Monday, February 25, 2013

America Has A Gun Culture: And that's the Problem

The husband of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly no less, was interviewed on CNN with details and statistics about gun violence in America. And what he says makes it unlikely the gun lobby can refute it with logic, even if they can do so successfully without legal impunity. This is an uphill battle for people like me who don't like guns, and here is the point he made:

 "Almost 100 people a day die from a gun, 33 are murdered. We've got 20 times the murder rate of similar countries." And "Up to 40% of gun transfers are made without background checks, and a national survey of inmates found that nearly 80% of those who used a handgun in a crime acquired it without a background check."

And I like his description of failed background checks:

"...since 1994, more than 2 million folks -- among them, criminals and dangerously mentally ill people -- failed their background checks. But we don't know which of those millions just got in their car and drove to a gun show, or home to their computer to go on the Internet -- both places where anyone can buy a gun without a background check.

"That doesn't make sense. It's like saying, hey, criminals, to board the plane, either go through a metal detector and be checked against the terrorist watch list, or, if you prefer, walk right down that red carpet and take a seat, no search necessary. Which would you choose?"

Glad to hear his organization with former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords called Americans for Responsible Solutions has enrolled over 100,000 members. But I don't waver from my position that far more persuasive work needs to be done in America to persuade Americans to dispose of their guns. 

And that is my position, the government should ban guns. Simply and indisputably, they aren't necessary for a civilized society. It's important from an international perspective as I have. And yes, I go farther into gun control than the Kelly-Giffords do.

Commenters on websites where I have made comments may call me a Gun Prohibitionist anonymously, and it hurts. But the fact that many Americans use the excuse that America isn't a civilized society and that's why they need guns--for self-protection--reflects sourly (actually worse than that) on America, even if they don't see the problem from that perspective. They hurt themselves in so many ways when they say that. They endanger themselves and they cripple their families from taking productive action. Foreigners find their attitudes distasteful, unattractive, and dangerous. They don't see that. Just as smokers support an industry that kills them with lung cancer, so the gun manufacturers are enriched by their hobby that will likely kill them and their loved ones, and homeowners buy guns with the same outcomes. Statistics prove unassailably and irrefutably that gun owners are far more likely to hurt themselves than use it for self-defense or killing a menacing wild animal.

And gun enthusiasts are a problem in America, no doubt about it.

In addition, ProPublica analyzes the lack of research with the person who was last leading the governmental effort until the gun lobby successfully stopped all gun-related research. Dr. Mark Rosenberg led gun violence research the Centers for Disease Control(CDC)'s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control in the nineties.

 What he says, with unassailable logic, is scandalous:

  "One of the critical studies that we supported was looking at the question of whether having a firearm in your home protects you or puts you at increased risk. This was a very important question because people who want to sell more guns say that having a gun in your home is the way to protect your family.
   What the research showed was not only did having a firearm in your home not protect you, but it hugely increased the risk that someone in your family would die from a firearm homicide. It increased the risk almost 300 percent, almost three times as high.
   It also showed that the risk that someone in your home would commit suicide went up. It went up five-fold if you had a gun in the home. These are huge, huge risks, and to just put that in perspective, we look at a risk that someone might get a heart attack or that they might get a certain type of cancer, and if that risk might be 20 percent greater, that may be enough to ban a certain drug or a certain product.
    But in this case, we're talking about a risk not 20 percent, not 100 percent, not 200 percent, but almost 300 percent or 500 percent. These are huge, huge risks." 

So to review, drugs are banned if they have a 20 percent or greater risk of maybe someday causing cancer, but guns with a 300-500 percent chance of maybe killing someone are just fine. 

But Americans neither know nor care. And weapons like guns aren't totally banned. In fact, no one knows how many guns are around, or how many people die each year from guns. How can the country just turn its back on other research it has done on death and dying? Numbers don't lie! How many more lives will be lost before America gets its' act together?

