The Slow Suicide of America

Update: 11/04/2018 – After a lot of feedback I decided to revise the article by including more sources.  There will be no pleasing some people, however I looked to address some of the Second Amendment’s more passionate defenders and their complaints in this edit.  I have added more graphs and pictures because apparently long blocks of text upset some people.

Update: 11/10/2018 – Another few days and another few massacres.  It has become taboo for gun reform activists to speak up after any shooting, however there have been more of them than days this year.  Irresponsible and ignorant is what it would be to not politicize tragedies such as what happened in Thousand Oaks two days ago.  After one of these mass killings we need to have conversations about guns, their impact on society and just how many lives it will cost before someone does something to stem the tide of violence.  I am not that person, I don’t have the audience or platform to reach out.  That doesn’t mean I can’t add anything valuable to the conversation.

Second Amendment defenders say it’s uncouth to talk about guns after a shooting.  Post 9/11 how long did it take for that tragedy to become a political issue, ten minutes?  Before the second tower fell people were already speculating on national news about which country we could be fighting a war with in retaliation.  I am not callous enough to downplay the terrorist attacks on 9/11.  They cost 2,996 innocent lives and are responsible for over 6,000 injuries.  I take no pleasure in drawing comparisons when it comes to horrific deaths but in this case it might snap someone out of their stance on guns.

So far, in 2018, 12,542 people have died due to gun violence.  Last year ended with the total over 15,000.  So every year we bear witness to around five 9/11’s in lives lost due to guns.  Think about that. It was the worst single loss of life due to terrorism in this countries’ history, one that left it’s horrible stain on every American’s soul.  Every year we lose way more people than died on 9/11 because of this country’s sick fascination with guns.  As for the injured, the average number of people hurt by gun violence in the previous 4 years is 14,165.

So how much is too much?  Is it not as big of a deal because the 15,000+ people dead at the hands of guns didn’t die all at once?  How many people have to be simultaneously murdered by a madman with a gun before it becomes untenable?  It is sickening that many people in this country prioritize their right to bear arms (which they don’t even understand, read below) over the toll it takes on human life.

According to the Washington Post, the number of deaths by mass killing via gun is around 1,693.  Do we need to wait until 1,303 more people succumb to this epidemic? This doesn’t even take into account the hundreds of thousands of people touched each year by gun violence.  Think about the family of a kid who found Dad’s gun and shot his sister by mistake.  If you really care about gun violence in urban areas, think of a stray bullet shot by a gang member that hits a girl walking home from school.  Why is your right to bear arms more important than everyone else’s right to “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”?

Next time you want to play legal scholar or history teacher think about what the founders wanted this country to be.  It’s right there in the Preamble to the Declaration of Independence.  Those three concepts “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” were etched in this country’s consciousness way before your precious Second Amendment.  Your gun is no more important than any one person’s life.  I am sorry if that offends your sensibilities but I am beyond caring at this point.  You are killing us, I should have titled this article “The Slow, Torturous Murder of America” but I think suicide may be more accurate since we are doing this to ourselves.

The genesis of this column is a response to a conversation I was having on Twitter with gun’s rights advocates. One, in particular. As a rule, most arguments on Twitter devolve into name-calling and irrational behavior. This was no exception, well almost. One voice on the opposing side stood out among the rest. He was rational, calm and composed. We had a brief conversation on the matter before both leaving and promising to speak again. This is what came out of my attempt to refute his claims. What started as a 240 character tweet, okay maybe a few 240 character tweets, became this unwieldy nightmare of an article.

Barring spell-checking it has taken me 7 hours to write (Edit: Original Draft, Revisions added another week) and several more days to research and verify facts and statistics. I have chosen either bi-partisan sources when available or strictly scientific ones with no political leanings. I hope it is read with an open mind, with its intention to advocate for a side, not to hurt anyone’s feelings. I don’t curse in it, so it’s safe for everyone. Believe me I wanted to curse at times. In re-reading it I can understand parts will be preachy and judgey. It’s a particularly emotional topic and it really is hard to treat it clinically. One further disclaimer, I am not a scientist, researcher, expert, or even professional writer.

I’m a pretty average person. I am cis male, heterosexual, white, married and I’m working a full-time job that I really never considered or wanted but maintain in order to feed my family. I am not an outlier or a freak, I am you America. Well, not all of you, but I represent a good cross-section of this country. I am a liberal, I know, shocking, right? However, this is not a partisan issue with me, if Democrats opposed gun control I’d be angry with them. I originally resisted joining a political party because I knew I never was going to agree with the entire platform of either.

I hope you stick with me until the end and take my words for what they are, the reasoned and researched plea of an average American. In no way do I represent a political party, an industry, or any one person besides myself. These are my words and mine alone with no influence or inducement from an outside source. I truly hope this changes minds but fully acknowledge it will either remain unread and unnoticed or ignored. Thank you to the readers and thank you to the opposer who inspired me to write this. I appreciate your stance and vehemently oppose it, but respect your candor and your attitude. Thank you all, I’d say enjoy, but this isn’t really a fun topic. Okay it is now 4:30 in the morning, I am tired. Without any further pomp and circumstance, on with the show, the depressing, sobering show.

Okay, so this is going to be a long one. I will stipulate that I am not a fan of guns. It doesn’t make me a “libtard” or “anti-America”. My reasons are many, but my most relatable (sadly) is that I have been a victim of gun violence.

The debate on guns is tiresome and tough. No one wants to have it, but it’s necessary. Americans are killed by guns at a rate that is shocking and worse than any other industrialized nation on Earth. We also have more guns than any other nation. The average gun owner doesn’t own just one gun for sport or home protection. There are estimated to be over 393 million guns in this country. That is 120 guns for every one hundred people. We have more guns than people to carry them. I guess we can dual-wield like a video game or “The Matrix”.

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This article, column, so-called liberal propaganda piece, is about guns; why we love them, who profits from them, why they are legal, and what is really at the heart of the gun debate. It’s going to make people angry, I know that and am fully prepared to read a ton of nasty things. (Update: Wow, did I ever!) I’m not going to sugarcoat anything, I will leave my Twitter handle at the end, so you can take your anger out on me if you want. (Update: You did!)

I want things to change. I want guns to be taken out of a lot of your hands. I will provide a reasonable and cost-effective way to accomplish this which will still leave us protected. In doing so I will express a burning desire to ban many types of guns.  The focus of my ire are semi-automatic weapons, especially the choice gun of recent mass shooters, the AR-15.  As a side note I’d like to present the following from an NBC interview, “Our father, Eugene Stoner, designed the AR-15 and subsequent M16 as a military weapon to give our soldiers an advantage over the AK-47…He died long before any mass shootings occurred. But, we do think he would have been horrified and sickened as anyone, if not more by these events.”.  So, there’s that.

I would like to start by focusing on the AR-15 as the prime example of our fascination with guns and prioritizing them over life. So, let’s begin by giving you some facts about the AR-15. It was designed for military use and to be effective at piercing “both sides of a standard Army helmet at 500 meters”.  At it’s stock firing rate it can spray 45 rounds a minute.  The parents of David Barden, one of the children who was murdered at Sandy Hook wrote “The last thing our sweet little Daniel would have seen in his short, beautiful life was the long barrel of a ferocious rifle designed to kill the enemy in war. The last thing Daniel’s tender little body would have felt were bullets expelled from that AR-15 traveling at greater than 3,000 feet per second — a speed designed to pierce body armor in the war zones of Fallujah.”.  It’s an incendiary quote for sure, but it’s honest and heartbreaking.

The AR-15 is one shot per pull however for under $500 it can be made fully automatic.  Now, this statement in itself draws a lot of criticism.  AR-15 proponents claim that it is either impossible or ridiculously cost prohibitive.  Modifying an AR-15 does not require a degree in engineering or access to the deepest, darkest recesses of the internet, as many a gun aficionado will claim.  As quoted by Guns & Ammo magazine “For many, tricking out an AR-15 is the perfect way to personalize a rifle and simultaneously build a bond with it. The amount of interchangeable and aftermarket parts available today make the platform an open canvas for infinite customizations.”.  Again, gun enthusiasts will claim that this only applies to scopes and other harmless modifications.  This is a lie, or a gross over-simplification of the facts.

You may have heard the term “bump stock”, especially after the perpetrator of the Las Vegas mass shooting, Stephen Paddock, was found to have customized his weapons with them.  So what is a bump stock?  Per the NY Times, “A “bump stock” replaces a rifle’s standard stock, which is the part held against the shoulder. It frees the weapon to slide back and forth rapidly, harnessing the energy from the kickback shooters feel when the weapon fires”.  What would be the advantage to having something like this?  According to the same article “The bump stock is not banned under federal law even though it allows a weapon to fire at nearly the rate of a machine gun without technically converting it to a fully automatic firearm.”.  So while not technically a fully automatic it is the next best thing, especially if you want to kill a lot of people in a relatively short amount of time.  Other minor alterations to an AR-15 allow it to closely mimic the firing rate of a full auto.  Some are 100% legal, some are completely illegal.  My question is if you are planning a massacre does the legality of an alteration even cross your mind?

So besides mass murder what is the use of an AR-15?  Well, I am glad I asked.  According to many AR-15 fanatics on Twitter, the AR-15 is a wonderful, safe and perfect tool for hunting, target shooting and home protection.  So why not take a look at the AR-15’s uses in a little more detail?

First up, hunting. This is the one I hear most frequently next to home defense. Yes, the AR-15 is a useful hunting platform. I confess, I find hunting abhorrent. I love eating meat but I am not interested in killing it. It’s a contradiction but one I freely admit to.

People use AR-15’s for hunting because they are powerful and lightweight, and you don’t have to go through all the hassle of reloading like with a bolt action rifle. Yes, hunting would be more difficult without the AR-15. My point of view is that if you view hunting as a sport it should be difficult. I played basketball and there are plenty of hoops that are under 10ft (regulation height) and we’d frequently lower the rim to 9ft, so we could do NBA Jam style dunks. However, when the game started it was back to regulation height. It would have been much easier to play on 9 or even 8-foot rims (I’d be Jordan) but it’s a sport and it’s not supposed to be easy.

