Thursday, November 5, 2015

Giving It Our Best Shot Too

While there are a few exceptions, gun sales have done nothing but rise in recent years. Every time there is a mass shooting or a “liberal” gets elected to major office, fear of potential ensuing gun control generally is a huge shot in the arm for gun sellers. The above graphic from The Washington Post (March 11th) shows the impact on gun/ammo sales from the election of a Democratic President in 2008 and the reaction to all the mass shootings from Sandy Hook to Aurora. It’s been a $9 billion boost to the gun industry, and American gun-ownership is at its all-time peak in private hands, with almost one gun for every man, woman and child in the United States.
Perhaps it’s also no surprise that after a few years of decline, murder rates across the United States are on the rise again. “Cities across the nation are seeing a startling rise in murders after years of declines, and few places have witnessed a shift as precipitous as this [Milwaukee, Wisconsin]. With the summer not yet over, 104 people have been killed this year — after 86 homicides in all of 2014.
“More than 30 other cities have also reported increases in violence from a year ago. In New Orleans, 120 people had been killed by late August, compared with 98 during the same period a year earlier. In Baltimore, homicides had hit 215, up from 138 at the same point in 2014. In Washington, the toll was 105, compared with 73 people a year ago. And in St. Louis, 136 people had been killed this year, a 60 percent rise from the 85 murders the city had by the same time last year.” New York Times, August 31st.
With the proliferation of guns and the growing frustration within minority communities with the criminal justice system, it seems only natural that disputes get settled on the streets. What an absolutely horrible conclusion! But what are the reasons? The “experts” aren’t sure themselves. “Law enforcement experts say disparate factors are at play in different cities, though no one is claiming to know for sure why murder rates are climbing. Some officials say intense national scrutiny of the use of force by the police has made officers less aggressive and emboldened criminals, though many experts dispute that theory.
“Rivalries among organized street gangs, often over drug turf, and the availability of guns are cited as major factors in some cities, including Chicago. But more commonly, many top police officials say they are seeing a growing willingness among disenchanted young men in poor neighborhoods to use violence to settle ordinary disputes.
“‘Maintaining one’s status and credibility and honor, if you will, within that peer community is literally a matter of life and death,’ Milwaukee’s police chief, Edward A. Flynn, said. ‘And that’s coupled with a very harsh reality, which is the mental calculation of those who live in that strata that it is more dangerous to get caught without their gun than to get caught with their gun.’” NY Times.
If you don’t trust the cops, if guns are almost as easy to obtain as a gallon of milk, why don’t we note the obvious? Sure, you would see more knifings if there were no guns about, but using gun allows killing with a bit more distance from the victim (less blood on your person), offers less risk of retaliation, but the when bullets fly, it is vastly more likely to inflict collateral damage (as the litany of dead innocent bystanders will attest). More victims, less risk, less intimacy with the dead victim. Having a gun on your person or in a drawer at home allows less time between anger and death. Guns are fatal more frequently than any civilian-available weapons other than indiscriminate pipe bombs. It’s time to deal with the obvious.
I’m Peter Dekom, and the best way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good society with reasonable gun control laws and ultra-severe punishment for anyone using a gun for anything but the most clearly-defined threat of death or grave bodily injury.

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