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Reflections of a working writer and reader



America still in denial over gun control

I’ve had several abusive and derogatory comments (which I’ve deleted) from my post of yesterday. If any of those commentors would like to resubmit their views using a rational argument and without the abuse, I’d be happy to give them space.

32 Responses to “America still in denial over gun control”

  1. Brian Hadd says:

    Fellow countrymen here are very many. That said thank you for a perspective toward peace.

  2. Maxine says:

    Sorry to read this. I thought the leader in the Economist this week was pretty good.
    An extract:
    “Cho Seung-hui does not stand for America’s students, any more than Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris did when they slaughtered 13 of their fellow high-school students at Columbine in 1999. Such disturbed people exist in every society. The difference, as everyone knows but no one in authority was saying this week, is that in America such individuals have easy access to weapons of terrible destructive power. Cho killed his victims with two guns, one of them a Glock 9mm semi-automatic pistol, a rapid-fire weapon that is available only to police in virtually every other country, but which can legally be bought over the counter in thousands of gun-shops in America. There are estimated to be some 240m guns in America, considerably more than there are adults, and around a third of them are handguns, easy to conceal and use. Had powerful guns not been available to him, the deranged Cho would have killed fewer people, and perhaps none at all.
    But the tragedies of Virginia Tech—and Columbine, and Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, where five girls were shot at an Amish school last year—are not the full measure of the curse of guns. More bleakly terrible is America’s annual harvest of gun deaths that are not mass murders: some 14,000 routine killings committed in 2005 with guns, to which must be added 16,000 suicides by firearm and 650 fatal accidents (2004 figures). Many of these, especially the suicides, would have happened anyway: but guns make them much easier. Since the killing of John Kennedy in 1963, more Americans have died by American gunfire than perished on foreign battlefields in the whole of the 20th century. In 2005 more than 400 children were murdered with guns. ”

    May be a quite useful link to send to people who might just be prepared to listen to a rational argument — as it does not come from some “pinko lefty rag” but from a mainstream business conservative (lower case c) publication.

  3. john baker says:

    Maxine, thanks for the link to the Economist piece. This kind of quiet and reasoned debate is exactly what is needed at the moment. Not so quiet that it goes away, though.

  4. marydell says:

    “Had powerful guns not been available to him, the deranged Cho would have killed fewer people, and perhaps none at all.”

    Although guns make murder easier, I’m not exactly convinced that the guns themselves are the problem. If someone is determined to kill someone else, they’re going to do it whether or not they can get their hands on a gun. Regarding rampagers like Cho, statistically, a person is far more likely to be killed by a family member or acquaintance than a mass murderer. Thanks to the media circus, we worry about rampages, serial murders, and gang-on-gang violence. From what I understand, though, the cause of an overwhelming majority of murders is an argument. As a result, I am more concerned about making someone I actually know so mad that they’d want to kill me than becoming the random victim of a stranger with a gun.

    In the previous thread, a commenter brought up Prohibition and the War on Drugs. Rather than being in denial, I see her as having a valid point regarding the effectiveness of bans. Did Prohibition stop alcohol abuse? Has the War on Drugs stopped drug trafficking? Will banning guns stop murder? Of course, a gun ban will likely reduce gun violence, but it will not stop violence itself. It will not cure the root causes behind why one person would kill another. This, I humbly believe, is what we should really be debating.

    jb says: Marydell, mankind has been debating that question since time began, and he will continue to debate it long into the future. I don’t want to stifle that debate and as far as I’m aware neither does anyone else. You are in denial because you want to discuss something else, you refuse to debate gun control, you tell us that you don’t want to debate gun control because gun control won’t “cure the root causes behind why one person would kill another.” But that’s a red herring. It’s something you have imported into the argument because you don’t want to consider reducing the ridiculous amount of dangerous weapons that are available to just about anyone in your country.
    You are happy to talk about prohibition or the war on drugs (why not drag in the war on terror as well – that’s a failure isn’t it?) and to suggest that they are somehow analogous to gun control. But sooner or later you are going to have to talk gun control. The current situation with regard to guns in America can only continue to increase the number of violent deaths.