In regard to hunting, shouldn’t it be difficult? Especially when you are actively trying to kill something? I get it’s an easy option but so is lowering the rim, playing football with a Nerf ball or moving the outfield fence in 100 feet. If you are going to treat hunting as a sport use a bolt action or a bow and arrow. Use something that the founders had in their time. It’d be a challenge and eliminate the need for heavy duty firepower that is routinely misused by criminals.

I’ve been told how pig hunting is great with AR-15’s because you can kill a lot of them in a short time. This seems very unsportsmanlike. If the animal has no chance where is the sport in that? Animals don’t have guns, so they can’t be in on the game. When you are lining up your shot they are not aware that the game has begun, and they are about to lose.

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Tension breaker.

I don’t want to take away your sport. Well, in my perfect world I would, but in that world, cheeseburgers would be health food. I just argue that you should make it a challenge. Very few people hunt to survive any more. I can’t remember the last time I saw a guy with a deer draped over his back exclaiming “We won’t go hungry tonight!”. It’s not a necessity, to that end neither is fishing but honestly, I think that is at least a little fair since the fish can escape. I used to go fishing with my brother and I was actually pretty good, but it didn’t hook me (Ahhh, get it?).

So, perfect world, the AR-15 is no longer used for hunting. What else is its purpose? Home protection, the heavyweight of the argument. Shouldn’t you be able to protect your house at all costs? Yes, but within reason.

Scenario: A crazy, mad-killer is breaking into your home, he wants nothing more than to taste your spleen. You, woken up in the dead of night, go and get your gun. The lunatic breaks in your room and BOOM!!! you lay him out with a perfect grouping of shots to the chest. Incident over, the police laud you and you make the news. “Hero home owner defends homestead” News at 11 followed by your local weather report. Sounds great and it is definitely possible.

Reality: In most cases, people that commit home invasions are there to rob you, not kill you. Still, it’s your house and you should be able to defend your stuff. Now, here’s the scary part. For every successful defense of the home there are 7 times it goes tragically wrong and the homeowner is shot or killed with their own weapon.  This stat and some of the next few are not exclusive to AR-15’s but guns in general.  I have used them because I want to make a larger point about gun culture in America.  We will come back around to the AR-15 in a bit.

Homes with guns are more prone to suicide by a factor of 11. Think about it, guns are impulsive weapons. If you want to kill yourself there are downsides to most methods. Cutting hurts and is not always fatal. Pills, well if you aren’t an expert you could just end up puking all night. Hanging, this just freaks me out. It’s become the way to go if you are famous and I’ll never understand it. It just seems really painful, but I guess it’s nearly foolproof. It’s an option however it leaves a lot of time for second thoughts. You must fashion a noose and put it around your neck. It’s not an all-day thing but it’s time enough for someone to reconsider, same with knives and pills. Jumping off something high? Well, it’s a long way up and a long time to reconsider. Guns are nearly foolproof and instantaneous. You aim, pull the trigger and die or wind up a vegetable. One more fact on suicide, in a clinical study 90 percent of suicide survivors do not go on to die by suicide and regret the attempt.

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Home defense with a gun is perfect in theory but the numbers don’t bear it out (I will include sources). According to a Bustle article “In 2012, the Violence Policy Center released data that revealed only 259 justified homicide cases (i.e. when people killed others in self-defense) were confirmed in the United States. In contrast there were 1.2 million violent crimes in 2012. Even more alarming? The LA Times reported there was just “one justifiable killing for every 32 murders, suicides or accidental deaths (the ratio increases to 38:1 over the five-year period ending in 2012).”.  In the years since 2012 these numbers have remained about the same.  Different studies have been done and the numbers fluctuate wildly between partisan websites but these are the most common numbers given.

Yes, people stop crimes with a gun in the house. By all means, keep a pistol in your house for this reason (Hopefully, locked away from the kids) but why would you need Scarface-level weapons for home protection? Just who did you anger? Is a foreign invading force coming for your cat? No, it’s most likely a common burglar who wants nothing more than to take some valuables and get out without violence. In fact, last year in cases of “stand your ground” it’s 4:1 with the intruder being unarmed.

“Stand your ground” in itself has become a national debate in the wake of the high profile shooting (I call it murder) of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman.  This incident happened not inside Zimmerman’s home but in the neighborhood where he lived.  “Stand your ground” was initially instituted to protect the homeowner from criminal and civil liability in the case of a death or wounding of a person invading their home.  In recent times it’s use has been extended with disastrous effect to places outside the home.

Take the case of Joe McKnight, former New York Jets running back.  He was shot and killed in an apparent road rage incident. Initially it was reported that McKnight exited his car, and the shooter a 50-something white guy, feared for his life and opened fire. McKnight, who was unarmed, died at the scene.  The shooter used the “Stand your ground” defense and said he felt an imminent threat to his life.

As the story gained traction it came to light that the shooter had repeatedly taunted McKnight as he was driving, yelling racial epithets. He also attempted to run the RB off the road. McKnight, who shouldn’t have gotten out of the car, approached the vehicle and was shot. Angry white dude, then got out of the car, yelled what some say was “I told you not to f*ck with me” and pretty much executed him. The shooter was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to a term of 30 years in prison. In this case, the gun made a probably off-balance man a murderer. Worst case scenario with no gun, he gets beat up. Now McKnight is dead, and this guy is rotting in prison and will likely die there. So, the gun did more harm to both men than it did good.

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Joe McKnight, right and his killer, left

Back to your safe, secure home, protected by an alarm system and bars on the windows I’m sure. If you are so concerned with home defense I would hope you exhausted every possibility before “I’ll just kill a guy” came into your mind but probably not because it’s your house and you’ll protect it by all means. Except by, you know, regular security precautions.  Hey, I hear moats might be making a comeback.

So, let’s replay the home invasion scenario, this time with an AR-15. Maniac breaks in and you shoot him to shreds. Same result, but was that extra firepower worth it? Now you have holes in your walls, you probably shot up your TV. You know how much it is going to be to replace that? Never mind the blood and brains, you need contractors and that all comes out of your pocket.

Obviously, that is mostly for sarcasm’s sake but there are obvious downsides to using military style weaponry in an enclosed environment. If you shoot at your target and miss bullets still fly, maybe they hit someone in the house. Bullets ricochet, maybe they hit your sweet Golden Retriever. Who knows? Of course, you can defend your homestead from those damn injuns, but what you can accomplish with a AR-15 can be done with a .22. Not enough stopping power you say. Okay a .44 Magnum, will that work? Clint Eastwood taught me it’s the most powerful gun in the world. (This is obviously a joke, but it triggered gun’s rights people to no end, apparently a AR-15 is reasonable but a .44 is just insane)  My point is not that the AR-15 is the most powerful weapon available, far from it, it is that the rate in which it fires and its capacity (30 rounds) makes it overkill as a defensive weapon anywhere other than a battlefield (where the weapon is slightly modified to become an M16, which is full auto).  According to a Washington Post article “[The] AR-15 has a high muzzle velocity, which, combined with the small .223 round, produces a violent ricochet through an animal body if it hits bone.”.

There are several cases of home owners using AR-15’s to protect the homestead, however in many the proportionate response to the threat was excessive.  In Oklahoma in March 2017 three masked teens were shot to death in a home invasion.  The intruders exchanged words with the homeowner, turned to leave and were shot to death.  Two were carrying brass knuckles and one was armed with a knife.  Oklahoma’s law states a homeowner “has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force, if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.”.  Three kids armed with melee weapons fleeing a house versus a guy with an AR-15 doesn’t seem like a fair fight but I get it, they were in the house to cause harm or steal.

The AR-15 is lauded by gun’s right proponents for being easy to use, load, aim, and fire.  There are murky stats on how many home invasions are stopped by AR-15’s as opposed to handguns, however I would argue the risks of the over-powered weapons as opposed to the benefit are greater.  Some will counter that a person could use a revolver to kill a massive amount of people in a tight environment. It is a verifiable fact that handguns are used in more murders nationwide however sales of the AR-15 and horrific usage of the weapon are on the rise.

The AR-15 has become the weapon de jour of mass shooters in recent years.  The AR-15 has been used in Aurora, Orlando, Parkland, Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, Nashville, San Bernadino, Sutherland Springs and most recently in a Pittsburgh synagogue (Edit: Now including Thousand Oaks, CA where 13 people were killed including a police officer, the definition of a “good guy with a gun”).  The rise of the AR may not be proportionate to how many mass shootings there are but definitely plays a factor in how deadly they have been.  Below is a graph showing the worst mass shootings from 1991-2017, check the graph against the previously referred to list of shootings with AR-15s.  Only Virginia Tech, Fort Hood and Kileen, Texas were perpetrated by murderers using pistols.  The Columbine shootings involved many different guns including a semi-automatic pistol.  As you can see, the ones with the most deaths involved AR-15s.

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The AR-15 isn’t the most powerful gun legally available for consumers either.  The proprietor of a gun shop in Illinois, Dean Hazen said this in an NBC interview “It’s really just a perception thing…There are rifles that are more powerful and more dangerous than that, but they’re not being used.” He believes mass shooters generally don’t know much about guns and choose the AR-15 because of the reputation it has gotten from being used in other mass shootings”.  So while yes, there are many more murders committed with more pedestrian firearms, the AR-15 is growing more and more popular with dangerous, murderous individuals due to how effective it is at killing a lot of people with ease.

You can say it’s a sign of the times, blame it on movies or video games but it’s a real and deadly problem. Mass shootings are almost exclusively an American problem, an epidemic. We’ve had 57 times as many school shootings as every other industrialized nation combined.  Not all used AR-15’s, however the trend is that that weapon’s use and notoriety is rising.  Peter Blair, who studies mass murder and is the executive director of Texas State University’s Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center is quoted as saying “You’re in an ambiguous situation and you don’t know what to do. That can be looking at what silverware other people use at a fancy dinner party and copying them, or it can be using the same type of weapon other shooters have used if you’re planning a mass shooting.”.  While the N.R.A. claims the weapon’s popularity is due to it’s customization for different (legal and honest) uses Blair counters by noting “I don’t see a lot of customization happening with the guns mass shooters use. They’re pretty much using the stock AR which is easy to operate and straightforward”.

