My neighbor and I were talking the other day and the subject turned to guns and control he tossed out the timeworn phrase that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
True. To date there have been no recorded incidents of a gun becoming outraged on its own and opening fire on, well, anyone. Guns do not kill people. People armed with guns kill people. And people armed with assault rifles have the capability of killing a whole bunch of people in a matter of minutes.
But that’s not what I said to my neighbor. Instead I nodded, then went inside. My neighbor’s a good guyalso a very good neighbor. Right then, for better or worse, I just didn’t feel like getting into an argument with him about this issue. Knowing me as I do, I know that discussion is coming. Because I do know he’s a good guy and as a fellow Detroiter who understands quite well the feeling held by more than a few besieged residents that you’d better have your own gun. You need a gun if you want to be able to protect yourself, I’m hopeful he’ll at least hear me out even if we have to agree to disagree on this one.
Keep in mind that for the past four years my beloved Detroit has been listed as the most dangerous city in America by Forbes magazine. As of Dec. 16, 2012, there were 375 homicides recorded in this city, which I think is more than enough to qualify as an emergency. This is a city with a population of just over 700,000 and still dwindling from the highpoint population mark of nearly 2 million residents who lived here a little over a half century ago. A frightening number of these homicides were committed by kids with guns and a number of the victims weren’t even the intended targets. These people just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. For example, the young girl who was finishing up her homework when she was mowed down by stray gunfire that came through the door of her home. I guess that means the wrong place at the wrong time can even include being inside your own home minding your own business.
From the Huffington Post:
“While much of Detroit’s gun violence can be attributed to disputes between people who know each other, it’s the city’s children who are often caught in the crossfire, as evidenced during last winter’s rash of juvenile shootings. A six-year-old boy was shot with an AK-47 during a carjacking committed by two 15-year-olds; a 12-year-old boy was hit when a traffic accident between several men turned into a shootout. Kade’jah Davis was completing her homework when she was fatally struck by bullets aimed through the front door of her home in January. Police say the shooter’s motive stemmed from an argument over a cell phone. And a nine-month-old infant named Delric Miller lost his life in February, when an assailant peppered the front of the home with rounds shot from an AK-47.
Random gunfire inspires fear. But so do cold-blooded murders of the city’s young people. Cops say that 18-year-old Abreeya Brown and 22-year-old Ashley Conaway of Hamtramck, a smaller city located within Detroit’s borders, refused to stay silent after witnessing a shooting between several young men. The two women were thenkidnapped outside their home in what the Detroit Free Press called “a hail of gunfire.” Both Brown and Conaway’s bodies were found in a shallow grave, each shot once in the head. Jourdan Bobbish, 17, and Jacob Kudla, 18, both of nearby Westland, disappeared after possibly buying marijuana in the city. They were both found shot to death and positioned face-down in an empty field near City Airport.
Teenagers themselves have obtained weapons to commit terrible crimes. Police say 19-year-old Brian Douglas White of Livonia shot his ex-girlfriend’s mother to death and slayed the girl’s new boyfriend with an axe before turning the gun on himself. 14-year-old Joshua Smith was sentenced to 25 to 50 years after allegedly using a shotgun he found in the home to kill his mother after an argument. He was charged as an adult, as was Nathanial Abraham, the 11-year-old Pontiac boy whose story received national attention after he was tried as an adult and convicted of murder in 1997. Michigan has sentenced more juveniles to life in prison than almost any other state.
The staggering number of crimes involving children has made authorities and community groups pledge to stop the violence. But the city’s financial struggles and looming possibility of bankruptcy mean there are a lack of resources to do so. A budget shortfall has led the city to impose a 10 percent pay cut across the Detroit Police Department and institute 12-hour shifts. When surburbanite baseball fans attended a Tigers game in the downtown neighborhood the city has worked to revitalize, they were warned by the protesting police officer’s union that they were entering Detroit ‘at their own risk.’ “
So I suppose it’s true that banning assault weapons and tightening restrictions such as improved background checks will not completely stop these kids from killing each other. The evidence – as well as common sense – shows that if it is much harder for them to get guns to kill with then there will be far fewer dead people in Detroit. Take what happened in Australia once that nation decided to get serious about tackling gun violence in 1996 when all semi-automatic weapons were banned. Since that time there have been no mass shootings whatsoever. But in the 18 years before the law there were 13 such mass shootings.
From ABC News:
“A former head of Australia’s anti-gun coalition says US president Barack Obama should use his status as a two-term president to push gun reforms through Congress.
There are growing calls for action on gun controlafter the slaughter of 20 young children and six of their teachers at a Connecticut school on Friday.
As the US once again struggles with the issue of gun control, the success of John Howard’s 1996 laws banning semi-automatic weapons in Australia has been raised in the American debate.
The New York Times has referred to Australia’s gun laws as a ‘road map’ for the US, saying that ‘in the 18 years before the law, Australia suffered 13 mass shootings – but not one in the 14 years after the law took full effect.’
Former Australian deputy prime minister Tim Fischer says he is not surprised the Australian example is being cited, saying time has shown that the strong national laws were justified.
But he says the US politicians he has spoken to ‘can’t get their minds’ around the banning of assault weapons, or even uniform licensing laws.
‘I am making very little progress… as they just could not get their mind around the simplicity of having a harmonised shooter’s licence scheme and weapon registration scheme,’ he said.
‘It is sad that the death toll from guns is horrific in the USA because there are so many millions of guns with so little cross-checking, character checking.”
So, I’m sure some gun nut diehards would use the argument that we are not Australia. True. We’re not. But when Australians point and shoot semi-automatic weapons at other human beings, those human beings tend to die just as what happens when Americans do the same thing. What did the Australians learn by removing those weapons? Presto! Just like magic the homicide rate plunged. Unless President Obama is successful in passing strong anti-gun measures capable of achieving the same result as those achieved in Australia, it will become plain for the world to see that Americans aren’t just incapable of learning from our mistakes, we are flat out unwilling to do so.
Unless, of course, we can earn a profit from that lesson.