In the last 48 hours, I’ve watched the gun control vs. wild west arguments in the media but mostly in social media and I’ve got to say that I think most people defending the American approach to gun ownership have lost their freaking minds. Let me summarize their positions… we have the ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’, ‘arm the teachers’ (eek), ‘but kids in China have been injured and some killed by random knifings’, ‘we’ll lose our freedom’, ‘guns = safety’ (LMAO on that one), and a whole slew of Karl Rove’esque approaches to argumentation that take verifiable information and twist it on its head using piss poor logic to try to distort the conversation (most of these people aren’t as good at doing it as Rove and I do wish they’d just stop). But I think my favorite appeal has to be the, ‘but vulnerable people (read women and kids in most of the comments) need access to guns to protect themselves or to be protected’. Are you kidding me? For real?
It’s funny — I’ve traveled literally all over the US and bits of Europe by myself. I’ve walked in downtown areas of many major cities by myself after dark and sometimes even late at night. From the ages of 21 – 31′ish I lived by myself most of the time. I’ve walked my dogs in urban public spaces by myself both early in the morning and late at night (i.e., the two times of the day that women are most susceptible to personal attack… and my dogs are under 20 lbs, it’s not like they’re attack puppies). I’ve seen dodgy things, even had fairly dodgy encounters, but I can honestly say that I’ve never once thought to myself, ‘damn, if only I had a gun, I’d be more secure.’
Oh, and it’s not because I don’t know how to shoot. I grew up with guns, passed gun safety courses, and used to be a bit of an “Annie Oakley” type — give me a handgun, rifle, shotgun, and even a bow and I could hit my target from about any position (except sitting down… couldn’t ever really shoot that well that way). So, why have I never wished for a gun to keep myself safe? Not because I have some foolish sense of invulnerability, but because I’m situationally aware and believe that violence begets violence. I’m also pretty confident that with adrenaline, I make a pretty good accounting for myself in a risky situation.
But you know the thing that makes all of those things in the US MUCH more risky? The fact that the dodgy assholes could have guns. Here’s a scary number for you — in ALL of the industrialized world, 80% of the gun deaths are in the US. The fact that handguns are so readily accessible. The fact that in, 2009, for example that approaching 70% of all homicides in the US were committed with a gun. The fact that there are roughly 300,000 crimes committed with the aid of guns in the US each year. The fact that in just 4 years (2006-2010) almost 50,000 people were murdered in the US with guns... that’s the equivalent of wiping out my hometown or the undergraduate population of the University of Texas all in just 4 years.
So, would I trade our situation for the strange knife attacks in China or dogs, or any of the other weird ass excuses used by gun sympathizers in the last 48 hours to try to justify that some people are violent assholes, regardless of the weapons available to them? You’re damned skippy I would, especially for the CDC’s stated 500 accidental gun-related deaths of children in the US each and every year.
Oh yeah — and should I mention the fact that the CDC also has found that the good ole USA has a murder rate of children that’s 5x that of 25 other industrialized countries COMBINED. With relation to guns, it’s shocking…. American children, under 15 are 15x more likely to die of gun-related causes than kids in the other 25 industrialized countries COMBINED, gun-related homicides are 16x more likely than the other countries combined, firearms suicide rates are 11x higher, and unintentional gun deaths are 9x higher. And while we are a violent country (our child homicide rate for non gun-related murders is still 4x higher than the other industrialized countries), the difference even between the gun murder/death rates and non-gun death rates is pretty shocking.
So, I’m pretty confident when I say that if we take guns away, Americans living in the US may be able to send their kids in public without worrying they’re going to come home in a body bag. I’m not going to worry about nutsos with knives or packs of feral dogs quite yet… I think we have a much bigger fish to fry. PEOPLE WITH GUNS KILL PEOPLE — both on purpose and by accident. We fool ourselves into thinking that we’re ‘safer’ because we can also buy guns to protect ourselves. We should not aspire to live in freaking Deadwood (i.e., a metaphor for the old west for those who didn’t get it). We should aspire to live in a society that is more safe and secure. There is no if, and’s, or buts — guns kill. Reducing firearm ownership/ access empirically leads to less violent societies.
That’s it. That’s why there should be no real discussion on this. This isn’t lying with statistics or trying to make weird comparisons to a string of strange knife attacks against children in a repressive society. This is the cold and simple reality — it’s empirical, it’s not emotional. We need to think rationally and the only rational response is to reduce firearms, better regulate them, and maybe trade in our useless war on drugs for a much more productive assault against assholes having guns. I understand that for the last decade Americans have become anti-intellectual — that reasoning and logic have become foreign to us as a people, but it’s time to stop watching the shadow people dancing on the walls, walk out into the sunlight, and think rationally.
Now, can we pull our heads out and stop having stupid discussions about all of this? It’s really exhausting. I get stuck listening to ‘for the children’ arguments about shit that’s stupid or just doesn’t matter all of the time. How about we actually talk about the safety of our children and do something for them now? Because, statistically speaking, each day we wait is probably going to cost at least one more kid their life.