The past several weeks, ever since twenty little kids became dead little kids, Iâ€™ve been watching various and sundry folks casually insulting and dismissing anyone who suggests that guns themselves might be part of the problem when gun violence occurs. The constant drumbeat from these yammerheads is that we are all *sneer* libâ€™ruls, and consequently incapable of critical thought. Said one, â€œI believe in the constitution and the bill of rights,â€ as if that answered all. But it doesnâ€™t, you knowâ€¦ not really. What Iâ€™ve seen and heard, explicitly and implicitly amounts to, â€œKids be damned. Donâ€™t even think of interfering with my ability to buy any gun I want in any configuration I want. And anything you do to try to keep guns out of the bad guysâ€™ hands will affect my gun-buying, and the constitution says you canâ€™t.â€ Really? It says America canâ€™t do anything to control guns in risky hands because it might make you wait three extra days to get your gun? It says that? Well, weâ€™ll see.
Y'know what? We liberals believe in things too (although I'm not sure what "believe in" the constitution means). We believe in data, and we believe in the obvious. And when data starts coming together, and the obvious rears its loud and obnoxious visage, we begin to notice things. We notice, fâ€™rinstance, that in the USA there are more guns in private hands (310 million) than there are private hands in which to have guns (fewer than 200 million pairs of adult/older teen hands). In fact, the FBI says that in 1960, there were 190 million guns in private hands. Weâ€™ve increased the total by more than 50% in 50 years.
We also notice that thousands of people every year die by gunshot, several groups of them while we debated what to do about guns in the wake of the dead little kids. Somebody did a bit of basic addition with his handy dandy little abacus, and discovered that between 1960 and 2010, more American civilian citizens died of gunshots than died of all causes in all the wars weâ€™ve fought since the inception of the country. And when we look at those two things together, we notice that by golly if there are hundreds of millions of guns out there and hundreds of thousands of people are dying from gunshots, then the guns themselves are a significant part of the problem, notwithstanding asinine slogans about whether the carnage is done by guns or people. The carnage is obviously done by people with guns, and there would unquestionably be a helluva lot less of it if the people committing it didn't have guns. We need to find a way to make that happen, gutless politicians notwithstanding.
It is also self-evident that gun ownership by all and sundry, most of whom have had not a whit of training or the first hint of background check or evaluation of fitness to own a death-dealing weapon, exacerbates the problem. They do not make life safer in general. Someone wrote that the FBI has another statistic that people are (mis)using a lot lately. Violent crime, expressed on a per capita basis, has been reduced by 49% in the last 50 years. Gun fetishists would have us believe that happened simply because the number of guns in private hands increased by a third during that same period. It didnâ€™t, of course. There are a lot of reasons crime waxes and wanes (the median age has increased by 10 years in that same span, for instance), but fear that every house has an armed and ready gun-owner probably doesnâ€™t have a lot to do with that. Besides, guns are involved in a substantial percentage of the crimes that are committed.Â I'll accept those statistics for now, but this is the only source article I could find, and it really doesn't say that.
Finally, weâ€™re back to our friends the gun fetishists who, when they say they "believe in" the bill of rights, mean the second amendment, and only that part of it that lets them have a gun. As I said in the introduction to this piece, theyâ€™re really saying, "Damn your children, and all that you love. If you can't protect them from gun-toting people without making me feel infringed upon, then let 'em die. I wants me guns, of every type, and as many of each as I can afford, without questions, checks or evaluations. Th' Constitution sez I can haz gunz and I wants gunz!"
Yes indeedy, so you say. But I have yet to hear one of you give a cogent reason why gun management has to stop at fully automatic weapons and weapons that fire explosive devices. It seems to me that our regulation of machine guns, bazookas, ack-acks and such argues that we can all have guns, but regulation of those guns is allowed. If I'm wrong, you need to be in court fighting for my right to own a fully operational M-60 (only machine gun I ever fired in angerâ€¦ and boy was I angry).
Then thereâ€™s the argument that goes, â€œIf only one trained person had been there with a gun.â€ Yeahâ€¦ about that. I call shenanigans. There was "one trained person" with a gun at Gabby Giffords' shooting. He stood back and watched the guy with the gun keep shooting people because he was afraid he "might" shoot someone. People were being shot deliberately, yet he wouldnâ€™t shoot because he â€œmight.â€ How many people were shot after he got in position to take a shot, but didnâ€™t? Yessir, having "one trained person" was a big help to Gabby and her constituents. And Colorado is a concealed carry state. I do not believe there was no one in that whole theater crowd in Aurora who was packing. In fact, Iâ€™d bet actual money that there was more than one â€œtrained personâ€ in that crowd. But weâ€™ll never prove it because no one took the shot.
In one post, in response to one of my comments, one of the gun guys said, â€œWhat Chuck doesnâ€™t get is that criminals donâ€™t obey laws. They wonâ€™t get background checks, so having those laws is useless.â€ Well, as for what "Chuck does not get..." Oh, Chuck gets it, all right. Chuck gets that there is no more specious, asinine and absurd argument against gun regulations than that small bit of dreck. Bad guys will still be bad guys after laws are passed. Well, duh! Yup, they will, but oddly enough, and despite the NRA's apparent advice against any criminal laws whatsoever, we still have laws against murder, rape, robbery, burglary, drivin' off without payin' for gas and frammin' in th' jim-jam. It gives us a specific reason to confiscate stuff and put their skinny butts in thâ€™ pokey. They know goinâ€™ in that theyâ€™re in the wrong, and that there are specific charges and punishments that apply.
We also have laws against owning or using a fully automatic weapon, and y'know what? Damned few of the crimes mentioned are committed with fully automatic weapons. As much as you hear about converting semi-autos to full, it just doesn't happen that often. Laws do work. It just takes time when the number of illegal sales and guns is as great as it now is. Itâ€™s the classic â€œEvery journey begins with a single step.â€ We need to take that step. We donâ€™t need semi-automatic combat clones with 30 to 60 round magazines. And we donâ€™t need school halls full of people with guns, be they teachers, private security, volunteer civilians or fully trained cops. What we do need is a lot fewer guns in the hands of a lot fewer nutballs.
Make no mistake... it's past time we stopped pretending the guns are no part of the problem of gun violence. They damned well areâ€¦ a big part of it. Guns exacerbate violence. In a domestic violence situation, a woman is five times more likely to die if there are guns in the house. Multiple shootings are made much more likely by extended magazines and short, stubby military style semi-automatic rifles and carbines. Past time we took those away... again. Past time we stopped allowing gun dealers to sell the majority of their weapons in non-background venues. Well past time we stopped letting the power drunk dolts running the NRA set national gun policy. And wa-a-a-ay past time we stopped pretending gun violence isn't about our national obsession with guns... because it damned well is.