Wednesday, August 12, 2015

American New Normal


"A well-regulated Militia, being necessary for a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."


Don't worry gun-lovers, this isn't a post about giving up your firearms.  And don't worry gun-controllers, this isn't about a gun free America.  I've hunted with guns, fired guns on a pistol-range and not opposed to folks who have them.  We were not raised with a gun in the house and of all the toys and Christmas presents we were not allowed to have were BB guns.  But I understand hunting and the benefits of culling herds.  If you like to kill then we part ways.  The St. Paul dentist who felt compelled to kill Cecil the Lion a couple weeks ago and has pictures of his many trophy safari kills disturbs me.  But guys, or women, who plug a deer, bag a pheasant or dip worms for bass during authorized seasons has my support; the same way I hope they support my love for old cars.       

America loves its guns and nothing is going to change that.  And America doesn't care who has guns, and nothing is going to change that.  If the massacre of 20 babies at Newtown in 2012 doesn't change our Congress or our Consciousness, nothing will.  The price, however, is steep.  The price is that everytime you enter a McDonalds's, or movie theater, or enter a mall, you may end up in the sights of a gun barrel.   In fact, everytime you leave the house, the odds are increasing that you will be a victim of gun violence.  

Odds of lottery wins are remote, yes.  Odds of being struck by lightening are remote, yes, but then, hundreds of people win lotteries every week and a guy was killed by a lightening strike not too far from Bedlam just last week.  

As of this writing on July 29th, since the first of the year there have been 207 mass shootings in America.  207 you ask?  There have been 14 mass shootings since Chattanooga took out some Marines on 7-16-2015.  Yes, 14 since Chattanooga.  These have not been mentioned by the mainstream press.  In those 14 shootings, 13 people have died and 58 have been wounded.  None rose to the level the press deemed worthy of mentioning.  There were a couple shootings in bars, a couple in local parks, one in a grocery store, a murder-suicide and some drive-bys.  

We took Norah to a McDonald's last week.  It was one of the kinds that have a play area for kids.  They can climb up a netted area and they can wander from pod to pod then come down a slide.  Norah loves these.  I sit happily knowing Norah is happy.  But there was this young guy in the corner who made eye contact with me a couple times and wasn't having lunch like every one else.  He had a backpack and, frankly, gave me the creeps.  Turns out all he wanted was a handout, but it dawned on me, for the first time,  that in public,  we are all vulnerable.  I rationalized that this is the city and it can happen here before it does in small town America, but that would be wrong thinking.  In the list of 207 mass shootings there are just as many shootings in small towns as large.  There is no way to escape.  You can't feel any safer in Aledo than St. Petersburg.  Everytime you enter a store or place of business there very well might be a disgruntled guy who just lost his job and is intent on taking as many innocents out as possible.  

If you take the National Rifle Association line that "The only way to take out a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun," then you may want to check out a Stanford University - Johns Hopkins University research study (11-14-2014) that reaffirmed that right-to-carry laws actually are linked to increasing gun violence.   According to Prof.  John Donohue III and colleagues, based on a 10 year study (1999-2009), "The totality of evidence...suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates of aggravated assault, rape, robbery and murder." 

So what is the answer?  


  • Never leave the house.
  • Get your affairs in order.
  • Take your chances, like lightning strikes. 
I find each of the options above to be lacking.  If we assume rightly that, unlike all other industrial Western nations, that we will continue to buy and arm ourselves, then we need to do the following legislatively:


  • All guns and ammo should be taxed.  Not heavily, but enough so that gun ownership becomes just a little bit harder.  This might discourage the ones who are on the bubble financially who might otherwise arm to the hilt and beyond any reasonable  need for an arsenal.
  • Ownership should also entail passed exams in safety and proper handling.  
  • The weapons should be registered and owners bonded.  
  • And just like certain fireworks are banned to the general public, assault and metal-piercing weapons should be restricted to the 101st Airborne Screaming Eagles, and not to the quiet survivalist no one ever sees and has anger issues who lives next door.
This represents the "well-regulated" portion of the 2nd amendment many gun supporters forget about.  "Well regulated" in 1790 meant one thing, but what does it mean in the 21st?  
Will this make an ant hills worth a difference?   It means my buddies keep their guns and can continue to enjoy them.  Hunting is a long and honorable American tradition.  Range shooting is a lot of fun, too.  It may also mean that that one deranged crazy who decides to make a name for himself won't enter that McDonald's where my Norah is playing.  
     



References:

Shootingtracker.com
Stanford Press https://shar.es/1sFcta 

1 comment:

  1. Well done, well thought out, common sense approach to a national problem. Sorry to say that nothing is going to change.

    ReplyDelete