Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Guns: America's Shame



Guns.   They separate our country and they are used to kill innocent men, women, and children every day.  We take a look at two posts to help explain why the country is infested with guns and the gunmen that use them.

First, from Mark Karlin at Buzzflash.com, an essay, "Gun Zealots Are More Interested in Being Seen as Dangerous Than in Using Guns for Self-Defense," that suggests that gun rights Sheeplets are less conserved with the Constitution than they are with being a manly sort of man, harkening back to the days when we accused gun nuts of lacking a certain...manhood:

"So what is it that is the center of the rabid attachment of so many aging white males to guns, particularly handguns? Will Bunch reveals a sliver of insight into the answer to this question in an interview with John Grant, a frank bluff attendee at the annual Knob Creek machine gun shoot in Kentucky (kind of a shock and awe event involving turning junk trucks, washing machines and trailers into bullet-ridden swiss cheese with automatic weapons as fans watch from bleachers).

"Grant hails from New London, Wisconsin, where crime has a low ranking nationally, with one or no robberies over each of the last few years, for example. Yet, Grant packs heat and Bunch reflects upon why he has a pressing need for being lethally armed:

"You start to ask him [Grant] what he is afraid of, but stumble as you wonder whether 'afraid' is the right word. Grant assures you it is the right word. 'What am I afraid of? I do not know – but I feel far more comfortable knowing that I have my nine-millimeter in my car. I stay in a cheap motel and the first thing I do when I unpack is I set my nine-millimeter where I can reach it.'

"Bunch then ponders the general state of paranoia among a large percentage of the fearful gun owners who created a run on bullets after Obama was elected, and then a shortage of assault weapons after the Sandy Hook massacre. 'Prices and paranoia spiraled upward in tandem,' Bunch observes.



"BuzzFlash has often discussed the paranoia of the 'other' that frequently propels gun sales and the intimidating, bullying power of the gun lobby. And all that is true; guns are needed by white males to protect the imagined sovereignty of a white Christian patriarchal America, although how that would practically be achieved against the most advanced technological military in the world is unimaginable without regarding it as a psychic crutch against a changing social order.

"But there may be another explanation – and none of these are mutually exclusive – for the ferocious, truculent grasping onto guns as if they were life vests to save a wounded psyche.

"It may be this, and the clue emerged – from all places – in the written introduction to a 'B' movie I was watching the other night: "The worst thing about growing old is that men stop seeing you as dangerous."

"This may be the molten lave core of the overheated zealotry of male gun fanatics. They are not, in general, worried about using a gun for self-defense; they are more concerned about being perceived as dangerous.



"That is not a distinction without a difference. It shifts the debate from arguing that one's life is imperiled without carrying a gun to "I need to carry a gun so that I am feared as a man should be."

"That's not an issue of so-called Second Amendment Rights; it's a cry for massive national psychiatric intervention."

And in another post, "What researchers learned about gun violence before Congress killed funding," by Joaquin Sapien Propublica at Raw Story, we learn:

"President Obama has directed the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence as part of his legislative package on gun control. The CDC hasn’t pursued this kind of research since 1996 when the National Rifle Association lobbied Congress to cut funding for it, arguing that the studies were politicized and being used to promote gun control. We’ve interviewed Dr. Mark Rosenberg, who led the agency’s gun violence research in the nineties when he was the director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

"We talked to Rosenberg about the work the agency was doing before funding was cut and how it’s relevant to today’s gun control debate. Here’s an edited transcript.
There were basically four questions that we were trying to answer. The first question is what is the problem? Who were the victims? Who was killed? Who were injured? Where did they happen? Under what circumstances? When? What times of the year? What times of the day? What was the relationship to other events? How did they happen? What were the weapons that were used? What was the relationship between the people involved? What was the motive or the setting in which they happened?

The second question is what are the causes? What are the things that increase one’s risk of being shot? What are the things that decrease one’s risk of being shot?