Now, I weigh the lives of innocent people and children over the freedom to carry military style weapons. I understand people love the Second Amendment, I honestly do. However, when it was written weapons like these were a pipe dream. Yes, there were mounted “puckle guns” but they weren’t portable and were very unpopular. The founders had little possibility of knowing lightweight portable weapons possible of the kind of damage we see today would be readily available to anybody 18 or older with a clean criminal history (and in several states there is no waiting period unlike handguns).

I don’t know if there is a solution to crazy people getting their hands on these kinds of weapons other than an outright ban. Nikolas Cruz was 19 with no criminal record. He bought his gun legally.  That said it should be hard for anyone to purchase a gun.  Gun laws vary wildly from state to state.  There are many legal loopholes which even people who’d fail a background check can acquire a gun. Yes, it is illegal, however if you really need a gun, for whatever purpose, and cannot own one legally do you really care about the law?

I am 100% in favor of both internet sales and gun show sales being banned. If you want a gun go through the proper channels. Gun shows are supposed to be regulated but are largely ignored. The internet is the internet, if I wanted to buy a rocket launcher it wouldn’t be impossible.  It might seem like an over-exaggeration from a liberal gun-grabber however if you look deep enough on the internet you can find almost anything.  Just because you yourself are a moral, law abiding citizen doesn’t mean the person next to you is.

So that leaves gun stores where many mass shooters get their weapons. Maybe we must institute psychological background checks. I’m sure Second Amendment defenders would protest that. I would hope everyone would be against insane people having guns, but sadly it’s not true. This precaution also does not allow for the occurrence in which a sane person can go crazy or just build up enough anger, frustration or rage to become a mass shooter. People snap, it happens.  We cannot detain people with mental disorders prior to committing horrific acts of violence either.  I cannot tell you how many times this is put forward by Second Amendment defenders as a legitimate measure of defense.  “Lock the crazy or dangerous people up”.

Mental health care may be the gun lover’s number one scapegoat for shootings.  They love their right to freedom but if you have a mental illness they are fully prepared to lock you up and throw away the key.  There is no limit to who would be considered dangerous.  When repeatedly asked what would cause a person with a mental illness to be locked away indefinitely it ranged from schizophrenia to anyone who took an anti-depressant in the last decade.  This is illogical and cruel.  People with mental illness, severe and commonplace, deserve our compassion and care.  If “crazy” people can get their hands on guns, it isn’t on the government to start locking innocent mentally ill folk up so it doesn’t happen again.  Why not take the weapons they would use to inflict harm?  Well, that’s a constitutional right.  I guess freedom from being locked away forever with no due process is just a suggestion.

As for another solution to mass shootings put forward by gun aficionados and their lobbying arm; putting weapons in teachers’ hands. This is ridiculous. Teachers get paid like crap, schools are using outdated textbooks and don’t have enough computers. Now you want to tell them that they are the first line of defense against a shooter? From my memories of school, I wouldn’t have confidence in any of my teachers taking down a murderer. A lot of schools have police on campus. I had several in high school. Marjorie Stoneman Douglas had one, it didn’t help. Metal detectors aren’t going to stop someone on a mission to kill and most likely willing or wanting to die in the process.

Fortifying a school so it more resembles a military base is insane.  Posting armed guards at every entrance is a pipe dream of the gun lover.  It’s financially and logically infeasible.  This is another case of treating the symptom and not the disease.  They essentially want to imprison students in order to make it safe for them to learn without the risk of being killed.  Never mind making it harder to get weapons, let’s just punish everyone.

I’ll come back to schools and cons for guns and the AR-15 later. Let’s look at some arguments for gun rights including common firearms as well as semi-autos. One, it’s a constitutional right. Yes it is, but there are amendments. Slavery was perfectly fine until the 13th Amendment was added. Times change, and laws should as well. A lot of people look to the Constitution as a perfect document. It’s not. If it was, the amendment process would not exist.  The Constitution is referred to as a “living, breathing document”.  To say that amendments banning some or all guns are illegal is wrong-headed.  Some have even argued that the Bill of Rights, the first 10 Amendments are immutable.  So, does that mean that every one after that is merely a suggestion?

Life is possible to live without packing heat 24/7. I have friends who disagree and carry everywhere they go. It doesn’t make me angry, it makes me sad that this is the state of affairs now. It would be bitter medicine if it was the entire world that had this problem of mass shootings but it’s not. We are supposedly “The Greatest Nation in the World” however we have the biggest problem with guns, outside of non-industrialized society. Countries have enacted wide spread gun reform and even strict bans and they’ve worked.

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Australia enacted a strict ban after a mass shooting. I don’t live in Oz so I decided to ask a random Australian on Twitter for their opinion. “[The] Majority of Australians are grateful to John Howard for introducing gun controls after [the] Port Arthur massacre in 1996. The ban was implemented with bipartisan support in Parliament, along with almost universal community support”. I’ve withheld their Twitter handle because I am not sure if this person wants to be outed because they’ll be accused of writing manifestos about gun control. If this person says it is okay I will edit this and accredit this person.

To be sure about this opinion I repeated the experiment and messaged any person I could find with a location of Australia and asked about gun control. One guy said it made it harder to protect from kangaroos, but I think he was joking with the ignorant American. I queried 15 people, hardly enough to publish as academic research but hopefully enough to placate a few 2nd Amendment fans on Twitter (update, it was not).

So, what does Australia have to do with America you ask? I can read your mind. Port Arthur was the site of a mass shooting in 1996 which killed 35 and wounded a further 23 in Tasmania. The perpetrator was mentally ill and had legally purchased firearms. The massacre shook the Australians who banded together in support of gun legislation. Measures were passed restricting the private ownership of semi-auto rifles and semi-auto and pump action shotguns. The reaction to the massacre and subsequent legislation was helped as the UK (Scotland) had experience its own mass shooting in Dunblaine a few weeks prior which killed 16 children and 1 adult, their teacher. The UK passed gun legislation soon after.

Before Port Arthur there had been measures to restrict guns in Australia but all had failed. It took the senseless murder of 35 people to turn them around. It’s sad to say, but it only took one mass shooting with an AR-15 for the Aussies to realize there was a problem. Post-shooting there was majority support, both civilian and political, for gun control. The Australian government didn’t just go door to door collecting weapons though. A mandatory buy-back program was instated in which well over half a million guns were purchased by the government. Since the Port Arthur shooting and subsequent gun control restrictions Australia has seen a marked decrease in homicide rates, overall violence and only one mass shooting (a domestic shooting which claimed 6 family members lives and the perpetrator’s in a murder-suicide). Scotland and the UK as a whole have seen fewer gun related deaths, but terrorist attacks have kept the homicide rate lower but not drastically.

Australia faced a terrible tragedy and responded in a responsible manner and saw immediate results. Sure, some people were not thrilled about giving back their legally purchased, Country given rights to gun ownership, but the vast majority were for it. As for people who use guns for sport, the government allowed ownership of some models of weapons, but it is tightly restricted and extremely thorough background checks are done to make sure the owners are of sound mind and are not criminals. Overall the Australian gun control plan has been a rousing success and a popular decision. Every time a measure to relax the law arises it is swiftly defeated by liberals and conservatives alike.

So what is the difference between America and the UK and Australia? The fetishization of guns is an issue, guns have become extensions of our bodies. They are powerful, important, and cool. This quote from Guns & Ammo is particularly telling “the Rifleman’s Creed emphasizes the importance of building a bond with your rifle, learning how it works and respecting it as a best friend or brother.”.  Their best friends kill kids, so that can’t be all, right?  Many people claim that owning a weapon, any gun, is a right bestowed upon the American citizen by God and George Washington together in lock-step.  While hyperbole, this is not far off from what many believe, and it’s completely wrong.

I would like to establish some facts about our Bill of Rights. I would especially like to address the more ardent supporters of gun rights who fancy themselves Constitutional scholars.  The First Amendment states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”.  So we can say whatever we want whenever without fear of prosecution?  Let’s not worry about the private sector where you can be held liable for your words by being fired or reprimanded.

I want to focus on the legal ramifications of “free” speech, because there are restrictions inherit to the First Amendment.  Don’t believe me, next time you are on an airplane just casually whisper to the flight attendant that you have a bomb.  Or why not just start posting on social media about how you’d like nothing more than to murder the President?  Schenck vs. United States ruled that it was illegal to post flyers that were opposed to the military draft.  Brandenburg vs. Ohio later refined the law by stating that banned speech would be such as to incite imminent lawless action, like a riot.  It’s the well worn “you can’t yell fire in a crowded theatre” trope.  Schecnk set the standard for this argument (which was never really about a fire or a theatre).

First Amendment litigator and criminal defense lawyer Ken White sums it up in this quote.“You can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theater”, it’s the most popular and widely known catchphrase about free speech. It’s America’s go-to way to say that free speech is not absolute and that the First Amendment has exceptions, although there are variations.”.  Even freedoms we think are absolute have their limits.  The First, the very FIRST Amendment which comes before the precious Second Amendment has mitigating factors.  If we can limit free speech, why can’t we limit guns?  If you think it is your absolute right to have an AR-15 or other military style weapons than please go ahead and describe child pornography to another person. New York vs. Ferber established that is a crime. So please, if you are so rigid in your interpretation of The Bill of Rights, go ahead threaten the President, say you are going to blow up a plane or just talk about sex acts with minors in public.  I dare you!

Gun’s rights advocates say it is their God-given right to own whatever weapons they want. First off, separation of Church and State should be brought up in opposition immediately. 2A defenders cite God-given as the reason they want and need guns, however this is not a country run by religion, no matter what Evangelicals tell you. This is not a Christian, Catholic, Muslim or Jewish country. It is a country founded on the basis of religious freedom.

So, if it’s not God’s will Americans buy weapons, it must be the founders of this great nation. For they loved the gun so they writ in their holy text, the Constitution. So, what does the Second Amendment say exactly? Well, young squire here it is “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”. Okay that is fairly straight-forward. Anyone can buy guns, John Hancock and his crew said so. Well that’s where things get tricky. It’s a nifty little trick but gun advocates tend to ignore the whole militia argument and the reasoning for its inclusion in the amendment.

