Seeking the Truth

This latest take on guns, gun control, rights and freedom, comes via a site called Seek the Truth. I don’t know the name of the person who wrote the post, so I will refer to them as Seek, until I learn otherwise. Suffice to say, they make a number of anti-gun control arguments, that I cannot agree with. I won’t be quoting everything, but you can see the entirety of their post at the link above.

First, we already have gun control in the U.S.  It may not be as much as some prefer, but basic rules apply in all states: you have to be 18, you need a background check, and you can’t be a felon. Several states have many more gun laws in addition to these. The U.S. also has gun-free zones, waiting periods, and permits are generally required to carry weapons outside your home. The country had an “assault rifle” ban from 1994 to 2004, arguably it did little to curb gun deaths (homicides went up during a portion of the period and down during another, a wash basically). We banned a limited few rifles, but not others, not even the most lethal. Like most government programs, it was poorly designed; even a Democrat administration and Congress couldn’t muster support to continue it in 2004.

US gun control measures are weak and, perhaps more importantly, wildly inconsistent. They often differ from State to State, and sometimes they differ within a State, where major cities have different rules to the overall State. This lack of coherent, national laws makes it very easy to purchase a gun in one location, and take it another.

The latest trend is towards red-flag laws to identify people who should not be allowed access. Seems like an okay idea, but will they be enforced? Recent shooters have exhibited many red flags that should have alerted any sentient person, even without such laws in place. Furthermore, the bigger worry about red-flag laws is will they be abused? Has the government fairly applied these laws to this point? Dana Loesch interviewed Texas Senator John Cornyn, and asked this question. Senator Cornyn supports national legislation for red-flag laws, but cannot articulate how due process and constitutional rights will be protected under the new laws.

If we raise concerns about gun control legislation, we are not schills for the NRA at the expense of children’s lives (as is claimed by many); we have legitimate concerns about these new rushed laws, laws whose real intent may be hidden.

Many gun control advocates point to the “gun show loophole” as a problem. That has been demagogued to death; it applies to a minimal number of gun sales. Firearm dealers cannot take advantage of this loophole; they cannot skirt background checks by selling at a gun show. The law applies to individuals who want to sell or give a gun to another. I think it makes sense not to burden individuals with the paperwork for such transfers. If this were actually a significant source of problems and crooked gun dealers were misusing it, I would take a different view on it, but it is not a source of problems.

I can’t pass comment on gun shows, or on red-flag laws, except to say that, regarding red-flag laws (which I presume relate to mental health evaluations of prospective gun owners), there are laws in place in Germany that concern both prospective gun owners, and existing gun owners. These laws are part of a wider, national set of rules governing firearms, and they are largely successful.

Mass shootings with rifles account for fewer than 1 in 1000 gun deaths. The Columbine shooting supposedly began a new paradigm, although it was not the first such shooting. There has been an increase in such violence; the last 22+ years, there were 293 school shootings. Nevertheless, while a large number, the vast majority resulted in three or fewer deaths, and the majority had had one or no deaths.

Since 2000, 14 school shootings, accounting for 167 deaths have resulted in more than 3 deaths:

Uvalde, Tx (22 deaths, 2022)
Oxford, Mi (4 deaths, 2021)
Santa Fe, NM (10 deaths, 2018)
Parkland, Fl. (17 deaths, 2018)
Rancho Tehama, Ca. (6 deaths, 2017)
Roseburg, Or (10 deaths, 2015)
Marysville, Wa (5 deaths, 2014)
Santa Monica, Ca (6 deaths, 2013)
Newtown, Ct (27 deaths, 2012)
Oakland, Ca (7 deaths, 2012)
Northern Illinois Univ (6 deaths, 2008)
Virginia Tech Univ (33 deaths, 2007)
Red Lake, Mn (10 deaths, 2005)
Tuscon, Az (4 deaths, 2002).

All of these are gut-wrenching, but on average, deaths from all school shootings combined are in the neighborhood of 10 to 12 per year. There have been other shootings as well: the Buffalo supermarket shooting (10 dead, 2022), the Atlanta Spa shooting (8 deaths, 2021), the Las Vegas shooting (60 deaths, 2017), Orlando Nightclub shooting (49 deaths, 2016), the Charleston AME Church (9 deaths, 2015), and others. We are still around 20 to 25 deaths per year from all such mass shootings with semi-automatic rifles. Firearm deaths have ranged from 30,000 to 40,000 annually. Why is so much attention given, so much legislation proposed, so many chests beaten, and so many condemned for urging caution, when these are fewer than 1 in 1,000 of all firearm deaths?

In one sense, I agree with Seek here. Semi-automatic weapons are, to me, absurd weapons to have in civilian hands, and we have seen the deadly consequences of this, but the far greater problem lies with handguns. 80% of US murders involve firearms, and of those, a clear majority involve handguns. Focusing on semi-automatic weapons is one thing, but the overall problem of gun violence needs to be addressed, in order to have any meaningful impact on the USA’s serious problem with this issue.

