Gun Control – This Time I Mean It

Before you read my post go here. This is proof that we can do this. We can put our differences aside and fix this problem.

The last time I posted about gun control was on July 20th, and I went to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence website and learned that 54,455 had been shot so far in America. It’s up to 94,313 now, with 83 so far today and it’s only 7:30 in the morning.

To recap: this year we’ve had shootings at a movie theatre in Colorado, a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and now at a children’s school in Connecticut. Actually, I just looked and according to The Nation we’ve had 16 mass shootings this year.

In one year, guns murdered 17 people in Finland, 35 in Australia, 39 in England and Wales, 60 in Spain, 194 in Germany, 200 in Canada, and 9,484 in the United States. [The year for those figures is 2008.]

Come on everyone, put your politics aside. Let’s work together on this. 87% of Americans actually want more gun control. I know it’s a complicated issue, and we also have to address how this country manages mental health, but for the love of God.

I was going to post a lovely Christmas-y picture, but it doesn’t seem appropriate. Here is a sad Christmas picture of some wreaths on the fence overlooking the park next to the City recreation center where I used to swim before Hurricane Sandy. It’s been closed ever since and they are still cleaning up and repairing.

Note: In the time it took me to write this post six more people have been shot in America.

Update: I’ve been reading some great tweets but I had to post this one from the editor of The Nation. I’ve been mad at Bloomberg for being so critical of Obama about gun control, but this is the perfect response to his criticism. “Obama should announce now he will appoint Mayor Bloomberg as head of Commission to craft & push Congress to enact common sense gun control.” By the way, three more people have been shot in America. It’s still only 8:15 in the morning.

Update: I found out the figures from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence website are estimates based on the statistics from previous years. That’s very misleading and annoying.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

View all posts by Stacy Horn →

14 thoughts on “Gun Control – This Time I Mean It

  1. If only it was so simple…

    Unfortunately, the genie is out the bottle…and it is going to be damn near impossible to put him back.

    Sadly, this issue seems to be owned by the lunatic fringe-who turns out in large numbers and stomps their feet when their ‘rights’ to own such things as assault weapons (no practical purpose other than to kill humans)are in danger to being abridged.

    There is the Second Amendment, whose meaning has been distorted on account of junk scholarship and the K Street money for influence gang.

    A little common sense would go a long way here.

    Have to wonder how a 20 yr. old misfit got hold of 3000 dollars worth of handguns. Oh-they were his mothers property. A lot og good they did for her.

  2. Yeah, there is clearly A LOT to this story. What was a kindergarten teacher doing owning three firearms, including an assault rifle? I mean, WTF?

  3. What the experience of Japan appears to be is that if you control guns sufficiently, you still get mass murders using knives (which are as dangerous in close quarters as guns, once you can get to that range):
    The ultimate solution seems to lie in forcing people with mental illness to take medication, whether they want to or not. Given the inexact science of psychiatry and the serious side effects of many of these drugs, this isn’t as easy a question as it might seem.

  4. It’s true, you’re not going to eliminate murder if you eliminate guns but actually the experience of Japan and knives makes it even clearer how much we need gun control. Even though they may resort to knives in Japan it still results in far fewer deaths. Their homicide rates are among the lowest in the world. Our intentional homicide rate is usually between 4 and 5, theirs is .3. Fewer people die.

  5. Perhaps, but then we’re left basically saying that 20-25 deaths per incident (guns) is a reason for legislation, but 6-8 deaths per (knives) isn’t. Its treating a symptom. If we deal with the actual cause, the mental illness, we may prevent the massacre from happening in the first place (0 deaths).

  6. The argument guns vs. knives is specious. One could replace the word ‘knife’ with ‘car’, ‘hammer’…and realize that maiming or killing is a secondary (and unintended) use of an otherwise useful item.

    Semi-automatic guns, be it handguns or long-rifles, are meant for one thing and one thing only-to KILL.

    LEO’s have access to these things to dispense deadly force-when judgement so requires. Yet, they still must account for such usage.

    The most recent info indicates that the woman who owned the guns was a ‘paranoid wacko.’ Nobody has asked or answered the question about she fell through the cracks.

    Given the initial reports on her son, a reasonable person would have secured these weapons with twenty dollar trigger locks.

    But hey-what did she do ?? She took the kid shooting-and was the ultimate enabler.

  7. I think it’s a combination of more mental health care (including hospitalization if meds will not be taken) and more gun control. But frankly, either one has a long ways to go: financially and realistically.

    I just hate that it seems lately every day I wake up to another shooting. We’ve had two shootings in Birmingham, south of me. A cop was critically wounded in one and the shooter killed by SWAT. One shooting was in a hospital! One a suicide in a Federal building — got gun inside. Domestic violence always increases this time of year, sad.

