Gun Control

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The NRA’s Kuznets Curve: Deadliest Mind Game on Earth?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 10/06/2022 - 12:15am in
by Brian Czech

Herald readers were reminded last week of a concept called the “Kuznets curve,” named after the late Simon Kuznets (1901-1985) for his analysis of the distribution of wealth. Kuznets (rhymes with “whose nets”) found, more or less, that the maldistribution of wealth had worsened in the decades preceding the 1920s, and lessened afterward. He famously linked both trends to economic growth, noting different effects of growth before and after the 20s.

I say Kuznets found these things “more or less” because he plastered his 1955 paper with disclaimers. To wit, “trends in the income distribution should be explored—even though we have neither the necessary data nor a reasonably complete theoretical model” and “trends in the income structure can be discerned but dimly.” Kuznets warned that his results should be “considered as preliminary informed guesses” and came “perilously close to pure guesswork.”

Nevertheless, growthists glommed on to the guesswork like glazed raisin bread, and it was only a matter of time before someone coined the everlasting “Kuznets curve.” Could it have been the same salesman who came up with the cockamamy “consumer confidence?” Or the same PR pro who gave us the paean, “a rising tide lifts all boats?”

Whoever it was, somewhat of a growth industry (so to speak) in copycat Kuznets curves developed thereafter. The one that drives conservationists nuts—“Kuznuts” we might say—is the so-called “environmental Kuznets curve” (EKC). This is the hypothesis that economic growth initially causes environmental problems, which are eventually solved after the average income grows beyond a threshold level. The EKC turned out to be a fish story, resting on “a very flimsy statistical foundation.”

Fallacious is bad enough, but a truly nefarious Kuznets curve lurks in the town halls of the USA. It has to vie for the title of deadliest mind game on Earth. It’s the gun-violence Kuznets curve touted implicitly by the National Rifle Association.

The NRA and the Gun-Violence Kuznets Curve

Even when a Kuznets curve isn’t mentioned by name, Kuznets-curve logic may still be afoot. GDP doesn’t necessarily have to be the driving variable, either. The generic Kuznets curve can be stated like this: “When X increases, it causes Y to increase, but after a certain point, with different factors in play, X causes Y to decrease instead.” In the process, either a problem will be solved by that ever-growing X (a pleasant Kuznets curve), or a problem will appear and worsen (a nasty Kuznets curve). For example, as age increases, so does strength, but only up to a certain age. Thereafter, strength decreases with aging. That’s a nasty Kuznets curve.

Kuznets curve with gun violence on y-axis and gun owners on x-axis; NRA symbol with blood dripping under the curve.

The NRA’s gun-violence Kuznets curve: deadliest mind game on Earth?

Invariably, though, Kuznets curves proposed in the literature are pleasant ones, often intended to argue for the growth or proliferation of X.

Which brings us to the NRA and its gun-violence Kuznets curve. We’ve all heard it: “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” “We need more firearms on campus.” “Gun bans don’t disarm criminals, gun bans attract them.” Unlike the prudent and analytical Kuznets, the quotees (Wayne La Pierre, Donald Trump, and the late Walter Mondale, respectively) abide no doubt or compromise.

In the NRA’s Kuznetsian logic, yes, guns do allow for gun violence problems. However, the NRA’s solution is to simply have more guns in the hands of more people. Just like evermore money seeping out into different segments of society will supposedly solve the maldistribution problem, evermore guns seeping into different segments—especially good-guy segments like kindergarten teachers and church deacons—will solve the gun violence problem.

What a massacre of truth and logic, especially when coupled with the next lie in the NRA’s arsenal.

Guns Don’t “Cause”

The gun-violence Kuznets curve isn’t the only wicked logic pitched by the NRA and its loyal legions. They love to argue that “guns don’t kill people; people do.” With this argument they not only lay claim to an unassailable thread of logic, but usher in a whole school of red herrings to get the focus off guns.

White man with gun pointed at the camera.

Guy with a gun. Good or bad, gun violence looking likely.

