And the band played on, as more people are shot

As a father and US citizen, it is beyond amazing how the leaders of our country can watch more kids and parents be killed by guns and yet do nothing about it. The polls say people would like something done about it, but leaders will not act as they are scared of reprisals from the leading gun selling advocate, the NRA, who brandishes the Second Amendment like it is a lethal weapon – they are right, it is lethal.

Just in the past few months, here is a sampling of headlines.

“Woman shot, killed by gun in her bra holster” – reported on 2/19/15 by NBC12 Newsroom

“Father accidentally kills child while cleaning his gun”– reported on 2/17/15 by AP News

“3-year-old boy shoots father, pregnant mother in New Mexico” – reported on 2/2/15 by CNN

“4-year-old accidentally shoots uncle with gun found on floor” – reported on 1/30/15 by Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel

“2-year-old kid shoots mother dead at Walmart” – reported on 1/30/15 by US News

“Girl 9, accidentally kills instructor while firing an Uzi” – reported on 8/27/14 by ABC News

While I am terribly saddened for the loss of life and the heartbreak people will carry for the rest of their lives over their role in the deaths or injuries, we should not view these incidents as just accidents. In my view, they ranged from accidents waiting to happen to homicidal negligence. The sad truth is I am no longer surprised by these headlines, as awful as they may be. They are more commonplace.

While there are many very responsible gun owners, we cannot train some gun owners enough. Yet, these are just the so-called accidental gun deaths.  The most significant gun death cause in America, by far, is suicide. Homes with guns are three times more likely to experience suicide than homes without. All it takes is one impulsive act when someone is depressed and it is over. This is a key reason college therapists do not want guns on campuses, with the higher rates of depression than in general society. And, homicides are increased in America due to the presence of guns.

Let’s get back to those Second Amendment rights. The second amendment initially did not give everyone the right to bear arms limiting the right for the purposes of forming a militia. It has been subject to interpretation by Supreme Courts, but we should keep the original context in mind. But, one thing is for certain, it should not supersede our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness afforded us under the Constitution.  I think most Americans understand this and want some action.

The US leads the civilized world in gun deaths significantly outnumbering the top 22 wealthiest nations combined. Our fondness for guns is a reason our police are more predisposed to act with violence in perceived threatening situations, than in other countries. Gun deaths are due to a multitude of reasons – lack of civil discourse, entertainment violence, poverty, drugs, mental health issues, etc. – but make no mistake they are also due to gun access. Guns don’t kill people; it is people with access to guns that kill people.

Per a 2013 Elon University poll, people of all political persuasions want elongated waiting periods and better background checks on all transactions. The police want bullets codified and registered to solve crimes. For me, these would help, but I cannot fathom a reason someone needs an Uzi or AK47. At a minimum, we need to limit the numbers of bullets that can be fired before reloading. That would save lives. Plus, we need to have as much recurring training as possible as this is serious stuff.

The NRA and its avid proponents say the answer to any question is we should arm everyone. That is inane. Just look at the above and see what happens when more guns are around people. We will only see more accidental and suicidal deaths. We will also have more homicides over small arguments. And, that serves no one’s purpose. It is time for our leaders to think like parents and not like pawns in a deadly game.


25 thoughts on “And the band played on, as more people are shot

  1. Gd job! This point needs t be made again and again. The Supreme Court has ruled against machine guns and sawed-off shotguns on the grounds that they were never envisioned by the founders. I dare say the same goes for automatic weapons!

  2. Sometimes we need a form of cleansings of the idiots and extremists. I agree with your position completely. But there is a bit of ironic justice in the woman who killed herself adjusting her bra holster. According to news accounts, she was a far right extremist who believe Obama was coming for her guns. She had quite a large personal armory according to one story. At any rate, in my mind this was not a serious loss, and is a total testament to the pitfalls of the NRA’s belief that everyone should be armed.

    • Barney, thanks. I would rather stay away from the beliefs of those who were tragically killed, focusing on the unfortunate events. It is terrible that someone creates the circumstances behind their own demise, as well as the demise of a child in their care. On the latter, whether they are punished or not, they will have to carry that guilt with them the rest of their lives. Take care, BTG

  3. UK gun laws are very, very tight and you do need to have a good reason for owning one (eg farmer, membership of a club etc). Local police forces/firearms officers may vary slightly in their requirements but generally things are very controlled. Of course there are still many circulating which those who shouldn’t can get hold of and it doesn’t stop someone in legal possession of a gun going off the rails. I cannot imagine owning a gun simply with the intention to shoot an unwanted somebody on/after my property (which is how it appears to me).

