5 Aug '15     home | previous

Gun Violence

Today online, Amy Schumer writes that "Mass public shootings in the United States have increased in frequency from 1.1 a year to 4.5 a year since the 1970s." She quoted from a report by the Congressional Research Services and added that in the 1970s, "mass public shootings killed roughly six people a year and injured two. By the 2010s, there was an average of 33 deaths in mass shootings each year, with 28 additional people injured."

Last night, PBS television's Frontline was about gun control. It showed the NRA's Wayne LaPierre advocating guards at Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 28 were killed in 2012. LaPierre said "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." It was indeed unfortunate that the killer at Sandy Hook, Adam Lanza, was not stopped by a guard at the school. But to say that the ONLY thing that stops a bad guy, et cetera, was simplistic.

LaPierre also said,

Politicians pass laws for gun free school zones, they issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And, in doing so, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.

The truth is, that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters. People that are so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons, that no sane person can ever possibly comprehend them. They walk among us every single day, and does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn't planning his attack on a school, he's already identified at this very moment?

Last Sunday on CNN, Fareed Zakaria also addressed the issue of gun violence. Americans have accepted an unprecedented expansion of government powers and invasions of their privacy to prevent attacks. Since 9/11, 74 people have been killed in America by terrorists according to "New America."

Since 9/11, 74 people have been killed in America by terrorists according to "New America." And calculating using CDC data in the same period, over 150,000 Americans have been killed in gun homicides.

And to tackle that problem, we have done nothing. Our attitude seems to be one of fatalism. Another day, another mass shooting, which is almost literally true. The Web site ShootingTracker.com documents that in the first 207 days of 2015 America had 207 mass shootings. After one of these takes place now, everyone goes through a ritual of shock and horror and then moves on, aware that nothing will change, accepting that this is just one of those quirks of American life.

Zakaria argued against a focus on mental health:

Look at these statistics for the United States and other countries provided by gunpolicy.org which uses official data. America has a gun homicide rate that's at least a dozen times higher than those of most other industrialized countries. It is 50 times higher than Germany's, for example. We don't have 50 times as many mentally disturbed people as Germany does. But we do have many, many, many more guns.

He mentioned Republican governor Bobby Jindal's focus on mental health, and he spoke of Republican candidate for president, Rick Perry, saying that if people in the Lafayette movie theatre had been armed they could have shot the gunman there. Zakaria said a mass shootout in dark and crowded movie theaters would be "so dangerous that frankly it should rule Perry out as a serious candidate."

Two days ago, 14 of the Republican candidates participated at a forum in New Hampshire and spoke of solving the countries problems, and there was little or no talk of background checks for gun purchases. One of the candidates, Ben Carson, has described his position on guns. He says he is against gun registration, Carson said he was against people who live in cities having semi-automatic weapons but if you live "out in the country somewhere by yourself" and want to own a semi-automatic weapon, "I've no problem with that."

Yesterday in an interview on the PBS NewsHour Carson said,

And I believe what we're going to have to do is really concentrate on, where is all this violence coming from? And it's not all coming from one specific area. But it's coming from a general lack of respect for life, and, you know, this person pissed me off, and I got a gun, I'm going to kill them.

I mean, when did we get like that and the values that used to be put into people? And I think a lot of it stems from the fact that we don't really like to talk about values anymore, because whose values are they, we ask? You know, it's all relative. There is no right there. There is no wrong. You know, it's all relative.

While we wait for people to acquire better values would background checks for gun purchases be of help? Carson appears to think not.

Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.