Only time will tell if Obama’s “Meaningful Action” actually occurs
As American travelers dutifully go through “naked scanners” at airports due to government-amplified and Homeland Security-prolonged Fear, the real terrorists of mass destruction live among us. With assault weapons.
The most likely threat of carnage to affect Americans is not some foreign religious nut trying to light explosives in his underwear on fire… extremely stable explosives that can never be set off with a BIC lighter. It’s the guy next door with a “legal” Glock and AK-47. The answer? Gun control. Yes, GUN CONTROL.
Approximately 10,000 Americans will be murdered with firearms this year, as in any other year; the highest by far in the developed world, and in 4th place worldwide behind South Africa, Colombia and Thailand. Quite the Third World Club to belong to. The vast majority of those US homicides will be committed with handguns; in 2009 it was 67%. On the other hand, the UK and French rate is 1 in a Million for all gun murders.
For all firearm-related deaths including murder, suicide and accidents, 3.2 American lives are lost per 100,000 people. Canada’s rate is 0.76 per 100,000, 23% of the US; many of those Canadian deaths are due to smuggled handguns brought in from the US; Canadians by and large do not use firearms for personal protection, and the vast majority are long guns used for hunting.
If people had flintlocks, and only flintlocks, the Second Amendment that gun lovers hide behind might make sense. The National Rifle Association, in my opinion, can go to hell, along with its twisted, ideological and murderous “logic.”
I am a born Canadian and naturalized American. I grew up without any fear of anything like this occurring, just as students north of the 49th Parallel will be able to keep Newtown at arm’s length knowing that a border separates them from the gun craziness called America. When I was a child, I saw that the Canadian Tire store was full of hunting gear and still is, but handguns have always been very much restricted or illegal there. Currently, the largest magazine for a rifle carries 5 rounds, which is more than enough to bag a deer. Not 30.
After every unfortunate incident in the “civilized” world, such as the 1989 Montreal École Polytechnique Massacre, gun laws have been tightened — except America. However, in the US, the answer seems to be that to fight gun violence even more guns are needed, to the point of some states debating requiring universities to allow students to carry concealed weapons on campus, or to pass open-carry laws. Personally, I will always vote for the candidate who promotes the elimination of the type of firearms that should only be found on a battlefield or in a peace officer’s holster or locked up in a SWAT vehicle, but were used today by a lunatic against brave teachers and defenseless schoolchildren.
I recognize that America, frankly, is too far gone, considering that 47% of Americans have at least one firearm according to a 2011 Gallup poll. But, I see no reason for high-powered military-style weapons to be in the hands of anyone — rapid-firing semi-automatic pistols, rifles and extended magazines for them — that are simply designed only to kill humans. And any concealable pistol under the Canadian minimum barrel length of 4.1 inches, or in “Saturday night special” 25 or 32 caliber, should be heavily restricted or prohibited. The Second Amendment only mentions arms, but it is up to politicians to define what that means. Currently, pretty much anything short of a bazooka is legal in the US.
However, I also realize that reducing guns on American streets or in households to levels similar to Canada, Australia or Western Europe is “pie in the sky.” If we’re lucky, we will only be able to restrict the kind of assault weapons that killed children in their school by bringing back the Brady law that expired 8 years ago. Even that is, unfortunately and depressingly, extremely unlikely. Simply because US politicians are eating at the NRA trough or do not have the political fortitude to pursue such matters.
The numbers tell us that US handguns are the most to blame when compared to a country like Switzerland that has one of the highest gun ownership ratios in the world. Switzerland is often misrepresented by US gun proponents as a “see, the numbers of guns don’t matter” argument. However, the Swiss homicide rate by firearm is 4 in a million. Why? Effectively, every male is in a national militia and tasked to defend from foreign incursions, so they have fully-automatic firearms at the ready. However, there are very strong restrictions on how and where firearms can be used and transported, similar to laws in Canada. And they all need to be locked up by law all the time. Carrying concealed weapons is banned. The Swiss just don’t go around killing each other with them, unlike Americans. The Swiss model is actually an example of extremely strict and effective gun control and not liberalization.
Also somewhat of a red herring is solely blaming violent video games, Hollywood movies or a lack of psychological care for such violence. Young troubled males around the globe entertain themselves with such products, but they don’t have easy access to handguns or military-style weapons. Guess which country allows such free access to almost anyone? Guns are the obvious final piece to this deadly puzzle.
Newtown may be one of the most heart-wrenching examples of this carnage that is a fact of life (and death) across the US. But it will not be the last. We will go through this again and again for years on end, decade after decade, until, and if, the Supreme Court swings back to the left enough to allow a different interpretation of the poorly written and ambiguous Amendment that is responsible for so much heartache and destruction.
Canada’s CBC TV News reporters Neil MacDonald and Paul Hunter, both stationed in the US, put that all into perspective below. Gun Control in the US is a pipe dream.
UPDATE December 23, 2012: Robert J. Spitzer, chairman of the political service department at the State University of New York College at Cortland, and author of several books on gun policy, has an excellent article on the Five Myths About Gun Control in the December 21 Washington Post. A required read for everyone who is concerned about this issue.