Weapons of Mass Destruction

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JFP Editor Donna Ladd

Ah, guns. We have a bittersweet joke at the Jackson Free Press: If we feel like piling up a few more page views, we can just do a gun story or a blog post. All we have to do is mention guns, or God forbid criticize any form of the precious instrument, and the gun aficionados come out of the woodwork. They troll, yell, sputter, moan and even freak out if you call a "semi-automatic" weapon an "automatic" one (although gun makers do, too).

They get personal, and ugly, and really, really angry, and they call us names. They wail at any attempt just to discuss potential gun regulation on behalf of public safety, immediately jumping to the conclusion that we want to take all their guns. And most remarkably to me, they come up with some of the most illogical analogies one can imagine--the kind that I would have flunked out of logic class at Mississippi State for floating.

So, so ... if people didn't have guns, they'd use cars or buses or airplanes as deadly weapons, they spout. You know, like on Sept. 11, 2001!

Yes, we-the-logical respond, and we vastly regulated everything to do with air travel after 9/11. Cars and buses are already saddled with massive safety regulations.

But, but ... the framers didn't mean the Second Amendment to allow any sort of regulation of any "arm" whatsoever, not even for safety reasons! Don't touch my guns!

No, we point out. Even the First Amendment is limited in cases of libel and yelling "fire!" in a crowded theater. And if you look closely, the word "regulated" is firmly ensconced in the Second Amendment. And the right to "bear arms" already doesn't mean any damn arm you want to stockpile and play war with on the weekends.

Or , or... on the same day as Newtown, a man in China attacked a group of kids with a knife in a mass attack, too!

Yes, we respond, and none of those children died. It was bad, but not deadly.

Children dying is why we want to have this conversation that this brand of gun geek really doesn't want us to have. In other words, these folks want to deny our First Amendment rights to talk about their Second Amendment ones. Not logical.

But we're going to talk about guns in America, anyway, and we have to stop bowing down in front of the powerful gun lobby that exists to help gun corporations sell more guns. If we don't, it means we are bought and owned by a large, dangerous industry.

Does having that conversation, or enacting smarter gun regulations, mean we want to stop all hunting or take weapons of self-defense away from everyone? Of course not. That's absurd, and I personally don't know anyone who is supporting that.

Here's where the rubber--like on all those cars that are more regulated than guns, by the way--meets the road. Too many adults and children, and suicidal Americans, are dying because they have too easy access to too many weapons. The country that supported a war in Iraq over a lie about weapons of mass destruction are actually confronted with real WMD right here and now. Whatever you want to call them--mostly automatic, too automatic, somewhat automatic, deliciously automatic, mine's-bigger-than-yours automatic--the U.S. is inundated with guns that make it easy, and rather romantic, for a mentally disturbed person to act out his videogame fantasies in a theater or synogogue or school full of innocent victims. They make it easy to kill many very quickly.

The fact that a gun can and is sometimes actually used for self-defense--as the Twitter trolls love to point out--is beside the point. You can still have a gun for self-defense, but you don't need to shoot up your damn neighborhood with an AR-15 to run the robber off your property. What we're talking about here are delusions of grandeur and bloodlust. And too many people end up using those crazy guns to act it out.

Here's the thing: You can love guns and still be part of a serious conversation about them. If you also love children, it is incumbent on you to decide to be part of the solution. The gun lobby has become too strong, too strident and a bit insane. They seem to want us to turn against each other and assume that our government is coming to get us. (And I assure you that, should they, these AR-15 hobbyists aren't going to protect us.)

Countries and states with more gun control are less violent. We all know it is easiest, and quickest, to commit a mass killing with one of these weapons. (Ask that guy in China.) The question now is what kind of nation do we want to be? Do we want to follow the lead of people who profit off our distrusting "the other" and arming ourselves against them? Do we want to continue being the state that provides huge numbers of guns used in violence in Chicago? Do we want to assume that we solve violence with violence?

The same people who argue those things look and act like they're afraid of their shadows. You can watch them on talk shows and see it all over their faces. They have no problem with the gun industry flooding our poorest communities with huge numbers of guns, which they damn well know will be used in crimes. They seem to want to play war games with "the other."

