Revisiting The Second Amendment And Gun Violence.

“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.”

I draw your attention to the full text of the amendment since the first 12 words are seldom mentioned. In fact, in the NRA headquarters, only the last half of the text is emblazoned on the wall. But, if you believe in the wisdom of the authors of our Constitution, you cannot parse the words to suit your own purposes. You must accept the document in its entirety.

We once had a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States who believed so. In a 1991 PBS interview, he stated, “The Gun Lobby’s interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud – I repeat the word fraud – on the American people by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime. The real purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to ensure that state armies – the militia – would be maintained for the defense of the state. The very language of the 2nd Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires.”

The point is that the amendment was written to ensure for the defense of the US against foreign governments at a time when our nation had no standing army, no Navy, no Air Force, no Marine Corps, no Coast Guard. Instead, the nation’s defense relied upon state militias comprised of volunteers…what have, in effect, become our state governed National Guard units.

Now that we have the world’s most effective military, the 2nd Amendment is no longer necessary. Since our government is “of the people, by the people and for the people,” the military serves us. There is no longer a need for citizens to bear arms as part of a well-regulated militia. What about the potential for government tyranny? The current administration aside, that is a remote possibility. And even if the government decided to impose martial law on the land, no disorganized band of civilians armed with an arsenal of AR-15s and AK-47s will prevail against a well-trained government army with tanks, artillery, fighter jets and nuclear weapons.

That said, let’s talk about our gun problem and what can be done to reduce gun violence, including mass shootings.

There are an average of 297 shootings each day in the US – more than 108,000 per year! Those shootings result in 11,000 murders per year and an uncounted number of wounded – many with lifelong debilitating injuries. There are 20,000 suicides from guns each year, resulting in an annual total of 33,000 deaths from guns.

More than 2,600 hundred children are killed by guns each year.

The US averages more than one mass shooting per day (as defined by 4 or more victims per shooting). Since the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School, there have been 1,500 mass shootings resulting in more than 1,700 people killed and more than 6,000 wounded (not counting those who were likely shot and killed today).

If you’re human; if you live in America, those statistics should frighten you! But before you run out and purchase a gun for self-defense, consider this: Guns are not defensive weapons. They are offensive weapons. In a gun fight, the first person to pull their gun usually wins. So, if someone points a gun at you, your own gun will do you little good. In fact, if you have a gun in your house, you’re 80 percent more likely to use it on yourself than any criminal.

To further debunk the “good guy with a gun myth,” consider the FBI analysis of 160 active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013, excluding shootings related to gang or drug violence. Those incidents resulted in 1,043 casualties – 486 killed, 557 wounded. The FBI found that 1 in 5 were stopped by a potential victim at the scene and most of those were unarmed! Only 5 were stopped by “good guys with guns.” And, in 21 of 45 incidents that required law enforcement to engage the shooter, 9 officers were killed and 28 were wounded, despite their training and their body armor!

Do you still think arming teachers is the answer to school shootings?

Every independent study shows a clear connection between gun violence and the number of guns. Nevertheless, Americans now own more than 300 million guns. Despite the fact that the number of individuals who own guns is actually declining, the number of gun sales is increasing dramatically. That’s because 6 million Americans – mostly white men -now own 10 or more guns. There are studies that show many of those people have psychological problems. And there are additional studies that show a clear connection between gun violence and domestic violence or violence against animals.

The only apparent answer to our epidemic of gun violence is to treat it as we do other epidemics – with intervention, outreach, and education. We should institute universal background checks and a database of gun ownership. To make the ATF’s job easier, we should institute a waiting period for anyone wanting to purchase a gun. We should ban both open and conceal carry – going back to the policies before the lobbying of the NRA. We should ban all semi-automatics. Not just military-style weapons. That’s because most semi-automatics can be just as deadly. And bolt-action, pump-action and lever-action are perfectly acceptable for most hunters. We should limit magazines to 9 rounds. We should limit the quantities of ammunition sold. And we should take weapons away from violent felons, domestic abusers, animal abusers and the mentally ill who are diagnosed with violent tendencies – toward others or themselves.

It’s time to ignore the NRA and the GOP. It’s time to change!

Cop Shootings Prove The Need For Gun Control.

One of the claims made by the NRA (National Rifle Assh*les) when pushing for expansion of open carry laws is that guns are safe in the hands of individuals who have been properly trained in the use of firearms. Well, either that is false or most of our gun-wielding cops have been poorly trained. In just the past few weeks, cops have gunned down the unarmed, the mentally ill, a TV cameraman and a toy gun-toting shopper at Wal-Mart.

If cops can be so careless and clueless, it’s no wonder there are so many gun deaths each year caused by armed civilians.

If we can’t weed out dangerous cops in the hiring process, what chance do we have of keeping the criminally insane from buying and carrying guns without universal background checks? And, if the problem is caused by police expectations that everyone they confront (even in a routine traffic stop) is armed, then it’s clear that we have too many guns on the streets for our own safety. The obvious solution is to end the sale of handguns and conduct a nationwide buyback program as Australia has successfully done. While we’re at it, we should also ban military-style weaponry such as semi-automatic assault rifles and 50 calibre sniper rifles. There is no conceivable need for these weapons in the hands of civilians. Even if you’re paranoid enough to think a tyrannical government is coming to enslave you, these guns won’t help. The government has bigger and more lethal weaponry as already proven by the police in Ferguson, Missouri.

Only when we reduce the number of firearms on the streets can we expect police to rely on batons and tasers before turning to lethal force as a last resort.

