July 31, 2012

ChemGuy take a shot

Thanks to TYWKIWDBI for linking to the above video.

As I so often do, I turn to John Stewart to be both serious and light-hearted.

I don't have a clue as to how to tackle anything so serious as my thoughts about gun control, but I feel like I should at least say something - maybe because I try to keep things relatively light and airy around here. When we get too close to something serious like this, I tend to whistle as if we were passing a graveyard. In light of the current rise in gun discussion, however, I want to say a few things.

First off I understand the need for the second amendment or at least I understand why there was a need. We had just come through a war against the British, and we wanted to make sure we didn't find ourselves with another king against which we would need to rise up. Americans - however we wanted to define that at the time, however we want to define that now - lived on a continent with needs for guns. We had to hunt. We had to defend. We had to shoot lest we starve or die.

We do not exist in that nation any longer. That vast majority of us live in a nation where food comes from a grocery store, where the most hunting we need to do is for bargains and deals, coupons and nutritional information labels.

And we do not exist in a nation where we are at risk of a king taking control. Yes, we can debate the possibility of some sort of oligarchy in politics today, whether we need to rise up against the government and kill all the socialist politicians, but I'm going to come pretty firmly down on the side that says we don't need to overthrow the government and are pretty far from needing to do so.

We do exist in a nation, however, where for every 100 people, we have 88.8 firearms (source)...where between 8000 and 9000 people are intentionally killed by guns every year (not including accidental shootings and suicides - 25,000 a year if you include those - source)...where nearly 7000 African-Americans were killed by firearms in 2007 (source) - 18.1 out of every 100,000 in the United States.

The only times I've ever had a gun in my hands would be the following...

  • water guns - lots of times
  • paintball gun - one afternoon, hated it
  • pump-action air rifle - one as a kid, fired into a couple of cardboard boxes
  • suction cup dart guns - lots of times
I'm clearly not the NRA's target demographic; I know it. I'm not a hunter. I'm not a gun owner. I've had people break into my house - while I was gone, admittedly - and I still don't want a gun. I live in a world where I don't have to draw a gun to correct every slight. I know this all puts me in an group that some people would say shouldn't talk about guns because I'm speaking from a position of lack of knowledge.

But I do know that the concepts of hundred-round magazines, of civilian-purchased body armor, of a gun and knife show at the Sharonville Convention Center once a month all year long, of legal assault rifles, and of gun stockpiling worry me. I know that I would have absolutely no problems at all if the United States instituted a six-month waiting period to buy a gun, if the our background checks were stepped up to include a lot more than just whether you were ever involuntarily committed for mental illness, if we stopped just sort of making private gun ownership fully illegal in the United States. 

It's too easy to buy a gun - when forty percent of guns sold today have no background check performed at all.

It's too easy to buy guns meant to kill multiple people - semiautomatic weapons that can fire a hundred bullets without reloading even once.

Until we can find a way to make sure no one hates, no one sees so little future that they choose to solve their problem with a gun, everyone receives the mental care that they need, we have to find a way to make their mistakes less deadly.

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