I've mentioned once or twice before that I read Tucson's "alternative newspaper," the Tucson Weekly from time to time. I picked up the latest edition at lunch, and got to read a really lovely screed in this week's "Guest Commentary:"
The actions of some gun-loving legislators show they're certifiably insaneNice of you to admit it right up front. With expletive! You hate inanimate objects. But "gun-loving legislators" are the ones who are insane. Right.
By CATHERINE O'SULLIVAN
I hate guns. I fucking hate guns.
They're good for one thing only, and that's blasting holes in living flesh. Outside legal hunting activities, this flesh usually belongs to policemen on the job and innocent bystanders, particularly children. The statistics on gun violence are ubiquitous and not disputed.In that case, as the joke goes, all of mine are defective.
And yes, I'm as tired of that stale old bromide as I am of hearing Ms. O'Sullivan's. And I'd dispute some of those statistics, actually. But that's what I do.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the rate of firearms deaths for kids under the age of 15 is 12 times higher in the United States than in 25 other industrialized nations combined. In one year, more children and teenagers die from gunfire than from cancer, pneumonia, influenza, asthma and HIV/AIDS combined."Children and teenagers" is a little bit different from "kids under the age of 15" (not that you're supposed to notice) but I thought I'd check. According to WISQARS, the CDC's injury mortality database, the number of gunfire deaths for "kids" 19 and under are as follows: 2,684 deaths by firearm violence in 2002. Homicides: 1856. Suicides 828. Accidents added 167 more for a total of 2,851. Of that total, kids over the age of 15 represented 2,266 of the deaths - or 79.5%. That leaves the "kids under the age of 15" total at 585, meaning that in those other 25 industrialized nations there were about 48 firearm related deaths. And how many firearms are there in private hands in those other 25 industrialized nations?
If you want to say "BAN THEM ALL!" why not just say it?
It seems an American kid is 16 times more likely to die from a firearm-related accident than a kid in any other western industrialized nation. A gun is the No. 1 choice for male adolescents in attempting (and completing) suicide. Approximately 3,500 students are expelled every year for bringing firearms to school.Wait. One hundred and thirty-five thousand guns are brought to schools every day, but only 3,500 kids are expelled for it annually? Anybody see a problem in those stats?
According to the National School Boards Association, 135,000 guns are brought into U.S. schools every day, and nearly 8 percent of adolescents in urban areas miss at least one day of school each month, because they are afraid to attend.
According to FBI statistics, 1.7 million guns have been reported stolen--mostly from homes and cars--in the past 10 years. Only 40 percent of them have ever been recovered. What this means is that they are or have been in the hands of crooks.Only 170,000 per year? I'd have thought it would be more. Just goes to show, though, that it doesn't take much of a market to keep the violent criminal demand supplied.
Guns do too kill people; and they do it more efficiently than a sword, a knife, a baseball bat, a disease or anything short of a bomb. An assault weapon is to a switchblade, or any other weapon of youth past, as the bubonic plague is to a head cold.Err, no. For the most part the people victimized by gun violence are not children. They're adults - young adults, but adults. Overwhelmingly male, and blacks are tremendously overrepresented in that group, too. Nice sleight-of-hand, but I've seen this trick before.
For the most part, the people victimized by this insanity are too young to vote or be real players in our economy. Children in our culture don't actually count. That's what the numbers say and numbers don't lie. They don't even hedge.
Now that you've built your straw-house...
So I should have been elated recently when I read in the Arizona Daily Star that a firearms bill had been killed. Seems a Phoenix Republican by the name of Doug Quelland failed to push House Bill 2666 through the state House. This bill would have allowed people to carry concealed weapons into schools.Here we go...
The fact that any Arizona legislator would come up with an idea like this (he says he was unaware the bill was so far-reaching) tells me that he is certifiably insane and should be locked up in a rubber room, or that he and his constituency are of a dangerous criminal mentality. Not only shouldn't such people be legislators; they shouldn't be allowed to walk around loose.Let me ask you a question, Ms. O'Sullivan: When young Dylan Kliebold and Eric Harris shot up Columbine High School, what finally stopped them? When Jeff Weise shot up his Red Lake high school, what finally stopped him? Other men with guns arriving on the scene.
You've stayed true to your hatred: you hate the gun, not the shooter. You've drunk the Kool-aid, blurring the difference between "violent and predatory" and "violent but protective" into just "violence," and mistakenly believe that anyone who carries a gun is, by definition, someone on the cusp of random murder. Yet you still, I assume, have that curious disconnect of gun-haters: you make an exception for "authorized agents of the State" - that is, people on the public payroll.