Once the focus is on the “real” cause of gun violence, the town hall descends into irrelevant gibberish. Some aspiring Plato opines that people don’t really cause violence, either; societies do. Next, Jerry Falwell’s disciple says it’s not society, but the Devil, bent on destroying souls. But no, says the guy in the Darwin T-shirt, it’s neither people nor society nor the Devil, but evolution, which brought about violent tendencies especially in young men.

By now, if you haven’t noticed, guns aren’t even in the conversation. Mission accomplished for the NRA!

Meanwhile the unassailability of the NRA’s logic—yes, a gun on its own will just sit there, not killing folk—is a source of frustration for gun control proponents, and for people with common sense. It’s like the frustration caused by pro-growth interests who tell us that economic growth doesn’t “cause” environmental problems; rather it’s people and the technological choices they make that cause the problems. Which leads us back to arguing about society, the devil, evolution, aliens, PizzaGate…anything but economic growth!

NRA’s Argument Rests on Magic

For an argument to be “sound” (right in other words), two conditions must be met. First, the premises must be correct. Second, the argument must be valid, meaning that the premises must logically lead to the argument’s conclusion. If a premise is incorrect or the argument is invalid, the argument is “unsound,” or simply wrong.

Not that the NRA posits a deductive argument to begin with. They’re not arguing in classic logical form, “All guns are owned by good guys. Good guys never commit gun violence. Therefore, no guns are used in acts of violence.” That would be a valid argument, because if all guns were owned by good guys (and never stolen or commandeered by bad guys), and if good guys never did commit gun violence, then no guns could be used in acts of violence. Unfortunately, the first premise is patently false—plenty of creeps own guns—and the second premise wouldn’t be true unless we defined a “good guy” as someone who never commits gun violence, reducing the premise to a truism. The argument, in other words, is unsound, despite its technical validity. To put it more bluntly, it would be a stupid argument or an outright lie.

Wayne LaPierre

Wayne LaPierre, bad guy with Big Gun Money. (CC BY-SA 2.0, Wayne LaPierre)

The big-moneyed NRA isn’t stupid and doesn’t commit such an obvious lie. In fact, the NRA avoids deduction altogether. Their fallacious logic is more slippery to pinpoint, but self-contradiction is evident enough. They’ve told us that guns don’t “cause” gun violence. On the other hand, they’d have us believe that more guns would reduce—cause a reduction in—gun violence. They can’t have it both ways; can’t have their bullets and shoot them too.

Next, the notion that evermore guns in the hands of evermore people would lessen the incidence or impacts of gun violence is subject to some good, swift, valid reductio ad absurdum: If there were zero guns, we could have a whole society of Satan-worshiping creeps, and yet not a single act of gun violence could possibly occur.

What if there was one gun? Or ten? Still very little gun violence could transpire, and we wouldn’t need the billions of dollars of security equipment for safeguarding our workplaces, churches, and schools from bad guys with guns. (Yes, airports and political rallies would still need plenty of protection from other types of terrorism.)

Now if 100,000 Americans owned guns—especially AR-15s—we’d have to start taking notice and staying alert. A creep with an AR-15 can mow down as many people in one spree as all the gun-related homicides per year in countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and Netherlands.

Still, compare these low-gun scenarios to the level of gun violence we have today, not even with a population of Satan-worshiping gun nuts but with “regular” American citizens: 45,222 gun-related deaths in 2020, including over 19,384 homicides. That’s more than the number of people (38,824) that died in car accidents!

At what point along their gun-violence Kuznets curve does the NRA think the magical reversal will commence? We already have over 100 million armed Americans (32 percent of the population). What happens when we reach 100 percent gun ownership and have even more grotesque levels of carnage? What do we do then? Start cloning everyone so we can arm more people yet, chasing that ever-elusive inflection point? When do we have enough of this deranged social experiment? Especially given the utter lack of scholarly corroboration for decades now.

Sympathy for the Gun Industry?

