Home > Daily life, Death penalty, United States > Will no one take on the monsters with the guns ?

Will no one take on the monsters with the guns ?

A lovely crisp morning with blue skies and perfect temperature, breakfast on the deck and… one more front-page story about a mass shooting–the facts, the accompanying hand-wringing, the op-editors weighing in. With all these stories, one after the other, it’s come to the point where we can’t find ourselves in a crowded place—mall, theater, downtown sidewalk—without having at least once the random thought that this would be the perfect place for a deranged individual to start mowing everyone down. Lafayette shooter

Is something going to be done about it or are we going to keep on being inundated with pieties ? The answer is fairly obvious : no one will risk losing NRA votes. Here is how the Washington Post puts it today : « The orthodoxy among political advisers for candidates is that no one votes for a candidate because of his or her support for gun control laws, but lots of people will vote against him or her for that single reason. » Even staunch Democrats such as myself need to read this sentence over to realize that the sorry individuals we vote for, putting them in power or wishing they would be don’t deserve our allegiance. From the top down, it’s the same story ; Obama is now on his way out but from Hillary Clinton to the rest of the lineup of wannabees for 2016 (I won’t even mention the pathetic flotsam that labels itself Republican—at least present-day ones; the GOP was very different one or two generations ago) lurching from one state to another on their drunken race to power, one eye on polls and the other on coffers that never fill up fast enough with campaign funds. That takes care of both eyes, then, not much left for vision. As for commitment, moral courage or heart, the words are as obsolete as the concepts.

Adam LanzaThen there are the pundits and their discourse on mental health. They tell us social services and ourselves should reach out to lonely, friendless, depressed people. Good luck with that. I don’t know about you but if I see a neighbor or a guy in the street with tics and wild eyes, muttering to him or herself, I’ll run in the other direction as fast as my legs can carry me, thank you. Are these pundits serious ? Should every American be on the lookout for lunatics and bring them chicken soup or wrestle them to the ground before they walk into a theater with one or several Glocks ? Of the probable millions with mental problems, how do we as individuals or specialized organizations find the ones that will go berserk, be front-page news and cause immeasurable grief until erased from memory by the next awful incident ?

There is a way out, one only, but this blessed country of ours is too election-oriented to see it or too shy to actually say it, if and when they do actually see it : BAN GUNS. Which part of BAN GUNS is difficult to understand or to embrace? (To hear the voice of reason in this absurd debate which shouldn’t even be taking place, watch the stupendous Australian stand-up, Jim Jefferies, on the subject.) Banning guns, all guns, should become law, as it has in Australia and actually in the entire civilized world—a world to which our membership is shaky : beside allowing loonies to run amok, semi-automatics in hand, we are also the only country with the death penalty. How civilized is that ? Not only do we have mental cases loose in the street to Dylan Roofshoot at will, with the NRA’s blessing, not only do we have beefy white police officers murdering blacks left and right, punching and tasering and pepper-spraying and pummeling them and banging their heads on the pavement and strangleholding and shooting them—then doctoring videos to show that they, the cops, felt threatened—but we strap people* on gurneys and inject them with doubtful contraband substances that make them writhe in agony before a very slow death.

That too, my friends, is civilized.

 *Often black, often their guilt not satisfactorily proven, often poor, their only legal help an overworked public defender.

  1. Jonathan Agronsky
    July 26, 2015 at 1:11 am

    The monsters, it seems to me, are the slobbering idiots in Congress who do nothing to put an end to the “Shooting Gallery We Call America” (title of a late-1960’s documentary on runaway gun violence). Plus ca change . . .

    As usual, Saideh, your voice of moral outrage, eloquently expressed, is right on the bull’s eye.


    • July 26, 2015 at 2:57 am

      Thank you, Jonathan. Congress doesn’t care about victims, only about votes.


  2. July 26, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    I don’t know if you understand how impossible banning guns is in the US. Or maybe just extremely dangerous.

    The gun owners consider that domestic tyranny, according to their Constitution, and are itching to die for their country. It could very well be a jack booted thug, door-to-door bloodbath.

    It’s actually what most of the vets I know are itching for. Civilized? Have you met America?

    We’ve never, ever, been more war-mongering. It might seem simple to you but this isn’t just passing an improbable law but it’s also breaking the country apart through very back-breaking enforcement.

    I don’t know too many other gun owners but I myself know quite a few who have bought and made firearms off the books and have spent 20+ years stockpiling ammo, especially after the recent shortages and gun bans.

    I can give or take my shooting sports but for many, this is a single issue vote, similar to choice: it’s the the only issue they ever vote on.


  3. lewisjperelman
    July 27, 2015 at 9:45 pm

    This sort of venting may feel good, but it is unrealistic and has no practical impact.

    In particular, the premise of this statement is not true: “Banning guns, all guns, should become law, as it has in Australia and actually in the entire civilized world…”

    Australia did not ban all or even most guns. It outlawed automatic and semi-automatic rifles and pump shotguns. Its law also included a gun buyback program, which reduced the stock of private guns, at least initially, by about 12 percent. The result of Australia’s 1996 gun law: the suicide rate was reduced significantly, but the murder rate declined only marginally. Since then, there still has been a number of mass killings in Australia — by means of stabbing, arson, and shooting:

    Mexico has among the most stringent gun control laws in the world, yet murder and violence are so epidemic in Mexico that many citizens have acquired guns illegally to defend themselves:

    Japan also strictly regulates gun ownership, but still has experienced multiple mass killings and assaults using arson, stabbing, cars and trucks, and even nerve gas.