Why are militias mentioned? Well, I am glad I asked, thinking it would be your next question. The militia clause is meant to provide for the following: enables the people to form a militia to counter the actions of a tyrannical government, participate in enforcement of laws, repelling an invasion from outside the country, quelling insurrections from inside and finally self-defense. There is some debate as to whether the insurrection part was meant to represent slave revolts as that was just fine at the time of the Constitution’s writing. Let’s take these points and dissect them, shall we? Well, I am going to, you can just sit back and read.

Countering a tyrannical government: That Obama guy sure was a tyrant, right? Well, I really don’t think so. He did sign a couple executive orders, but Trump has far surpassed his 8 years of them by far in 2 years. Sad! Never mind Trump, my point was that a good portion of this country referred to Obama as a tyrant. There was no uprising to get him out of the office though. First, because it’s insanity and would be met with a force that would quash it in a heartbeat. The President could be a complete psychopath and there is never going to be an armed uprising. Political maneuvering is the only way to unseat a President and as we see today it is not just a simple procedure. So, the tyrannical government issue is outdated and not relevant in 2018 or even 1918. Next!

Forming Militias: So, militias do exist. There are currently 953 in the U.S. Oh, sorry those aren’t militias, they are hate groups. 953 hate groups active in the United States in 2018. Off topic for a second, why are there so many? There are clusters of them in the same states. Do some groups not hate minorities enough to join up with others? Do some only hate Asians?  I really don’t want answers. (Edit: I unfortunately am going to get them, as they are the subject of my next piece)

So, militias are now more commonly known as hate groups. In the 80’s and early 90’s there was a rise in armed militias. Many were in Florida’s Everglades and were either planning on freeing Cuba from Castro’s regime or taking South Florida back from the Cubans by force. Nothing ever came of this, but it was a real possibility. At the height of the Cuban/Caucasian feud was the Elian Gonzalez (Look it up if unfamiliar) saga and at its absolute fever pitch there were two marches; one for his return to Cuba and the other in favor of him being allowed to stay in the U.S.. Militias also come up in the story of Timothy McVeigh who found militias in Michigan were a little too passive for him. I think we all know how he decided to express his views.  Militias are outdated and unnecessary, we have a whole slew of various law enforcement agencies and military branches to protect us.

Participating in law enforcement: This has been represented as extra-judicial arrests by citizens which do happen but are exceedingly rare. It has also been used to justify mob justice, especially the lynching of blacks prior to and sadly after the Civil Rights Movement. On a purely contemporary basis no one wants armed bands of untrained people enforcing the laws. We have enough issues with trained cops shooting people that we definitely don’t need ole Gus from around the block playing officer. In fact, that is illegal and will get you a hefty jail sentence. So, participating in law enforcement doesn’t really hold water now. Again, this is a product of a by-gone era. Posses don’t happen now. Internet mobs seem to be the new posses and I’d rather face Twitter justice than face off with ole Gus, that dude is crazy!

Repelling an invading force: We are currently embroiled in two wars and picking fights with pretty much everyone. The good, but also terrible, of modern warfare is we don’t have to worry about an invading force crashing our shores. War is fought by most modern societies with technology (this is a whole other debate). ISIS and similar groups are not going to show up en-mass and attack Fort McHenry. 9/11-esque acts of terror are always a possibility, but we haven’t had one of those since that terrible day. The government (those evil people you all don’t want messing with your guns) do a pretty good job of snuffing out terrorist plots before they can occur. We don’t need armed civilians out on the streets harassing everyone who looks “Terroristy” aka minorities. We have a several sophisticated law enforcement agencies which, for better or worse, prevent terror. Again, surveillance and such is another topic all together.

Quelling an insurrection: Leaving behind the racist implications this was written with, this is also never going to happen. A group of more than 3 people cannot decide where to go eat, do you really think an organized force of millions is going to be able to keep such a huge secret? It would have to be a secret because those previously mentioned law enforcement groups would have to be caught completely unaware. So, we have a massive group of people, all armed, storming the castle in complete secret. Never going to happen.

The closest you’ll ever see to this is marches. Those are great in my opinion. Non-violent protests are the way society handles things. Back in the founding father’s era, the chances of an insurrection were possible. There was a whole war that was between brothers, hmm oh yeah, the Civil War. Now the population is too unwieldy to support this kind of action. Also, we as a society, are way too lazy for a rebellion, you think I am going to stop watching TV to go fight the government or the usurpers? Coups are not a thing in the U.S. Even a military uprising against the government is completely out of the bounds of reason. It happened in the Soviet Union in semi-recent times, but it’s never even been the remotest of possibilities in modern America even under the most inept of leaders.

Self-Defense: Now we get to the big one, the one 2nd Amendment defenders think that the whole amendment is about, they tend to ignore the non-relevant parts. Self-defense is the right of every free person. I agree, you should be allowed to protect yourself. Good night make sure to tip your waitress. Oh what, I must address this? Fine.

As I have explained previously, self-defense of home and person is okay, within reason. You can easily conceal and carry a handgun if you sense danger around every corner. Handguns are great for home protection, so long as they are properly locked up. I don’t know if you’ve heard, a lot of kids in America shoot themselves or others playing with guns. In 2017, the most recent factual numbers I could find, 15,501 fatalities of children and/or teens were caused by firearms. 89% of these happened in the owner’s home. A further 31,065 were wounded, they don’t expound on how badly. You have to assume at least a good portion of these kids’ lives are forever altered by being shot. 82% of attempted suicides by gun are successful. Most of these happen in the place of residence and with their owner’s gun.

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So, there are inherent risks to owning any kind of weapon strictly for home defense. However, neither I nor Gun Control Advocacy groups, are looking to take away your precious pistols. Common Sense Gun Laws are meant to almost mirror the Australian ban. They would allow Americans to carry and house handguns. Restrictions would be placed on semi-automatic weapons but there would be exceptions on a per person basis for things like sport hunting, target shooting and other shooty adventures. Background checks would be more thorough so less people prone to violence will be able to purchase weapons. No longer would just a conviction for Domestic Violence exclude gun ownership, just an arrest alone for such a crime would suffice. If that seems wrong for you there is a direct, provable correlation between domestic violence and murder.

No one is saying you are unable to protect yourself, we are saying you don’t need a semi-auto that poses more of a danger to society than benefit to civilians. Would gun legislation be particularly popular with the overall population? Politico (a non-partisan news site) has researched this extensively and found that 2 out of 3 Americans support gun control. Of registered voters 68% are in favor with 25% opposed. The only caveat would be that this was taken in the aftermath of the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas shooting. However, with a new mass casualty shooting happening at least weekly these numbers hadn’t fluctuated. In fact, some partisan polls have reported the number in favor skyrocketing.

Majority rules in this country. That is how things are supposed to be. Yes, Democrats, the electoral college sort of runs counter to that, but again that’s a whole other kettle of fish. In America the most people who vote for something (usually) win. If 68% of the country voted for gun control it should be implemented. So why isn’t it?

It is a truly complicated and Byzantine situation. The simplest way to put it is that there is a lot of money at stake if guns are banned. Gun makers would be hit hard, ArmaLite, the company which the AR-15 gets its name from would lose a lot of money. However, if you don’t currently work for or own stock in ArmaLite, why should you care? (Side note: Gun Right’s Advocates say the AR should stand for America’s Rifle)Rich people who lose money are still rich. Let them find a line of work that is not so violent. Secondly, and probably most important is lobbyists, particularly those from the N.R.A.

The National Rifle Association or N.R.A. was founded in 1871 to advance rifle marksmanship. It was a club for gun nerds, joking. They didn’t have any political power and until 1934 did not even attempt to get involved in politics. Oh, and talk about Global Elitists, the N.R.A. was founded in New York.

The function of the N.R.A. at its inception was beneficial. During the Civil War the Union soldiers were not great shots. It took about 1,000 shots to hit their target as opposed to 1 Confederate shot. Those are not great odds, how did the Union win again? After the Civil War ended Union General (and cool name-haver) Admiral Burnside was made leader of the group. The intention was to teach current and potential soldiers how to properly use their rifles. Burnside once said “[Out of 10 soldiers] only one knows the purpose of the sights on his gun or can hit the broad side of a barn”. Sick burn, Burnside.

The N.R.A. in its infancy was pretty innocent and useful. They held contests for marksmanship and traveled to other countries to challenge their marksmen. The entire organization is based on a British group that predates it by over a year. The U.S. shooters had trouble at first but then started racking up the wins and brought home some hardware, I mean trophies, not like a hammer. They were even a help to the National Guard, going to their bases and training them how to actually hit the enemy.

In order to be a member you had to pay dues and be at least 16. The benefit was being part of a shooting club, and the organization would provide free ammo and targets. In 1907 things got a little more complicated as the N.R.A.’s base of operations moved to Washington D.C. in order to promote gun advocacy in the nation’s capital. They were not a nuisance and didn’t lobby, they were just there if anyone needed to chat.

1934 is when things get muddy. They involved themselves in affairs of state but not in the way most would assume. See, the President of the N.R.A., Karl Frederick, saw the benefit of guns but also recognized the risks. Mr. Frederick proclaimed in Congressional testimony “I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one. … I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”. That’s the PRESIDENT OF THE NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION!!! Can you imagine how he would be looked upon by the current N.R.A.? He’d be a “libtard”, “cuck” who just wants to grab your guns. Problem is, he was right, and the organization backed him without dissent. The National Guns Right’s Act of 1938 would later pass with overwhelming support from the N.R.A.  According to an article in Time Magazine “The NRA assisted Roosevelt in drafting the 1934 National Firearms Act and the 1938 Gun Control Act, the first federal gun control laws. These laws placed heavy taxes and regulation requirements on firearms that were associated with crime, such as machine guns, sawed-off shotguns and silencers.”.

