Thursday, January 20, 2011

In The Time I Took To Write This Entry, Twenty Americans Have Been Shot


Commentary

It's 6:37PM Thursday evening and so far today, according to The Brady Campaign, 207 Americans have been shot, including two police officers in Miami, one of whom has died died according to MSNBC. And as of this date, January 20th, 2011, the fiftieth anniversary of John F. Kennedy's inauguration and his "ask not what your country can do for you" speech, 5,301 Americans have been shot either accidentally or or with intent to do harm.

Over 9,000 Americans were murdered with guns last year. Two hundred were shot to death in Canada, 194 in Germany, 35 in Australia, 39 in England and Wales, and 17 in Finland. The United States has about 283 million guns in civilian hands, and 4.5 million guns are sold each year.

I could go on and on, and keep adding facts and figures to try and try to score points, but I'd only find myself preaching to the choir. But I will not lash out against guns and gun ownership; it is a Second Amendment right, as upheld by are courts, and if a law abiding citizen wishes to buy a firearm, they have the right to do so.

However, there are two points I'd like to mention, The first of which I think no member of the gun lobby or Second Amendment can give a logical and coherent argument against; the second point speaks to us as a people.

More gun ownership in America does not make us safer. Period. End of story And as we say in parts of New Jersey, you have to be a little stunod to think otherwise. In a nation of more than 300 million, with an estimated 283 million guns in civilian hands, and hundreds- that's right, plural- of people shot by firearms everyday, how are we safer? Canada has one tenth the United States population, around 30 million people, yet had 200 shooting deaths last year as opposed to over 9,000 shooting deaths in the United States. About 90% of all female homicides in the United States are killed by someone they know, and gun owners are 7.8 times more likely to have threatened their partners with a gun.

In the United States children 5 to 14 are killed at a rate 11 times higher than the combined rates of 22 other populous high income nations. Twenty-two percent of US teenagers have witnessed a shooting, and three years ago an average of eight people aged one year or less to age 19 were killed by firearms everyday.

As for those who protect and serve, the nation's law enforcement officers, from 2000-2009 490 state and local officers have been killed and 20,459 have been assaulted with guns. And in the five year period from 2005-2009 501 federal officers have been killed or assaulted with firearms.

So I ask....how is America safer with more guns?

The answer is...we aren't. And to believe otherwise is either delusional, naive, or for lack of a better word, pretty stupid.

But the saddest statement about the situation that we allow to go on is.....that we allow it to go on.

And that's the second point I'll toss at you.

Our politicians are either funded by or are fearful of gun rights organizations who hold a great deal of clout. The gun guys always seem to work their magic around election day, with  phone banks and ads about candidates they see as a unacceptable, usually calling the opponent a threat to the Second Amendment. And so after a bloodbath like Virginia Tech, or Columbine, or Tucson there is an initial outcry from the media and certain lawmakers about gun violence in America....and a few weeks later, it's on to the next story- what should be a national shame is reluctantly accepted, and we move on....until the next big shooting.

But everyday, there are all the little incidents that don't make the 6:00 news, or the morning edition, or your internet homepage. Imagine writing up a story for each of the 9,000 lives that get snuffed out each year from being on the wrong end of a gun.

Let's say someone at a news organization started to read the story of each shooting death in the United States for last year, that's 9,484 men, women, and children. And let's say each story lasted for one minute, and there were no commercial interruptions. We'd start reading at 12:01am on a Sunday morning......that would round off to 159 straight hours of reading about American shooting deaths.

The roll call of all of those killed in one year would finally end about 1:00PM the following Saturday.

I keep asking myself in chicken or the egg fashion, are the atrocious amount of gun deaths the disease, or is it a symptom of something more insidious going on in America? And how do we cure it?

This shouldn't be about Democrats or Republicans, this is an American issue. And I'm sure some may want bring up the Founding Fathers, and what they meant in 1789 with the ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and the ambiguity of the wording of the Second Amendment. Most is subject to interpretation and debate among the readers.

But I'm certain of one thing; if we could somehow transport Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton and Franklin to the 21st century to give them a look at how we're doing, I'm sure they would be pleased with much of what they would see- a world of wonder they would barely comprehend two centuries ago.

And then they would see the death toll modern America experiences everyday as the result of firearms. I'm positive that the founders of our republic would be sickened by that sad terrible fact.


In closing....it's 7:53 PM. And 227 Americans have been shot today.

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