  5. marydell says:

    John, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t debate gun control. I simply believe that blaming guns for what happened in Virginia is not the primary solution to ridding society of murder. It’s true man has debated this question since time began, and we need to keep on debating it. To me, the person holding the gun is the real ill of society, not the gun itself.

    In my mind, there’s a distinction between gun control and banning. I’m all for stricter laws making it harder for access to guns. I also think we need to work more on getting illegal and unregistered guns off the streets. However, I have serious doubts that a ban could ever be passed in the United States because so many have held on tightly to the second amendment to our Constitution. Although armed citizenry is not as important today as in 1787, I worry about the slippery slope when it comes to whittling away at our Bill of Rights. As an American, I believe in that document. My ideas about freedom and independence are based on its philosophy, and I am very wary of sacrificing my rights to the government because of the bad eggs.

    Gun control should certainly be debated and stricter laws should be enacted. However, I feel that advocating for a ban at the federal level, in the US at least, is an exercise in futility.

    jb says: Marydell, I’m not advocating a ban. I’m advocating a debate. Don’t say this would be an exercise in futility. No one in 1960 would have believed that there would be a peaceful revolution resulting in the dismemberment of the Soviet Union. But it happened because it came about that, at the end of the day, no one wanted the Soviet Union to continue. Think about your history books. Change can and does happen. You simply need the will to bring it about.

  6. Stephanie says:

    What can be done to Significantly increase gun control?

    jb says: Think, read, argue, cajole, reason, convince, demonstrate, attempt to overcome your own prejudices, always ask the question: “What does freedom mean?”

  7. B.C.King says:

    Debate over U.S.firearms policy is a pointless waste of time with regard to outsiders. They have no say over our internal legislation and most gun owners in the U.S. either don’t give a damn about what the rest of the world thinks or holds their views in utter contempt.

    jb says: That’s not enough to stop us, Bobby. We may not be a part of your world, but you’re certainly a part of ours.

  8. B.C.King says:

    In the aftermath of the Small Arms Treaty debacle,I would tend to disagree.

    jb says: The vote at the UN was the first time that governments have voted on the proposal to develop an International Arms Trade Treaty, and support was overwhelming: 139 voted yes, with only the United States voting against. Support was particularly strong in Africa, Latin America and Europe.

    The resolution was co-sponsored by 116 governments. Fifteen Nobel Peace Prize Laureates have supported the call.

  9. B.C.King says:

    Yes,but without the support and cooperation of the U.S., it is so much scrap paper. U.S. support was vital to the treaty-that was a given on both sides of the issue.

    jb says: So, the world has learned something else about the current US administration. That’s good, isn’t it?

  10. B.C.King says:

    I do not think the current administration cares about what the rest of the world knows or thinks of it. That plays well to their home base. There is still a strong isolationist streak in the U.S., and thumbing our nose at the rest of the world remains a popular American pastime.

    jb says: Even Rome had to change and adjust, Bobby.

  11. B.C.King says:

    All Empires, no matter how great or adaptive, invariably end up in the ash heap of history.

    jb says: Heartening isn’t it?

  12. B.C.King says:

    It keeps things in perspective.I do not share the current attitude that we are somehow intellectually or morally superior to our predecessors because we have access to advanced technology.Technology is only a means to an end,and while it changes constantly,human nature does not.

    jb says: I’m not sure we all mean the same thing by human nature. Seems like a bit of a cliche. But I believe that collective human consciousness differs widely from age to age and from situation to situation. Much of America’s current obsession with guns and gun culture takes it out of the mainstream of consciousness and places it in a position where, as you say, it refuses to listen to the other point of view. It’s a great pity to watch groups of otherwise rational people locking themselves into a belief system which was discredited many years ago and which causes them many more problems than it pretends to solve.