Until the 1970’s things continued down this path. The N.R.A. was focused on sportsmen, target shooting, and hunting. They didn’t really get involved in debates over guns. As long as they could shoot targets and hunt game everything was hunky-dory. Let’s back up to 1968 and the Gun Control act of said year. The G.C.A. put federal restrictions on certain types of guns but was more focused on who could have them. It stated that people convicted of crimes, fugitives, illegal aliens, drug abusers, soldiers who were dishonorably discharged, and finally people who renounced their citizenship. It is a completely sensible list and was passed in Congress and the Senate by votes of 305-118 and 70-17 respectively. So, this was bi-partisan and made with the complete backing of the N.R.A.

A few gun’s rights advocates didn’t like this law because it infringed on the right of anyone regardless of criminal past or any other reason to own a gun. Not just a gun, any gun they wanted. If you wanted a Gatling Gun, why not? What could possibly go wrong? This splinter group of the N.R.A. was led by Harlan Carter, our first in a long line of rogues. Mr. Carter believed that no compromise should be made in regard to guns. You could transport them across state lines, anyone could sell them and resell them without paperwork, licenses were for babies and I believe everyone had to get a “Gunz R Rad” tattoo. That last one may not be correct.

In 1975 Carter began the lobbying arm of the N.R.A. They became entwined with politics and this angered a lot of older members. They didn’t want to play politics, they wanted to shoot targets and bunnies. So they are good, but also kind of jerks. Carter began rallying support from the more gun-nutty members and pushing out a lot of the older members. A lot of the more passive members were older and died off. What was left was a militant arm of the N.R.A. looking to usurp the prior leadership under the guiding hand of Harlan Carter. In 1976, he got his wish. His supporters defeated the old guard at their convention.

1976 would be a banner year for the group and a turning point for America. Carter soon established a Political Action Committee (PAC) and began lobbying conservatives in Congress and Senate. It was a smart move, and with time it worked. In 1986 they basically castrated the G.C.A. and established the F.O.P.A., the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act. This basically meant that the 2nd Amendment was taken at face value, without any nuance and allowed anyone to own guns. As a side effect it almost destroyed the A.T.F.. The main argument in favor of the change was that of the nearly 200,000 automatic weapons owned in the country there had never been a crime committed with one. This was patently false but sometimes the truth isn’t as important as ideology, unfortunately.

Old Harlan died in 1991 after being shot cleaning his own gun. This is a lie, he just died, but you believed it for a second didn’t you? Charlton Heston became N.R.A. President and proceeded to take out those damned dirty liberals in Congress. Actually, he was more of a figurehead who is best remembered for saying “I’ll give you my gun when you pry (or take) it from my cold, dead hands” which is complete hyperbole and hilarious. Why hilarious you ask? Well, it wasn’t even his slogan, it was coined in 1976 by the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Heston appropriated the slogan, using it at the close of every year’s convention (Gunapalooza?). He also decided that it was a great idea to say it a year after the Columbine Massacre in response to Vice President Al Gore’s condemnation of guns. This provoked massive outrage from the public but tremendous support within the N.R.A. Do you see how that conflicts with the original intent of the organization or do I have to draw you a map?

Heston would rule the N.R.A. mostly as a mascot until 2004. Fun fact, Charlton Heston was a Democrat until buddy Ronnie Reagan ran for office. Any Democratic President elected in his lifetime prior to 1980 that Republicans hate, Heston loved. Charlton Heston is a amazing study into the contradictory nature of man. The very man who would lead the N.R.A. and wouldn’t give up his gun until dead supported the Gun Control Act of 1968 in the wake of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination. Hilarious, right?

Heston was so blue that he in fact campaigned vigorously for L.B.J. and was a huge proponent of the Civil Rights Act as he loved Martin Luther King Jr. He later claimed he had started the Civil Rights Movement in Hollywood long before King did. So, kind of a good guy and kind of a douche. Heston is  perfectly analogous to the N.R.A. itself, a gun owner who believed in common sense when it came to guns and then lost his mind and thought guns cured all ills.

The real power player in the N.R.A. was Vice President, Wayne LaPierre, whose name is not as cool as Burnside or Harlan. By the time of Heston’s reign Carter had tripled N.R.A. membership and created a multi-million-dollar organization within the organization. His legacy of political maneuvering cannot be understated. The man helped undo a change to the 2nd Amendment and then made changes that were more lenient than even constitutional scholars admit it was meant for in the first place.

We’ll return to the N.R.A. in a second, eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that the 2nd Amendment has been amended itself twice. Well, that isn’t entirely true, for the life of the 2nd Amendment it has been changed about DRUMROLL please, 30 times! The immutable, unchangeable word of God has been changed 30 times. Some are restrictions like bans on silencers, reinstating outlawing possession of firearms by convicts, and creating the ever-divisive gun-free school zones. However there weren’t only restrictions added; open carry was legalized, open carry was expanded to include college campuses, Constitutional Carry (intended to allow anyone, anywhere to carry without need of documentation), the Tihart Amendment which made registries of guns inaccessible to anyone but law enforcement and even made that way more difficult and on and on.

Gun control was out of control (ha ha) in the 70’s and early 80’s. It was the Old West. If you wanted a gun, just go to a store, show, reseller, find a guy on a street corner, you could pretty much legally own and carry your gun wherever you went. This sentiment would turn in 1981 coincidentally when a beloved Republican icon was shot…with a gun.

The attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan by John Hinkley Jr. enraged a portion of the country.  The outrage was triggered by the fact that a crazy person like Hinkley could own and carry a weapon. James Brady, who was Reagan’s Press Secretary, was also shot on that day and was rendered handicapped. When he died in 2014 his method of death was homicide as a result of the shooting. In reaction to the Reagan incident the Brady bill was introduced which would mandate federal background checks and a 5-day waiting period to buy a gun. The bill failed upon first being introduced in 1991 by ever popular Republican scapegoat, Chuck Schumer. Old Schumes didn’t give up though, he reintroduced the bill in 1993. Amy Schumer’s first cousin once removed got the bill through both the House and Congress (238-189 & 63-36, respectively). It was signed into effect by Bill Clinton.

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James Brady, lying wounded in foreground.  In the background, Secret Service attempt to detain the shooter, John Hinkley, Jr.

The Brady Bill reinstated many of the restrictions of the G.C.A. but added a few more for good measure. Totally unfair things like if you have a misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence, no gun for you. Also, if you just so happen to be stalking or harassing a former or current lover and are under court order to stay away from said person, no gun. Sounds reasonable right? Well not to Wayne LaPierre. How dare they restrict anything when it comes to guns. Why aren’t they giving them out to newborns for that matter?  “Welcome to the world, meet your parents and your Glock!”.

Okay, so the reaction to the bill by the N.R.A. wasn’t that extreme but it would boil over in 1994 when the aptly named 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban went into effect. The vote on this was closer than before but passed through Senate on a 62-58 vote. In the intervening years the N.R.A. spent millions upon millions buying, I mean, lobbying politicians on the state and federal level to completely deregulate guns. They wouldn’t completely succeed but they scored a major victory when they successfully lobbied to have a poison pill inserted in the final draft of the 1994 F.A.W.B. meaning it would expire in 2004.  The N.R.A. has gone absolutely mad spending money to promote their agenda as illustrated below.

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In 2003 Heston resigned his post as President. Fun fact, Heston was suffering the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease for a decade prior and was a full-blown alcoholic. So, take that for what you will. He did go to rehab and was apparently alcohol-free until his death from suicide by firearm in 2008. No, I’m joking, he died of pneumonia. I had you though, admit it. No word on whether he was clutching a gun when he died. That would be the most incredible thing if they actually had to pry a gun from his, cold dead hand.

So Heston’s dead. Who do the N.R.A. turn to as a leader? Kayne Robinson, I know, who? Well, he was a former law enforcement officer who was lock-step with Heston and served in the position for 2 years. In 2005 Sandra Froman, who had been a lawyer headed the group. She was succeeded by John Sigler in 2006 and so on. None of these people really matter, the Presidency of the N.R.A. is largely ceremonial as all power was ceded to V.P. and C.E.O. our old friend Wayne LaPierre. He has been busy spreading money around Washington like he’s Johnny Appleseed, but you know, with money instead of seeds. Shut up, it was funny when I thought of it.

Now, I am going to state some facts about Mr. LaPierre completely out of context but that I think are relevant to his beliefs. Wayne avoided military service in Vietnam although he was in a group labeled “likely to be drafted”.  Apparently this was extremely shady with some N.R.A. supporters bringing it up when it’s time to vote on a leader. LaPierre hates violent video games and blames them for real-life violence. He was also once a Democrat. LaPierre does favor longer sentences for gun-related crimes, except for possession, even by felons. He once bit the head off a doll of Hillary Clinton at a rally. Okay, that last one was fake, the rest were legit.

Okay, so those were just some fun tidbits that just give you a little idea of who Wayne LaPierre is. He is, besides the unquestioned leader of the N.R.A., not a fan of governmental regulation, doesn’t believe in Universal Background Checks, doesn’t care for bump stocks but states that they shouldn’t be illegal, and thinks anyone (aside from felons and the mentally ill) should be able to own a fully automatic weapon. LaPierre’s stranglehold on the N.R.A. has not been without controversy from outside and within. He’s been roundly criticized for claiming that President Clinton actively took part in a scheme to allow violent crime to rise to push for gun control. Even those inside the N.R.A. said this was lunacy. Sort of like his statement that if a natural disaster hits, the most important thing to have on hand…a gun. You know, not water or food, a gun, so no one takes your stuff.

LaPierre is so in love with guns. “How in love with guns is he?” Hey, stop that! He wants there to be no database of gun owners and opposes measures to keep ballistic records. However, he does think the country should have a database on the mentally ill. Not just the dangerous, foaming at the mouth kind. If you’ve taken an anti-depressant, you’re on the list pal! So, that’s invasive.

My absolute favorite LaPierre-ism is this statement made shortly after the Sandy Hook massacre (I swear if you call hoax, I will…be very disappointed in you) that a certain culture is “a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and sows violence against its own people”. That’s cold-blooded to say about his own organization.  Oh wait, I am getting word that he didn’t say that about the N.R.A. but about the video games industry. Pot meet kettle, now kick the kettle over and maybe take a few shots at it. Hey that kettle was armed, and I think on crack.

