The Killing Fields at Home

Today I realize perhaps I needn’t worry so much about Trump’s taunts to Kim Jong Un; our large ownership of guns has already turned the innocent space of concert venues and places like it into the killing fields.

It is not foreigners I need fear most-it is my own countrymen and their fetishlike love affair with guns that are the clear and present danger with which we are already living.

I realize people have the right to bear arms as per the Second Amendment. I don’t question that right when it comes to protection of person by an intruder or someone else intent on causing physical harm.

But how many guns do you have to own to protect yourself? And where is the sport in killing animals with automatic weapons?  And who among us should legitimately have the right to purchase and use guns, and who should not?  If you are a gun owner, just as those who own cars, should you not be required by the government to show you are well trained in its use and securing it safely?  Should a gun owner not be checked out as thoroughly as possible for his or her background?

I don’t feel these are inappropriate questions to ask ourselves. Especially not when people so vehemently attack our First Amendment rights to free speech, which kills nothing but perhaps someone’s illusion about what they thought to be the truth on any given issue.

Scrolling through today’s news feeds has been nothing short of statistical enlightenment on gun issues. Here is a sampling:

  • Las Vegas was the 273rd mass shooting in the U.S. in the first 275 days of 2017, per Newsweek. (According to Wikipedia, a mass shooting is defined as “an incident involving multiple victims of firearm related violence.” Unofficially, four or more people injured or killed, excluding the perpetrator. Many domestic violence shootings involving families fall into this definition.)
  • The four deadliest U.S. mass shootings have occurred over the past 10 years. (Newsweek)
  • Open carry, concealed weapons and machine guns are all legal in Las Vegas (Newsweek).
  • Recently Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval signed legislation expanding the “castle protection” of gun ownership to include not just a person’s self and property, but the domain of their auto, as well. The legislation also reformed conceal carry rights, extended reciprocal carry protections from 16 to 26 other states, and curtailed the rights of Nevada cities and counties to enact municipal protections greater than those imposed by the state. (Yes, this is the same Governor I watched ask repeatedly for victim prayers during a PBS News conference.) (Guns.com)
  • The U.S. homicide rate is 27.1 per 1 million people. The next closest to ours of democratic societies is Switzerland at 7.7. Australia’s rate is 1.4 per 1 million. G’day mate. (Human Development Index)
  • More than 5,000 children in the United States are treated annually in emergency rooms for gunshot related wounds, most of them accidental. More than 1,000 children die annually from them. Death by gunshot wounds is the third leading cause of death among U.S. children. (Newsweek)
  • Gun violence costs the country more than $229 billion a year-“more than $700 for every man, woman and child.” (Mother Jones)
  • These are the statistics by race of mass shooting perpetrators for U.S. mass killings between 1982 and 2017: white-50; black-15; Latino-7; Asian-7; Native American-3; Other-5; Unknown – 3. (Statistica)
  • Congress is considering legislation to ease the sale of silencers for guns this very week. (U.S. News and World Report)

I am not telling anyone who is reading these statistics what to think or to change their personal political stance on gun control. Just to realize it is a political stance, not a Constitutional one.  At the time the 2nd Amendment was written, muskets were the guns of the day, not semi-automatic rifles that can be converted by kit to fully automated ones.  Of the 8-10 guns carried into the Mandalay Bay hotel by the Las Vegas shooter, it will be interesting to find out if any of them were.

I do agree with the three conclusions “Slate” writer Philip Carter made in his analysis this morning:

  1. “Attacks like the one that killed (more than) 50 concert goers Sunday night simply should not happen.”
  2. “Our streets should not resemble battlefields; our criminals should not be armed like soldiers.”
  3. “Our police should not have to act like SEAL teams to face down criminals. And yet they do.”

It is the ever evolving sophistication of our weaponry and our access to it that makes all three of the above “impossible to prevent,” he posits.

Were we not so eager to have all these gadgets, were it not so easy to get hold of them, perhaps it wouldn’t be such an impossible dream after all to prevent homicide in our country that is supposedly based on Christian values?

But then again, one of the first stories of Genesis is Cain killing Abel with a rock. Such an indignity for Jesus to have died as mercy for all our sins if we, as a society, have gotten no further along in our value system than that.

 

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