Friday, December 21, 2012

The NRA: A Predictable Response

Today the National Rifle Association (NRA) finally broke its silence about the massacre of innocents and their teachers in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012.

Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president rejected the idea of stronger gun legislation in favor of placing "...armed police officers in every single school in this nation." LaPierre goes on to declare, "Innocent lives might have been spared, if armed security was present at Sandy Hook. The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." (Rachel Rose Hartman, NRA Newtown Response, Yahoo News)

LaPierre and the NRA are irrational and dangerous.The difference between a good guy with a gun and a bad guy with a gun is indistinguishable until they shoot someone. Mass shooters are typically people who decide on a particular day to murder a lot of people. If they had been a "bad guy" and made a practice of shooting large groups of people, I seriously doubt that they would still be allowed to wander about with a gun. The NRA's position makes no sense to anyone capable of rational thought.

The problem lies with the number of guns owned in America, the type of weapons, and the type of ammo. Even a good guy can have a bad day and the last thing that we need are a bunch of armed people patrolling the halls of our schools unless the NRA can come up with a fool proof test to determine who is a good guy and who is a bad guy.

The NRA also tries to shift the focus to violent movies and video games. The problem is that numerous studies have concluded that exposure to such material is not the causative factor in American gun violence.

A Facebook friend argues that it isn't about the tool used by the perpetrator of mass violence, but about our "social celebration of violence as an answer to problems and as a way to fame."

I agree that we need to deal with our culture of violence, but the tools do make a difference. In addition, when data of other types of crimes is compared with crime rates of other cultures, the U.S. doesn't appear to be any more violent than other developed countries except in the area of gun violence.

We are not a more violent nation, if we look at overall crime rates. It is only in the area of gun violence that the U.S. drastically exceeds other nations. (National Vital Statistics Report, CDC, October 2012)

While we kill 11,000 to 12,000 of our fellow citizens each year with guns; England and Wales have about 50 gun homicides a year -- 3% of our rate per 100,000 people. The U.S. has more gun-related killings than any other developed country. (Max Fisher, WorldViews, 12/14/12 Washington Post).

Changing cultural norms takes an inordinate amount of time and in the meanwhile, this nation has a murder by gun rate that far exceeds that of comparable developed nations.

A single person with a semi-automatic gun with a magazine capable of rapidly firing multiple rounds is bound to have a higher kill count than someone with a shovel. Lanza killed 26 people in approximately 10 minutes. This pretext that tools don't matter is dangerous and nonsensical. Who would you rather face--a person armed with a shovel or a person armed with a glock?

The countries that have enacted stringent gun controls have seriously lowered their rates of death by gun violence

The NRA offers a ludicrous solution--let's arm the good people to fight the bad people, as if good people and bad people are separate species. Anyone has the potential to commit an act of violence and we don't know that they are a "bad person" until they do so. Some of those "good people" that the NRA would arm may get pissed off one day and become a bad person with a gun.

We have to stop coming up with overly simplistic solutions based on fallacies about human nature. There is no such thing as a criminal until a person commits a crime. We have more people in prison proportionate to our population than any other country. I'm not worried about criminals running around with guns. It's those law abiding citizens, armed to the teeth that worry me. Up until last Friday, Adam Lanza wasn't a criminal.

The CDC has gun death stats for 2011.


Alan said...

We have killed more than 10,000 people a year for the last 20 years in drunk driving "accidents". I don't see anyone pushing for banning beer or cars. Alcohol is a verifiable factor in these deaths. It is proven that eliminated, that one factor would have saved lives. You are jumping on the wagon of "get rid of guns" rather than looking for the cause of these terrible crimes. The people who commit such crimes would act the same with, or without guns.

Sheria Reid said...

Alan, you are making an invalid comparison. The push has been for severely limiting drinking and driving. DUI laws are tougher than ever and those who drink and drive and are found to be over the legal limit face serious punishment even if they didn't cause an accident.

I don't think that you follow my argument at all. I have said nothing about banning guns but instead my focus is on regulating certain types of guns and ammo that lend themselves to being used to kill large numbers of people in a short period of time.

