Imagine if you will that a company wants to introduce a new product to the U.S. market. It will have some perceived benefits but it is predicted that its use will result in the killing of 30,000 people every year, will injure many more others, and the human and economic costs of dealing with these deaths and many thousands of other non-fatal injuries resulting from that product’s use is incalculable. Would that company be allowed to market that product? Not in a heartbeat.
Or imagine that just this year a small town’s entire population of 30,000 was shot dead. And the same thing happened to another town the year before, and the year before that and so on. Next year the same thing will happen to another town, and the same again the next year, and so on. Entire towns’ populations wiped out. Do you think something would be done about it? Probably there would be an outcry so loud that the government could not ignore it?
Every year in the U.S, 30,000 people are killed by guns. Let me repeat that – 30,000. More people are killed in a single city – Chicago – than US soldiers in Afghanistan in the same period. More people by far were killed in that same city than in the whole of Europe, Australasia and Japan combined. More people are killed in the US in one year than the total number of US soldiers killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined. More people are killed per year in the US than US soldiers were killed per year in Vietnam. In ten states this year more people have been killed by guns than in traffic accidents Every year the equivalent of a small town’s population is killed by guns.
It is estimated that in 2011 more than 15 million guns were sold in the U.S. Among those were automatic rifles that had been previously been restricted under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban that was allowed to expire in 2004 and, under pressure from the NRA, never renewed. The Obama administration, in a spineless gesture towards the very people who would never vote for him anyway, declined to press the issue, instead dispensing a flurry of vapid platitudes. The Congress and the Administration had now agreed that people should have the “freedom” to buy formidably lethal weapons for which there is no beneficial use.
Taking full advantage of this NRA-driven government-sanctioned freedom, in July of this year, 2012, one James Holmes walked into a crowded theater and opened fire with an automatic rifle equipped with a 100 round magazine and other weapons. In seconds he had shot 70 people, 12 of whom died. Luckily the automatic rifle jammed after firing only 30 rounds or else the number of victims would have been much greater. Was the life of any one of these people worth the “freedom” to obtain weapons of this kind? Can anyone really answer yes to that question?
“Freedom” is a keystone concept for the NRA and its supporters. Prior to the last election Wayne LaPierre of the NRA said, “Americans will vote either to defend or surrender freedom in the most consequential national decision in U.S. history.” Unfortunately this kind of apocalyptic rubbish resonates with millions of people, and the NRA is now the most powerful lobbying organization at all levels of government. This has resulted in vast income for the gun manufacturers it is funded by, with, for example, Smith and Wesson making $53 million in profit for the first quarter of 2012 alone. Perhaps the NRA and its supporters should rethink “the most consequential decision in US history” as one that instead helps to stop the needless deaths of 30,000 US citizens every year.
We often hear the specious, intellectually-bankrupt proposition: “It is not guns that kill people; it is people that kill people”. It is pointless trying to work out how many people James Holmes would have killed if the only weapon available to him was a knife, as if his murderous intent was somehow totally divorced from his weapon of choice. James Holmes and others, like the kids at Columbine, appear to be functioning in some kind of bizarre “blaze of glory” mode of action that can only be enabled by the use of a weapon that can kill as many people as possible in a short space of time. It is a safe bet that James Holmes would not have made any attack at all in Aurora if his only choice of weapon was a knife, because that would have not made the same “statement”. In other words, the gun is as much a driver of the event as the mind of the killer himself, if not more so. There is an entire culture and mind-set built around guns, not the least of which is that they magically deliver power to those who for whatever reason feel powerless, and that is a very dangerous phenomenon.
Another perhaps more dangerous aspect of today’s gun culture is that reaching for and using a gun in entirely inappropriate circumstances has become common. And this option is supported by the NRA, its tame legislators, and other “freedom” advocates. The Trayvon Martin shooting, for example, was entirely avoidable. If George Zimmerman had not been carrying a gun, if he had let the police deal with the situation, if he had not decided that an appropriate response to someone punching you is shooting them – Trayvon Martin would still be alive. But none of this matters to the NRA and subsequent supporters of Zimmerman, because this kind of vigilantism is explicitly encouraged via NRA-promoted Stand Your Ground laws, and implicitly encouraged through the general culture surrounding gun ownership – the “freedom” to take the law into your own hands .