    • Caroline, thanks for your thoughts contrasting the UK experience. The relative gun death statistics between the US and any of the other 22 wealthiest countries is staggering tilted toward the US. I noted to my friend from Canada (whose blog is that contrasting Canada and the US is a good because Canadians permit gun ownership like in the US, but their rate of gun deaths is much less than in the US. Here it is too easy and available for just about anyone to buy a gun. There is a news story where a 13 year old boy tried to buy cigarettes, but was deemed to young. He went to buy alcohol and was carded and denied. Then he went to a gun fair and walked out with a rifle.

      Thanks for your comments, BTG

  4. Note to Readers: This post was less than twelve hours old when a man in Missouri killed seven members of his family and himself after being allegedly distraught over his mother’s illness. Access and continued access to guns needs to be monitored as 1 in 5 people will have a depression (from mild to severe) over their lifetime.

      • Hugh, don’t they? I was reading today about someone’s hearing over a shooting and was thinking “now which homicide is this for?” You cannot keep track of the murders just in your neck of the woods. And, people think we are exceptional as a country. We are “exceptional” but not in the way the advocators of that belief mean. Thanks, BTG

      • Stories like these make me want to weep when reading from my distant vantage point, Not only do we need to address more aggressively this problem, but we also should address what’s fueling the anger and depression. Strike at the root and not the branches, as Thoreau said.

      • Thoreau was a wise person. There are several root causes here. Civility training, community policing, poverty remedies, background checks, elongated waiting periods would all help.

  5. I too would like to see fewer guns (I guess none would be unrealistic), but I can’t help but to believe there is something deeper and darker going on in our society. For whatever reason, violence seems to be embedded in our DNA. Yes, there are horrible gun tragedies in other countries, but they are few and far between. I can’t imagine that the framers of our constitution had this kind of weaponry in mind no matter what “a well-regulated militia” meant to them.

    • Insightful comments. To me, there is a huge disconnect in a group of people who advocate pro-life and yet in the next breath, say it is OK to permit the extent of un constrained gun use. This survey I cite notes the desire for better gun laws is pervasive, yet the NRA can get local advocates to rally against anyone or thing standing in their way. With this Congress, there is no chance of seeing any rationale discussion or movement. Thanks, BTG

      • The key here, of course, is the power of the NRA which has been demonstrated before when the Congress tried to support gun control. It cost many members of Congress their jobs. And, above all else, they want t hang on to those well-paying jobs! The only way around this is to appeal directly to the public and get them aroused enough to put counter-pressure on their Congress-persons. But with an apathetic public this seems unlikely.

      • Unfortunately, everything you note is true especially the apathy for fighting for change. We still have to try.

  6. When my son was 2 1/2 year old we went to visit his grand pop who just happens to live in a very rural part of Pennsylvania where guns are a big part of life. I left him in the care of 5 adults, all parents, along with other children while I went blueberry picking with an aunt. When I got back I was was told “you need to teach your son not to open drawers!” Apparently, this city slicker had NO clue that her father-in-law kept a LOADED 45 in his nightstand and they found my son holding it in the bedroom. Until that moment I never even saw a real gun!
    The mindset to pass blame onto a curious 2 1/2 year old boy is what we are dealing with here…they don’t get it. The fact that I even had to defend my son with my sister-in-laws still haunts me 18 years later.

    • Thank goodness the conversation was not around a tragedy. The gun owning relatives are at fault and to try to pass it onto the child is inexcusable. I told my father and mother-in-law once when I found out the rifle in the closet was loaded, if you want me to bring your grandchildren to see you here, then you will need to unload that weapon. No ifs, ands, or buts.

      As Mark Twain once said “common sense is not all that common.” If the subject comes up again with your sister-in-law, tell her this old fart strongly disagrees with her assertion and, fortunately, she did not have someone die needlessly in her house (which could have been her – bang bang your dead, oops).

  7. Note to Readers: In a sad state of affairs, just since I wrote this post less than a week ago, more shootings have occurred. We have had a couple of murder suicides where family members were killed before the assailant turned the gun on himself. I keep thinking of Pete Seeger’s song lyric, “when will they ever learn, when will they ever learn.” Per the above, we apparently do not care to, as an apathetic public won’t fight the NRA clout and say we need better governance of these guns, which will have some recurring validation mechanism.

  8. Pingback: Just a typical day in the news – shootings abound | musingsofanoldfart

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