Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Rival - An Anti Gun Rant

Wednesday Carnival has been re-christened the Madhouse - and this week it's Rivals.

I started thinking about this one in terms of personal experience but I have no rivals, none of whom I'm aware and I don't think anyone considers me their rival. I am singularly uncompetitive a B plus, a "P"s are degrees type but I remembered a song by Pearl Jam called Rival and then Glorified G came to mind . . both of which are protests about liberal gun ownership. Opportune since Kate herself had a scare when unable to contact a member of her family who was in Binghampton this week during the most recent shooting. Fortunately, all ended well for her, not so the poor victims of a rabid gunman. A man who would ordinarily have never picked up a weapon but found it so easy to obtain one and vent his wrath.

I've had many discussions with Americans regarding this issue. Mainly in a hope of understanding why gun control is such a tetchy subject in the US. I've talked both with those who are pro-control and those who are extremely anti. Sports shooters, competitive shooters, libertarians and peace activists. Some are for gun ownership, some staunchly against and from those who live in a country based on liberation by the bullet box I am not surprised. This is not a criticisms of my American friends. Indeed, I understand completely the constitutional 'right to bear arms' and the complexity of legislating against a population that largely embraces non regulation and libertarian policies but I don't understand gun ownership in the modern context, legal or otherwise. It has been many years since the need for a gun to conquer the west, we no longer need to circle the wagons.

I also understand that firmer gun control will not stop killings via illegal and unregistered firearms. Murderers will murder, militarists will take hostages and wackos are wacko even if their name isn't Jacko. However, over here, after Australia's only mass killing at Port Arthur, the Government instigated a 'gun buy-back' an amnesty for all illegal gun owners to cash in their chips, surrender their guns and be compensated for doing so. It worked pretty well. I'm not saying it prevented shootings, it didn't but we have nowhere near the ratio of gun deaths, accidental or otherwise that exists in the US.

I often wonder. Suppose the US sustained as many military deaths in warzones as they did in domestic shootings would the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan still be going? There have been 4,265 US deaths since the invasion of Iraq . . the latest fatality on April 5 this year. The closest stats I can find relating to domestic shootings are 29,569 in 2005. So I'm thinking they're conservative by today's standards.

The US leads the world in gun deaths per head of population. Murders and suicides and accidental deaths caused by guns, seconded only by Brasil and Mexico. Defenders of gun ownership will tell you that 50% of the gun deaths are suicides - Does this make them better? Does easy access to a weapon of self-destruction justify the end? The fact that someone who has easy access to a weapon which can end their life rather than hang on a bit, seek help, think twice, terrifies me! If I had a gun in the top drawer last time I felt overwhelmed and emotional, might I have grabbed it as an easy option?

I constantly hear people saying 'You won't change it', 'Too much water under the bridge', 'We have a right to carry a gun' or 'Mine's registered and locked away . .' and the gun lobby still protesting that it is their constitutional right to 'defend' themselves. Against what? Where does this paranoia come from? What is so terrifying for the average middle class American that they need a gun in their purse or glovebox? Guns didn't save anyone during the World Trade Centre atrocity. Guns were of no assistance to the victims of Virginia Tech or Columbine High School.

I could bombard you with statistics but you can Google those for yourself. My point, the gun has no rival when it comes to being an instrument of death whether suicide, accidental or pre-meditated, there is no place for these weapons outside sporting competition, feral animal control and war!


Although I originally thought the lyric was a Glorified Version of a Pelican . .


Leah said...

Very interesting, very well argued. Excellent post, Baino. I am American and happen to strongly disagree, but respect your argument.

Renee said...

Baino this is an excellent post. I enjoyed the seriousness and more so enjoyed the wacko jacko.

Renee xoxox

Ronda Laveen said...

...the gun has no rival when it comes to being an instrument of death... The American Indians thought the same thing. Thought provoking post.

River said...

I don't like guns and I certaindon't see any need for every household to have one. Or three. Think of all the little kids who have been accidentally shot when showing off Dad's gun, even when said gun was safely locked away, but junior knew where the key was.......

Grow Up said...


That said, I could get several freely available domestic chemicals and make an explosive, as could anyone with the motivation to do so, hence the terrible things that happened in London. I guess the issue is that a gun allows you to act before you think, which is a key difference.

Personally I plan to take up archery.

Baino said...