Dr. Rosenberg also says that since 1996 when the gun research was disrupted, 480,000 or more deaths by murder and suicide have been estimated but not actually counted.

He calls phrases such as "obviously the assault weapon ban didn't work, because Columbine happened" kind of like saying "vaccines don't work because someone got the flu."

But of course, the real scandal is that the federal research ended and America has fallen into the vacuum of shameful ignorance. No one knows the true numbers nationwide. Neither side knows numbers for certain, especially the NRA and all those who value and use tactics of fear by spouting slogans and false statistics rather than knowledge. 

The least that can be done is to pass gun bans on large weapons and background checks, but that's not stopping sales of casual weapons.

NPR said there isn't a national registry for such deaths. No one knows which weapons were used or how many people have died in this internal civil war.

Americans need to get rid of problem legislation such as this:

  "In 2003, Rep. Todd Tiahrt, a Republican from Kansas, added language to the Justice Department's annual spending bill. It says the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives can't release information used to trace guns involved in crime to researchers and members of the public. It also requires the FBI to destroy records on people approved to buy guns within 24 hours."

To review, gun tracing and gun-approval information can't be done by law. But without real actual knowledge, nothing's going to improve for America, as far as gun violence is concerned. The mental health alleyway is bogus and going nowhere because it limits the actions of those who would restrict gun sales to those who judge someone else is crazy. And those mental health judges are possibly going to become instant targets by rejecting any gun application, and have to be separated from the process. The process should be impersonal. 

The President of the National Rifle Association (NRA) called the following tenets official policy of the organization on the radio (NPR) here. Pres. Keene thinks it's not good to restrict weapons because:

1) Banning assault weapons is not going to stop the real mass killers.

(As opposed to what, may I ask--serial killers or someone who just wants to shoot just one person?) This is silly. He has no evidence or research to support this because none has been done by anyone, officially or unofficially. For proof, please read ProPublica.

2) America with no guns would be total chaos and anarchy

Honestly, it sounds to me like anyone saying this is a bit off their rocker, just a bit! What are they talking about? Crazy! How absurd the idea! America needs fewer guns not more. Not having guns, even less than not smoking, isn't going to stop mothers from feeding their newborns.

And incidentally the President of the NRA's command of the English language wasn't very coherent in this interview, but he was sly, persuasive, and crazy like a fox! 

3) Gun registries lead to gun confiscation by the government and to possible publication of gun ownership

Kind of an odd worry considering more than half of gun owners buy or obtain them illegally and keep them in secret. But pity them, there isn't any knowledge to go around from one side to the other. The gun lobby especially is lurching around with blind accusations and slogans that sound rational on the outside rather than obtaining hard facts and numbers. And (the bastards like Keene at) the NRA have successfully stopped such genuine research into gun deaths and arguments in the past. (How? With techniques that include minimizing counter-arguments and using intimidating threats that keep political opponents out of office.)

4) "That's not much." The prodigious ammunition reserves of the Aurora shooter wasn't so large. "You can use up a lot of ammunition in sport and competitive shooting."

In other words, David Keene may have (or have owned) more ammunition in his personal storage than the Aurora shooter! You can read more of his uneducated incoherent nonsense if you want for yourself in the transcript here. And I checked, and not a single individual in the hierarchy of the NRA have doctorates. Most won't even admit to graduating from college level education.

Until guns are totally banned, I believe the numbers won't improve in favor of saving lives, although every little bit of good legislation helps. America will continue to be a violent gun culture at heart. And that's a problem for others even if it's not recognized as such. America won't admit to an addiction problem to guns. They say Mexicans and other countries have more gun violence. But like avoiding another car on a slippery road in winter, Americans can't see the outside picture and the possibilities, and how much trouble they could conceivably cause other countries. America can fight the addiction, but they still need to take real action and catch up to other peaceful cultures as far as guns are concerned. It's past time.

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