a “well armed militia?” is that what you call it?

Posted: December 15, 2012 in gun policy, politics
Tags:

images-3Now kindergarteners and their teachers are being murdered.

And people are going to run straight for their ideologies, as usual.  The gun control people will shout, “See?!?  See?!?   No more guns!”    And the NRA-types will defend their rights, misinterpret the constitution and accuse the opposition of being anti-freedom and anti-American.   The same conversations are going to happen, and nothing will change.

OR can we do something different this time?   Can we maybe elevate this debate to an actual dialogue in which grown-ups face the problem and sincerely work together to find answers?

I know I don’t have those answers, on my own.   The solution needs to be a multi-faceted approach incorporating better access to mental health care, limitations on automatic weapons and less access to ammunition, finding a way to deal with our culture of fear, better preparation and security for schools and teachers, education, early intervention and more.   I do know that we need to talk.

This is a majorly lame way to write an article – basically an exercise in cut and paste  –  but I want to share with you a Facebook conversation I initiated last night.   Please read through to the end; there are some really interesting viewpoints and opinions.  And feel free to share yours here, as well.

images-2

229999_307483806032560_1211974720_nTHE POSTING:  (by me)
(borrowed from Dan from an earlier post)
Dear people who say, “How many people die in auto accidents; we don’t ban cars, do we?” If you really can’t see all the holes in that argument, please sit quietly in the corner and let the grown ups talk.





EMILY:   For the first time, I am thinking something has to change. I don’t relish this, but I see that we no longer have a society that knows how precious and what a responsibility these freedoms are. How do we teach this? How do we keep the firearms out of the hands of those that want to use them against our most innocent??





TIM:    Ah, Mike where do we begin I for one am not going to sit quietly in the corner while you “grown ups” talk about the problem.





DAN:   People who don’t want to change things never want to talk about changing things. It’s never the right time.





JIM:  I am not aware of a single gun control measure that will stop a deranged person from randomly shooting people. The school shooter used a rifle that’s banned in CT. Or are you proposing 100% confiscation?





ME:  How many children need to die before we can begin to discuss this? Before we can make this about something other than personal “rights?”





DAN:   Gun control is one piece of a larger solution that will require a complete redistribution of our priorities. But it happens to be the FIRST piece.





DAN:  Also, he had a glock and a sig sauer.





BOB:   The “grown-ups” might be mourning right now my brother.





ME:  I’m aware of that, Bob. We all are mourning. But I’m feeling so sad that people keep getting killed, and the discussion keeps going back to a focus on “rights.”
 The message will be “let’s not talk about this…we are all mourning.” Then later it will be “let’s not talk about this…guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” And nothing will change. And it will continue to happen. When IS the time to talk about this? How many more deaths before it’s not politically incorrect to face the fact that we have a problem?





DAN:  The grown-ups are mourning & thinking about preventing this from happening again. The idiots are concerned about their guns and are coming up with lame analogies to justify their illogical and ultimately immoral position. And then there’s Huckabee.





WALDO:   Why does the average person need a bloody assault rifle? Are the Reds coming? Is the South rising again? Are those aliens from “V” coming to eat all our guinea pigs and drink all our water?!  Or have deer just gotten that much faster/smarter in recent decades?





DAN:  Shit. I forgot about V. Never mind. Opinion withdrawn.

WALDO:   You never know, Dan…you just never know. Better be prepared.



EMILY:  I am a good person. I freely own guns and know how to use them. And I agree that laws obviously don’t stop the ‘bad guys’.  So this is the conversation.  What stops the bad guys? And, how do we keep our children safe?





JIM:   Well Emily, in some countries they arm the teachers…

BOB:   Cynicism for cynicism. You’re right Mike. I think the Left should provide therapy groups, monthly food certificates and paid counseling for all the mentally ill who might think differently than you. Please get Mr. Obama on it now.  The party of compassion can help me out. This idiot is going back to his corner while the adults chat among themselves.




ME:   Bob, I didn’t call you an idiot. I’m sorry if I insulted you. But here is my point: Do you…and Jim…and others who believe in the right to bear arms…as I do…do you SERIOUSLY believe that you need assault rifles? Why??  Because it’s your “right?”  As stated above, have the deer grown really fast/smart as of late?  Are they now ganging up to attack hunters, so much so that said hunters need rifles that can fire 500 rounds a minute? I am not trying to make anyone angry…but I am angry. The ONLY thing I have ever heard from your side on this topic is that you have rights. Seriously??? Kindergarteners are being murdered, and it’s about your rights to own a rifle that you don’t need???





BOB:   No…I don’t think we do need assault rifles. Unless gangs of bad guys have them and are using them against good guys. Maybe a trained armed grandpa at the door would have helped. His gun would have saved lives or the bad guy would have chosen another school where the teachers had a ‘no-gun zone’ poster on the door.  Hard to know.  Lots of good discussion here.  No guns, they will use knives. No knives they will use fists. No fists they will use chemicals. No chemicals they will use mass sabotage.  Bad guys find a way to hurt those less powerful.  Always. Should we arm them?  No. However, as a kid I learned early my best defense against the ever-present bully was good friends and fists that they knew I would use. It is not about the guns. But, assault weapons for citizens? Only if criminals have them too. Just some thoughts.





