Monday, December 17, 2012

Actually, Guns DO Kill People

We're all saturated with news and commentary from the recent tragedy in Connecticut.  I usually stay away from these topics on my blog since I usually don't have any particular expertise or insight to add to something so well covered by actual experts.

But this time I can't stop thinking about it. I can't stop looking at my children and tearing up.  And I can't stop ranting about it, to the perpetual annoyance of my husband who just wants to enjoy his coffee in peace.  

And what I'm focusing on this time around is all the arguments of the pro-gun people.  Look, I'm usually able to look at both sides of an issue, but the preponderance of reasoning and evidence really points, this tragedy aside, to more gun control. 

None of the arguments coming out of the anti-gun control camp hold up to much scrutiny.  

Let's take them one by one:

"Guns don't kill people, people kill people."  This is an old one. And patently ridiculous. Sure, inanimate objects have no volition, but you can't argue that guns don't make it easier for momentary rage or fear or drunken irrationality to turn quickly and irrevocably fatal.  A mentally unstable person wielding a knife is going to do a lot less damage than that same person putting a few pounds of pressure on a trigger. 

Keeping the onus of responsibility away from the gun and on to the shooter, gun advocates remind us that the solution is really for better mental health services. Yes.  Great point! This country could use more support (programs, research, educational anti-stigma programs) for people suffering from mental illness.  And more gun control too.  Listen, even if we could achieve the impossible Utopian vision of effective mental health treatment for all, we'd still have angry or immature inebriated people getting their hands on easy instruments of death.  We'd still have senseless accidents. Next...

The more intellectual set likes this argument: "If more people were packing heat, the real criminals and sickos would be deterred from using fire arms."  These people reason that if the Sandy Hook principal had access to a firearm, she could have stopped this tragedy. This argument falls apart if you think about it for more than 5 minutes.  Sure, in some academic game theoretical thought experiment, it has some logic.  But show me a country awash in guns where people are and feel safer.  We can't go around arming everyone to deter the 'bad guys.'  We never know who that 'bad guys' really are.

There are those who deify our founding fathers and argue: "Government tyranny is kept in check by an armed populous."  OK.  What century are these people living in?  So, I guess easy access to guns is what's keeping most stable and prosperous European governments accountable? Nope. And, most countries awash in guns do not have an accountable governments. I prefer to keep my government accountable by checks and balances inherent in our political system and a free press.  

In response to this tragedy specifically, they argue "Connecticut has some of the toughest gun laws, and it still did not prevent this tragedy."  To this, I say: (1) Maybe even the "toughest" gun laws of our time, don't go far enough.  (2) Still, this is but one example.  If you look across states, those with the toughest gun laws still have the fewest death by fire arms.  

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Anyway, look, my biggest gripe is that nearly 9,000 people died in 2010 from fire arms in America.  That's 24 deaths a day.  That's a Sandy Hook massacre taking place EVERY DAY in our country.  The victims aren't all innocent school children, though plenty are.  The victims are often poor, urban and minority.  But we can't argue that they deserved to die.  Or that the rights of hunters and paranoid right wingers to bare arms made for the battlefield should trump measures that could reduce the chances innocents dying.  All 9,000 victims presumable left family shocked at how instantaneously and senselessly their loved one could be taken from this earth.  

I'm not naive to the political realities and the powerful lobbying voice of gun owners. We won't eliminate the 300 MILLION guns in American.  But that doesn't mean we have to be held hostage by gun enthusiasts.  That doesn't mean they get carte blanche.  Ban assault weapons made for the battlefield.  Institute buy-back programs and background checks, close the gun show "loophole." Real experts I'm sure have better suggestions. There are things we can do, and it's time.  

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P.S. My Kenyan friends are all shocked by this tragedy.  How a country they often admire and which has so much wealth and freedom could see something so barbaric happen.  How is it that such a presumably advanced country trust their fallible citizens with such unforgiving instruments of death?

If you agree with any of the above, sign this petition to the President, and let him know!

7 comments:

  1. What a thoughtful and thought invoking piece! I couldn't agree more!

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  2. I agree, and I'm not tired of talking about it either. I actually don't want to be tired of talking about it.

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    1. Good point. The more people who are more for "freedom from being killed by gunfire" control the debate than the "freedom to own fire arms" camp, the better chance we have of getting sensible policy! Let's keep talking!

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  3. Thanks, Kim. I would debate endlessly with you! Except, of course, it wouldn't be much of a debate. Rant, then, shall we?

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  4. Yes. and again, yes. It's the thought that in the "civilized" US, violence on this scale happens daily, but we don't pay as much attention when the victims are, you know, poor & brown. It amazes me that gun supporters can look around the world and not see that those countries with really, really powerful gun laws have fewer gun-related deaths. It would seem like "duh, people..." Stunningly, willfully blind. Sigh.

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