Thursday, April 27, 2017

Stand Your Ground and Hold Your Lane!

We have accelerated the proliferation of guns, have a new pro-gun Supreme Court appointee, a rise in pro-gun Republican control of everything from Congress to most state legislatures and a pro-gun President. After 20 children and six adults were massacred at Sandy Hook in 2012, most major efforts to curb gun violence have failed – like the 2014 effort to require background checks that couldn’t even make to the Senate floor – but gun sales have spiked after every mass shooting.
We’ve seen an expansion of “open carry” laws, even allowing guns into universities and many government installations, as well as a growing right to carry a concealed weapon without an extensive permitting process. Stand your ground laws, extending the right not to try and retreat from serious danger even outside your home but allowing deadly force instead (remember Trayvon Martin?), are growing, and several states are considering legalizing silencers because the noise of a shot disturbs people at a gun range… even though not hearing gun shots might allow a shooter more time before being detected by police. The NRA is having the very best time, and despite the fact that a clear majority of Americans really approve of greater gun control, there are almost no Republican legislators willing to stand up the NRA.
While the government is not allowed to record and track gun homicides, private researchers are putting the pieces together and generating the missing statistics privately. We killing each other with guns more than ever, despite NRA claims to the contrary. “In 2010, 67% of all homicides in the U.S. were committed using a firearm. In 2012, there were 8,855 total firearm-related homicides in the US, with 6,371 of those attributed to handguns. In 2012, 64% of all gun-related deaths in the U.S. were suicides. In 2010, there were 19,392 firearm-related suicides, and 11,078 firearm-related homicides in the U.S. In 2010, 358 murders were reported involving a rifle while 6,009 were reported involving a handgun; another 1,939 were reported with an unspecified type of firearm.
“Firearms were used to kill 13,286 people in the U.S. in 2015, excluding suicide. Approximately 1.4 million people have been killed using firearms in the U.S. between 1968 and 2011.” Wikipedia. 115 days into 2017, Chicago experienced its 1,000th gun victim, 27 alone on New Year’s Day. 2016 produced 762 gun homicides in the Windy City, a huge 60% increase from the year before. Europeans, most of the world in fact, is aghast at our apparent love affair with guns… apparently a passion that exceeds our love for our own children.
The April 25th New York Times addressed a recent study in an area of American gun violence that might surprise you: “The analysis was published by The Trace, a nonprofit news organization focused on gun violence. It found that cases of road rage involving a firearm — where someone brandished a gun or fired one at a driver or passenger — more than doubled to 620 in 2016, from 247 in 2014.
“The Trace compiled its data from the Gun Violence Archive, which inventories and catalogs episodes of gun violence in the United States based on news and police reports and other sources.
“There were at least 1,319 road rage episodes involving firearms during the three-year period examined, with at least 354 people wounded and 136 killed, The Trace reported…
“The Trace analysis concluded that these figures were conservative because law enforcement agencies do not inventory cases of road rage as a specific category. The site said most instances of road rage involving a firearm occurred in disputes between strangers.
Professor David Hemenway, director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, said he was surprised by the reported increase, attributing that to more and better reporting of such episodes.
“Dr. Hemenway, who was an author of a 2002 paper that found Arizona drivers who had guns in their cars were more likely to act rudely and aggressively, said drivers develop a sense of territoriality.
Another research paper, ‘Is an Armed Society a Polite Society? Guns and Road Rage,’ which Dr. Hemenway co-wrote in 2006, noted that cars offer an environment where people feel safe displaying hostility… ‘A car gives the motorist power, protection, easy escape and anonymity,’ it said.
“The report analyzed data from more than 2,400 licensed drivers who were surveyed in 2004. It found that after controlling for variables, such as age, gender, geography and driving frequency, drivers with guns in their cars were more likely to make obscene gestures and aggressively follow another car.
“‘One would hope that those people with firearms in their vehicles would be among the most self-controlled and law-abiding members of society,’ the paper said. ‘Unfortunately that does not appear to be the case. In Arizona, and now at the national level, the evidence indicates that those with guns in the vehicle are more likely to engage in ‘road rage.’ ’ ”
Funny thing about judicial decisions embracing fewer restrictions on guns is how such courts focus on the blue words next in the Second Amendment and simply ignore the red. 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. You’d think those “strict constructionist” and “originalist” judges would actually apply the clear words of this constitutional amendment… but they seldom do… and almost never let those red words modify their extreme interpretation of that provision.
I’m Peter Dekom, and there isn’t a moral justification for the extreme ease with which guns are available in this country to people who obviously are unable to use them responsibly.

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