To be fair to the NRA, we must acknowledge that they don’t say, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is an even worse jackass with a gun.” Rather, it’s the “good guy” (and gal, and kid, and possibly soon robot) the NRA wants armed, preferably to the profit-maximizing teeth, locked and loaded and fully accessorized.  That alone undermines the gun-violence Kuznets curve, as it puts quite a limitation along the X axis, where “Gun Owners” should really be “Exclusively Good Gun Owners.”

On the other hand, given the extreme position of the NRA against gun control—even against expanding background checks—they must be assuming that all remaining unarmed Americans are already good. Otherwise, why wouldn’t they want to do a better job of discerning bad from good, so their modified Kuznets curve might have some validity? Well, you know the NRA; they always have an answer, such as following their advice and investing much more of our hard-earned taxes in mental health, so we can arm every man, woman, and child without bothering to discern. That way, just in case somebody falls back through the cracks into the bad category, we’re all prepared to shoot the hell out of them at a moment’s notice.

Until that glorious day, though, we have numerous other barriers to getting the guns from the factory floor into the hands of the good guys, and keeping them exclusively there. For example, guess what else (aside from gun violence) the bad guys are known for. I bet you’ve already arrived at the answer, because it’s such common knowledge. Yes, bad guys are known for stealing! Consider an annotated list of the top five crimes committed in the USA:

  1. Larceny/theft. Better not leave those guns out in plain sight (where they might have been handy for stopping bad guys with guns).
  2. Burglary. Keep those guns locked up tight, you good guys and gals. Guns are stolen “in staggering numbers,” especially from houses and cars and trucks. Speaking of cars and trucks…
  3. Motor vehicle theft. Once that vehicle is gone, it’s adios to the Glock in the glovebox. Chalk one up for the bad guy (one more gun that is), and cross one off for the good guy.
  4. Aggravated assault. If you’re the assaultee, you better hope it’s not aggravated and exacerbated by an AR-15.
  5. Robbery. If you’re not fast on the draw, or your sidearm’s been stolen, or your handgun is locked away for theft prevention…stick ‘em up! Otherwise your number just might be “45,223.”

 I'm a Teacher and you want to arm me?

Thanks to the NRA, U.S. teachers are pressured to arm themselves in the classroom. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, Adam Fagen)

I suppose it would be possible to have some amount of sympathy for the gun manufacturers under pressure, their attorneys, the NRA, and the NSSF. However, there wouldn’t be much left for them, not even empathy; not after thinking of all the innocent guys and gals—never before armed—suddenly faced with the heavy-handed and heavy-hearted responsibility of packing a sidearm. Homeowners, soccer moms, preachers, and teachers in certain school districts are facing this responsibility, feeling coerced to put in the time, money, and psychological effort for learning about guns, practicing shooting, and getting trained up for responding to a bad guy with a gun in unthinkable scenarios.

These everyday Americans are the good guys—exceptionally good Americans—and they’re good without guns. Sure, there are good guys with guns, too. (I like to think I’m one of them, with my .243 for venison.) We’re overlooking some bad guys with guns, though. The real bad guys start with the AR-15-toting NRA. They’re leading innocent people astray with their lies, they’re bullying politicians and school boards, and they’re abetting gun violence galore with the vilest Kuznets curve on the books.

You might say the NRA has a bright future, though. Where they’re headed, everyone will finally be toting an AR-15.

Brian Czech, Executive Director of CASSEBrian Czech is the executive director of CASSE.

The post The NRA’s Kuznets Curve: Deadliest Mind Game on Earth? appeared first on Center for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy.

Chris Hedges: America’s Gun Fetish

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/06/2022 - 2:56am in

PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY (Scheerpost) — Guns were a ubiquitous part of my childhood. My grandfather, who had been a master sergeant in the army, had a small arsenal in his house in Mechanic Falls, Maine. He gave me a 2020 bolt action Springfield rifle when I was 7. By the time I was 10, I had graduated to a Winchester lever action 30-30. I moved my way up the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) Marksmanship Qualification Program, helped along by a summer camp where riflery was mandatory. Like many boys in rural America, I was fascinated by guns, although I disliked hunting. Two decades as a reporter in war zones, however, resulted in a deep aversion to weapons. I saw what they did to human bodies. I inherited my grandfather’s guns and gave them to my uncle.