JIM:  I don’t mind debating, but I’ve yet to see a solution that doesn’t take firearms from the law abiding and deny them their rights. If you don’t think that citizens of the United States have the right to arm themselves for their own protection, you either need to work to change the Constitution, move to Canada/Europe/elsewhere, or deal with it. It is absolutely a tragedy that a tiny percentage of people abuse their right to bear arms, but I’ll never agree that because of their horrible actions we should disarm everyone.





ME:  Here’s a good place to start the dialogue, maybe. Please explain why you need assault rifles, without mentioning your “rights” or the constitution.  (And speaking of constitution – “A well regulated militia” is the point, right? That’s a whole other topic.)





JIM:  Mike, the Supreme Court affirmed it’s an individual right. Back in the late 1700s the militia was every able-bodied man, not some formal military organization. If people could not own firearms in their homes, there would be no militia. Interestingly, the Swiss still follow this model and have fully automatic weapons in their homes.  We “need” them because the only way to be free is to make your own decisions on what you need or want. Once we let the government make those decisions for us — for our own good — the right becomes a privilege.





ME:  I disagree. “well-regulated” these people are not. But either way, this argument has to go beyond your “rights.” It almost seems immoral to me to look at what happened yesterday (among other tragedies in the past 10 years) and continue to make this about anyone’s rights to own a weapon they don’t need. Again I ask – do you need a weapon that can fire 500 rounds a minute because the deer are getting scarier? Or because the Russians are coming? The concept that you “need” them so you can be free to make your own decisions frankly scares the shit out of me. What else can I do to guarantee that I’m free? Can I own a nuclear weapon, too, if I could get my hands on one? At some point my “rights” and “freedoms,” when they threaten the lives and freedoms of you and your children, need to be re-debated.

DAN:  Gun Deaths in 2011: Japan 48, Great Britain 8, Switzerland 34, Canada 52, Israel 58, Sweden 21, Germany 42, UNITED STATES 10,728.

Maybe we can’t handle this particular right.





JIM:  I think you’re heading to hyperbole to make a point. I don’t own a firearm that can fire 500 rounds a minute and neither do 99.99% of people.  You’re talking about fully automatic weapons, which are already heavily regulated by the BATFE. I think there have been 2-3 crimes committed with these 250,000 or so legal machine guns since they were all registered.





ME:  OK, how many rounds per minute ARE we talking about here?   I know, I know – “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.”  But these weapons allow these people to kill other people very very efficiently. You and I both know that these school shootings would not have been anywhere near as bad, and possibly not have happened at all, if the murderer had to stop and reload after each murder.

JIM:  The founders of this country believed in this so strongly they didn’t make it an issue people could vote on i.e. 50.1% could take the right away from the other 49.9%.





ME:  I’m not really interested in what the founders believed at this point. How many kindergarteners were murdered in the 1700s? And I’m really not interested in making this discussion about your rights. Your side of the argument could actually gain some credibility of you stopped responding to senseless murder with a reaffirmation of your rights to own murder weapons, and instead at least admitted that we have a problem, then started discussing solutions, whatever those may be.





JIM:  Sorry I guess we’ll never agree. I believe my individual right trumps your need to “feel safe.” If you want to live in a world where only the government and criminals own firearms, knock yourself out.

ME:  I encourage you, and others in your camp, to start suggesting answers, or at least start admitting there is a problem. You can join the discussion if you make this about more than your rights. Really. I think reasonable people are open to ANY suggestions. But if your one and only response to this growing problem is to defend your rights…that’s not a dialogue, that’s an ideology that doesn’t see past the self. This is about lives, including children’s lives. Let’s look past our own self-interest and address the problem.





JIM:  I already did suggest an answer. The only way to stop maniacs and criminals with guns is to shoot them, or create the fear of being shot. These mass shootings always happen where weapons are proscribed. In Israel, terrorists want to kill children so they arm their teachers. Same with South Africa. If you’re uncomfortable with weapons in schools, sorry. There will be crazies who want to kill people (with guns or anything else) and you’re not going to stop them by taking weapons from law abiding people.





ME:   Well, that’s one idea, I guess. Anyone else?


HARVEY:  I don’t know how my individual rights can trump public safety and justice.  I don’t understand the right to own automatic weapons.  I don’t know how anyone can advocate for this when over 200 kids are killed accidentally each year by guns that are registered to men and women who want the right to own them
.

HARVEY:   Oh, and Jim, that’s not really the best solution you got is it???

WALDO:  With over 50% of this county’s budget going toward our military and “defense” (more than any other country at any time in history) do we really need to be stocking up our closets with “civilian version” military weapons? I agree it’s not simply an issue about guns-as-mechanisms themselves–there is the mental health issue, etc.