  13. B.C.King says:

    I understand that the way way we think is alien to you.To us it is not discredited in any way.It works,it works EXTREMELY WELL.I saw a 16 yr. old kid try to steal an air conditionar once-he got a 12 guage slug round in the head-it did not decapatate him-it just pretty much vaporized everything above the lower jawline.Now,that kid is pretty much not going to steal any more air conditioners.And yes,it went before a jury trial,and yes the guy who splattered his head walked(w/kudo’s from his nieghbors).
    Now,that might seem rather brutal to you.It is not to us.If you go onto someone else’s property and do something stupid,extremely unpleasent things are going to happen to you.
    Yes,we do carry guns-a lot of them-and quite frankly,the numbers are vastly underrated-because most American citizens lie and do not say they own guns when asked.Especially,gun collectors and survivalists.
    We are not in denial-quite frankly-a very high preportion of the “murders” listed are shootings by private citizens and police of assorted scumbags who are not a loss to society.Good riddance!
    I do not necessarily agree w/the above.BUT,I do love to play devil’s advocate.

  14. JosephIV says:

    I find it interesting to see those who live outside of America talking of “America’s” obsession with guns and gun culture. Yet, as a former US Navy sailor I witnessed a large market in Japan for copycat weapons that are air powered. These “Airsoft” guns are exacting replicas costing from $250 US to $900 or more. There is a definite fascination with being a sniper or machine gunner to the Japanese. These people have no ability to own a real gun but are still “fascinated” with firearms. One need only go to Las Vegas and witness the many Asians and Europeans renting pistols, shotguns, and even machine guns at local rental ranges. These tourists have a “fascination” with guns.
    I am an American and a gun owner. I have no fascination with guns. The fascination ended as a boy. My father taught me what a firearm is for and what it is capable of. They are a tool for self defense or harvesting of wildlife for food. I refuse to point a gun at anything I’m unwilling to destroy or kill. I have the ability to defend my family, not just call the police and wait 20 or more minutes as my wife and daughter are raped and beaten. Guns exist. Taking guns away from lawful US citizens will lead to the same increase in violent crime that both Australia and Canada witnessed when they “banned” guns. It is ironic that Africa and Latin America wish to disarm the United States when Africa is still a haven to armed warlords who exploit their people and armed narco-terrorists in South America kidnap and kill tourists for money.
    The economist article has little to no validity as the author uses the term 14,000 “routine killings” without defining what a “routine killing” is. I have seen the 14,000 statistic listed as a number of gun deaths in an anti-gun article. Once again, the article did not explain which deaths are attributed to gang violence, self defense, use by a police officer, etc. Until you break down the numbers, you are manipulating that number towards your own end. If you want to throw about numbers, research suicide rates in both Japan and Germany. Then compare them to US rates. It will shock you to see the suicide rates in these “civilized” countries with gun control.
    As a closing, you and your nation are not my king. I live on my land exercising my sovereignty over it. If you wish to do something that will reduce deaths and make you sleep better at night then please try to ban the production of cigarettes. Thank you.

    jb says: Thanks for your contribution, Joseph. Your land and the way you exercise sovereignty over it affects the rest of us in this world. You’re gonna have to give a little.

  15. Joe says:

    Hey John, Im Joe and I’m not very high on Gun control myself but thats my own opinion you make some excellent points in your blog I am impressed,really, but with meaning respect and without meaning to be rude, what will it do wont they just go ahead nad buy guns illegally? or find a way to eventually get a gun. I personally think we should be allowed guns for the simple reason it is a way of self defense,or a way for a hobbie like being a gun collector But mabye a way to have gun control but not be so abrasive by it. for example at every gun selling store there be a test or somthing of the sort. now again i dont wanna come off as being rude or threating but i just wanna ask for more points and mabye even try to change my mind.

    jb says: Hi Joe. I don’t have all the answers. I just think, if something’s patently not working, we should ask all the questions we can of it and try to come to an understanding that it wouldn’t be the end of the world if we tried something else.