You know, when someone gets behind the wheel of a car it is rare that the intent is to kill anyone even though sometimes that happens. What useful purpose do semi-automatic weapons and multiple clip magazines serve other than to kill? If you use them to hunt, then you must not plan to eat the meat.

Each time someone shows up at a public place--an office building, a mall, a restaurant, or a school with one of these weapons their goal is to kill as many people as possible in as short a time period as possible. Kill a lot of folks before
anyone can stop them.

Banning beers or cars is foolish, neither are used with the intent to kill others. On the other hand, DUI laws are a good response to the problem of drunk driving.

I'm unclear as to how it is that you think that someone without access to semi-automatic weapons would render as much damage as can be done with a single assault weapon. If Adam Lanza had entered that school with a knife or a baseball bat, he couldn't physically have killed 26 people in the 10 minutes it took for the police to be notified and arrived. When the principal and the school therapist tackled him, it is likely that they would have brought him down.

As for cause, we have always had the disturbed among us and always will. We need to provide them with better care but there is no magic to determining who is disturbed enough to engage in a mass killing and who isn't.

People who commit mass murder may act the same with or without guns but the amount of damage done would be far less if they used a less lethal weapon.

Your vision of solving the problem at the source seems terribly unrealistic to my view.m Quite often these people are spoken of after their acts of violence as quiet types whom no one ever thought would engage in such violence. How do you suggest that we identify potential mass killers?

Miss Ginger Grant said...

When we ask for laws that require responsible gun ownership of weapons with an appropriate end use, why does everyone assume we want to take all of their guns away?! Keep your silly six shooter and your shotguns: it the self-loaders that use clips, chains, and magazines that we want to regulate. Get real, people! I am chuckling to myself that so many people who screamed about the evils of "big government" are now asking that very same government to protect their rights to carry weapons.

Ken Riches said...

Can't imagine getting robbed by a band of 20 thugs, so don't think we need the general public to have access to high capacity assault weapons.

Beth said...

Excellent post. I think we all understand that this is a complex issue that requires more than a simplistic solution, but as the President said, that is no excuse for inaction.

You make a very important point that cuts through all the complexities and statistics: "the tools do make a difference." On the same day of the Connecticut shooting, a man in China attacked a group of children with a knife. Not one of those children died, but every single child attacked in Newtown is dead.

It's not rocket science, folks.

Lisa :-] said...

I spent many hours during the past two weeks posting messages in the comment spaces under the stories of Clackamas and Sandy Hook. One of the most common arguments I came across was this garbage comparing guns with cars. It's such an obvious side-step of the issue: when the thing you are defending starts to look bad, throwing the focus on some other "bad" thing somehow takes the badness away from your thing. When I saw the first comment here, I almost choked. :P

The thing that most mystifies me about the Second Amendment zealots is that if you make even a squeek in the gun control direction, you want to take away ALL their guns. There seems to be something in the make-up of these folks that they just don't hear you if you're not saying what they want to accuse you of.

Brad Martin said...

2nd Amendment nuts fear ANY sort of regulation. Their arguments are exactly the same as abortion rights advocates. "This is a slippery slope. Give these people an inch and they'll take a mile." While I don't agree with either camp, I understand their behavior and why they won't give an inch.

Per year in the US:
gun related homicides: 12,000
abortions: 1,200,000
estimated Medical Malpractice deaths per year: 195,000
auto accident deaths: 32,000
STDs: 20,000
tobacco related illness: 435,000
alcohol related causes 83,000

I believe in a free society where happily married gay couples have giant gun safes stocked with assault rifles.

Sheria offers some great advice here to avoid "overly simplistic solutions". Picking specific items to ban isn't going to solve anything.

What's needed here is a larger discussion about mental health issues, and perhaps even about drugs. The shooter in question was prescribed the antipsychotic Fanapt.

Straka said...

Sheria, your response to the first comment was perhaps even more eloquent than your original post. Very well argued.