June 18th, 2014
in Op Ed
Written by Michael Kulla
Guns are literally stitched into the American fabric. The U.S. processes more guns per capita than any other country in the world. Yemen is a distant second. Frequently in strife, Yemen has an active branch of Al Queda,
Not only are we number one in possessing guns, we're at the top of the list for using them lethally. Countries with the lowest gun homicides, almost zero per 100,000, are Japan, South Korea and Iceland, all of which have strong gun laws. Homicides from firearms are over thirty two times greater in America than in the United Kingdom and Australia.
The cost -- mostly to taxpayers -- for medical treatment, criminal justice proceedings, security precautions and reduction in quality of life due to sky-high American gun violence has been estimated at $100 billion annually. The extent of this unhealthy situation should be self-evident.
With 300,000,000 guns in America, and sales surging, its unrealistic to expect America to make meaningful inroads into this problem given the failure to have done so in the face of perpetual gun crimes.
The Second Amendment right to bear arms, a favorite argument on the part of the gun proponents, is a ruse. The landmark 2008 Supreme Court case did uphold the Second Amendment, but they also took pains to carve out many exceptions, calling for reasonable restrictions on that right. This is true of our constitutional rights generally -- they're not absolute. We must be reasonable. Just as we have the First Amendment right of free speech, one can't yell fire in a crowded theater nor disturb the peace, etc.
A generation ago, Conservative Supreme Court Chief Justice, Warren Burger, put if strongly. "The Second Amendment has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of 'fraud,' on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime."
The 'good guy" against the"bad guys" is another rallying cry by gun devotees. But just who are the good and bad guys? Recently two cops were fatally ambushed by a couple who viewed the law as the enemy. Good guys, bad guys and in between (Note the Trayvon Martin case) is in the eyes of the beholder.
The gun lobby would have you believe that the real aim is to confiscate all their guns. This is hype to rally the base because guns are as American as apple pie. We have a long history of hunting and gun ownership.
Today in America, more than 18,000 children are shot by guns each year in assaults, suicides and accidents! Guns used in these tragedies are often from their own home, or that of a friend or family member -- unsafe access. 1.7 million kids live with unlocked and loaded firearms. Hiding guns is not enough and just talking to children is not enough. They are curious, and if they find guns they're likely to play with them.
Since the Newtown massacre there have been 74 school shootings! The life of each of our children, every single one, matters and is worthy of our passionate protection. Rights demand responsibility. This right does not extend to terrorists, it does not extend to criminals and it does not extend to the mentally disturbed.
Just before submitting this article, on June 12 an article appeared in this paper entitled Gals & Guns, adorned with colored art work covering a full page and some. Unobjective, it read like a propaganda piece for the NRA. Twelve to 17 year old girls with chaperone were invited to attend a Woman and Girls Only Rifle Instructional Clinic, indeed part of an NRA program.
Teaching young teens this highly dangerous "sport" would be deemed by many to be inappropriate, an abomination and down right scary.
In a gun-besotted nation where the right of each citizen to pocess as many weapons of potential mass destruction as he or she wants, and is considered sacred and inviolable, surrenders to a deep-seated vulnerability and opens the gates to steroidal chaos.