Guns made my family, lower working-class people in Maine, feel powerful, even when they were not. Take away their guns and what was left? Decaying small towns, shuttered textile and paper mills, dead-end jobs, seedy bars where veterans, nearly all the men in my family were veterans, drank away their trauma. Take away the guns, and the brute force of squalor, decline, and abandonment hit you in the face like a tidal wave.

Yes, the gun lobby and weapons manufacturers fuel the violence with easily available assault-style weapons, whose small caliber 5.56 mm cartridges make them largely useless for hunting. Yes, the lax gun laws and risible background checks are partially to blame. But America also fetishizes guns. This fetish has intensified among white working-class men, who have seen everything slip beyond their grasp: economic stability, a sense of place within the society, hope for the future and political empowerment. The fear of losing the gun is the final crushing blow to self-esteem and dignity, a surrender to the economic and political forces that have destroyed their lives. They cling to the gun as an idea, a belief that with it they are strong, unassailable, and independent. The shifting sands of demographics, with white people projected to become a minority in the U.S. by 2045, intensifies this primal desire, they would say need, to own a weapon.

There have been over 200 mass shootings this year. There are nearly 400 million guns in the U.S., some 120 guns for every 100 Americans. Half of the privately-owned guns are owned by 3 percent of the population, according to a 2016 study. Our neighbor in Maine had 23 guns. Restrictive gun laws, and gun laws that are inequitably enforced, block gun ownership for many Blacks, especially in urban neighborhoods. Federal law, for example, prohibits gun ownership for most people with felony convictions, effectively barring legal gun ownership for a third of Black men. The outlawing of guns for Blacks is part of a long continuum. Blacks were denied the right to own guns under the antebellum Slave Codes, the post-Civil War Black Codes, and the Jim Crow laws.

White people built their supremacy in America and globally with violence. They massacred Native Americans and stole their land. They kidnapped Africans, shipped them as cargo to the Americas, and then enslaved, lynched, imprisoned, and impoverished Black people for generations. They have always gunned down Black people with impunity, a historical reality only recently discernable to most white people because of cell phone videos of killings.

“The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic and a killer,” D.H. Lawrence writes. “It has never yet melted.”

White society, sometimes overtly and sometimes unconsciously, deeply fears Black retribution for its four centuries of murderous assaults.

“Again, I say that each and every Negro, during the last 300 years, possesses from that heritage a greater burden of hate for America than they themselves know,” Richard Wright notes in his journal. “Perhaps it is well that Negroes try to be as unintellectual as possible, for if they ever started really thinking about what happened to them, they’d go wild. And perhaps that is the secret of whites who want to believe that Negroes really have no memory; for if they thought that Negroes remembered they would start out to shoot them all in sheer self-defense.”

The Second Amendment, as the historian Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz writes in Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment,” was designed to solidify the rights, often demanded under state law, of whites to carry weapons. Southern white men were not only required to own guns but serve in slave patrols. These weapons were used to exterminate the indigenous population, hunt down enslaved people who escaped bondage and violently crush slave revolts, strikes and other uprisings by oppressed groups. Vigilante violence is wired into our DNA.

“Most American violence – and this also illuminates its relationship to state power – has been initiated with a ‘conservative’ bias,” the historian Richard Hofstadter writes. “It has been unleashed against abolitionists, Catholics, radicals, workers and labor organizers, Negroes, Orientals, and other ethnic or racial or ideological minorities, and has been used ostensibly to protect the American, the Southern, the white Protestant, or simply the established middle-class way of life and morals. A high proportion of our violent actions has thus come from the top dogs or the middle dogs. Such has been the character of most mob and vigilante movements. This may help to explain why so little of it has been used against state authority, and why in turn it has been so easily and indulgently forgotten.”