Handguns account for the overwhelming majority of homicide gun deaths, and big cities are the problem. Chicago alone had nearly 800 gun deaths in 2021, and there were 500 more in Philadelphia, each city had more handgun deaths than deaths from rifles in the entire country. The gun control debate rarely addresses the problem of inner city violence, but that’s the most tragic and the most pressing problem of all. The media highlights shootings involving certain ethnicities, but if the races and ethnic backgrounds don’t fit the narrative, the deaths are ignored. So, politicians and media demand action when a dozen die in a school shooting but ignore 800 deaths in Chicago. Go figure.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani cleaned up that city in the 90’s by focusing on the actual problems. He didn’t demand gun control. He set high expectations, didn’t tolerate minor infractions, and enforced existing laws. The results were epic. The accomplishment is often ignored and rarely emulated,

I refer back to the inconsistency in US gun laws. Consistent, national laws, like those seen in the UK, France, Australia, Germany, and Japan (among many others) would almost certainly make an impact. There is a reason the USA is ranked highest among 35 developed nations for gun murders, and it is nothing to do with inner-city problems. If Seek is referencing gang warfare (I don’t know if they are), it is worth noting that gangs and gang violence exist in major cities across Europe, but most European cities are safer than any US city (including New York). London, as per 2017, had a lower murder rate than a number of US cities, again, including New York.

Mass murders at malls, schools, shopping centers are generally in gun-free zones.  It seems obvious more security in these places will help.   Yet, those who demand we “do something”, say the other side has “no ideas”. We don’t need any more guns in schools, they say.   You can’t have it both ways. You say your opposition won’t do anything and is beholden to the NRA, but then reject out-of-hand the ideas they actually propose.

We spent $40 billion for Ukraine’s security earlier this year. Could we spend the same on school security? Even our kids small private school laid out funds to have everyone enter through one entrance while allowing kids and teachers to exit through multiple doors. This change, introduced after a school shooting, clearly improved security. In addition, I don’t mind if an administrator is carrying. Criminals would be more leery of approaching if they knew this was possible.

Mass shootings are extremely rare across Europe, and pretty much the entire continent is a ‘gun-free zone’. In the UK, swift action was taken to avoid a repeat of Dunblane. Mass attacks still happen, but they are very unusual and very rare. The suggestion that the answer to a gun violence problem is more guns, in a place of learning, is, to me, horrifying. Guns don’t work as a deterrent to violent crime, so why suggest having even more of them, in a building full of children?

The UK now restricts the purchase of knives because knife murders are out of control.  Guns were banned first, but criminals still found a way. Knifings in London now rival the gun problem in New York City. Furthermore, in the UK, you can’t purchase a butcher knife for your kitchen and carry it home.  Dummy politicians think they can change human nature.  Banning guns may have an impact for a time, but will do little to deter determined and deranged criminals.  Jim Jones killed 909 people with Kool-Aid forty-five years ago. The Nazis killed millions in gas chambers. Criminals in London have found new ways to kill. In the U.S., hammers, fists, and blunt objects account for more deaths than AR-15s.

To quote myself, via a comment left to Seek elsewhere,

the UK’s rate of knife murders is tiny, compared to the US rate of gun murders. Firearms currently account for something like 80% of all US murders. The US murder rate in 2020 was 7.8 per 100,000 people, so 6.2 per 100,000 US murders involve guns.

In the UK, the murder rate in 2020 was 0.9 per 100,000, with 40% involving knives. That means 0.36 UK murders per 100,000, involved knives.

So, as you can clearly see, the UK’s knife murder rate is very low, compared to the USA’s gun murder rate.

To be blunt, it annoys me when people try to suggest there is an equivalence between the USA’s gun problem and the UK’s knife problem. Moreover, there are on-going efforts to address the knife problem in the UK, whereas no one seems to want to acknowledge the elephant-sized gun problem in the USA.

Yes, I don’t trust a government, especially one with absolute power. The citizenry’s power is a counter balance. Thomas Jefferson said: “When government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.” A populace with 400 million guns affects the balance of power in this equation.

I have often heard this argument, this ‘defence’ for having lots of guns in society. So far, no tyrants have been deposed, but in the name of the possibility, thousands of Americans die in gun violence every year. Moreover, if the government turned its F-22 fighters, stealth bombers, tanks, gunships, cruise missiles and highly-trained soldiers against its own people, what would the likely outcome be? We’re not dealing with the rough equality of weaponry that existed shortly after the Revolutionary War. We’re looking at a huge disparity between the US armed forces and the average American’s weapons. We’re also looking a huge difference in training. In short, the presence is guns is not the deterrent it’s believed to be, and yet, due to this bogeyman, children continue to be slaughtered.

Please follow and like us: