Sunday, March 9, 2008
It Never Ends
From Health Beat Blog.
March 05, 2008
What Ever Happened to Gun Control?
We all know that guns can be hazardous to our health.
I certainly do. It hurt like hell when the bolt on my Garand slammed shut on the end of my index finger.
The number of children killed by guns in the United States each year is roughly three times greater than the number of servicemen and women killed annually in Iraq and Afghanistan. "In fact, more children -- children-- have been killed by guns in the past 25 years than the total number of American fatalities in all wars of the past five decades," Jonathan Safran Foer pointed out in a Washington Post Op-ed earlier this year.
By roughly, you must mean taking into account children in their early twenties, and children engaged in drug/territory/"respect" wars.
Yet, liberals no longer talk about gun control. As Liliana Segura pointed out on AlterNet recently, usually the subject doesn’t even come up.
You must read different liberal writers than I do. The ones I've read talk about it plenty. Oh wait, you mean liberal politicians.
So I was surprised, a week ago, when Ebony Senior Editor Sylvester Monroe brought up the question, point blank, in an interview with Barack Obama: "What about guns? In Chicago, for instance, 30-some schoolchildren died from gun violence during the last school year."
I'd be interested in knowing the social history of those individuals. I'd bet while there's some that were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, there were more that made a choice of associating with the wrong people.
"We’re not getting rid of handguns In this country," Obama replied flatly.
We'll just keep making it harder to have them legally.
I was somewhat taken aback—it seemed clear that, in Obama’s mind, the question isn’t even open for debate. Meanwhile violence continues to be the #1 cause of death among African-American men.
You may want to consider why a particular group is outstanding here.
Hillary Clinton, the other leading liberal presidential says she is against "illegal gun dealers." But she’s not talking about banning hand guns or assault weapons either--even though, following the shootings at Virginia Tech, she acknowledged "we now know that the background check system doesn’t work." Just two months ago, Clinton "backed off a national licensing registration plan on guns" and in January, during the Las Vegas debate she said: "I also am a political realist and I understand that the political winds are very powerful against doing enough to try to get guns off the street, get them out of the hands of young people."
I'm against people who knowingly sell guns to people with evil intentions. But I don't think that's what you're referring to. And I'd rather take guns out the hands of people who use them for violent criminal purposes. In fact, if it's a really violent crime, I'm OK with taking their gun and their hands.
Children’s lives are at stake. Since when do progressives pay more attention to "the political winds"? If health is a hot issue, why isn’t gun control on the liberal agenda?
Because my son's life was at stake, I made sure he knew exactly what my guns are capable of, and how to use them responsibly. There's no aspect of forbidden mystery about them, and he now finds his hoplophobic friends reactions to our gun cabinets amusing.
The answer, as we all know, is that on this issue, at least, liberals have decided to trade in principles for votes. "Gun control used to be one of those bread and butter issues" for liberals, Segura points out, "but in recent years...easing up on gun control has been critical" to politicians "courting voters in Western and Southwestern swing states...When the Clinton-era assault weapons ban passed expired three years back, few in Congress leaped to renew it. The results have been deadly: As the Brady Campaign's Paul Helmke points out: ‘One thing the Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University shooters had in common was that they both used high capacity ammunition magazines that would have been prohibited under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that expired in 2004.’"
Well actually, it only made the manufacture of new magazines holding more than ten cartridges illegal for sale to individuals. Government organizations could still order new ones; I suppose due to the overwhelming violent attacks against government employees that are so widespread these days......
Liberal silence on this issue is deafening. "At the very least," Segura observes, "it's an issue that's ripe for debate."
Putting the word silence after liberal defies reality.
So let’s have that debate here. Why do we need handguns?
Because a shotgun won't fit in a purse.
Some libertarians might say that, as individuals, we have a right to protect ourselves, our families and our homes. All I can say that I have lived in New York City for some twenty-two years. During part of that time, I lived alone with two small children in a neighborhood that, when I first moved here, was considered only marginally "safe." At night, I sometimes find myself alone on a dark street, waiting for a cab. But I’ve never wished I had a gun.
"I haven't had anything bad happen to me. You must have done something wrong if something happened to you."
My feeling is that anyone fearless enough (or high enough) to break in, or try to mug me on the street could easily take the gun away from me—and then turn it on me.
The whole point of a gun is the ability to inflict damage from a distance. That's why people who could normally do lots of very unpleasant things to smaller, weaker people prefer victims without weapons. If you're not willing to fight for your or others well-being, your best hope is to keep within a large number of easy victims and play the odds. I'll pass on that strategy. It's morally repugnant.
It turns out that there are statistics to back up my surmise. Guns kept in the home for self-protection are 43 times more likely to kill a family member, friend or acquaintance than to kill an intruder, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. As for what’s happening on the streets, Foer quotes the FBI: "For every justifiable handgun homicide, there are more than 50 handgun murders. The expanding right to carry concealed guns make us even less safe."
See Cogito Ergo Geek for the answer to the "43 times" fallacy. And consider this: how many times have handguns dissuaded a violent act without resulting in the death of the potential attacker? Somehow I don't see you being happier if the ratio where 1:1.
Of course, those who fight gun control like to talk about the Constitution. The right to own a gun, they say, is a sacred part of our history. But if you remember, what the amendment actually says is that "a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." If you think that, in 2008, we need armed local militias roaming the countryside, raise your hand.
Thankfully we don't at the moment. Although they were needed during Katrina, the Los Angeles riots, and other sundry incidents in the recent past where the government was unable or unwilling to protect the lives and properties of citizens. Oops, forgot. It would be nice to have organized militia augment the border patrol. I'd think if one officer per who knows how many miles of border is good, dividing it up among more people is even better.
What about hunters? They need guns in order to enjoy their sport. Here Foer asks, "Let's just assume, for a moment, that hunting is good. Really, really good. (It must be, if militias and self-defense don't explain guns.) How many of the nearly 3,000 children who are killed by firearms in the United States each year does the good of hunting justify? All of them? A handful? How many of the students and faculty at Virginia Tech? And what's so good about hunting, anyway?"
Actually, you don't need guns to hunt. Native Americans did a fine job of killing buffalo and bear with stone age technology spears and arrows. And that should give a lot of the "if they'd get rid of those nuts with their military/hand guns, there wouldn't be a problem" crowd pause. Of the "3000" children, I again refer to C.E.G.'s fine article. And if you want to know what's good about hunting, ask your state Dept. of Wildlife. If you're willing to listen, you'll learn some things that don't come out of an animated Disney film about wildlife management, tax revenues, and conservation.
Foer is violently opposed to hunting. I’m not. It’s not a sport that interests me, but I have known seemingly rational men who enjoyed hunting. None of them hunt with a handgun, however---or with an automatic weapon. All I ask is that people who buy a hunting rifle register--and provide some sort of proof that they really do plan to hunt with it. A hunting license would be a good start.
"Seeming rational". No condescension there. We would be rational, if we just didn't have the undercurrent of blood lust. Especially those of us who do hunt with handguns. Not because it takes more patience and skill. No, it's getting close enough to smell the fear. Yeah, that's it.
Finally, I’m not convinced by the argument that liberals couldn’t be elected if they stood up to the NRA. Take a close look at "The Real History of Guns and the 2000 Election" and you’ll find a pretty persuasive argument that Gore made a mistake when he decided to follow the advice of his "brain trust" and duck the gun issue-"losing the ability to attack Bush for signing the law that allowed handguns to be carried in churches, nursing homes and amusement parks."
Because no one ever goes to places with a lot of unarmed people planning to kill as many as possible.
Talk about an easy target. But this is what liberals do all too often. They back away from an issue, even when common sense tells them that they’re right—and instead of leading, they pander to the tiny minority of voters who really believe that having handguns in our churches make us safer.
This would be the same common sense that dictates the sun rotates around the earth, as we can see it change position during the day. Also, the earth is flat.
With a tip of the hat to Kevin Baker at The Smallest Minority, who also points out how acting like an ignorant ass will succeed in convincing people that one is an ignorant ass. If you can't rise above prepubescent name-calling, please help out by not speaking up.