  16. Ryan S. Atkins says:

    Gun control hurts, rather than helps, our country. Criminals are more likely to not break into a home when they know that the person living there may be in possession of a gun. According to a study conducted by researchers at Florida State University involving interviews of felons, one of the reasons the majority of burglars try to avoid occupied homes is the chance of getting shot. This study reported that many burglars refrain from late-night burglaries because it’s hard to tell if anyone is home, many explaining that it would increase their chances of being shot. Compared to other countries with a lower level of gun ownership, the United States has a much lower burglary rate. In this same Florida State University study, criminologist Gary Kleck concluded that if the U.S. were to have similar rates of burglaries as other nations such as Britain and the Netherlands; there would be more than 450,000 additional burglaries per year. Britain and the Netherlands have a burglary rate near 45% versus 13% for the U.S., and in the U.S. a victim is threatened or attacked 30% of the time during a burglary. Just the mere fact that citizens are allowed to be in possession of a gun helps to deter criminals and keep the communities safer.

    jb says: I’d have to go a long way to read more biased and shallow commentary, Ryan. You are obviously in denial. I don’t know if your figures on US and UK burglaries are correct or not. But I do know that you are using them to justify something (free access to guns) that does not address the main problem. Namely, murder. Why don’t you mention the murder rates in these respective countries? Could be because they show the exact opposite of what you are trying to prove here? Where there is unrestricted access to firearms there is more violent crime, there are more murders, and there is always a greater loss of life due to accident, not to mention the more recent high-school and institutional massacres.

  17. john baker says:

    Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies – in the final sense – a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. . . . It is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. – Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954

  18. LearnAboutGuns says:

    I must respectfully disagree. It seems to me that criminals who want guns can an will get them, just as they get drugs into the country. It also seems wrong to ban a constitutionally protected item just because a small percent of gun owners misuse their guns(and just wait until D.C. v. Heller is decided and we’ll see that guns are an *individual* right in the USA).

    jb says: This is the kind of hackneyed argument we would expect from a professional apologist for the gun trade.

  19. Warren says:

    While the US was again grappling with gun laws this week, in East Timor, the government submitted legislation to its Parliament authorising the National Police Commander to issue licences for firearms to civilians. The legislation was defeated.

    East Timor’s opposition party, Fretlin, issued a statement after the parliamentary debate saying that:

    “Those who need to carry weapons in the course of their duties, such as the Defense Forces and Police

    are able to do so. They have their own laws that permit it. The public do not want to widen that category to include persons for whom it is not essential they have firearms to perform their duty effectively and lawfully.

    We reject totally the argument …that many others are potentially in danger whilst performing their duty and should therefore be able to carry firearms.

    If we apply this category, then Timor-Leste will potentially be like the ‘Wild West’, where everyone will be toting guns. We don’t want that kind of society and its clear neither do our people.

    Like our people, we reject this ‘armed to the teeth’ approach to living,” added Guterres. “We need consensus on laws such as these. We in FRETILIN will always be open to dialogue towards enacting a sound, workable anti-gun law that embodies our people’s aspirations and that has been attained by consensus.

    We need a strong law that says, ‘Less Guns in Our Midst! Let’s End the Culture of Violence!’

  20. mikeb302000 says:

    I often write about guns on my blog. It seems the only commenters are those who deny the fact that there are too many guns in America and there’s too easy access to them. Why do you think that is?

    jb says: Because they’re an endangered species . . .

  21. Matt says:

    When you take ALL of the criminals off of the streets and can 100% guarantee my safety, you can have my guns. However, since that will NEVER happen, I will continue to provide protection for myself and my family.

    JB, I am glad you are concerned for the lives of Americans, but your effort may be best spent trying to help someone that wants it. Your figures and arguments are far too typical for a gun control advocate, and I cannot blame you for being an ignorant outsider to the situation. But, the fact is that Americans want to exercise their constitutional RIGHT to bear arms, and we will continue to do so.

    “To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”
    -George Mason

    jb says: I seem to have heard all that before, Matt. Now, I wonder where? It’s heartening, at least, to realize that you are only one of a rapidly diminishing breed, and that, although you claim you do, you really don’t represent the growing number of forward-thinking Americans with the courage of their convictions and the ability to embrace change.

