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posted on 21 June 2016

America: Guns vs. Alcohol

Written by

Many Americans are deeply troubled by guns (Gun Massacres in America), without knowing what to do (Senate blocks gun measures offered in wake of Orlando shooting). Here is a simple proposal: treat guns like alcohol, both physically (e.g. it kills, but you must allow it) and constitutionally (e.g. Second Amendment vs. Eighteenth Amendment and Twenty-first Amendment). Let me explain ...

1. Guns

Guns to America are like bread and butter to mankind. So it's important for us to understand gun massacres as well as gun enthusiasts in America ...

1.1 The Orlando massacre

In a rush to create a headline news story, many main-stream media outlets called the Orlando massacre the worst in U.S. history. Two examples:

  1. 50 killed in Florida gay club massacre, deadliest mass shooting in US history.
  2. Deadliest Mass Shootings in U.S. History Fast Facts. The title implies the worst, but inside the article, it highlights a list showing "the deadliest single day mass shootings in U.S. history from 1949 to the present".

Is it really the worst in U.S. history? Yes, but only in terms of the number of victims murdered by one individual! In contrast, many gun enthusiasts hold different views, with two big examples.

  1. Wounded Knee Massacre.
  2. Waco Siege.

Let's learn more about these two examples, in order to better understand not only the history, but also the psyche of gun enthusiasts.

1.2 Wounded Knee Massacre

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia - Wounded Knee Massacre:

On the morning of December 29, the troops went into the camp to disarm the Lakota. One version of events claims that during the process of disarming the Lakota, a deaf tribesman named Black Coyote was reluctant to give up his rifle, claiming he had paid a lot for it.[7] A scuffle over the rifle escalated, and a shot was fired which resulted in the 7th Cavalry opening fire indiscriminately from all sides, killing men, women, and children, as well as some of their fellow soldiers. The Lakota warriors who still had weapons began shooting back at the attacking soldiers, who quickly suppressed the Lakota fire. The surviving Lakota fled, but cavalrymen pursued and killed many who were unarmed.

By the time it was over, more than 150 men, women, and children of the Lakota had been killed and 51 were wounded (4 men and 47 women and children, some of whom died later); some estimates placed the number of dead at 300.[8]

1.3 Waco Siege

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia - Waco Siege:

The incident began when the ATF attempted to raid the ranch. An intense gun battle erupted, resulting in the deaths of four government agents and six Branch Davidians. Upon the ATF's failure to raid the compound, a siege was initiated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the standoff lasting 51 days. Eventually, the FBI launched an assault and initiated a tear gas attack in an attempt to force the Branch Davidians out of the ranch. During the attack, a fire engulfed Mount Carmel Center. 76 people died,[8][9] including David Koresh.

1.4 Summary

Both Wounded Knee Massacre and Waco Siege are examples of the government against the people, unlike the Orlando massacre which is one individual against the people. However, for many gun enthusiasts or opponents, a gun massacre is a gun massacre is a gun massacre, regardless of who is responsible for it: one individual or the government!

Bottom line: at the heart of any serious debate on gun control lies the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

2. The Second Amendment

2.1 What is the Second Amendment?

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia - Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

The Second Amendment (Amendment II) to the United States Constitution protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms and was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the first ten amendments contained in the Bill of Rights.[1][2][3][4] The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that the right belongs to individuals,[5][6] while also ruling that the right is not unlimited and does not prohibit all regulation of either firearms or similar devices.[7] State and local governments are limited to the same extent as the federal government from infringing this right per the incorporation of the Bill of Rights.

2.2 The debate about the Second Amendment

There is no question that Americans have the right to keep and bear arms.

The core question is whether it is still valid for Americans to bear arms against their own government, as initially intended by the Founding Fathers.

  1. If the answer is yes, then to what extent should we Americans arm ourselves? In an extreme view, we Americans should arm ourselves to the teeth like the government, from pea shooters to assault weapons.
  2. If no, how then should the Second Amendment be amended with various limitations (e.g. mental health, assault weapons, and keeping the bad guys from getting guns)?

To me, the answer is obviously no, because our government, including the military, is by far the biggest in the world now. No other country, let alone any individual American, can fight against our government with any arms!

The question, then, is how should the Second Amendment be amended? Let's look at alcohol as an example ...

3. Alcohol and two related Amendments

Like guns, alcohol has not only its own fun factor, but also a mass harm potential. In fact, alcohol was so damned in America that on January 17, 1920, the Eighteenth Amendment took effect that had mandated nationwide Prohibition on alcohol, only to be repealed later by the Twenty-first Amendment.

Here is an excerpt from Wikipedia - Twenty-first Amendment:

The Twenty-first Amendment (Amendment XXI) to the United States Constitution repealed the Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which had mandated nationwide Prohibition on alcohol on January 17, 1920. The Twenty-first Amendment was ratified on December 5, 1933. It is unique among the 27 amendments of the U.S. Constitution for being the only one to repeal a prior amendment and to have been ratified by state ratifying conventions.

4. Discussion

Are gun massacres getting worse in America? Yes, they are! But they are not even close to general gun violence! Below is a highlight of gun violence data from my hometown Chicago (http://heyjackass.com):

Comparison Week in Progress
(6/12-18)
June to Date Year to Date
Shot & Killed 19 41 272
Shot & Wounded 81 192 1,490
Total Shot 100 233 1,762
Total Homicides 19 43 303

So, superficially, something should be done on gun control (e.g. banning assault weapons)? But will something significant be done? No!

Why not? In a democracy like ours, things have to get really bad for a significant Constitutional change like the Second Amendment.

In other words, is the gun problem today as bad as Prohibition on alcohol in the 1920s? No, not yet! So forget about a significant change to the Second Amendment!

More profoundly, we must understand the real reasons behind gun massacres (e.g. hate) and gun violence (e.g. poverty and broken families), and fix the root causes, instead of blaming guns!

I believe I have the most accurate diagnosis for America (Diagnosis for America (Version 3)), as well as the best solution (Solution for America (Version 3)). It will fix the root causes of many of our problems, including both gun massacres and gun violence!

5. Closing

Guns and alcohol do not mix, but the analogy between them is useful, hopefully.

Most importantly, constitutionally, do not repeat the same mistake with guns as we did with alcohol!

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