It is time we have an evidence/fact based conversation about guns in the United States. The mass killings have got to stop. It's time we paid attention to the Center for Disease Control and the Institute of Health and allow them into this conversation to study and share the facts on death by guns. I know we will not like what they will report, but the NRA can no longer control the conversation or the politicians they support. We need to end the practice of willful blindness.
|Me firing an M16 at Parris Island MCRC, SC, March 2013.|
Let's acknowledge the purpose of a gun. A gun is a machine to dispense death. Guns have only two purposes: for sport/hunting and for killing another human whether for protection or murder. If you only want to stop a human being without killing him or her, consider a taser.
An assault weapon is designed to create imminent destruction of another human being. An assault weapon is not a hunting rifle unless you are hunting human beings. Go to Google and learn of the creation of the assault weapon. You will find it was designed for the military to kill enemy combatants. Legitimizing the ownership and use of assault weapons by the 2nd amendment "logic" also means any U.S. citizen should be able to own hand grenades, land mines and missiles. After all, the 2nd amendment calls for a well regulated armed militia.
I have been researching the facts and talking with people about guns here in the United States. Here is what I know for sure:
There are over 300 million guns in the United States.
Video games do not contribute to mass shootings. Google Patrick Markey, PhD, professor of Psychology at Villanova on his studies that show 80% of the mass shooters had no interest in violent video games.
You can be 18 years old to purchase an assault rifle. I am fine with an 18 year old purchasing a gun, but not an assault rifle. After all, we allow 18 year olds to join the military and train them in combat. Since we are teaching 18 year olds how to kill, I believe they should also be allowed to drink alcoholic beverages.
With rights come responsibility. You own a restaurant, you get health inspections. To drive a car, you need a license to show mental competence, good vision, insurance and to pass a driving test. Not so with guns. There is no federal law to prove competence. There is no requirement to demonstrate sound mental health or excellent vision.
Presently 700,000 names are missing from the federal background check because there is no national mandate. However, 97% of Americans agree that there should be universal background checks for gun ownership.
Every country in the civilized world has common sense laws on gun ownership and policies to protect its citizens except for the United States of America. You want to own a gun in Canada? You need to provide character references.
Remember the 60s philosophy, "If it feels good, do it!"? That is the line adapted by the NRA. The NRA operates on fear. The NRA uses fear to keep us believing criminals and terrorists are everywhere. We react much like when we hear about a shark attack and stay out of the ocean even if the shark attack was a 1,000 miles away.
The automobile industry has the right to manufacture cars and they also have the responsibility to make them safe. I remember our car growing up did not have seat belts, airbags, safety glass or a mirror on the passenger side of the car. Today's cars are much safer because auto manufacturers have taken responsibility for adding safety.
The NRA has thwarted making guns safer. Our politicians are afraid of the NRA but addicted to their money. The NRA believes more guns are necessary to protect us, yet they fight gun safety. The NRA has blocked technology that would make guns safer. The NRA has thwarted CDC and IHS from studying gun deaths and reporting findings. The NRA lacks the courage to have a critical thinking discussion on what would truly make Americans safer. To ask Ms. Sights, my 60-something year old kindergarten teacher, or any of my grade school teachers to be armed in my classroom lacks logic and rational.
"Giving teachers guns in schools is like giving passengers who board an airplane guns in case there is a hijacker aboard." - Dr. David Hemenway, a professor of health policy at Harvard School of Public Health and an expert on the public health impact of gun violence. From what I've read, giving guns to every teacher in the United States for the purpose of taking out an active shooter will only work if their weapons can be accessed in an instant.
The same forefathers who created the 2nd amendment also created and justified the laws for slavery and women not having the right to vote. How is it we came to realize slavery and women not allowed to vote were evil and wrong, yet still justify a very broad interpretation of the 2nd amendment regarding firearms?
If you study the history of the creation of the 2nd amendment, you will find that gun ownership during colonial times was used to suppress the voices of the disenfranchised. Women and slaves could not own or use guns. Selling guns to Native Americans was illegal. Guns were THE staple of "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of (some of) the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." The primary purpose of a "well regulated militia" was to keep slaves from uprising and starting rebellions. Study the Bacon Rebellion and Stono Rebellion. This is what our forefather's feared more than anything - a slave uprising. The greatest fear our Colonial forefather leaders had was that the British would confiscate their guns and give them to slaves to create rebellions and uprisings. If you are willing to learn more about this, read Nancy Isenberg's White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America and Michele Alexander's The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.
When the 14th amendment ended slavery, gun ownership by white men was a considered essential and preventing blacks from owning guns was part of the Jim Crow era. To this day, white gun ownership is deemed essential and black gun ownership undesirable. Recall 2015 when Philando Castile, a black man who had a license to carry a gun and was following protocol, announcing he was legally carrying a gun when pulled over while driving, was killed by a white police officer while reaching for his ID. The NRA did nothing to support Castile's right to carry a gun.
What do you know now that you did not know before? Are you willing to have a thoughtful, critical conversation on guns to reduce death by guns?
I have been careful to check and recheck my sources for this blog so as not flame "fake news." I welcome legitimate, thoughtful challenges to what I have written.