  22. matt t says:

    It seems to me that gun laws have historically been used as a means to make a population more vulnerable to oppression. Take for example the racist gun laws in early america that prohibited free blacks from owning weapons of any kind, or hitlers disarming of the german people. The hollocaust might have been a lot more difficult if there were an armed german resistance roaming the countryside.
    Regarding the US’s murder rates, I believe that the bigger problem is that we live in a culture of violence. Just look at the media, (which by the way is merely a reflection of society.) We are a country that is obsessed with violence, murder, and revenge. No amount of gun control legislation will ever keep guns away from criminals because they have no regard for the law. Only law abiding citizens are affected.
    Regardless of either sides arguments the fact of the matter is that it is a constitutional right to keep and bare arms, the same as our right to free speech or the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. Personally, I’d rather have to much freedom then too little.
    P.S. You may claim to be part of a growing, forward thinking majority but perhaps you could explain record gun sales over the last few months and the boom in first time gun owners. Just a thought.

    jb says: Not really ‘jut a thought,’ though, is it Matt? More like ‘just a feeling’.

  23. Packard says:

    Hello John,

    In past posts of yours, I see that you have spurned the idea that gun control is not worth debating by accusing those who propose this idea of being “in denial.” Your responses to Marydell are a good example of this: “You are in denial because you want to discuss something else, you refuse to debate gun control…”

    Why, though? Is the shift to a broader topic necessarily an indication of some sort of denial? I don’t believe anyone can deny that problems exist in American society. Marydell and others have not denied that there is a problem. They have merely denied that gun control is a legitimate solution.

    The problem is not simply guns themselves, and likewise the solution is not simply to place limitations on gun owners. All too often people get caught up thinking “guns, guns, guns.” They shouldn’t be. They should be thinking about crime in general. Crime rate, violence–those are the main problems. The debaters’ minds are too focused on guns. Some may need to take a breather. Stop looking at the problem with a microscope. Examine the bigger picture.

    Crime is an ugly social problem which takes on many forms. Gun violence is but one example of crime, one arm of the monstrosity. Gun control is nothing more than a dubious attempt at cutting off one branch of the tree that is criminal activity. Would it not be far more efficient to attack the problem at its roots instead of killing time debating how to destroy one limb?

    What I am saying is that far more could be accomplished if the debate shifted to how to stop crime in general. Not only is there doubt as to whether or not gun control actually slows crime, as some claim it does, there is doubt as to whether or not it is even Constitutional.

    It is beyond me to, off the top of my head, point out a perfect solution to the crime problem that will keep the American public safe. It is certainly NOT beyond me to point out an inadequate solution, which, in every respect, is what gun control is.

    (As a closing note specifically to Mr. Baker–I find it is quite ironic that you are accusing people of refusing to debate gun control. Examination of your past responses and “arguments” will no doubt show you why).


    jb says: Packard, my post was about Gun Control. Not about crime. I do know the two can be linked. But my specific interest in the subject is not necessarily the crime aspect. I am more concerned with the number of ‘accidents’ with guns, and the terrible massacres of school children and students and others who just happen to be going about their business. If you let everyone have access to guns those things are inevitable, and you don’t have to be a genius to realise it.

  24. Packard says:

    John, I understand your concern with these high-profile massacres. I, too, watch the news and read reports of troubled citizens resorting to violence. The problem is that gun control is not a totally valid solution to these violent situations.

    Guns can be obtained legally and illegally. Gun control laws only govern the LEGAL sale and ownership of weapons. If you pass a gun control law, those that already sell guns illegally are not going to pay the slightest bit of attention to it.

    So, would gun control really stop these frustrated students from obtaining a gun? It might make it more difficult, but it is far from a guarantee that school violence rates will slow.

    “If you let everyone have access to guns those things are inevitable, and you don’t have to be a genius to realise it.”

    These things are inevitable regardless of whether or not a person has access to a gun. I think you may underestimate how resourceful people are and how determined they can be. You think those kids would’ve just said “Oh well, guess I won’t kill anybody” if they couldn’t find a gun? I don’t. They might’ve used knives, fire, or any of the deadly things that are easily accessible to all people. If a person is deadset on committing a violent act, it’s harder than you might imagine to get them to change their mind.

    jb says: I can see that you’re genuinely concerned, Packard. But you have to go the extra yard. An automatic weapon can and does do a lot more damage to a lot more people much faster than a knife. I am concerned with legal weapons. We can control them. We should also step up meaures to control illegal weapons better.
    And please, don’t any0one else tell me that it is impossible to stop a psychopath killing. You may be right and you may be wrong. But it is not impossible, if the will is there, to control the sale and distribution of alcohol, motor cars, cabbages, electrical items, drugs and weapons, and anything else.