LaPierre’s comments were not well received by his constituents or opposers. Many a lame Jay Leno joke was made at his expense. Even noted ultra-conservative and Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch has been critical of Wayne’s position on guns saying “When will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons? As in Oz after similar tragedy.”. Yes, your Lord and Savior of the media, the only one not reporting “Fake News” actually said this. So does this mean all you conservatives are going to boycott Fox News like those coffee makers and Nikes?  Does that only apply when a black athlete kneels?  It’s hard to remember all these new rules.

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What a looker, and so well-spoken.

As C.E.O. and V.P. LaPierre earns over $5 million dollars a year. Keep that in mind. After the M.S.D. shooting in 2017 he had this gem of a quote “As usual, the opportunists wasted not one second to exploit tragedy for political gain. The elites do not care one whit about America’s school system and schoolchildren. If they truly cared, what they would do is they would protect them. For them it is not a safety issue, it is a political issue … [Gun control advocates] don’t care if their laws work or not. They just want to get more laws to get more control over people. But the NRA, the NRA does care”. Yes, the elites don’t care! Now, how much money does it take to be an elite? I’d say $5 mill/year would do the trick. Aside from this blatant hypocrisy the notion that a lobbying organization (who dedicates it’s every fiber of being to deregulating weapons and allowing access to semi-automatic weapons to civilians), cares more about mass shooting victims than anyone else is absolutely offensive and patently absurd and disgusting.

It was after another mass shooting that good old Wayney boy reiterated his belief in this statement drawing severe rebukes from liberal icons such as Ann Coulter and Chris Christie. I would also add noted Republican strategist Frank Lutz but if I didn’t research this I wouldn’t know who he was.  I would be ignorant of the fact that he has dedicated his life to helping not only America but Ireland, the UK and even Australian governments be run by Conservative parties. He’s also a fixture on Fox News. Ooh, fun fact about this guy not only does he believe climate change is real, he freely admits he believes it is man-made. This only happened after he helped spread lies and conspiracy theories denouncing man-made climate change for years. Well, better late than never. Well, not really better as he continues to spew hateful bile about immigrants, spreads insane conspiracy theories without any evidence, and is still convinced Bill Clinton murdered Vince Foster. (It should be noted that a Republican led investigation during the W. Bush years debunked this thoroughly).

So, Wayne LaPierre is a terrible person who is highly effective and influential due to the fact that of all things politicians love they love money the most. Through his vast and expensive lobbying campaigns he has bought, blackmailed or outright bribed numerous politicians into either backing his policies or backing down. If you oppose him, he will do everything in his power to crush you. If he has to lie, so be it. Anything short of murder, I wouldn’t put past LaPierre and I’m just stipulating that because he and his flock terrify me.

In regard to the rise of school shootings Wayne has proposed the ever-popular solution of hiring armed guards to protect students. He hasn’t officially come up with a solution for mass shootings that happen outside schools, such as in Orlando, San Bernardino, Pittsburgh and Las Vegas. I guess if you are outside you should just expect to be randomly murdered.

Back to schools, he has been criticized for his stance on turning schools into well I’ll let my favorite quote about this take it “You can’t make [school] an armed camp for kids”. This quote is from former Republican governor and (cue laughter) Presidential hopeful Chris Christie. I wanted to include a quote from Michael Bloomberg, former Governor of New York but he is a Billionaire, Jewish Democrat and I think that wouldn’t get the point across to say, half of the readers of this screed. What the hell, let’s go nuts, what do you have to say about Wayne’s hopes for the country? “Their press conference (post-Newtown massacre) was a shameful evasion of the crisis facing our country,” said Mayor Bloomberg, who accused the NRA of offering “a paranoid, dystopian vision of a more dangerous and violent America where everyone is armed, and no place is safe.”. Echoing his statements were Sen. Chris Murphy (D) of Connecticut in which the shooting occurred “The most revolting, tone-deaf statement I’ve ever seen.”. NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly who has drawn the ire of liberals for controversial positions on policing minorities and stringent anti-terrorism measures said, “I thought they were going to make meaningful recommendations on gun control.”.

The N.R.A. started as a harmless club for people who liked to shoot, then it mutated and turned into the succubus we have now. Its sole purpose is to continue making money for its real interests, gun manufacturers. Their biggest win (according to the N.R.A. themselves) is the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act which makes weapons companies immune from civil and criminal penalties if their products are used to, I don’t know, shoot a bunch of kids. If you look closely at the title of the Act do you see the word “People”?  No, it’s all about Commerce because that is what the N.R.A. is all about. It doesn’t matter how many innocent people are killed by guns, or what a threat guns pose to us and our loved ones. It is all about protecting the companies who make billions off of guns, cut the N.R.A. a nice consulting check, and make LaPierre one of the richest and most powerful lobbyists in the country.

I won’t go so far as to say the N.R.A. itself is a terrorist organization because I am sure they still have members who want nothing more than to pop a few rounds into a target. However, I will concede that Wayne LaPierre is “a person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims“. Oh yeah, that is the literal dictionary definition of “terrorist”.

So, what is this all about? Do I want to grab your guns and leave you defenseless? Well, me personally, yes. I don’t own any guns and think this would be a better country if they were all melted down. I am not, however, a naive person who thinks this is a feasible possibility. It, like armed revolution, is a pipe dream. It will never happen.

I am strictly in favor of Common-Sense Gun Laws. These would allow people to have weapons for self-defense however would restrict the ownership of semi-automatic weapons. I would expand background checks and approve of the Universal Background Check system. I would make it an extremely stringent background check as in the case of mass shootings 75% of the weapons used were purchased legally. Gun shows, and shady internet sales would be made illegal. I mean you could theoretically go look at some guns at a show, but no touching or buying!

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I know, I know, it’s a Democratic ad but the facts are facts.

As for some of the claims of pro-gun advocates that we have strict enough gun laws already, we just don’t enforce them enough I have the following stats. In addition to the 75% of guns used in mass shootings…40% of guns are sold by private sellers and do not require background checks (GUN SHOWS!) and in a striking bit of symmetry, 40% of criminals admit that weapons used in commission of their crimes were acquired this way. Online sellers that have said they would still sell a gun to a person who couldn’t pass a background check stands at 62%! Undercover investigations have exposed 20% of gun stores are willing to sell firearms without background checks and/or bypassing the waiting period. This is a remarkable lack of morality and respect for the law. It doesn’t matter how many laws are put in place if scumbags are allowed to buy and sell guns.

2nd Amendment backers state this fact too. Legislation is meaningless, “if a bad guy wants a gun he’ll find one” and “laws don’t stop bad guys”. While Yes, a piece of paper is meaningless, a law can be a major force. Again, I draw your attention to Australia. Legislation was passed, it was effective and is still popular to this day. There are virtually no more mass shootings, there are no kids or worshipers dying by the dozens in the places where they should be safest.

The case of “A good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun” is fraudulent. First, the good guy with a gun has to be willing to engage. In the school shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas an ARMED school resource officer did not engage. Police cordoned off the perimeter but did not initially enter the premises. Getting shot at it scary and no one really wants to do it. If trained and prepared officers are unwilling or unable to stop school shootings, then what do we do? Also, how exactly do you protect a school? Position a guard at every entrance and exit, install metal detectors and just hope the perpetrator is either scared off or doesn’t just kill the officer guarding the door?

All adding armed guards does is give the illusion that a school is safe. Also, does anyone really want armed guards in full S.W.A.T. gear carrying automatic weapons patrolling school grounds? Why not add so watchtowers and barbed wire, you know really complete the effect since you are essentially creating a prison for kids. Well, they can leave so I guess it is just a temporary holding area.

Next, arming teachers, this is stupid. Most of my teachers were older men and women. These people are not fit to fight crime. Teachers unions are strictly against this measure as well. Even if they are trained in firearms use and anti-terror tactics, do you really think Mrs. Gomez from Spanish 101 is the go-to for protection? How much training do you even give a teacher? If a school cop won’t engage what makes you think a teacher, who took a job where there should be little to no conflict, would be willing to shoot someone?  Now what odds would you give that they’d be willing to shoot a kid, as is the case with most school shooters? When do you train them? Do they lose their summers off to go to boot camp?  You know you must pay for all this, right? Gun’s rights people are usually the ones who hate taxes being raised but how else do you pay for armed guards, guns for teachers, and training? Taxes!

I have a better plan for your tax money. Initiate the mandatory gun buy-back program that Australia did. It cost upwards of 300 million there and we have way more people and a massive amount more guns in this country. Let’s say it rises to a billion dollars. You could take that out of the United States Defense Budget, I mean they’ll only be left with 589 billion a year (691 billion if Trump gets his way). Is taking a billion away from building  irrelevant fighter jets that bad of a thing?

The U.S. approved plans to buy F-35 stealth fighter jets at the cost of $100 billion dollars each (later lowered to $90). The plans call to buy 2,443 of these fighters. They look awesome but why the Hell do we need fighter jets? No one fights aerial wars anymore. “Top Gun” was a movie and even by the time it was made aerial combat was a thing of the past. Sure, we need some planes to protect the country and drop bombs on dozens of unsuspecting brown people in order to kill one guy. That’s why we have drones and why we still have functional fighter jets that are already bought and paid for. Spending $15 billion on a cool-looking but unnecessary planes to look like a bad ass is pretty much like having to own the biggest gun.  It’s pretty cool, but wouldn’t that money be better spent elsewhere? I can think of nowhere better than to keep kids safe.

F-35-558x400

In it’s defense, that is a cool looking jet.

I alluded to being a victim of gun violence before and I will expand on that a bit just to give some background. These incidents did not affect my stance on guns as I have never been in favor of them. When I was 17 a guy pulled a gun on myself and two friends and held it to my head. Being the oldest and stupidest of the three I decided I’d be his primary target and began berating him and daring him to shoot. What provoked all of this? We were hanging out, sitting on my car in front of a friend’s apartment late at night on a weekend. Were we being obnoxious and too loud?  Probably. I’ll even say definitely, however, does that warrant being threatened with death? I don’t believe so. I mean at least yell at us first. Nope, this idiot went straight for his gun. Neighbors heard the argument and called the police who also didn’t think this was reasonable and arrested him. That was a threat but not actual violence, though I was told after I returned to my friends that the guy was shaking, and they thought he was going to shoot. This wasn’t the last time I was threatened with a gun, that happened on two more occasions that I can remember.

