Guns R Us…Why should Sandy Hook Surprise Us?

Don't shoot!
Don’t shoot!

We are what we do. As a society we are what we teach our children to do. And we are no better than what we allow to happen by our inaction, if we don’t act to stop it. Our gun laws permit, nay, they encourage gun use by everyone, they enthusiastically promote gun ownership and usage, and they turn a blind eye to gun ownership and usage by those who should never lay their hands on a toy gun, much less a loaded one.

Guns kill. They are not decorative or ornamental items. They are not collectors items. So let’s not fool ourselves. It may take a human agent to pull the trigger, but it is the bullet from a gun that kills. And get this straight: when a gun kills 20 little kids, it matters not whether the slugs come from a sig sauer, a glock, a .22. or a Saturday night special, what kills is a gun that does the only job it was designed to do.

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When it comes right down to it, it is far too easy to kill someone when you have a gun, any gun: if you push or punch someone because you are angry, it is likely that he or she will be bruised, but they will live. It is only when there is a gun attached to your fingers that lethality comes attached as well. GUNS KILL PEOPLE. People using GUNS KILL PEOPLE, but people without guns do not so frequently kill people.

Let’s face it, Adam Lanza would have found it extraordinarily difficult to have murdered 20 children and 8 adults in less than an hour without his two handguns. The guns literally empowered him to do what he did. Without his guns, he would likely not even have attempted such a deed. Guns made him a god to grant and take away life, and in a moment of passion, he decreed that 28 people would lose theirs. Now, I don’t even believe doctors should be playing god, so I am horrified that all it takes is a gun, and Everyman has the power to do what only god should be in charge of.

Check out the website created after the Newtown, Connecticut, kindergarten shooting this afternoon, http://wearebetterthanthis.org, sponsored by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. God bless them,  I fully support the Brady Campaign. However, I am not sure we — whoever we are — are truly better than any “this”…Who are we anyway, and what proves that we are actually better than we witness happening around us?

The stats are ominous and more than distressing. And they speak volumes about whether perhaps it’s just a big fantasy, our being any better than the murderers among us.

For one thing, you should know that while there are 34, 589 hardware stores in the United States, there are more than 129,817 licensed firearms dealers as of Aug 2012 .  Of those, 51,438 are retail gun stores, 7,356 are pawn shops and 61,562 are collectors. The rest are manufacturers and importers of firearms and destructive devices.

There are also 80,000 ice cream parlors. Ice cream does 18 billion in sales a year, which isn’t bad considering an average ice cream cone costs only between $2 and $4. An average Glock 17, “America’s favorite gun,” costs around $500.00 You do the math and then tell me how easy it will be to convince gun dealers to change their ways…

JAKEgmGun

But right now, why should they bother? Guns are great business! In 2010 the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) ran 16,454,951 background checks for firearms purchases.  Only a small number of these purchases (78,211 or 0.48 percent) were denied. During Obama’s first term, and well before it ended, more than 50 million background checks had been run by the NCIS. This was a bonanza for the gun industry compared to the same 3.5 year period under George W Bush, when “only” 28 million such checks — background checks are an index of the demand market — were run. So clearly, if guns in the hands of the wrong people kill, chances are that more guns had to be getting in the hands of more wrong people than ever during the last four years…many many more.

Note that it doesn’t matter how many guns are purchased at one time, there is only one background check per purchase. After that, what you do with the guns and how many you have purchased at one time, is your business and yours alone… Oh and lest you think the so-called “mentally ill” would be screened out by the NCIS background check, think again. Being “adjudicated mentally ill” and barred from buying a gun is not at all the same thing as simply seeing a shrink or even being hospitalized in a general hospital, with or without your consent for 15 days.

I have been kept in a hospital against my will for even longer, but I have not been formally adjudicated mentally incompetent, or if I ever was, now that I am OUT of the hospital, I am no longer considered non compos mentis, and I could buy myself any gun I wanted to.

Frankly, I think that is only right. Why should some angry redneck be able to buy himself a Glock 17 semi-automatic handgun and I, peaceable and very, very unlikely even to pick it up, let alone use it, could not buy a sweet little .22? Furthermore, I would be far more likely to use it ON MYSELF not on others…

This last is a notable case in point, because unbelievably, suicide far exceeded homicide as the cause of gun fatalities at least in 2005. In 2005, 5.75/100,000 people committed suicide with a firearm, whereas “only” 3.43/100,000 people caused firearms homicides in that same year. Since in 2012, the suicide rate has hugely increased, probably due to PTSD in returning veterans, this ratio likely has only increased.