  25. Dwight says:

    Hey! why dont you delete anyone’s blog that doesn’t believe in what you have to say. I know you will delete this no matter what but hopefully you will read this and it will increase your blood preasure and you die of a stroke.
    Guns dont kill people..people kill people. I f you want to see guns taken away from Americans why not take the rest of our rights away…OH! thats right people like you are trying very hard.
    Anyone who tries to deny me any of my constitutional rights is an enemy of mine. If you dont like the U.S. constitution why dont you move to a country where the constitution suits you.
    Seriously I hate anyone who fucks with the bill of rights. I hope you die a painful death soon so no-one has to listen to your stupid communist bullshit

    jb says: Hi Dwight. Thanks for dropping by. I really appreciate your efforts to elevate the quality of the debate.

  26. Charles says:

    Guns in themselves aren’t dangerous, generally that is true, except when it comes to examples when guns laying around and a child gets their hands on them by accident, even bb guns are to be considered as a lethal wepon.

    However, with easy access to guns, violence/crimes/murder with guns will be higher.
    make a comparison with the alcohol.

    in countries like for example Sweden, research studies shows that with easy access to alcohol people will get more addictive. they (simply described) divided the people in 4 categories, not drinking, drinking little, drinking regularly and people with alcoholic tendencies.

    With high access, the population in each category moved from their current situation to a higher level of consumption.

    jb says: Thanks Charles. It’s always gratifying to have people show up on this thread who are capable of conversing without an accompanying urge to kill.

  27. Thomas says:

    Hei John.
    I thought that you only had nice intelligent people visiting your website. Here it appears you have a charming little genius.

    jb says: Hi Thomas. He’s, you know, the same wherever he goes . . . I suspect, when he eventually comes out of his shell, he’ll be another charmer.

  28. Jesse says:

    We need to make sure we never get rid of the right to bear arms that our forefathers thought was important. Perhaps more people need to read “The Road to Serfdom” by von Hayek and be prepared. Perhaps people need to study history and see how Hitler wanted to make sure citizens were not able to fight the government as he slowly strengthened it and enslaved his people . . . and later committed many atrocities. People liked Hitler and really thought he was out to help the people. Look what that caused.

    jb said: We need to grow up, Jesse; at least to the point where we can address an argument with some consistency.

  29. Mark Colbath says:

    I’ve found that there is a great amount of interest in firearms and I am trying to cater to that on I’ve owned rifles, pistols and shotguns since I was a teenager, after my father as well as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department taught me gun safetty. I’ve not shot anyone but more and more criminal activity is common in our area. I would not hesitate to use any means to defend our family and farm. I certainly don’t mind practicing with a pistol or rifle on the farm when I think there is a criminal element nearby. I call it prevention.

    The world needs more education about guns and gun safety. It’s the people that know little about guns that are dangerous. When they do pick up a gun, they wave it around like a stick, which makes me cringe horribly at the site of the lack of respect for the power of firearms.

    If the government wants to outlaw guns, they should be the first to give them up.

    jb says: Hi Mark, I think it’s possible to talk about these things if we can hang onto a little perspective. No one ever suggested outlawing guns, did they?

  30. leon says:

    you mean gun control works?

    jb says: Thanks for the link, Leon. Very thoughtful of you. Yes, of course gun control works; enough at least to make incidents like the one described a rarity with much news-worthiness.

  31. Welsley says:

    We need serious gun control laws that allow people to defend their homes, hunt, etc. without subjecting people in shopping malls to the possibility of mass murder. I ran across a YouTube video that will scare the daylights out of anyone with common sense – of a 20-something male showing people how to fit yourself with AK-47 magazines on your chest and legs so that you can “police your neighborhood.” There is no purpose for these weapons. They can only be used to wipe out civilians or police officers.

  32. john baker says:

    Comments are now closed for this entry.