As for actually being shot at, yep, that’s happened to me as well. I was playing basketball in a park after school. There were about twenty people, including children in after school care there at the time. We weren’t in a bad neighborhood, this is the suburbs of the suburbs I am talking about. So we are playing a nice, fun game of basketball. I assume I am talking a lot of trash. A loud screech comes from the road next to the court. We all think there’s been an accident however there is only one car that came to a quick halt. “Maybe a dog ran in the street” I think. At that point the window rolled down and someone started firing at the court. We all hit the deck. In the end the person or people fired dozens of shots at kids and teens. Thankfully they were either bad shots or were just trying to scare us. After the car peeled off everyone jumped up and ran home. I ran about a mile when I realized I had driven to the court and figured I’d just keep going away from the court and pick up the car later. After a couple days, when the police tape came down, some friends and I went back to the court. Where I had been standing at the time of the shooting was under a basket. The backboard had pock marks from impacts and so did the concrete pole holding up the basket. It was close, my friend said he could feel the bullets whizzing by. No one was ever caught.

I have a vested, informed and experienced opinion on gun control. I have a daughter that I never want to have to experience even the threat of violence. No, I obviously can’t keep her safe from every harmful thing in the world. I can make damned sure that I do everything in my power to handle the evil I can. I had an argument on Twitter which culminated in me telling a guy to eat paint chips, I got banned for a day. The point I had been trying to make prior to this and in between tweets of “libtard”, “cuck” and “MAGA” was that in previous decades paint was made with lead. The government discovered that lead was harmful to kids and made legislation that paint would no longer be made with it. The government stepped in to tell private citizens not to own or use something because it will kill you. My remark towards my opposition was that if he believed government oversight was such a burden and invasive then he should go buy some lead paint and eat up. My ban was for promoting self-harm and/or suicide. Twitter has yet to issue a statement on when they are going to get around to the people who literally tell others to “kill themselves” if they disagree. Twitter has yet to go after racist groups, conspiracy spreaders, fake news, etc.

This isn’t about Twitter, sorry, I got sidetracked. It’s about guns. I’ve held guns. I held a friend’s pistol he carried while in the Army.  I won’t lie, I felt like an action hero. Later on, I held a police officer’s assault rifle. It was fully customized for actual war, as it was his weapon when he was deployed to Iraq. If I owned a gun that is probably the one I’d want, it was awesome! I held it like a baby because it’s as scary as it is cool. Of course, it was unloaded but there’s always that thought that there might be one bullet in there somehow. I was shown how to hold, aim, and how to fire. We even used the laser sight to point at a building that had to be a half-mile away, maybe more. I won’t lie, it was exciting to look through a scope and see my target. I learned about using iron sights versus scopes. In the end I was comfortable, not with me having that gun, but with my friend, the cop, having that gun.

Events such as the North Hollywood Shootout prove that officers need weapons powerful enough to take down criminals. That event saw two robbers armed with heavy weaponry and homemade armor rob a bank and proceed to have a long gunfight with police. The police were outgunned, and it took nearly 45 minutes until one of the subjects committed suicide after being shot numerous times and the other was incapacitated by gunfire and later died on the scene. The police were forced to appropriate AR-15’s from a nearby gun store to turn the tide of the battle.

My point if not explicitly clear is that police are in the business of protecting us (I know a lot of them harm us, but their stated purpose is to serve and protect) and they require all the tools necessary to do the dirty work so average everyday people don’t have to. By all means arm police with semi-autos. There is a limit to which they should be armed however, read Radney Balko’s “The Rise of the Warrior Cop” for more on this.

It is the police officer who should always have the advantage over the criminal. If criminals have the same or even more powerful firepower then the balance is shifted, and police and citizens are in danger. Regular everyday people do not need semi-automatic weapons. Not for protection or hunting. They are not going to do anything to safeguard your home that a pistol won’t do.

No home invader is breaking into your home wearing Kevlar. I’d wager a good 75% would take off if a shot was fired in their vicinity.  Crooks are lazy, they don’t want to get jobs, so they feed off the innocent. Do you really think these lazy people really want to start a gun fight over your flat screen? I’m not saying outlaw all guns, but we should outlaw the ones that serve no practical purpose.

An American cannot own an atomic bomb, it’s ridiculous and would be overkill. However, if you really believe that we shouldn’t regulate weapons than why is saying I can’t buy a nuke acceptable? If anyone is pro-nukes in private hands, just go away now and rethink your life. It IS hyperbolic, but is it wrong? Do you really need that AR-15 or do you want it? Can you protect yourself with a smaller, less lethal weapon? Of course, you can. Can you go hunting with a bolt action rifle or a bow-and-arrow? Of course, and it will be fairer towards the animal and more sporting for you.  As for forming and maintaining a militia, go pick up a pitchfork or a Tiki torch.

Many states restrict the sales of bulletproof vests even more strictly than guns. There needs to be a background check done and, in some states, you actually have to get one in person. It is illegal to buy a bullet-proof vest on the internet or from a non-licensed dealer. So, the thing that will prevent me from dying from getting shot is more well-regulated than the thing that will shoot me? This is nuts!

Federal law is also tighter on the buying and selling of body armor than of guns. People convicted of felonies (any) and violent misdemeanors cannot legally possess body armor. In many states it is completely illegal to own unless you are required to for your occupation. The reasoning behind limiting the access to bulletproof vests is that it can show intent. People who put on a vest and go commit a crime show forethought and planning. So, we restrict how and where they can get them. You know what we don’t always restrict how and where we can get? Cigarettes, no of course that’s not what I was pointing towards, it’s guns.

States have varying rules regarding the purchasing of firearms.  It has been claimed by many a gun enthusiast that states with strict gun laws suffer from more gun violence.  The most common scapegoat is Illinois, specifically Chicago.  When it comes to murder Chicago isn’t even the homicide capital of the United States.  The following places outrank Chicago as bastions of murder St. Louis, Baltimore, New Orleans, Detroit, Cleveland, Kansas City, Memphis, and Newark.

Chicago has a reputation as a violent place (Chi-Raq) nowadays and a lot of that has to do with the murder rate due to firearms. While Illinois does have gun laws in place, they are nowhere near as strict as the N.R.A. and people like President Trump will scream (lie) about at every turn.  In fact Business Insider rates Illinois 30th in how friendly their are to the gun industry.  This takes into account factors such as jobs in the gun industry, statewide regulations on guns, gun culture; including statistics on gun ownership per capita and the percentage of homes with guns.

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The problem with state’s rights when it comes to gun laws is that they are not universal.  States vary wildly on which laws are enforced and what restrictions are in place.  A state like Illinois benefits or is hurt by the fact that they are near other states with lax gun laws like Indiana and Iowa.  Since we do not have border control at every state line this means trafficking weapons from one state to the next is relatively easy in the continental United States.  Meaning if a state has a law banning every weapon known to man, a person could just drive to the next state and purchase their choice of weapons and bring them back.  Would it be illegal, yes.  Obviously criminals or just people who think they need a gun for whatever reason will not abide by these laws.

State laws on strict gun regulations have some positive effect however.  In a Journal of American Medicine article Dr. Eric Fleeger writes “In states that have the most [gun] laws, there is a 42 percent reduction in fatalities, compared to those states with the least number of laws…You can’t necessarily say one absolutely led to the other … but you can say those things are related.”.

gunlawsanddeathrates4

Having individual laws per state is a good starting point however it is not an answer.  It’s a sling for a broken arm.  It is going to help but ultimately it is not going to fix the main issue.  There are measures we can take to help ensure the safety of all citizens of all states in the Union.  First is what I called for previously, universal background checks and reasonable nationwide gun laws.

Closing loopholes that allow internet sales, stopping private sales of weapons and putting an end to purchasing weapons from non-authorized dealers without background checks and waiting periods are common sense solutions. Many will argue that subverting these methods are illegal, and some are in some states, however it does not seem to matter. If you want a gun you can and will get one. That is unless you can’t. If there is a law explicitly calling for the destruction of every gun made illegal than there won’t be that gun out there to fall into the wrong hands.

It is all well and good to blame mental illness for these events and I will be the first to argue that people with mental illness are treated poorly in this country. It is absolutely correct we provide little to no care for people suffering from these afflictions. Even for people with health insurance there are restrictions and costly co-payments. That needs to change, absolutely. It should, and I think it will. I believe we will get to a point where more people will be covered by insurance, maybe even universally. That does not take the onus off the citizenry and government to say we don’t want weapons of war available for everyone.

If a bad guy wants a gun and wants to massacre people, it will happen. This is a comment I see all the time and it’s the most defeatist thing I have heard. If you really love and respect the men who founded this nation, think about what they would think to hear their future generations just roll over and accept murder (OF CHILDREN) as a consequence of society. Now further imagine telling them that a country that used to be a penal colony has done more to prevent violence and has SUCCEEDED in doing so. How do you think they would feel about us? Yes, they were bigots and slave-owners, but they are revered for their wisdom.  If those who rebelled against a nation to create their own saw what it has become I’d think they’d be disgusted. Jefferson would slap you in the face. Alexander Hamilton would challenge you to a duel and it would take forever for him to load his flint-lock pistol and history would repeat itself and he’d die. If you really want to respect them, use the weapons of their time.

Many gun’s rights advocates cite District of Columbia vs. Heller as proof that the Second Amendment was written with knowledge and foresight from the framers in regards to guns.  They mistakenly think the ruling means Washington and Co. could have easily predicted the existence and prevalence of the weapons of our times.  Unfortunately for them, this reading of the ruling is dead-wrong!

D.C. vs. Heller primarily concerned itself with the legality of handguns in D.C. and the law of keeping rifles locked and unloaded.  At its most basic the ruling states “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home”.

It also preserves the ideal of a citizen’s militia from any action from Congress, and does not limit the right to keep and bear arms to militia purposes, but rather limits the type of weapon to which the right applies to those used by the militia.  The ruling also made null and void a law in D.C. banning handguns and requiring trigger locks.  Requiring trigger locks was deemed illegal because locks on a handgun make it harder to defend your home with, easier for your kid to kill him or herself with, but harder to reach for in an emergency.