Thank you Leah. I know there are many opposing arguments and some valid. I appreciate your candour. Although if you had a gun, I'd be worried for your MIL!

Thanks Renee, I'm not often too serious but it's something I am very curious about, the American passion for guns in the 21st century.

Quite so Ronda although we are not above you in that respect and decimated our own indigenous peoples thanks to superior firepower.

River, happens all too often. Even in Australia, the bushies get careless with their weapons. A 22 rifle is a household tool out on the farms.

My point exactly GrowUp, especially if the 50% suicide deaths are to be considered. Can't imagine someone so depressed bothering to fiddle with . . .nope better keep the chemicals out of it!

nick said...

Hear hear. I guess the main motives behind gun-owning are the paranoia (Some crazy out there might shoot me dead and I won't be able to defend myself) and the macho desire to tote a weapon. But as you say, when you're actually under threat does a gun necessarily protect you? If a gunman suddenly pops out from somewhere and shoots you, you don't have a chance to grab your own gun anyway.

Ces said...

If anyone is intent on commiting suicide, one does not need a gun. Our security officer was a policeman with many guns. His 9 year old son found his body in the garage dangling with a rope around his neck. The gun just makes the suicides more successful but in my emergency nursing career it was mostly overdose. I don't think gun control and suicide prevention have much in common.

Grannymar said...

I hate guns!

I know there will always be people who take their own lives, but why, oh why do they have to take others with them. It happens everywhere and not just in America.

Candie Bracci said...

Great words there Baino!
I'm with River on that one!

Ropi said...

Hmm, we have some competition, for example on Maths class for the title of Best Chapter test, then there is a kind of rivalry between the 2 groups (Advanced history vs standard history) within the class and there is some kind of rivalry between the 2 bilingual classes on PE classes. Don't forget about Komaja, we also have our little rivalry at school so we can say that I am full of rivalry.

On the other hand I agree with you. Those Americans shouldn't be so surprised that teenagers massacre each other at school since the second amendment of the US constitution gives them the right to have guns and they watch violent movies all the time and don't forget PC games such as GTA, etc...

Mrsupole said...

Well, uhhhh, we own two rifles, two pellet guns, lots of knives, yards of rope, a few axes, cork screws, 10 box cutters, and a few more things like that. Might even have a few of those chemical things. Yes, I think there are some crazy people who should not own any weapons, but there are a lot of weapons out there. Hubby and I were both trained in the Army, so we do not own any bullet handguns, but the rifles were bought when hubby was in the Army and used when they would target practice. The main thing is that the gun does not kill, it is the bullets. You never keep the bullets anywhere near the gun. A little something we learned in the Army. That is why they lock up the bullets seperately from the weapons.

The majority of households here do not have rifles or guns, but I think it has to do with the fact that we HAVE the right to have a gun. This goes back to the American Revolution when we did NOT have this right. Yes, they had guns to hunt and fight the Indians back in those days of the frontier, but it was never specified that we had the Right to have them.

I think that if some wacko wants to kill others along with theirselves they will find something to do it. There are lots that are knifed to death, or some drown others. They always find a way. They say that in Texas, where everyone can carry a gun with them anytime, there is less crime because the criminals do not know if they can get shot or not. Texans will never give up their guns.

So we are stuck in a conundrum about guns here in America. But the majority of us here believe in our rights to bear arms. It is kinda like we believe that alcohol is legal and yes we know that some will be alcoholics and kill people with their drunk driving, but we do not want to take away people's right to drink. Yes, this is another conundrum.

I say just shoot the MF drunk who killed members in my family. Oh okay, one cannot do this. Really this is such a sad thing that people kill anyone. But then speeding or tailgating kills thousands every year all over the world. Should we take away all the cars. More people are killed in car accidents than gun accidents. Maybe you can tell I worked in insurance.

Cigarettes kill too.

Sorry, I guess this list can go on and on. So I will stop now. You learn too much about risks in the insurance business.

God bless.

Sorry for writing such a long comment.

Baino said...

Ces that may be so, and I agree if someone's intent on leaving this mortal coil they'll do just about anything to achieve it but it's just one 'justification' that the gun lobby have for substantiating the statistics, that 50% of all gun deaths are suicides. OK that's alright then. That leaves over 15,000 that are not.