As for the NRA claim that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people,” keep in mind that the firing range instructor killed when a 9-year-old girl lost control of an Uzi set on full automatic was killed by the gun. Not by the girl. So, too, are most of the more than 3,000 kids killed by guns each year.

There is no arguable reason for this nonsense to continue. We’ve already established that the Second Amendment has limits. We have drawn the line at allowing citizens to obtain fully-automatic firearms, bombs and nuclear weapons. We can re-draw the line to ban semi-automatics and to prevent the carrying of firearms unless there is a legal, demonstrable need.

That is, unless you actually enjoy watching reports of the daily gun battles on our streets and mass shootings in our schools.

20 Things President Obama Should Do After The Mid-Terms.

In no particular order of importance:

  1. Normalize relations with Cuba.
  2. Support Palestine for UN membership.
  3. End the War on Drugs and begin the process of decriminalization.
  4. Renew calls for a Public Option as part of the Affordable Care Act.
  5. Negotiate pharmaceutical prices as all other industrialized nations have done.
  6. Rally Americans to aggressively deal with Climate Change.
  7. Push for an end to mandatory sentences for non-violent criminals.
  8. Order the Justice Department to aggressively pursue criminal charges against the banksters who collapsed our economy in 2008.
  9. Order the Justice Department to aggressively pursue charges of war crimes against those involved in the CIA’s torture program.
  10. Deny permission for TransCanada to build the Keystone XL pipeline.
  11. Push for changes to the tax code to prevent the use of offshore tax havens by individuals and corporations.
  12. Push the IRS to prevent 501c3s and 501c4s from engaging in politics.
  13. Aggressively push for immigration reform.
  14. End drone assassinations except as an absolute last resort to deal with terrorist leaders and increase transparency.
  15. Order the removal of ALL American troops from Afghanistan.
  16. Offer government-backed, interest-free college loans based on need.
  17. Demand that Congress pass common-sense gun control measures, including universal background checks and a ban on large ammo clips.
  18. Order the Justice Department to create uniform voting rights across all states.
  19. Aggressively push for an end to human trafficking.
  20. Order the Department of Defense to reduce its reliance on private contractors.

A Memorial To Gun Victims?

A new study by Dr. John Leventhal, professor of pediatrics at the Yale School of Medicine, found that firearms kill more than 3,000 children each year in the US.  Another 7,000 are wounded badly enough to be hospitalized, most from assaults. And those are just the statistics for children! Overall, there are more than 11,000 homicides per year in the US involving a firearm and more than 19,000 suicides involving a gun according to statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

No other advanced nation comes close.

To put these statistics into perspective, the number of children killed by guns in the US in a single year exceeds the 2,977 people who died in the attacks on 9/11. The 4,486 US soldiers killed during the 6 years of the Iraq War is less than half the number of gun homicides that occur in the US in a single year. And the 2,287 US soldiers who have been killed during the 10 years we have been engaged in the Afghan War is roughly equivalent to two and a half months of gun homicides in the US!

Put another way, as of May 2011, there were 58,272 names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, representing the number of US soldiers killed during our 14 years of military involvement in Vietnam. The number of gun homocides in the US would exceed that number in approximately 5 years. And, if you included gun suicides, the number would be exceeded in just 3 years!

Do you still think we don’t have a gun problem in this country?

Yet despite the overwhelming reality of these statistics, American politicians refuse to act. The shooting of a US Congresswoman and the mass murder in Tucson, Arizona wasn’t enough to force common sense gun control. The mass murder in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater wasn’t enough. Even the slaughter of 26 children in Newtown, Connecticut wasn’t enough to prompt Congress to act. They couldn’t even pass a measure calling for universal background checks of gun purchasers when polls showed that a vast majority of Americans supported it.

It makes one wonder what it will take to bring Americans to our senses.

I would suggest that we create a memorial to gun victims listing all of their names. Make the memorial as visible and as powerful as possible, something similar to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Add the names of gun victims week by week; month by month; year by year. It may take a while, but eventually most sane people will realize exactly what our lax gun laws are costing us.

At least I would certainly hope so.

Hallelujah! Pass The Hate And Ammunition!

While perusing my local newspaper, I ran across a curious item. There was an ad for a gun show at a local community church. That’s right, a gun show in a church! Doesn’t everyone know that Jesus Christ and AR-15s go together like wine and crackers; blood and flesh? After all, guns and ammo will help tens of thousands of Americans meet their maker sooner than later.

More seriously, this represents a disturbing trend. More and more religions have aligned themselves with the military. Churches praise those who died in battle. One church I visited even placed a monument to fallen soldiers in the courtyard leading to the sanctuary so the congregation would be reminded of the glory of war every time they go to church.

I long ago rejected organized religion, but I still remember my childhood church praying for peace. The congregation would never have considered allowing its facilities to be used to sell weapons. There were no monuments to violence. My, how things have changed!

Even more disturbing is the tie between some religions and racism, and the tie between racism and guns. The Ku Klux Klan was born out of white “Christian” churches. Today, many Aryan supremacy groups still use the Bible to justify their hatred for others. Further, a new study published in the science journal Plos One has linked racism to gun ownership. A research team led by Dr. Kerry O’Brien measured levels of symbolic racism in relationship to gun ownership. The team reported, “For each 1 point increase in symbolic racism, there was a 50% greater odds of having a gun in the home, and there was a 28% increase in the odds of supporting permits to carry concealed handguns.”

According to the team, the results were “consistent with other US data showing that white males display the most opposition to gun control, and greater support for liberalisation of gun laws.” The team also found that “higher education levels were associated with lower odds of having a gun in the home.”

Maybe someone will conduct a similar study exploring the links between guns and religion, or hatred and religion. I suspect the findings would be both depressing and frightening.