  8. Hi Stacy,
    the problem with easy answers is that they ignore a solution.

    In your post you mention gun crime in a number of countries including Finland and Britain. This actually makes the point that gun advocates try to explain.

    Britain and Finland have some of the most stringent gun control in the world. There are national policies that prevent gun ownership by ordinary citizens completely and totally.

    Yet despite these measures people are still killed with guns. When guns were outlawed in these countries citizens who formerly would have protected themselves and their families became prey for hoodlums who felt no compunctions about attacking them.

    You’ll recall Anders Behring Breivik who a year ago slaughtered 77 people in Norway, a country that has gun control.

    So the fact that many of these countries have stringent laws against gun ownership has not stopped insane people and criminals from securing firearms and committing criminal acts. However, it does stop law abiding citizens from defending themselves and their families.

    In the United States, the ownership of firearms is already subjected to a high degree of gun control. Every state has its own standards. But you must understand that in the US, gun ownership is a Constitutionally protected right.

    For example, your rights to own a car, a word processor, an easy chair, or cats can easily be taken away. Gun ownership cannot be taken away.

    Look at it this way. What if your publisher said, “Stacy, you cannot write about those subjects, because many people have been injured through people publishing such material. If it were not for Karl Marx, we would not have had Stalin or Mussolini.”

    But you would say, “I have freedom of speech, and the government does not have the ability to take away my freedom of speech because speech has been used to harm masses of people.”

    Suppose you said, “I am going to run down and protest with my friends against these measures suppressing speech.”

    And they said, “No, you have no freedom to assemble, because assembly has been responsible for many people getting hurt.”

    These are simply two items in the Bill of Rights that have the same Constitutional authority as the right to gun ownership. The 2nd amendment along with the rest of the Bill of Rights is specifically put there to prevent a tyrannical government from suppressing speech, assembly, gun ownership, and the others.

    To change the 2nd amendment would require a Constitutional Convention. The possibility of that happening with our divided system is simply nil to none.

    And in a fantasy in which it were possible to “get rid of guns” (Teddy Roosevelt once told someone it would take 50 years to get guns out of the United States), you would still turn the US into open season with citizens as prey.

    There would be no way to stop the rapist. No way to defend against the car hijacker. No way to protect your family during the break-in in the middle of the night. No way for the lone traveller with car break-down to prevent being abducted. No way to stop the street gangs, the Russian and Italian mafias, the 7 mexican drug cartels that make Phoenix the kidnapping capital of the world; all the self-defense situations that happen every day of the week across the country would result in citizens becoming victims.

    The best handle on this series of tragedies I have seen in that they have been committed by 3 main groups of mentally disturbed persons. One is the psychotic sadist who enjoys what his does; another is people who are just flipped out (David Berkowitz said he was receiving orders from the neighbor’s dog); finally, acutely depressed adolescents.

    The studies have suggested that 6% of adolescents have acute depression that can develop into acting out violent resentments. It has been suggested that there are ways of screening for this group that could be done in PE or Health Science studies, and it seems to me this presents a productive avenue for trying to tackle this problem.

    Something about guns might be done in some states, but it would have to be measured realistically, and Constitutional rights would have to be defended.

  9. I’ll repeat, you’re not going to eliminate murder if you eliminate guns, but you will definitely bring the homicide rate way down.

    I will also repeat what a friend of mine tweeted after another mass shooting this year: “That old line that if you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns is, in fact, an ideal we should consider aspiring to.”

    Criminals, for the most part, shoot each other. The majority of homicides victims are people with criminal records. One big exception would be that criminals and non-criminals, shoot their spouses and girlfriends, so those homicides would go down.

    I agree that mental health has to be given as much attention. Health insurance companies have been slowly reducing coverage, for instance, and something should be done about that.

    I think regulating gun owners to the extent that we regulate drivers would be a good start. I’d like to hear what Bloomberg and others suggest. I’m not very informed on what has been proposed.

    I love the tax on ammo suggestion!

  10. Yeah, and it will be very interesting to learn more about the mother. The person whose tweet I just reposted, he wrote a book and in it he makes the point that the origin of crime begins in the home. I should find the line, or section and post it.

  11. Thanks, Stacy, for a great post.

    Gun control. Check. Accessible mental health programs. Check.

    …Also maybe some kind of mass reeducation policy to try to get rid of the pernicious myth that gun ownership has anything at all to do with freedom, when the real issue is not about freedom but public safety.

  12. Thank you for the link. Of course I don’t agree with some of the conclusions he (and the Christian Science Monitor) jump to, but it looks like there a lot of good gun basics in there.

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