Republican Party

America’s stance on guns brings shame on an otherwise civilized nation

Last updated on February 8th, 2013 at 12:39 am

Read: Samuel Alito Is The Insurrectionist Threat To Democracy On The Supreme Court

An assault rifle killed 20 very young school children in Connecticut. In the victims’ memories, white male adults are storming gun shows to buy assault rifles. There is moral genocide permeating certain segments of our nation, fragmenting our society. Those who are committing this nation-destructing act believe their lives revolve around guns regardless of the consequences to the population as a whole and even their own families. The South Carolina Congressional delegation, with the exception of the one Democrat, Representative James Clyburn, is part of the “Guns as God” congregation. The 2 Senators and 4 remaining House members promise not to honor any anti-gun legislation.

These gun-worshiping puppets tremble before the NRA. They’ll join their Congressional colleagues in blocking any reasonable attempts to prevent further gun homicides, massacres and violence.

Australia and Japan are among the many civilized countries that have taken quite the opposite tack to protect their citizens. A blogger, Jay Raskin, writes about the very tough gun control laws implemented in Australia in 1996 in response to the Port Arthur mass shooting that claimed 35 lives. Highly conservative Prime Minister, John Howard, drove the reforms at the time. Since the stiffer regulations, firearms murder rates have fallen by 59% and suicides by gun, 65% with zero mass murders. There was also a gun buyback program of about 20% of all guns in circulation or somewhere around 630,000 firearms.

Japan is the brightest star in the galaxy of gun safety. Your chances of being shot to death in the Land of the Rising Sun are about the same as holding LeBron James to less than 10 points in an NBA game. In 2008 Japan had 11 gun-related homicides in a population of 128 million compared to roughly 9,500 gun homicides in the U.S. that same year. Two years earlier, the Japanese number was 2. The one regulation most potent in reducing the toll of firearms deaths? There is virtually no private ownership of handguns and you can’t own a rifle unless you owned one prior to 1971.

So, there are solutions. But forget anything that matters out of Washington until 2014 at the earliest and the mid-terms only count if the Democrats win a plurality in the house and a filibuster-proof margin in the Senate.

As I’ve written before, emphasis on mental health care is certainly a step in the right direction; a fraction of 1% step as far as gun homicides in schools are concerned. But what is not being discussed in the mental health arena is the well being of those people leaning toward suicide. Needless to say, a majority of all U.S. suicides are by gun and in a home sprinkled with firearms, 83% of gun deaths are suicides. A gun in the home represents a five-fold increase in the risk of suicide. Death by firearms is the fastest growing method of taking one’s life. There’s also a three-fold increase in the risk of murder. Domestic disputes, often alcohol-fueled, are the number one cause of gun homicides in homes with firearms.

“Obamacare” despised by right wingers, could greatly contribute to lessening risks within the population of potential suicides. These include ACA programs for psychologists, those most likely to be part of suicide-prevention treatment regimens and mental health initiatives for the poor. Red State politicians are making noises about mental health being the primary problem with America’s homicide rate (a false assumption, though it is a serious problem) while at the same time putting mental health programs front and center for deep budget cuts. School Guidance Counselors and psychologists are in short supply and those already employed, according to the American School Counselors Association see an average of 460 students per year for about 38 minutes per student during the school year.

But forget counselors and psychologists. NRA folks insist on cramming every school with gun-toting security personnel, a totally impractical solution considering the number of schools and the number of law enforcement people and frankly, the number of murderous incidents. Local police and sheriff’s agencies would be hugely overextended at the expense of other duties. The New York Times quotes the figures of about 99,000 public schools and 33,000 private schools in the country. Justice Department numbers put the total number of law enforcement officers at around 452,000 as of the last reporting period 2009. With recent state budget cuts, that number could be lower.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police, not a fan of the NRA proposal, said if the plan was implemented, it would require 100,000 additional hires. It’s hard enough to get qualified applicants for existing positions, much less adding 25% more positions to their number. Look for the under trained or slow-twitch fibered retirees “protecting” our children. And my wife, a teacher, pointed out, in some larger schools it could take 10 minutes or longer to reach certain classrooms and halls.

“Arm” a few administrators and husky Phys Ed teachers with non-lethal weaponry and assaults, which constitute the overwhelming majority of school ‘crimes against persons’ according to FBI school and college crime data, would be reduced by a huge percentage.

The idea that nobody will attack a school if they know there’s a guard on duty is ludicrous. Between 6,000 and 7,000 banks are robbed annually. Every robber knows that there’s a guard on duty, but he/she robs the bank anyway.

Here’s the most effective answer to the problem. The coalition against gun violence points to Uniform Reporting Code stats published by the FBI that makes the solution crystal clear. Consider: from 2000-2008, guns were used in 66% of homicides; knives in another 13%, the remaining murders were by other means. In the U.S. 66% of homicides are by guns, 51% of those guns were HANDGUNS. A small percentage (3% apiece) was rifles or shotguns. The data on the remaining weapons was unknown. Michael Moore writes that because New York’s Mayor Bloomberg has made purchasing a handgun in the city a virtual impossibility, the murder rate has gone from 2,200 to less than 400.

So there’s real slight-of-hand going on here on both sides. The emphasis is always on semi-automatics, which in fairness does include some handguns, but you never hear handguns specifically discussed. DC’s handgun ban was shitcanned by the Supremes in District of Columbia v. Heller. The 5 right-wingers in the majority were convinced that the authors of the flintlock-era Constitution adored the idea of hundreds of millions of guns (especially handguns) killing the citizenry by the hundreds of thousands. The 4 liberal/moderate justices were just as convinced that given modern times, a tiny bit of reason might have been acceptable to those same authors. But five is more than four, so fire away, DC’ers.

You significantly lower firearms death rates by outlawing handgun and semi-automatic possession in my opinion and many experts’ opinions, buttressed by facts and figures. Let me leave you with this line from the Atlantic. Of the world’s 23 wealthiest countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is almost 20 times that of the other 22.

So is Wayne LaPistolet still going to be allowed to conduct the “Inaction Symphony of Death” in Congress? The short answer is yes.

Happy Holidays!

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