Grannymar that's true and we're not without our 'gun wars' here. Currently being waged with outlaw biker groups but hey, take one weapon out of the equation, please.

Sadly true Candie. We have tight gun regulation but it doesn't stop illegal use or accidents but the US statistis are just terrifying. I'm sick of watching the news and seeing these mass murders.

Baino said...

Ropi, well done for picking up on the theme. I know you are a very competitive person but that is a good thing (as long as you're not carrying a gun) I'm not sure I agree with the issue of watching violent movies or playing CoD. There is a quantum leap between shooting someone on GTA and actually doing it in real life. (trust me I've tried to play and using a controller is nothing like using a gun). I do find it very unusual though that US high schools, well some, have security guards and airport style scanners to stop children bringing firearms into school . .here our big problem is mobile phones!

Not at all Mrsupole. This is a touchy subject. I knew that. Plus I can't tell you how I value the opinion of others. And having a military background both of you are aware of the danger and the need to be careful with guns. One of the odd things here is that guns are highly regulated, ammunition is not. You don't need a license to buy bullets. And, I don't want to sound sanctimonious because knifing and glassing is a big problem here. I just think the 'attitude' of many Americans is that the nation was built with this freedom to bear arms which is no longer relevant in a 21st Century world. I have an acquaintance in Pennsylvania who is a competitive shooter. He knows how to handle a gun but always has one with him and has brandished it on occasion to get himself out of trouble. I just think there is a message somewhere, and I don't have the answer. I take your point about alcoholics or dangerous drivers. For the record, I consider a car a deadly weapon and you're right there are almost 43,000 automobile deaths in the US each year, double that of gun killings but I doubt many are deliberate.

Brian Miller said...

wow. great piece. good job going there. although i don;t know why you did not pick something a little easier like the death penalty. lol. i am torn. taking away freedoms becomes a slippery slope. i do believe assault rifles have no place outside of military, what are you going to hunt with a gun that would turn it into hamburger. i also wonder if there are more proactive than reactive ways to approach the situation. moral development, education...the other day in the newspaper the columnist wrote an editorial, 5 things to think about before you murder someone. this in response to recent slaying here in town. unfortunately his target audience probably does not read the newspaper. i'll pop back through out the day as i look forward to hearing everyones take on this.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Excellent post, Baino and I totally agree. I've never understood how it is that people can effectively walk into Walmart and buy a gun.
Sitting here in one of the most violent societies in the world, I know well the horrors of gun prevalence. Although we've also initiated a scheme for people to dispose of their firearms, the simple reality is there is a sector of society who ignore the rules and bear arms because it's their badge of "honour". Killing is the modus operandi.
I often wonder what it says about people who feel the need to arm themselves - and what it says about our humanity. To me, it speaks to the fundamental fear so prevalent in our humanity - the fear which causes us to fail to recognise each other was one and the same, the same fear which keeps us divided and the same fear, which, quite frankly, drives us mad and makes us to the most abhorrent things to each other.

laughingwolf said...

good stuff, baino, but you left out the #1 killer of folks, worldwide... the AUTOMOBILE! check your stats....

Candie Bracci said...

Lol Brian an easier post,death penalty!
yeah that'll be the next topic.I'd like to read that.What's your position on that?It's really interesting to read from all of you from different parts of the world.
P.S:I was sure Mrsupole would say something like that don't know why.I do understand though,it depends on so many things,where you were born,how you were raised and everyone stories.

In France ,we don't have this whole story about guns but we were raised with american movies.I've watched "Bowling for Columbine" few times,Michael Moore has an interesting theory,isn't it?

I was shocked when I was "Sicko" but that's another subject..

Anonymous said...

Hey Baino, Worcester has bee ndoing a gun buy-back programme for a while now. End result: less gun related crimes, but more knife related ones.

I also had an uncle( and years later, a cousin )who both committed suicide via guns. I sold mine off years ago, even before I left the Army. I don't have a need for them, anymore (and you can read that any way you like ). And the cash helped :)

JMLC said...

So did I!!!! (Pelican, I mean)
I agree with you for the most part and in a more silly way have similar thoughts when I see people driving around in Hummers- what on earth does the average suburban person need with a Hummer? No one's shooting at them, they don't live in a military zone, why, oh why???

Ces said...

Law abiding citizens should not have access to assault riffles, only criminals so they can blow our heads off and our loved ones can just watch and write essays on grief! NOT!