Payton Gendron, the 18-year-old white shooter in Buffalo who killed ten Black people and wounded three others, one of them Black, at the Tops Friendly Markets in a Black neighborhood, gave expression in a 180-page manifesto to this white fear, or “great replacement theory.” Gendron repeatedly cited Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old mass shooter who in 2019 killed 51 people and injured 40 others at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Tarrant, like Gendron, live streamed his attack so, he believed, he could be cheered on by a virtual audience. Robert Bowers, 46, killed 11 people at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh in 2018. Patrick Crusius, a 21-year-old, in 2019 drove more than 11 hours to target Hispanics, leaving 22 people dead and 26 injured in a Walmart in El Paso. John Earnest, who pleaded guilty to murdering one and injuring three others in 2019 at a synagogue in Poway, California, saw the “white race” being supplanted by other races. Dylann Roof in 2015 fired 77 shots from his .45-caliber Glock pistol at parishioners attending a Bible study at the Black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. He murdered nine of them. “You Blacks are killing white people on the streets everyday and raping white women everyday,” he shouted at his victims as he was firing, according to a journal he kept in jail.

The gun enforced white supremacy. It should not be surprising that it is embraced as the instrument that will prevent whites from being dethroned.

The specter of societal collapse, less and less a conspiracy theory as we barrel to climate breakdown, reinforces the gun fetish. Survivalist cults, infused with white supremacy, paint the scenario of gangs of marauding Black and brown people fleeing the chaos of lawless cities and ravaging the countryside. These hordes of Black and brown people, the survivalists believe, will only be kept at bay with guns, especially assault-style weapons. This is not far removed from calling for their extermination.

Historian Richard Slotkin calls our national lust for blood sacrifice the “structuring metaphor of the American experience,” a belief in “regeneration through violence.” Blood sacrifice, he writes in his trilogy Regeneration Through Violence: The Mythology of the American Frontier,  The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization, and Gunfighter Nation: The Myth of the Frontier in Twentieth-Century America, is celebrated as the highest form of good. Sometimes it requires the blood of heroes, but most often it requires the blood of enemies.

This blood sacrifice, whether at home or in foreign wars, is racialized. The U.S. has slaughtered millions of the globe’s inhabitants, including women and children, in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Libya, as well as in numerous proxy wars, the latest in Ukraine, where the Biden administration will ship another $700 million in weapons to supplement $54 billion in military and humanitarian aid.

When the national mythology inculcates into a population that it has the divine right to kill others to purge the earth of evil, how can this mythology not be ingested by naïve and alienated individuals? Kill them overseas. Kill them at home. The more the empire deteriorates, the more the impetus to kill grows. Violence, in desperation, becomes the only route to salvation.

“A people unaware of its myths is likely to continue living by them, though the world around that people may change and demand changes in their psychology, their world view, their ethics, and their institutions,” Slotkin writes.

America’s gun fetish and culture of vigilante violence makes the U.S. very different from other industrialized nations. This is the reason there will never be serious gun control. It does not matter how many mass shootings take place, how many children are butchered in their classrooms, or how high the homicide rate climbs.

The longer we remain in a state of political paralysis, dominated by a corporate oligarchy that refuses to respond to the mounting misery of the bottom half of the population, the more the rage of the underclass will find expression through violence. People who are Black, Muslim, Asian, Jewish, and LGBTQ, along with the undocumented, liberals, feminists and intellectuals, already branded as contaminants, will be slated for execution. Violence will spawn more violence.

“People pay for what they do, and, still more, for what they have allowed themselves to become,” James Baldwin writes of the American South. “The crucial thing, here, is that the sum of these individual abdications menaces life all over the world. For, in the generality, as social and moral and political and sexual entities, white Americans are probably the sickest and certainly the most dangerous people, of any color, to be found in the world today.” He added that he “was not struck by their wickedness, for that wickedness was but the spirit and the history of America. What struck me was the unbelievable dimension of their sorrow. I felt as though I had wandered into hell.”

Those who cling to the mythology of white supremacy cannot be reached through rational discussion. Mythology is all they have left. When this mythology appears under threat it triggers a ferocious backlash, for without the myth there is an emptiness, an emotional void, a crushing despair.