I can't fathom that "logic." But then, I can't understand your irrational hatred of inanimate objects, either. I can recognize it, but not understand it.
But of course, nor should armed drunks. Yet the Legislature is gearing up this very minute to debate SB 1363. This bill will allow customers to carry firearms into bars. To call this Ali G. reasoning would be to insult Ali G. Drunks and guns might be funny in the movies, but in real life, a bullet through the brain pan tends to take nearly all the fun out of a rollicking evening out.Except the law in question specifically prohibits consumption of alcohol by the CCW permit holder. I'd like you to explain your opposition to this bill to Texas representative Susanna Gratia-Hupp, who watched as her parents were shot to death in a Texas Luby's, knowing all the while that her handgun was locked in her car in the parking lot because it was illegal for her to bring it into the restaraunt. That little fact didn't stop George Hennard. He drove his pickup through a window, got out and started shooting.
He only stopped when - once again - men with guns showed up. By that time he'd killed 22 people, though.
Texas has since changed that law. Their homicide rate has fallen along with the rest of the nation's. And drunks are no more likely to shoot up the place now than before. People who jump through the legal hoops necessary to get a concealed-carry permit aren't the people you need to worry about.
But you're not worried about the people. Only the guns.
I've got a bumper sticker that says, "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will shoot their kids accidentally." This is what logicians call an "if-then" statement. It doesn't assert anything. It only says that if something were to happen, then something else would also happen. If I drop a drinking glass, it will break, does not mean I ought to or am going to drop the drinking glass. The truth is, on purely moral grounds, I don't think all guns should be outlawed. I don't like the idea of hunting animals, but understand that some decent people feel differently.Gee, thanks for your little "moral exception." But some of us feel differently about being armed for the defense of ourselves and our communities (even YOU), too.
Some people who pulled up next to me on Tanque Verde Road just the other day were neither as tolerant nor logical. Maybe they were on crack. Maybe they were just ardent supporters of this Quelland fellow. But they started shouting, thumping around, flipping my friends and me the bird. As the light changed, their parting words were that they should come back and shoot our motherfucking asses.And you weren't armed, obviously. And they might have been. And you still don't get it.
This, alas, is the crux of the problem. In a democracy, when one side of an issue is armed and the other is not, you've got big problems.The train of illogic here is astonishing, really. Someone capable of stringing that many sentences together coherently, yet who still cannot overcome her obsessive hatred of a tool and separate the legitimate use of violence from the criminal is something that makes me want to grab a magnifying glass and study. (Or a ClueBat™ and start swinging.)
If I know both my state and my country--and I do--Little Johnny had better start packing his flak jacket before he heads off to school. And soon. People like Mr. Quelland may pick up their marbles, but they never go home.
You've misidentified the problem, Ms. O'Sullivan, and run with it. Let me see if I can clarify it for you. In a 1994 Mother Jones column, Violence Policy Center executive director Josh Sugarmann wrote:
We can continue to push legislation of dubious effectiveness. Or we can acknowledge that gun violence is a public-health crisis fueled by an inherently dangerous consumer product. To end the crisis, we have to regulate--or, in the case of handguns and assault weapons, completely ban--the product.That "legislation of dubious effectiveness" he was referring to was the much-vaunted "Brady Bill" and its ilk. There's your position - guns as the cause of the problem. Yet in a recent Chicago Tribune op-ed, (the Trib not being a bastion of gun-rights support, if you weren't aware) editorial board member Steven Chapman has apparently grasped reality:
(D)ecrying America's love affair with guns is like decrying America's love affair with football or movies. There are some 260 million firearms in private hands in this country. Any solution requiring vast numbers of people to reject something they have long valued is not a solution but a fantasy. It's also an admission that no politically feasible options are likely to have any perceptible effect on crime.By "politically feasible options" he meant things like licensing, registration, "safe storage," etc. Josh Sugarmann's "legislation of dubious effectiveness." Banning isn't "politically feasible." What Mr. Chapman is saying is that you're going to have to live with them. That means living with the results of assholes and crazies with guns, because they're not going to go away - either the assholes & crazies, or the guns.
That being the case, it might be a good idea to recognize that the overwhelming majority of the population isn't assholes and crazies, and the overwhelming majority of gun owners aren't either. And if we have to live with the assholes and crazies with guns, then some of the rest of us would rather have at least a chance to oppose them effectively if they threaten to harm us.
Instead of having no other option but to cower in fear and plead with them not to hurt us, which is the choice you advocate here.
Now who's insane?