Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Big, Bad, Sad American Gun Debate

Maybe the most discouraging thing about the whole background to the shooting of 20 small children and six adults at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, is that it seems to only reinforce how far apart we are as a nation in trying to have rational talk about gun violence in the 21st Century. 

The United States has a death rate from handguns and other weapons that surpasses all but a few under-developed nations like Swaziland and El Salvador.  The closest peer nation to match our roughly 10,000 gun homicides a year is Finland. You are 300 times more likely to be killed by someone with a gun in this country than you would be in England and Wales, just to cite a couple examples. Even relatively new nations like Australia and Canada don't even come close to our gun-driven violent death rates. Yes, mass shootings happen in other places, as I'm sure some of you  reading this can't wait to inform me, but not on the scale that we face in the USA. 

   All the talk about banning assault rifles or having more background checks  before someone buys a gun or a rifle or whatever overlooks one salient fact--there are already almost 90 guns per 100 persons living in the nation.  
(left--Certified sex symbol Jane Russell and comic Bob Hope got laughs while shooting their way through a bit of trouble with "Indians"  in the Old West in the film "The Paleface" (1948) directed by David Butler).

Consider this partial list of mass killing, provided by the site Brad Blog: This is only a partial list. The rest of the ugly story is found here: 
March 21, 2005 16-year old Jeffrey Weise, armed with a .40 Glock 23 pistol, Ruger .22 pistol and a Remington 870 shotgun, murdered his paternal grandfather, a Sergeant with the Red Lake, MN police department, and his grandfather’s girlfriend, drove to the Red Lake HS where he shot and killed seven people on campus and wounded five others. He then committed suicide.
Jan. 30, 2006 Former postal employee Jennifer San Marco, using an S&W Model 915 semi-automatic pistol, shot and killed a neighbor and then drove to the mail processing plant in Goleta, CA where she murdered six employees before taking her own life.
March 25, 2006 28-year old Kyle Aaron Huff, armed with a Winchester 1300 Defender shotgun and a Ruger P944 .40 cal handgun, opened fire on a rave afterparty in the southest part of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, where he killed six people and wounded two. He killed himself when police arrived.
Oct. 2, 2006 Charles Carl Roberts IV, a 32-year old milk truck driver, murdered five Amish girls and injured five others before killing himself at an Amish school in Lancaster County, PA. Roberts used a Springfield XD 9mm handgun, a Browning BPS 12 gauged shotgun and a Ruger M77 .30-30 bolt action rifle.
April 16, 2007 32 people died when undergraduate Seung-Huyi Cho went on a rampage at Virginia Tech with a Walther P22 semi-automatic handgun and a 9 mm semi-automatic Glock 19 handgun. The mass shooting remains the nation's worst to date, even after the shootings in CT on Friday.

Dec. 9, 2007 After being refused admission to the Youth With a Mission Training Center in Arvada, CO, 24-year old Matthew J. Murray murdered two people and wounded two with a semi-automatic pistol. Later, the same day, Murray, then armed with a Bushmaster XM15 .223 cal. Rifle, a Baretta .40 cal. Handgun and a Springfield Armory pistol, murdered three people and injured three inside the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, CO. before being shot and wounded by a former Minneapolis police officer, at which time he took his own life.
Feb. 14, 2008 Steven Kazmierczak, armed with three handguns, a shotgun and a knife, entered a lecture hall at No. IL Univ. where a lecture class attended by approx. 120 students was in progress. He murdered five, injured 21 and killed himself.
July 27, 2008 Former U.S. Army private, Jim David Atkinsson, who hated Democrats, liberals, African Americans and homosexuals, using a Remington Model 48 12-guage shotgun, murdered two people and injured seven others inside the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville, TN.
March 10, 2009 Geneva County, AL: 28-year old Michael Kenneth McLendon, using a Soviet-made SKS, a Bushmaster AR-15 (made by the same company which manufactured the assault rifle used in the CT shootings), 12-guage shotgun and a .38 cal. handgun murdered 10 people, including two children, before engaging police in a shootout and then taking his own life.
April 3, 2009 Jiverly Antares Wong, a 41-year old, naturalized U.S. citizen, murdered eight people inside the American Civic Association immigration center in Binghamton, NY using a 9mm Beretta 92 FS Vertex Inox semi-automatic pistol and Beretta Px4 Strom .45 cal. pistol.
August 4, 2009 48-year-old George Sodini, who was upset that women wouldn’t give him a second glance, entered an L.A. Fitness center in Collier Township near Pittsburgh, PA while a women’s aerobics class was in session. He opened fire with two 9mm semi-automatic handguns, a .32 cal semi-automatic handgun and a .45 cal revolver. He fired a total of 52 shots, killing three women, wounding nine and killing himself.
Nov. 5, 2009 Nidal Malik Hasan, a U.S. Army Major, who was serving as a psychiatrist, killed 13 people and wounded 29 others inside Fort Hood, a military installation near Killeen, TX using an FN Five-Seven Pistol and a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolver.
August 3, 2010 34-year old Omar Shariff Thornton murdered eight people inside a beer distribution warehouse in Manchester, CT before shooting himself in the head. He used two Ruger SR9s.
Jan. 8, 2011 22-year old Jarold Lee Laughner killed six people, including a judge and a nine-year old child, and wounded 13 others, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), using a 9mm Glock 19 pistol during a public meeting in a supermarket parking lot near Tuscon, AZ.
Feb. 22, 2012 59-year old Jeong Soo Paek, using a legally purchased .45 cal pistol murdered four relatives inside the Su Jung Health Sauna in Norcross, GA.
Feb. 27, 2012 17-year old T.J. Lane killed three and wounded three others using a .22 pistol inside Chardon H.S. in Chardon, OH.
April 2, 2012 43-year old One L. Goh, armed with a semi-automatic handgun and 4 magazines of ammunition, killed 7 people and injured 3 at the Oikos University in Oakland, CA.
May 30, 2012 40-year old Ian L. Stawicki, using two legally purchased, .45 semi-automatic handguns, allegedly murdered four people inside a Univ. of WA-Seattle cafĂ©, then shot another woman at a town hall and stole her SUV, which he abandoned when surrounded by police before fatally shooting himself in the head.
June 9, 2012 22-year old Desmonte D. Leonard, allegedly shot and killed three people, including two football players, and wounded three others, at Auburn University. Leonard, who was indicted by Lee County. AL after turning himself in was recently refused bail by the court.
July 20, 2012 James Eagan Holmes, a 24-year old graduate student, wearing body armor, entered the Century Theater in Aurora, CO, set off tear gas grenades before murdering 12 people and injuring 58 more using a variety of assault weapons, including two Glock 22 handguns, a tactical shotgun and a Smith & Wesson M&P rifle --- that manufacturer’s version of the AR-15. He also used a 100-round capacity drum magazine.
Aug. 5, 2012 Wade Michael Page, a 40-year old white supremacist and U.S. Army veteran murdered six people and wounded four others inside a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, WI with a Springfield XD(M) semi-automatic pistol.
Sept. 27, 2012 After losing his job at Accent Signage in Minneapolis, MN, Andrew J. Engeldinger returned with a 9mm Glock handgun where he shot and killed five people and wounded three others, before taking his own life.
Dec. 11, 2012 22-year old Jacob Tyler Roberts, wearing a load-bearing vest, opened fire with a stolen AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle inside a Clackamas, OR shopping mall, killing two people and injuring one in a hail of bullets before he died of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Dec. 14, 2012 20-year old Adam Lanza murdered 27 people, including 20 children, aged six and seven, inside the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT using a .223 Bushmaster AR-15 and two handguns, all said to have been legally purchased and registered by his mother, Nancy Lanza, whom he also murdered, before carrying out the carnage and taking his own life at the elementary school.