America has two choices. It can reintegrate the dispossessed back into the society through radical New Deal types of reforms, or it can leave its

Feature photo | Original illustration by Mr. Fish

Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East Bureau Chief and Balkan Bureau Chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor, and NPR. He is the host of show The Chris Hedges Report.

The post Chris Hedges: America’s Gun Fetish appeared first on MintPress News.

What Growing Up in Rural Germany Taught Me about Guns

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 31/05/2022 - 3:31am in

I love guns. I grew up with them. My grandpa taught me how to shoot them in our garden when I was eight years old. Like many kids who grow up in rural communities, guns were part of our life. Many in our village had at least one.

Every Friday evening, my grandfather, my father and most men (plus a considerable number of girls and women) would meet at our local pub for marksmen contests. The trophies my ancestors won still line a shelf in my parents’ modest home.

But — and here comes a crucial difference — I did not grow up in rural America, but in rural Germany. The guns we shot were BB guns and air rifles, maybe a Walther or Beretta. The people who used “real” rifles, such as a repeating rifle, were hunters, of which we had plenty in our village.

The author as a child in Bavaria, Germany. Photo courtesy Michaela Haas

In Germany, if you want to have a “real” gun, you need to have a good reason. Maybe you’re a hunter; maybe you need to protect yourself; maybe you use it for sport. Whatever your reason, you need to apply for a permit and your arguments will be considered and, sometimes, rejected. If you belong to any extremist organization, such as a neo-Nazi group, you are automatically barred from owning a gun. Magazines with more than 20 rounds for handguns and more than 10 rounds for long guns are illegal. The government figures if you’re that bad a shot, you shouldn’t own a weapon in the first place. 

The German National Weapons Registry registers all legal weapons and follows their whereabouts from production or import until destruction. Weapon dealers are required to report every sale.

Not unlike when you purchase a vehicle, you need to acquire a license, pass a vision and skills test, and you need to prove that you are able to lock up your guns securely. The police might come to your house unannounced to check that the weapons are locked away where you said they would be. Every five years, authorities will recheck that the reasons you needed a gun still apply.

If you don’t know the whereabouts of your weapons or the police find them unsecured, they have the right to confiscate them. You’ll need to undergo training all over again if you hope to get them back.

Nobody in Germany practices what to do during a mass shooting at an elementary school. Why? Because it has never happened.

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Today I live in California. And like everybody who has a heart, I am traumatized by the images of grieving parents and the 911 calls of 10-year-olds hiding in an Uvalde classroom. But two days before the massacre in Texas, I was traumatized by another shooting. The family member of a very close friend here in the US shot and killed another family member. This one barely grazed the headlines because “only” one person lost their life, a “routine” news flash in a country where more than 110 Americans die from guns every day.

We barely pay attention anymore. I cannot write more details about this personal tragedy here because I would break down and not be able to continue writing. But this perpetrator, like the Uvalde shooter, shared particular traits common to many shooters: He was a young man — angry, addicted, depressed — who should never have had access to a gun.

I understand gun culture. But if you love guns, you should want them to only end up in the hands of the most responsible people. As Nicholas Kristof writes in the New York Times: “Automobiles are a model for the public health approach I’m suggesting. We don’t ban cars, but we work hard to regulate them — and limit access to them — so as to reduce the death toll they cause. This has been spectacularly successful.” 

Nobody would propose that any blind or untrained person should be able to operate a race car. And yet, the US is the only country with more civilian-owned firearms than people: 120.5 firearms per 100 residents. There are nearly 400 million guns in cabinets, nightstands, glove compartments and closets. Guns are the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in America. They kill more minors than Covid and car crashes. And yes, this is different from every other country: The homicide rate in the US is 7.5 times higher than that in 28 other high-income countries combined, which researchers largely attribute to the firearm homicide rate, which is 24.9 times higher. 