But even many NRA members know that it doesn't make sense to have no regulations or restrictions on what guns we can have--or, more importantly, that gun makers can make and market to civilians.

The point of gun regulation, ultimately, is not to keep any gun crime from happening whatsoever (even though we can wish); it is to reduce the supply of weapons and the incentive for the gun industry to profit off elementary kids being blown to bits with guns designed to blow people to bits.

Meantime, not only is the NRA owned by the gun industry; so are the politicians it funds. Right now, we have state leaders who are drooling all over themselves (looking at you, Tate Reeves and Phil Bryant) to be the elected pawns of the corporate gun industry. These men are showing no interest in making your children safer. And the absurd idea to arm schools more? That would work out about as well as Haley Barbour's pardons: It might seem like a good idea until a pardonee goes and kills someone, as one allegedly did last week. Imagine being the lawmaker who pushed for that lunacy when an armed teacher shoots and kills an innocent child.

Armed school officials do not stop school shootings--including right here in Pearl. Yes, an assistant principal went after the shooter when he was leaving with a gun, but well after he had sowed the destruction that his guns empowered him to mete out. If the shooters don't kill themselves, someone often gets to them after the rampage: No, trolls, that is not preventing a shooting.

Not to mention, since Republicans expired the assault weapons ban, we're seeing gun inflation even among the mass shooters. They are covering themselves with badass-looking guns and magazines because they can easily buy them at places like Walmart. Thank you, gun industry.

It is time we talk back--in honor of every child and teacher who died at Newtown and every other victim of gun violence and suicide. We can change this, leaving the Second Amendment fully intact. We must.

Comments

Belvedere 1 year, 3 months ago

The gun lobby is disingenuous at best. A straight forward, honest approach would be for them to lament the senseless killings, indeed, any and all senseless killings, and simply to put forth that, though it is harsh, the Bill of Rights cannot be abrogated by executive order or congressional act. And to admit that they've done a lousy job among their membership of locking up guns in arms chests and keeping close watch over the keys and then pledging strong, effective educational and public safety campaigns among their own membership and very strong self-policing steps. Instead, they choose to libel and slander the President and spread untruths and distortions and jingoistic, nonsensical memes about those citizens who now demand correct policing of dangerous and offensive weapons. With the national debate shaped in these terms, there will be no winners, least of all the Constitution.

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justjess 1 year, 2 months ago

Great article Ladd. Yes, Reeves, Bryant and a host of others are again operating on a fear based tactic by pretending that "OBAMA" is trying to take away even the guns that are used for hunting and protecting your family: They know better; however, they preach a sermon to low informational, ignorant, the mentally challenged and a long list of the evil and hate-filled.

Rep. Benny Thompson was named as the second in line appointed to the President's comission on gun control. I was shocked to hear him (Thompson) address issues that are not a part of VP Biden or President Obama's list of ideas to consider. Far too many of our politicians are bought and paid for; even at the expense of our prescious little children who continue to lose their lives so that WalMart and gun show dealers,etc.. can profit. It's all about MONEY!

Their messages are soooo irresponsible! There are a lot of sick people in the world: Some are talking about a revolution and here in the South, some say they are ready to kill. It is my understanding that Pres. Obama, the President who has been given the most threats of any other President, is expericing an even greater number of threats to include his family.

We must stand with those who recognize and understand the importance of a comprehensive approach to gun control, i.e., mentally challenged, the mean and hateful and politicians who are paid to promote weapons that can cause mass destruction.

We should be ready for the revolution of VOTING THEM OUT OF OFFICE!