Lost in all the bluster for D.C. vs. Heller’s ruling is the statement “Like most rights, the Second Amendment right is not unlimited. It is not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose: For example, concealed weapons prohibitions have been upheld under the Amendment or state analogues. The Court’s opinion should not be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms. Miller’s [another court case] holding that the sorts of weapons protected are those ‘in common use at the time’ finds support in the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of dangerous and unusual weapons.”.

The Heller ruling is not as many 2A advocates think a free-for-all on guns.  It grants that guns are a right provided by the Second Amendment however does not state in any possible reading that you are granted the right to any weapon you so please.  A further ruling in McDonald vs. City of Chicago further loosened gun restrictions on shotguns and rifles.  According to the ruling the Second Amendment was incorporated under the FourteenthAmendment in which no State can infringe upon an individuals rights including those given by the Second Amendment.  It did not include any language permitting any citizen to own any kind of gun they desired.

The common misconception that these legal precedents allow for the average citizen to own AR-15s or other semi-automatic weapon is foolish.  It is so prevalent a lie amongst 2A defenders that it is brought up in nearly every argument.  Why is this?  Is it because gun’s rights advocates cannot read or comprehend a court ruling?  Maybe.  Is it because the N.R.A. and countless gun lobbies have brainwashed people into thinking these rulings are a catchall allowing unlimited access to guns? Unclear.

It is the undoing of many a gun advocate’s defense that the ruling does not apply to what they are advocating for.  By law, by the Second Amendment, and via these rulings you are 100%, absolutely not allowed to own any weapon you want.  The converse is a fallacy, a fantasy, a bold-faced lie, and one that is utterly dangerous and misleading convincing unlearned gun lovers that they are granted the Constitutional right to own military style weapons.  This was not something the framers saw coming, Heller does not say they could have foreseen the rise of semi-automatic weapons.

Technology and progress have given us many gifts. Television, cell phones, the INTERNET. We love these things, technology is wonderful. However, with progress comes danger. The Atomic Bomb ended a war but now we have to worry about Iran and North Korea getting nukes. Child pornography is spread to a wider audience through the internet. Television exposes young children to graphic violence (like those damned video games, right Wayne?), cell phones might give us cancer or make us sterile. With any leap forward there are always risks.

Now let’s return to the topic of weapons such as the AR-15.  The most preeminent threat to our times (aside from man-made climate change…STOP YELLING) is the proliferation of cheap, light, portable and deadly firearms. The minute a group of people were mowed down with an AR-15 that should have been it. The discussion should have ended there. It didn’t and now mass shootings happen on what seems like a daily basis. Obviously AR-15s aren’t the only gun used but they are a great example of the value of guns versus life by some Americans.

The United States loses more people per day, month, and year to gun violence than any other developed country. It’s pathetic. We should be better. What happened to the America that led the way? Now we just clutch on to a tattered old document, that changes constantly, and was meant to, and assert that our forefathers wanted us armed like soldiers. Why is it acceptable to, instead of addressing a problem head-on, we are content to suggest things like arming teachers instead of banning the very things that would necessitate them carrying guns?

We may be a great nation, but we are a stubborn, childish one. This country is 241 years old, that is the blink of an eye in the history of the world. We are a relatively new country, we are still crawling in comparison to others. In our short lives we have proven to be prodigies though. This country has done so much and given so much to the world. We’ve fought for liberty and democracy here and abroad. We landed on the moon (Yes, we did…shush) America has become the kind of de facto leader for the democratic world. We are amazing, we should be proud of our country, our home. We should not be so arrogant to think we are perfect or even acceptable.

Progress comes to all, time is something no man can outrun. Both time and progress are coming for gun’s rights defenders. I don’t know what it will take, how many innocent people have to die at once or all together to change things, but it will happen. In Australia it took one horrific shooting, in this country there have been an estimated 1,001 mass shootings in which 4 or more people died. This statistic stretches back to the year 2013. So far in 2018 we’ve had nearly as many mass shootings as we have had days, 297 by most reports. There are 62 days left in the year, how many more mass shootings will there be? You know what I don’t even like the term mass shootings, it’s too clinical, mass killings, mass murder those are better fits. How many more do you wager by the end of 2018? Whatever number flashed in your head, if it isn’t 0 it is unacceptable. We know that’s not the case though, there will be more. More bloodshed, more tears, more dead kids, more people left to grieve husbands, wives, siblings, parents, friends, children. We need a break from this, we need to end this! There is no better way to stop a murderer than to take away the tool in which they use to carry out their crimes.

As long as there are guns, there will be bad guys willing to use them to kill good guys. It’s a longer and more unwieldy slogan than most would use but I am not marketing genius. I am a regular person, a husband and a father. I am not too young to not remember a time when these killings weren’t common. I am also not too old to wax poetic about the olden days when real men settled their differences with only fists and grit. Guns are interwoven with the American experience, it won’t change. Violence will never fully recede. We can however cull the spread of this epidemic that is almost exclusive to our country in both numbers and scope. It won’t be long until everyone has a story of a loved one killed by a gun. The way things are trending AR-15 sales will be higher and higher and the number of deaths attributed to their users will grow proportionately.

This is wrong! It’s untenable! We can change things if we just make the decision as a people, a country, as human beings to change. If you value your misunderstood “right to bear arms” over American lives take a hard look in the mirror. You are part of the problem. The Second Amendment was not written with this in mind. It couldn’t be, those men wanted this country to survive and flourish, not to perish under the weight of their words tainted and twisted by greedy gun lobbyists and manufacturers. Men like Wayne LaPierre have little in common with the founders or their principles. They are merchants of death selling us the methods to rain destruction upon ourselves.

So speak up, tell the politicians to stop accepting N.R.A. funding, institute universal background checks, ban semi-auto weapons, recall those in private citizens’ possession. There has been enough violence made possible by a now-minority of the citizens of this country that value their firearms more than your lives. It goes against all that we stand for to let the louder minority dictate what is right and wrong. When it comes to the single death of a child it should be beyond a shadow of a doubt wrong. Sadly, this has not been the case, but it absolutely could be and it’s not even that difficult. Every semi-auto we get off the streets is one less than can kill an elementary school class. Every one represents a place of worship that will not become a killing field.

Joining the fight against guns doesn’t make you a filthy commie or a liberal, it makes you a human being that values life. It isn’t giving up a necessary freedom, it’s making sure the next generation is entitled to one without the ever-looming threat of mass murder. What good is absolute freedom if everyone is dead? Why are we so stubborn in comparison to the U.K., Australia and several other countries that have enacted working gun regulations? What does this say about us? Doing anything less than a full and complete reversal of our current policy and attitude towards gun ownership is nothing less than suicide…by gunshot.

Author: Robb G.

Twitter : @therobbg

http://www.godzillasaves.com

Revisions :

11/16/2018 – Corrected several grammatical errors.  Clarified the position of the N.R.A. in 1938 in regards to legislation.  Several minor alterations to sentence structure and syntax.

Sources:

If you’d like to truly be frightened, check out this list of all the mass shootings so far in 2018.

https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/reports/mass-shooting

https://injury.research.chop.edu/violence-prevention-initiative/types-violence-involving-youth/gun-violence/gun-violence-facts-and#.W9eomuJRc2w

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/statistical-life/201701/the-true-odds-shooting-bad-guy-gun

https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/pro-gun-myths-fact-check/

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/02/28/gun-control-polling-parkland-430099

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/timeline-of-the-nra/2013/01/12/351bcb26-5b9c-11e2-beee-6e38f5215402_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.10b5845fdef3

https://books.google.com/books?id=RWvvCgAAQBAJ&pg=PA114&lpg=PA114&dq=Kayne+Robinson+succeeded&source=bl&ots=2uJcgnn6Eu&sig=ou1hszgAZQAJn0Jhwibyotixeoc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjj2Zu3sa3eAhWJ2FMKHc0WAIcQ6AEwDHoECAwQAQ#v=onepage&q=Kayne%20Robinson%20succeeded&f=false

https://le.nra.org/documents/pdf/law/Summer2007.pdf

https://nypost.com/2012/12/22/nra-chief-calls-for-armed-cops-in-schools-blasts-media-and-hollywood-in-bizarre-rant/

http://www.gunsandammo.com/editorial/gear-guide-best-ways-to-trick-out-your-ar-15/249793

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41488081

https://www.bustle.com/articles/166357-arguments-that-the-ar-15-is-for-home-defense-are-insane

 

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/15/why-the-ar-15-keeps-appearing-at-americas-deadliest-mass-shootings.html

https://abcnews.go.com/US/ar-15-style-rifles-popular-mass-shooters/story?id=53111745

https://today.uic.edu/police-homicide-higher-in-states-with-more-gun-ownership

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/10/2/16399418/us-gun-violence-statistics-maps-charts

https://www.theroot.com/why-does-violence-in-chicago-attract-so-much-attention-1828327783

https://www.businessinsider.com/gun-control-laws-regulations-employment-us-states-2018-4

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/national/mass-shootings-in-america/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.43b1101cc117

http://time.com/4431356/nra-gun-control-history/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2018/02/15/4-basic-questions-about-the-ar-15/?utm_term=.da78dcd86627

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One thought on “The Slow Suicide of America

  1. If you read to this point I want to sincerely thank you whether you agree or disagree. My intention was to start a civil dialogue. Thankfully the comments section here has remained untouched, although I welcome any feedback here. Truth is, my DMs on Twitter have been rather one-sided and it’s not from the side I am advocating for. I have been told to kill myself, that a guy would like to show me how his gun works and I could watch the barrel (granted that made me chuckle).

    What I really would like is civility, or at least lay off the threats if you oppose me. If you must, I guess go for it. If you want a rational discussion, I’m right here or you can DM me on Twitter. I’m not going anywhere.

    Thank you,
    Robb

    P.S. I really really want to go back to writing frivolous articles about movies or bad fiction. I think it is important for me to continue to update this article as more horrific things occur as we all know they will. So as the world gets bloodier, this will get longer. I am in this for the long haul. Hopefully I will post some stories or different columns as well.

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