The third question we were trying to answer is what works to prevent these? What kinds of policies, what kinds of interventions, what kinds of police practices or medical practices or education and school practices actually might prevent some of these shootings? We’re not just looking at mass shootings, but also looking at the bulk of the homicides that occur every year and the suicides, which account for a majority of all gun deaths.

Then the last question is how do you do it? Once you have a program or policy that has been proven to work in one place, how do you spread it? How do you actually put it in place?
So what were you were able to find before funding got cut off?



One of the critical studies that we supported was looking at the question of whether having a firearm in your home protects you or puts you at increased risk. This was a very important question because people who want to sell more guns say that having a gun in your home is the way to protect your family.
What the research showed was not only did having a firearm in your home not protect you, but it hugely increased the risk that someone in your family would die from a firearm homicide. It increased the risk almost 300 percent, almost three times as high.

It also showed that the risk that someone in your home would commit suicide went up. It went up five-fold if you had a gun in the home. These are huge, huge risks, and to just put that in perspective, we look at a risk that someone might get a heart attack or that they might get a certain type of cancer, and if that risk might be 20 percent greater, that may be enough to ban a certain drug or a certain product.

But in this case, we’re talking about a risk not 20 percent, not 100 percent, not 200 percent, but almost 300 percent or 500 percent. These are huge, huge risks.


We were collecting information to answer the question of who, what, where, when, and how did shootings occur?

We were finding that most homicides occur between people who know each other, people who are acquaintances or might be doing business together or might be living together. They’re not stranger-on-stranger shootings. They’re not mostly home intrusions.

We also found that there were a lot of firearm suicides, and in fact most firearm deaths are suicides. There were a lot of young people who were impulsive who were using guns to commit suicide.


If you look at how many deaths have occurred between 1996, when there was this disruption to surveillance and research, and now, so that’s 16 years, and if you assume that there are about 30,000 gun deaths every year, you’re talking about 480,000 gun deaths over that period of time.

If even a fraction of those deaths could have been prevented, you’re talking about a significant impact in terms of saving lives."

(For the rest of the story, click --> http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/02/26/what-researchers-learned-about-gun-violence-before-congress-killed-funding/)



And to complete today's lesson we look at another post from Raw Story, "Dog shoots Florida man with ‘unloaded’ gun," not an unusual story, but always a fun one:

"Police in Sebring, Florida say a man told them that his dog accidentally shot him in the leg with a gun that he thought was unloaded.

Gregory Dale Lanier of Frostproof was riding in his truck on Feb. 23 when the dog knocked his 9mm handgun onto the floor of the truck, causing it to discharge into the man’s leg, a police report indicated.

“Sebring Police Cmdr. Steve Carr said police did not arrest the dog or detain the animal, pending the investigation, according to Highlands Today.
The 35-year-old shooting victim had insisted to police that he believed no bullets were in the gun.

Lanier was traveling on State Road 17 North “when his dog kicked his unloaded .380 pistol causing it to fire and the bullet struck his leg. Lanier said he heard boom, saw smoke and felt a burning in his leg,” the police report said.

The man told police that he was shocked to find out that the gun was loaded and that it was a 9mm pistol, instead of a .380 handgun."

The story isn't as tragic as another one from Raw Story, "Connecticut grandmother kills self after shooting 6-month-old and 2-year-old kids," or this one, "'Another day, another horrific shooting': Tragic timeline of the worst US massacres."  And this writer knew someone who kept his guns unlocked who was shot to death by his three-year old boy while taking a nap.



The fact that the Constitution's section on guns is the only provisional section, and that our militia needs have been taken over by the National Guard, doesn't impress the historically-challenged Sheeplets.  The fact that the Swiss model is closer to what the Founding Fathers envisioned here doesn't either.

With Conservatism made illegal, the profit motive by the NRA must be rejected out of hand; with Conservatism made illegal, more monies can be spent educating Americans on their rights and responsibilities without the NRA noise machine confusing them any further.


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"If American women would increase their voting turnout by ten percent, I think we would
see an end to all of the budget cuts in programs benefiting women and children."

Coretta Scott King


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