Can We Talk About Guns Yet?

7 comments April 26th, 2007at 11:54am Posted by Eli

In between calls for relaxed concealed-carry laws, those sensitive and compassionate Republicans asked that we wait some respectable and decent interval to let the forgetting healing begin before we start talking about gun policy.

The NYT editorial board evidently believes we’ve waited long enough:

By now, the logic is almost automatic. A shooter takes innocent lives, and someone says that if the victims had been armed, this wouldn’t have happened. The only solution to a gun in the wrong hands, it seems, is a gun in the hands of everyone.

That’s the state of the debate over gun control today. The National Rifle Association and the gun lobby have silenced every legislature in this country. Instead of stricter laws, tighter controls and better background checks, the gun lobby proposes more guns. And what the gun lobby proposes, lawmakers deliver.

Seung-Hui Cho bought his guns illegally, though with the appearance of legality. He slipped through a loophole, through a disconnect between the way Virginia defines a disqualifying mental incapacity and the way the federal government does. After the fact, the loophole is self-evident, and it’s tempting to believe that now political leaders will work harder to keep people who are dangers to themselves from becoming dangers to others by buying guns. But the laws are as fragile and imperfect as they are because that is how the gun lobby wants them – and it is paying good money to keep them that way.

And Bob Herbert attacks the “Culture Of Life” on its home turf:

Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund… mentioned that since the murders of Robert Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, well over a million Americans have been killed by firearms in the United States. That’s more than the combined U.S. combat deaths in all the wars in all of American history.

“We’re losing eight children and teenagers a day to gun violence,” she said. “As far as young people are concerned, we lose the equivalent of the massacre at Virginia Tech about every four days.”

The first step in overcoming an addiction is to acknowledge it. Americans are addicted to violence, specifically gun violence. We profess to be appalled at every gruesome outbreak of mass murder… but there’s no evidence that we have the will to pull the guns out of circulation, or even to register the weapons and properly screen and train their owners.


Those who are interested in the safety and well-being of children should keep in mind that only motor vehicle accidents and cancer kill more children in the U.S. than firearms. A study released a few years ago by the Harvard School of Public Health compared firearm mortality rates among youngsters 5 to 14 years old in the five states with the highest rates of gun ownership with those in the five states with the lowest rates.

The results were chilling. Children in the states with the highest rates of gun ownership were 16 times as likely to die from an accidental gunshot wound, nearly seven times as likely to commit suicide with a gun, and more than three times as likely to be murdered with a firearm.

Only a lunatic could seriously believe that more guns in more homes is good for America’s children.

Maybe Herbert should have provided some statistics on how many fetuses get shot to death; those appear to be the only deaths Republicans care about.

Entry Filed under: Republicans


  • 1. dirk gently, sociopathetic  |  April 26th, 2007 at 3:29 pm

    Seung-Hui Cho bought his guns illegally, though with the appearance of legality.

    um, no he didn’t. the loophole was not “illegal”, and in fact va is one of the most compliant states with that particular reporting requirement.

  • 2. LJ/Aquaria  |  April 26th, 2007 at 7:23 pm

    On this “arm everybody issue,” I’ll preface my take on this by stating I’m not against guns, per se. I’ve been a gun owner. Live in the country, miles from any neighbor, never mind the nearest officer of the peace, with wild varmints everywhere, left alone while the husband is at work, and you will not be without a gun for long. I’m no fan of hunting, but I’ve been in a position where I’m grateful someone knows how to do it, so I can eat. You can’t be proud or finicky about how you get your meals sometimes.

    So, to me, there are people who have legitimate need of a gun.

    That doesn’t mean I believe we should hand them out pell-mell. I’m a realist about this. Some people do not need to own guns. Ideally, anyone who wants a gun would submit to gun use and safety classes before being able to obtain one of their own.

    Ultimately, though, it’s insane to think that a gun is some magical defense against harm/death. It isn’t. Especially not from someone else armed with a gun.

    I said it at Theri’s place, and I’ll say it again here:

    My uncle was murdered in his own home. Gun homicide.

    He had guns. Lots of them. He just didn’t have one of them in his hand in that particular moment.

    His killer has never been found.

    The son of one of my mother’s friends was murdered. Gun homicide.

    When his body was found, he had a gun in his hand, bullet in the chamber.

    Female in one town where I lived pulled a gun on the man attempting to rape her. Yep, he took it from her, raped her and killed her with her own gun.

    Arming yourself doesn’t mean you still won’t end up dead.

    It really pisses me off when people forget that one little fact. For every person who defended themselves with a gun…how many ended up shot with a gun in hand, or nearby? I doubt we have stats on that one. I’d bet it’s higher than anyone wants to admit.

  • 3. Rob  |  April 26th, 2007 at 7:32 pm

    Would an unintended consequence of gun control be the creation of different spree and mass killing scenarios, using more “effective” methods?

    Of course, even with draconian laws, guns would still be trivial to obtain. I’d hope they’d distract the crazies from other possible scenarios, but that’s not what’s happened elsewhere in the world.

    I keep thinking of Suzanne Gratia and her parents.

  • 4. Eli  |  April 26th, 2007 at 8:01 pm

    Jeez, LJ, I’m sorry about your uncle and your mother’s friend’s son.

    Guns are *not* the magic bullet (so to speak) against crime. If the criminal gets the drop on you, or gets the gun away from you (or if you have guns in your house and a burglar grabs one before you can), your gun really isn’t any help.

    I’m not sure if this is the question you’re asking, but I wonder if having guns in any way increases your likelihood of getting shot by someone else with their own gun; i.e., if it makes you more likely to play hero when that’s not the smart thing to do.

    Um, Rob, what kind of methods would be more “effective” than guns? Flamethrower? Vehicular homicid, but e? Lawnmower strapped to the chest? Or are you thinking about some kind of mass poisoning?

  • 5. LJ/Aquaria  |  April 26th, 2007 at 8:03 pm

    Your question kinda gets at what’s behind a lot of our problem with guns in America: The impulse to resort to violence to resolve problems.

    What causes that? Where does it begin? What can we do to have people find other solutions to dealing with conflict? And so forth.

    I think until we honestly examine those questions, we will probably continue to have violence, with or without guns. That being said, what makes guns a terrible part of this problem is that they are so efficient at what they do, with so little planning/ strength required, and giving the shooter a sizeable degree of distance from his target. There’s something so…cold and impersonal about it all.

    Most other methods of killing can’t claim that, which is why they aren’t used as often.

  • 6. LJ/Aquaria  |  April 26th, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    Iím not sure if this is the question youíre asking, but I wonder if having guns in any way increases your likelihood of getting shot by someone else with their own gun; i.e., if it makes you more likely to play hero when thatís not the smart thing to do.

    Actually, Eli, my question was more in relation to someone dying with a gun in hand, but dead by someone else’s gun.

    There are some stats out there for a person’s gun used against him. I’m just wondering about the mutually armed killings, so to speak.

  • 7. Eli  |  April 26th, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    Actually, Eli, my question was more in relation to someone dying with a gun in hand, but dead by someone elseís gun.

    That actually *was* what I meant (the “someone else’s” own gun) – just got tripped up by the syntax.

    Based on the wingnut reaction to the VT shootings and how they thought they *should* have played out (whether the students had guns or not), it’s pretty clear that they see these kind of situations as Hero Opportunities.

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