The data is clear: States with more guns have more gun deaths. This is one of the main reasons America has 16 times as many firearm homicides as Germany per capita, and its arsenal is five times as lethal as Canada’s.

No other country kills as many children with guns. Across the 29 countries in the aforementioned study, the US accounted for nearly 97 percent of the firearm deaths among children four years old or younger, and 92 percent for kids ages five to 14.

Like many people who live in the US, I’ve thought about getting a gun, too. During the first pandemic summer, my spouse and I were attacked by gang members who promised to come back and “rough us up.” When I called the three closest gun shops, they all had the same message: We’re totally sold out. I bought a stun gun instead, and after accidentally firing it and nearly hitting my dog in the process, I stored it away. That was the end of that.

The question my European friends ask most frequently is, “How can you live in a country with so many guns? Isn’t it dangerous?”

Yes, it is. My home is only ten miles from the Presbyterian church in Laguna Woods where a shooter killed one and injured five churchgoers after a luncheon two weeks ago. The 2019 racist synagogue shooting in Poway that killed one worshipper and injured three is only a few miles from my mother-in-law’s home. A good friend was one of the first responders. When I lived in Boulder, Colorado, I used to shop at the King Soopers supermarket where a 21-year-old killed ten customers and clerks last year. In 2018, I was only a few miles from the Borderline Bar in Thousand Oaks when a former Marine killed 13 and injured 16 with a legally purchased semi-automatic pistol and seven banned high-capacity magazines. The bullets are coming closer. The danger that I might lose loved ones — or my own life — is real.

I have heard and read many times that the Second Amendment gives Americans the right to own guns. But when I looked deeper into the history, I learned from historian Heather Cox Richardson that the “well-regulated militia” mentioned in 2A was never meant as a “gun free-for-all” until the NRA started pouring millions of dollars into elections. 

There are successful solutions to gun violence, as England, Australia, New Zealand and other countries that have experienced mass shootings have proven. After a gunman killed 16 people in 1987, Great Britain banned semi-automatic weapons like the ones he had used. Now Great Britain has one of the lowest gun-related death rates in the world. Australia issued mandatory gun buybacks after a 1996 massacre, which took nearly one million firearms off the streets, and as a consequence, saw mass shootings plummet to only one in the 26 years since. After the 2019 Christchurch massacre where a white supremacist killed 51 mosque-goers, New Zealand’s parliament banned semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles with a near-unanimous vote. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, “I could not fathom how weapons that could cause such destruction and large-scale death could have been obtained legally in this country.” 

That an 18-year-old like the Uvalde shooter cannot legally buy a beer, but is free to purchase an assault weapon, is impossible to justify. Even police forces are scared to confront bad guys with these weapons. And yet, Texas Governor Greg Abbott proudly made it even easier to purchase guns and accessories by modifying seven gun laws last year after several shootings.

Like many people who consider America their home, I am saddened, disgusted and outraged by the death of 19 elementary school children and their two teachers, by the unrelenting staccato of sadness from Sandy Hook — El Paso — Las Vegas — Orlando — Parkland — Buffalo — Uvalde.

90 percent of Americans demand background checks, at least two-thirds want gun safety laws. An overwhelming majority of voters wants to protect us and our children from gun violence. And yet, we’re still stuck with thoughts and prayers. 

After the Sandy Hook massacre, Wayne LaPierre, the then-head of the NRA, said, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” The Uvalde shooting put an end to that myth. In response to that often quoted saying, survivors and gun safety advocates have come up with their own version of a solution: The only thing that can take out a bad guy with a vote is a good guy or a good woman with a vote. Even a former gun industry executive believes that “the only way [gun safety legislation] will happen is if the [gun] industry senses that there is enough political pressure to cost them votes.” Ultimately, ballots have the power to stop the bullets.

The post What Growing Up in Rural Germany Taught Me about Guns appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Abbott speaking at the NRA Convention in Houston today, just...

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 28/05/2022 - 3:50am in

Abbott speaking at the NRA Convention in Houston today, just days after the school shooting, inspired me to draw this.VOTE BETO, Texas!