Approximately 34 persons are felled by guns each and every day in the US. According to the FBI Uniform Crime Report, between 2006 and 2010,  47,856 people were slain by gunfire in the U.S., more than twice as many as were killed by any and all other means.

Whether or not the suicidal mentally ill should have access to guns – and just how to prevent it, just how to define who is mentally ill would be a huge problem — I see a bigger problem with an angry man of any stripe being able to purchase a handgun. Anger is a big spur to impulsive behavior and impulsivity and guns decidedly do not mix.

So I ask you: How can we be better than Friday afternoon’s Glockencatastrophe if we buy or permit/encourage the purchase of so many more handguns than ever? We are a gun culture, we worship guns,  we hav a national love affair with guns. What do we expect?

You know, one of the first rules of writing fiction is, if you “plant” a gun in the early scenes in a story, it must go off by the end…Similarly, if we have and are a gun culture, who are we not to expect to be a culture of shootings? We have the guns, how can we expect people, both good and bad, not to use them?

During the Newtown shooting, from what I gather, the shooter killed himself after he shot all the 28 other victims…All the high tech and paramilitary heavy weaponry with which the police have equipped themselves did zilch in the end to prevent mass murder. No, 20 small children and 8 adults were quickly and savagely murdered, a horrific act accomplished largely so it appears with two handguns, a plastic and metal glock and a sig sauer. The shooter supposedly had access to a Bushmaster combat rifle it is not clear that he used it for the killings.

Whatever is the case, things will become clearer in the coming days as the police reveal more information.

Perhaps I should be softer and sadder right now, perhaps I should not bring up things like slugs and guns and such at this moment. Forgive me for not wailing and beating my breast or crying but many more are doing that tonight elsewhere, so I am just going to save my breath for rage on behalf of those poor murdered children and the eight  others…Any more  tears added to that ocean would just be wasted salt and water.

3 thoughts on “Guns R Us…Why should Sandy Hook Surprise Us?”

  1. i’m only approving these comments for the sake of fairness, otherwise i do think that guns are BAD commodities, and that we do not need them and that for the most part they ought to be outlawed and confiscated from everyone. I think the govt is not the problem, here, though i am under no illusions that the govt is blameless. Only that our love affair with guns is a love affair with killing things, others and ourselves and must end. Period. We do not need guns, and we certainly do not need automatic weaponry in the hands of ordinary citizens. If we did not have so many guns loose in society, we would not feel such a need to protect ourselves from armed marauders now. So it is a vicious cycle, but one that I refuse to capitulate to and join just because it has started. GUNS ARE BAD ITEMS. By definition they have only one purpose, to kill, and assault weapons are meant to kill multiple human beings in a short amount of time. I see NO purpose to any of them. I repeat that. I think this society has had its fill of weapons and guns and needs to stop it now. We do not need guns and are not better off with them. Just because we want something doesn’t mean it is good for us!

  2. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Note how you’d call the police, the men with guns, if something went wrong. The guns aren’t going anywhere, and thank God. We need to be protected from the government and criminals, using guns. We do that by having our own guns.

  3. This article, it seems to me, is attempting to convince the masses that guns are a bad “commodity.” This nation is obsessed with firearms, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think the largest problem in this particular instance happens to be that no one was prepared to defend themselves. At an elementary school no one should have to; Teachers shouldn’t fear for the lives on a daily basis, and the students most definitely shouldn’t be worrying about another student bringing weapons into the classroom with the intent of doing them harm, but school shootings do happen. There are colleges that allow concealed weapons on campus (providing the holder is appropriately licensed) who report little to no violence at those schools. Now, understand I’m not proposing that we allow guns anywhere within reach of those severely underage elementary schools, but I do believe that teachers at all schools should be allowed to carry concealed weapons, or at least have a safe in the classroom containing a firearm. As the data with the colleges that allow firearms suggests, the knowledge that an assailant might be stopped before their plans are complete is a huge deterrent. Again, the happenings in Connecticut are a major tragedy that I would never wish upon anyone, but maybe attempting to guilt trip people into giving up their firearms isn’t the way to go; maybe we actually need more. After all, the UK banned guns altogether and crime soared up 30% in just one year.

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