Below are just a few examples of what can occur as a result of the NRA’s “freedom”. To everyone in the NRA – I hope you can live with yourselves.
And a couple of links where more of this insanity is documented:
The tragic, the criminally stupid and the insane. None of it need have happened:
A 13-year-old girl was tragically shot to death in front of her younger sister and seven other children while riding a school bus Miami-Dade Police said today. Police have said a male student has been taken into custody but authorities did not release his name or age and said they are still interviewing him. A gun was also recovered at the scene in Homestead, south of Miami.
A Connecticut man shot a masked intruder to death yesterday — only to find out the person he killed was his 15-year-old son. Jeffrey Giuliano fired at his son Tyler at 1 a.m. in the tony town of New Fairfield as the teen was apparently trying to break into the home of a relative next door to his dad’s.
A man killed Monday evening in the Town of Superior when he was accidentally shot by his deer-hunting companion has been identified. The shooting victim is Garrett M. Carr, 27, of Oliver. His hunting companion was Michael F. Thomson, 31, of Superior. Thomson shot Carr when he mistook him for a deer, Dalbec said.
Three people were killed and four wounded when a gunman opened fire at a suburban Milwaukee spa Sunday, Brookfield Police Chief Dan Tushaus said. The suspect, Radcliffe Franklin Haughton, 45, was found dead inside the spa after a six-hour manhunt, Tushaus told the Associated Press.
A 9-year-old girl was shot outside a Halloween party by a male relative who mistook her for a skunk. She was spotted on a hillside around 8:30 p.m. wearing a black costume and black hat with a white tassel.
A 17-year-old was shot and killed by a hunter looking for coyote in St. Clair County. The teen was hunting deer on private property in Brockway Township Thursday when he was shot. The 24-year-old hunter who shot him says he saw movement in some brush and fired once, hitting the teen.
A 15-year old boy was killed in a dear hunting accident on Sunday in Dubois County. Officials say Nicholas Messmer was shot while hunting near Saint Anthony. Wildlife State Police say a gun was being lowered from a tree stand when it went off, and hit Messmer in the stomach.
24-year-old Joshua Hooper of Salt Lake City, Utah was target shooting with three family members in Manning Canyon. The four had just reloaded and were walking back to shoot when one of the family members unintentionally discharged his gun. Josh was shot in the back of the head, killing him instantly.
47-year-old Otis Hammock, of Dalton, Georgia was in his apartment with his wife, 47-year-old Tammie. He told police that Tammie was handing him his handgun when the gun unintentionally discharged, shooting Tammie in the head. Tammie was rushed to the hospital where she later died of her injuries.
20-year-old Chris Carter and his roommate, 21-year-old Phillip Villa were in their apartment in Fairbanks, Alaska. Carter was playing with a gun when he unintentionally discharged the weapon and shot Villa. Distraught over the shooting, Carter turned the gun on himself and shot himself in the chest. Both men were taken to the local hospital. Carter died of his injuries. Villa was transported to a hospital in Seattle where he is in critical but stable condition.
Sources say both men may have been consuming alcohol when the incident occurred.
When 15-year-old Nicholas King, of Indianapolis, Indiana knocked on the front door of his friend’s house, his friend opened the door and pointed a Romarm 7.62 rifle at him. His friend wanted to scare Nicholas and thinking the gun was unloaded, he pointed and pulled the trigger. The rifle fired and a round struck Nicholas in the neck. Paramedics were unable to revive the boy and he was pronounced dead at the scene.Two adults were in the house at the time of the shooting and they did not know there was a rifle in the home. The gun belonged to 18-year-old Kevin Edwards. Kevin let his 15-year-old stepbrother handle the gun. It was the stepbrother who shot and killed Nicholas. Nicholas’ father told reporters that he believes Kevin bought the gun off Craigslist. He said is was too easy for his son’s friend to get a gun.