Sure, in Switzerland folks have arms and informal social control is fairly powerful…HOWEVER, they do not have a national environment of social/economic Darwinism where everyone believes they are there to fend for themselves and “someone” is out to get them. Health care is obligatory but spread out over hundreds of different health agencies, making it affordable and available to everyone. People aren’t threatened that “someone” is going to take away their livelihoods. That sense of fear–which I believe one faction in America depends upon and actively stokes–creates a dangerous powder keg to live in.

And with all these people who own guns for their protection (and, allegedly by some, the protection of others), where are they every time something like this happens? What good is their mini-militia doing locked up in their gun safe (I HOPE) or closet?  Where were the rightfully armed civilians when this guy was letting loose on a bunch of children?  Sure, go ahead and “shoot the crazies” Jim…but no one ever does. That’s theoretical nonsense and simply isn’t applicable to reality. Because this kid managed to kill 20 people before ANYONE would have had the time to even make it to their house to grab their own firearms and put a stop to it.

Guns increase the amount of horror that can be inflicted by a person. And let’s keep in mind: when that amendment was written and enacted, the average Joe was loading a musket for a top firing rate of 4 rounds per minute: http://www.infographicsonly.com/the-evolution-of-guns/ If we want to get serious about the amendment–to take it that literally–then fine, have all the muskets you want: I’m pretty sure an able-bodied person could take down and incapacitate some rogue shooter while he’s biting off that next cartridge.

ME:  What Waldo said.

WALDO:   I should also mention that I was incorrect in my last post: Switzerland has actually tightened up their gun control laws substantially in the last several years:    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/14/nine-facts-about-guns-and-mass-shootings-in-the-united-states/

Comments
  1. First I find it appaling that so many of you on the left, from top to botton, are so very willing to use any tragedy as leverage to further your politcal agenda. Pandora’s Box is already open, so here we are….

    It is interesting that you essentially accuse those of us who believe in the 2nd Amendment as being selfishly ideological in protecting our rights. Frankly, I believe being on the correct side of the Constitution should be enough, but I will move beyond anyway.

    You may think I’m being unnecessarily harsh here. I don’t care. Your arguments are based on 100% emotion and 0% factual substance.

    “Too many children are killed each year by guns.” True. More are killed in car accidents, bicycle accidents, drowning incidents, by doctors’ mistakes (preventable), and in some years, by space heaters. Have you started an orginization to ban bikes yet, or at least severely restrict use of them?

    According to the CDC, gun violence doesn’t even make it into the top 15 causes of death in the US.

    According to both the FBI and National Institute of Justice, guns are used for self-defense forty times (40x) more often than they are for crimes. That is just when the gun is *fired*! How many are used as a deterent that don’t need to be fired? Could this be one of the reasons that there is a solid correlation between less restrictive gun laws and lower crime rates?

    As to correlation, you can go state by state, and even county by county and see that the highest violent crime rate areas (NY, D.C., Philly, Chicago, Detroit, etc.” also have the most restrictive gun laws whereas “shall issue” states have much lower rates across the board. Even in geographically specific studies, they have repeatedly tracked stats after passage of laws that either discourage or encourage concealed carry and the results are the same. More concealed carry, crime rate goes down. Less concealed carry, crime rate goes up. The left’s only argument for this is that “correlation does not equal causation”. Having a “D” after your name clearly doesn’t equal common sense either, but then correlation doesn’t equal causation so I guess I shouldn’t poke fun.

    “But the police have guns so we don’t need them!” According to US News, the police arive too late to stop the crime in 95% of all 911 calls.

    As to your fewer murders in other countries, first you don’t correct for population and second, there is no real correlation to guns. You omit many countries that have equally low (or lower) rates and have private gun ownership rates that are also very high. Switzerland and Israel to name two. Also, your statistics include suicides which serverely skews the data. It is deliberate obfuscation.

    The US ranks #1 in private gun ownership (by a huge margin) but there are 27 countries with a higher gun HOMICIDE rate than the US. As for suicide rates, half of the countries you list in your cute picture rank higher than the US. They simply use something other than a gun to do the job. Even the ones below like Canada and Germany are barely lower (The US is #38, Canada #39, and Germany #47). Not having a gun doesn’t seem to deter those that want to take their own life.

    As for muskets, let’s take a little look at what the founders actually thought about gun ownership shall we?

    “Firearms stand next in importance to the constitution itself. They are the American people’s liberty teeth and keystone under independence … from the hour the Pilgrims landed to the present day, events, occurrences and tendencies prove that to ensure peace security and happiness, the rifle and pistol are equally indispensable … the very atmosphere of firearms anywhere restrains evil interference — they deserve a place of honor with all that’s good.”
    George Washington

    “To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them.”
    Richard Henry Lee

    “The great object is that every man be armed. Everyone who is able may have a gun.”
    Patrick Henry

    “Those who hammer their guns into plowshares will plow for those who do not.”
    Thomas Jefferson

    “The constitutions of most of our States assert that all power is inherent in the people; that … it is their right and duty to be at all times armed; … ”
    Thomas Jefferson

    “The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed.”
    Alexander Hamilton

    “They that give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
    Ben Franklin

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