January 10, 2011

Guns in the Giffords shooting

America's love of guns is another important issue in Saturday's Giffords shooting.

Arizona Gun Law:  Concealed Weapons Allowed Without Permit Under New Law

By Paul Davenport and Jonathan J. CooperFavoring the constitutional right to bear arms over others' concerns about gun safety, Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday signed into law a bill making Arizona the third state allowing people to carry a concealed weapon without requiring a permit.

The measure takes effect 90 days after the current legislative session ends, which likely puts the effective date in July or August.

"I believe this legislation not only protects the Second Amendment rights of Arizona citizens, but restores those rights as well," Brewer, a Republican, said in a statement.
Serious Guns and White Terrorism:  Two Unasked Questions in Tucson Mass Murder

By Bill QuigleyQuestion: How does a mentally unstable man who was kicked out of school and had run-ins with the law buy such a serious weapon?

The weapon reportedly used in the mass murders in Tucson was a serious weapon--a Glock 19, semi-automatic pistol, with an extended magazine. Some weapons like that were illegal to sell in the US from 1994 to 2004 under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. It is now legal to sell and own them. The National Rifle Association reports there are tens of millions of assault weapons in private hands in the US.

The federal background check for people purchasing such weapons only prohibits selling such weapons to people who have been legally determined to be mentally defective or found insane or convicted of crimes. This man had not been found legally mentally defective or convicted so he was legally entitled to purchase an assault weapon. In Arizona he was legally entitled to carry the weapon in a concealed manner.
How can a gun-crazed society lead the world?

By David RothkopfAccording to a 2007 survey, the United States leads the world in gun ownership: 90 guns per 100 people. We are a country with five percent of the world's people and between 35 and 50 percent of its civilian-owned guns. That's something like 270 million weapons.

Repeated studies have shown that the United States is far and away the leader among the world's developed countries in gun violence and gun deaths. There is no other developed country that is even close. Over 30,000 Americans die every year from gun violence. Most of these are suicides but in excess of 12,000 a year are homicides. Another 200,000 Americans are estimated to be injured each year due to guns.

In 2009, Bob Herbert of the New York Times wrote a compelling column noting that since 9/11 over 120,000 people have died in the United States as a result of gun violence. By now, the number is in excess of 140,000.

For those in the world who are mystified by this, the legal explanation associated with it by gun rights defenders is that the right to own guns is protected by the U.S. Constitution. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

This statement has taken on quasi-theological importance for many in the United States even though it is clearly being misinterpreted by those who believe it provides every individual the right to own such guns--including advanced, highly-destructive automatic weapons. The misinterpretation begins with the deliberate ignoring of the first half of the sentence associating the right with the need for a "well-regulated militia." This is a clear qualifier associated with the so-called right to bear arms and had it not been important to the sentence, one can only conclude it would not have been included in the famously sparely written document. If militias don't exist, one can therefore conclude this "right" should be reconsidered if not eliminated.
America's history of violence

Charles Trimble:  Assassination attempt highlights gun mentalityI’m not one to say, “I told you so”; at least not in one of my columns. For, fortunately for the world, most of my predictions have come to naught anyway.

But a year ago I posted a column on indianz.com and in other Native journals about my concern over the soaring sales of weapons in this country, and about the mentality of fear and hatred being spread in a nation “gone rogue,” as Sarah Palin and her followers describe the movement. They tout the Constitutional right to bear arms, or as I’ve seen on one tee-shirt “The right to arm bears--Mama Grizzlies.”

Now with the assassination attempt on Congresswoman Giffords (D-AZ) and the shooting of eighteen others at her “Congress on the Corner” gathering in Tucson, we’re seeing some of the fruits of the great harvest being reaped by gun makers and weapons sellers.
And:I would like to quote from that earlier column extensively, for I think I was right on the money with my concern:

“Guns have always had a good market here in America. It’s a market driven by hunters, frontier re-enactors and collectors. Certainly the underworld and youth gangs in most of the inner cities and increasingly in Indian reservations make up a huge subterranean market that is not even measured in the economy. But the most frightful and dangerous market is represented by paranoid yahoos who see national enemies around every corner and behind every tree. These are people who are driven by fear--mostly fear of minorities whose rights they have trampled over the years, and fear of their own government’s every action to secure human and civil rights and opportunity for those minorities and for the poor in general.

“In the early American colonies and later the ever-expanding frontier, hunting was important to survival; but it was fear of Indians mostly that there was at least one blunderbuss in every home. And this persisted down through the years. Even as late as 1973 when the American Indian Movement occupied the village of Wounded Knee, many whites in a wide area surrounding Pine Ridge and other reservations drove around in their pickup trucks displaying racks of weaponry in the rear windows. Although it has always been in manly vogue to carry hunting rifles in their pickups, some of the guns were assault rifles that wouldn’t have left much of a carcass for dinner.”
Comment:  As I said to someone who's trying to play up Jared Lee Loughner's mental problems:

If Loughner made previous threats but was allowed to buy and own a gun, it's a further indictment of Arizona's loose gun culture. Perhaps that was your point: that conservatives let gun nuts own guns.

If so...yes, I agree that conservatives are to blame for that reason too. Stupid conservative gun nuts, that is, who can't read the words "well-regulated" in the 2nd Amendment.

To sum it up, conservatives slash mental health budgets. Conservatives let nuts carry guns. And conservatives tell the crazies whom to shoot at.

What to do about it

Here's what should happen but probably won't:

A Flood Tide of Murder

By Bob HerbertIf we were serious, if we really wanted to cut down on the killings, we’d have to do two things. We’d have to radically restrict the availability of guns while at the same time beginning the very hard work of trying to change a culture that glorifies and embraces violence as entertainment, and views violence as an appropriate and effective response to the things that bother us.

Ordinary citizens interested in a more sane and civilized society would have to insist that their elected representatives take meaningful steps to stem the violence. And they would have to demand, as well, that the government bring an end to the wars overseas, with their terrible human toll, because the wars are part of the same crippling pathology.

Without those very tough steps, the murder of the innocents by the tens of thousands will most assuredly continue.

I wouldn’t hold my breath. The Gabrielle Giffords story is big for the time being, but so were Columbine and Oklahoma City. And so was the anti-white killing spree of John Muhammad and Lee Malvo that took 10 lives in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., in October 2002. But no amount of killing has prompted any real remedial action.

For whatever reasons, neither the public nor the politicians seem to really care how many Americans are murdered—unless it’s in a terror attack by foreigners. The two most common responses to violence in the U.S. are to ignore it or be entertained by it. The horror prompted by the attack in Tucson on Saturday will pass. The outrage will fade. The murders will continue.
I'm not sure what individuals like me can do about these problems, but I try my best. As someone who reports and disseminates the news, I spread the word about violence and its links to guns, hate speech, racism, stereotyping, and "entertainment." As someone who works on creative projects, I emphasize intelligent alternatives to violent "solutions." We should all do that much, if not much more.

For more on media violence, see The Evidence Against Media Violence and Highlights of the FTC Report on Media Violence. For more on guns, see Why Americans Keep Killing and Gun Nuts vs. Indians. For more on the Giffords shooting, see Loughner Echoes Right-Wing Extremists and Debating Loughner's Influences.


Anonymous said...

Somehow I wouldn't take any idea from Jan Brewer seriously. She pretty much only represents Maricopa County. Of course, with the crazy way Americans treat murderers (letting them have guns, but God forbid they vote!), you never know.

What I don't get is the moar dakka mentality. Something's dead whether you shoot one bullet in a vital organ or a hundred.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous who says murderers are allowed to have guns last time i checked they were prohibited by law from having those.