    The lesson from real world experience should be clear: Banning or regulating guns may well reduce the number of suicide deaths, but prohibition does not eliminate violent crime, mass murder, or even necessary gun possession.


    • lewisjperelman
      July 28, 2015 at 12:12 am

      That is, “…even necessarily gun possession.”


      • July 28, 2015 at 12:38 am

        As nothing I can say would have a “practical impact” (if it did, you better believe there would be no murderous cretin left in the world, I’d actually enjoy doing away with all cretins), I will keep my right to vent, if I may. The venting feels good. Sometimes, it’s all that we have. Also, we obviously don’t have access to the same sources when it comes to the effect of stringent gun control laws. Here’s what the Washington Post writes about Australia “what have the Australian laws actually done for homicide and suicide rates? Howard… cites a study by Andrew Leigh of Australian National University and Christine Neill of Wilfrid Laurier University finding that the firearm homicide rate fell by 59 percent, and the firearm suicide rate fell by 65 percent, in the decade after the law was introduced, without a parallel increase in non-firearm homicides and suicides. That provides strong circumstantial evidence for the law’s effectiveness.The paper also estimated that buying back 3,500 guns per 100,000 people results in a 35 to 50 percent decline in the homicide rate, but because of the low number of homicides in Australia normally, this finding isn’t statistically significant. What is significant is the decline the laws caused in the firearm suicide rate, which Leigh and Neill estimate at a 74 percent reduction for a buyback of that size.”http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/08/02/did-gun-control-work-in-australia/
        As for Japan, the results of a ban are even more significant. The Atlantic writes, “A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths. In part by forbidding almost all forms of firearm ownership, the country has as few as two gun-related homicides a year.” http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/07/a-land-without-guns-how-japan-has-virtually-eliminated-shooting-deaths/260189/
        One final remark. When I talk about the civilized world, I mean France and England and Switzerland, et al not Mexico.


      • lewisjperelman
        July 28, 2015 at 7:28 pm

        First, sorry that my lead sentence maybe was too brusque. Feeling dismayed by lunatic mayhem is certainly understandable. But emotion can be a very misleading compass for public policy.

        The fact remains that Australia did not ban all or even most guns. Where there are fewer guns around, the chances of accidents, suicide, and even some crimes seem to be reduced. So Australia’s policy — forged in reaction to a massacre — had some benefits.

        But the particular subject at hand, or so it seemed, was not suicide or accidents or ordinary gun-related crimes. Rather it was one of a number of mass-assault/mass casualty incidents. These usually are the actions of fanatics or deranged individuals. The available evidence indicates that legal restrictions on guns do not deter people are bent on mass killing. If guns are not available, other lethal means are and will be used. Moreover guns, like drugs and other contraband, can be obtained regardless of legal sanctions by those who have criminal intentions.

        So Japan, which you evidently consider ‘civilized,’ has experienced multiple mass killing events, despite its gun regulations.

        As for Switzerland, it has among the most heavily armed citizens in the world. Gun advocates often claim that Switzerland shows that popular gun ownership can be matched by (even causes?) a low violent crime rate. But that seems not to be true:

        So maybe Switzerland is not as ‘civilized’ as you thought. Or maybe it is civilized but not so peaceful.

        ‘Civilized’ is a squishy notion. You apply it to France. True, it has less violent crime than some places, certainly than the US — Charly Hebdo notwithstanding. But France also is ranked as the second most anti-Semitic country in Europe (after Greece, that cradle of Western civilization). Muslims are 10 percent of France’s total population, but over 70 percent of the prison population.

        America’s civil war killed some 750,000 people — a calamity. But ‘civilized’ Europe’s two civil wars of the past century, which sucked much of the world into bloody conflict, killed some 60 to 70 million people — including 2/3 of Europe’s and 40 percent of the world’s Jewish population.

        Ultimately, countries are not fungible. Each is a unique amalgam of history, geography, culture, demography, ethnicity, and ecology.

        Bottom line: As others have pointed out, the United States is not going to ban all guns. Or even many. Legislation to ban assault weapons (whatever those may be) is unlikely and even prohibiting items like enlarged ammunition magazines or tightening existing firearm regulations will be difficult to enact.

        There are more compelling reasons and better prospects (somewhat at least) for making much needed improvement in mental health services. Among other social benefits, that could help reduce the frequency of insane acts of lethal violence. Meanwhile, one way or another, the country is going to have to improve its defenses against terror attacks or suffer the consequences.


      • July 28, 2015 at 10:42 pm

        You’re right, no country is perfect and ours if far from being so. The ones I call “civilized” have gun control (more or less) no death penalty, not 25% of the world’s prison population for 5% of its population, and no slavery past. But then, they have their own problems in past history, present politics, and survival in a hectic world. Neither you nor I can solve anything. We still have rants and discourse at our disposal, though. One last word–and for me it will be the last in this interesting discussion–I do not consider Japan a civilized country despite its history and its tremendous culture, my mind works too differently from that of its people. I choose to call “civilized” specifically and only Europe, Australia and New Zealand.


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