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bubbat 1 year, 2 months ago

Donna- "Countries and states with more gun control are less violent." You sure about that? The UK that has a ban on most all firearms has a much greater violent crime rate than the U.S. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1196941/The-violent-country-Europe-Britain-worse-South-Africa-U-S.html UK- 2034 per 100,000 people the U.S. 466 per 100,000 even Canada which has stricter gun laws than the U.S. has a higher violent crime rate 935 per 100,000

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tstauffer 1 year, 2 months ago

Bubba: Check out this debunk of more recent reporting based on the 2009 Daily Mail story you're linking...

http://blog.skepticallibertarian.com/2013/01/12/fact-checking-ben-swann-is-the-uk-really-5-times-more-violent-than-the-us/

What Swann either doesn’t know, or simply doesn’t bother to tell his viewers, is that the definitions for “violent crime” are very different in the US and Britain, and the methodologies of the two statistics he cites are also different. (He probably simply doesn’t realize this: it appears that he lifted his data wholesale from a story in the Daily Mail, without checking it–something you might expect a fact checker to have done.)

and...

But he neglects to mention that Britain doesn’t just have fewer gun-related homicides–it has a dramatically lower murder rate all around. In 2010, the US had an average murder rate of 4.8 murders per 100,000 people–4 times higher than the UK’s rate of 1.2 per 100,000, and, coincidentally, the exact opposite of the impression that Swann gives viewers.

Ironically countries like Britain and Canada seem to have much broader definitions of "violent" crime in the U.S., making your comparisons difficult. Murder rates might be the best comparison, and they're not favorable to your argument.

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tstauffer 1 year, 2 months ago

More on Canada:

Historically, the violent crime rate in Canada is lower than that of the U.S. and this continues to be the case. For example, in 2000 the United States' rate for robberies was 65 percent higher, its rate for aggravated assault was more than double and its murder rate was triple that of Canada. However, the rate of some property crime types is lower in the U.S. than in Canada. For example, in 2006, the rates of vehicle theft were 22% higher in Canada than in the US.[16]

and...

Approximately 70 percent of the total murders in the U.S. are committed with firearms, versus about 30 percent in Canada.[20]

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bubbat 1 year, 2 months ago

Todd- Donna wasn't talking about murder rates she was talking about violence. A little bit further in you debunk article,even he estimates Britain's violent crime rate is substantially higher than the U.S.

"Due to fundamental differences in how crime is recorded and categorized, it’s impossible to compute exactly what the British violent crime rate would be if it were calculated the way the FBI does it, but if we must compare the two, my best estimate‡ would be something like 776 violent crimes per 100,000 people. While this is still substantially higher than the rate in the United States"

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donnaladd 1 year, 2 months ago

Bubba,

With due respect, I rather guess Todd knows better what I'm talking about than you do.

It's funny how hard you have to look to find a dubious retort to that statement regardless of how one reads it. Beyond that, I'll allow you and Todd to duke out that article.

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tstauffer 1 year, 2 months ago

@Bubba Let's follow the steps. Now you've walked away from your original link, which was debunked by the next one, and now you're embracing some carefully selected quotes in the debunk as evidence, even those the debunk basically tells you not to.

For instance, you seem to have left out of italics the line "it's impossible to compute exactly what the British violence crime rate would be if it were calculated the way the FBI does..." (emphasis mine) and then you cut off your italicized quote mid-sentence, because that section goes on to show how the murder rate is considerably higher in the U.S. which it seems to me is something we might worry about, along with whether or not easy access to guns plays a role in that.

So why is this gun lobby trope so problematic? From the British Crime Survey docs:

In the U.K., violent crime "contains a wide range of offences, from minor assaults such as pushing and shoving that result in no physical harm through to serious incidents of wounding and murder. Around half of violent incidents identified by both BCS and police statistics involve no injury to the victim."

That's as opposed to the U.S, where, according to the FBI: "In the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, violent crime is composed of four offenses: murder and non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Violent crimes are defined in the UCR Program as those offenses which involve force or threat of force."

I'm not sure there's a "there" there, unless its the suggestion that, in the U.S. things have to be darned violent before we charge you with a violent crime. That would at least suggest that, culturally, we're a more violent nation by comparison, if only because we literally consider fewer violent crimes "violent" than others do.

(Incidentally, there's also a whole issue with reporting and under-reporting between the U.S. and U.K. that suggests the Brits are much more likely to report crimes that Americans. And that doesn't say anything for a comparsion that would take into account socio-economics, population density, etc.)

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