There is a much quicker and more efficient way to kill people - flying airplanes into buildings and bombing towns and cities or a more qiet way, let them drink cyanide cocktail or elect a liberal marxist president, that would be slow death.

Ces said...

Oh no! Not the death penalty topic. That'll kill me!

Baino said...

Brian that's true. I have no problem with gun ownership per se as long as it's regulated and the weapon is appropriate to it's use. Many here have 22's or 303's for feral animal control but you can't walk down the street with a knife or a pistol in your pocket (of course some do!)

Av you're right although conquering fear is a difficult thing to do. Again, it's the 'attitude' of having a 'right' to own a gun that I still can't grasp. And I don't buy argument that if you have gun control (notice I'm saying 'control' not banishment) other forms of weaponry will take their place. They don't . .it's much harder to kill with a knife than a bullet. It's the split second decisionmaking with a gun in hand that causes so much damage. They're so damn easy to use.

Wuffa, have indeed checked the stats, 43,000 a year! But as I said to Mrssupole, people just dont go out intending to cause harm in their cars. And we do have a licensing system for vehicles. that's all I'm saying . . make guns harder to acquire. You won't stop the illegal stuff but you'll certainly restrict availability.

Candie, no other country has the US record for damage done by guns. Not even gun toting arabic or Pakistani states. As for the French medical system, it's without doubt the best in the world. Take Mike Moore with a grain of salt though, he's way over the other side! As for the death penalty . .we dont have it here. And yes, that's a topic for another day.

Good point JLMC. I've also wondered why we need V8 or sports cars when the fastest they're 'allowed' to drive on a public freeway is 120kms per hour. Just asking for trouble. We could save lives and reduce our carbon footprint by reducing the size of car engines. Wouldn't that put a cat among the pigeons!

Oh Ces! I'm not even going to comment on the 'liberal marxist'. . . I like him! Then I believe you Texans love yer guns . .do you own one? Haha . .I'll spare you the death penalty topic . . for now muwahahahaha!

kj said...

a thoughtful and important post, baino. guns are SO damn easy to get here. eight weeks ago my 30 year old nephew walked in to a gun store and killed himself a hour later--no background check, nothing (he had a history of mental illness). my poor brother.

and all these shootings in public places. you can't do that so easily with a knife or a bomb. i believe in the right to bear arms but am for strict enforceable control and followup. we have none of that. i don't understand why responsible gun enthusiasts aren't against weapon proliferation.

Megan said...

I'm with you.

Anonymous said...

I consider myself a responsible gun owner and sports shooter. I don't hunt (being a veggie) and have never pointed my gun at anything other than a clay pigeon. I don't even keep my gun at home. I cannot understand America's gun lust. Off the battlefield there is absolutely no need for assault weapons or anything above a .22 calibre. Now, I'm by no means trying to reiterate an old (and controversial) mantra and I have no love of the US NRA but I do really believe that guns do not kill people, irresponsible gun ownership kills people. Laws are pretty tight here in Ireland and I'm glad they are.
Just on the point of suicide, guns and thinking about it for a couple of minutes before pulling the trigger, this week, the body of a suicide victim was found in a forest in Germany. The victim had written his suicide note advising his family not to bother looking for him as they would never find him. The note was written 30 years ago and the body was discovered this week, lashed to a tree 40 ft up with the shotgun tied beside him so it wouldn't fall and be discovered. I think that guy thought a hell of a lot about what he was going to do and nothing was going to change his mind.

Ropi said...

Well, but you know with adequate education and intelligence Cod GTA etc.. may be enough to try it in real life.

ashleigh said...

Excellent, well said. I wish I'd written that.

Your examples are a bit shy of the mark though. It's quite normal for a couple to have maybe 3 or 4 guns between them. One each and few spares.

Oh, and the right to bear arms thing, is a beat up. Their constitution allows the right to form a militia - something that was essential for civil defence in the days before a national army, and defence organsied by government. Now, its just a historical curiosity but is used as an excuse by the gun-lovers.

But your point - what are they so afraid of that they need to defend themselves - thats the crux of the whole thing. It's all illogical.

Anonymous said...

Quite a post, and definitely comment-fodder! I'm with you, and the whole 2nd-Amendment argument falls flat with me: our Founding Fathers never dreamed of the kind of weaponry available to any adult with some cash.