Here's a video of a .223 Bushmaster AR-15, similar to the one confirmed to have been used in the killing of 27 in CT last Friday, firing at 100 yards...

A recent study by the New York Times Nate Silver estimated that about 50 percent of people who own guns are members of the Republican Party. It's about 22 percent for Democrats.  Since Republican strongholds tend to be concentrated in the Southern  and Western states, we can be sure that no new gun laws will be instituted anyway, not that we can hope to do more than stop a few of the horrible incidents above in the future. 

Some conservatives I have encountered personally seem to  have a higher propensity to see gun ownership as a way to prevent their rights being lost to them by a "tyrannical government". They are usually older folks for who, the idea of a half-black President is a bit more than they ever expected to come to terms with. 
But where I ask is this tyrannical government?   The very people who would be in charge of confiscating these weapons are in the Armed Forces which is composed of officers who probably grew up with guns and rifles in families where patriotism was highly prized. When was the last military coup in the United States anyway?  

 And, if you ask me, even if it ever came to that, it's likely the military would probably be cheered on not by reasonable hunters and home defense gun owners, but by the very stockpiling-gunners who think the sun shone out of Charlton Heston's rectum.  

Certainly no Republican President need ever fear military power, nor a Democratic one who keeps the Pentagon's "defense"  budget higher than the next 15 nations combined.    

The sad fact is, while there are civilians who simply own guns for personal protection at home or still go hunting, a sport that is in decline as America becomes more urban and suburban, we have more weapons of death than we have people of common sense. But the drive to allude any bans on new gun sales is something not driven in the main by these people but by Smith and Wesson and Sig-Sager and Remington and all the other big gun manufacturers.  

 To secure a right to arm ourselves with so little personal responsibility we have created a society where we are all prisoners to the next violent person who snaps and carries a weapon like the one on the video above. Even the gun conceal/carriers among us are at risk from a rabid shooter in some cases---unless they can see perfectly in a dark movie theater, be able to draw faster than a crazed psycho who is already shooting...oh, and and have a clear shot...and, if taken from behind,  have grown eyes in the back of their heads..   

There is no one solution to this problem, but it won't get better if we ignore or trade in our common sense to the gun manufacturers agit-prop about how fragile our nation is to tyranny.  This is about as free a nation as ever existed on the earth.  The question is not who will protect us from our own Armed Forces but who will protect our children and our neighbors from the next James Egan Holmes or Adam Lanza? 


  1. Wow Doug, you're almost as honest with the stats as Piers Morgan. The fact you could ask "where is this tyrannical government" shows an astounding level of intellectual dishonesty. If you do not see it, then that is beyond sad?

    I'm wondering Doug.. Who is going to protect the next defenseless child waiting to be incinerated by a drone? With people like yourself going to the polls to endorse such atrocities, I find your concern over who will protect us from the next Adam Lanza to be quite hypocritical.

  2. Well, we agree to disagree on the tyrannical government issue, Scott. All I wish to add is happy holidays to you from your "beyond sad" correspondent.