ten rounds more than half those little lives might still be on this side of the veil.

    Good post, NG.

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