Tuesday, 17 April 2007

The right to bare arms, but not the right to murder

CNN does some decent reporting for a change (I know, it's a long quote)...

The U.S. is the world's largest maker, buyer and seller of guns but the country's constitutional right to bear arms comes at a high price -- one that gun control advocates say the whole world is paying.

Monday's shooting at the Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Virginia, that ended in the deaths of 33 people was symptomatic of a global gun crime epidemic, campaigners said.

"The U.S. stands out as the developed country with by far the highest levels of gun deaths and gun homicides," Alun Howard, a spokesman for the International Action Network on Small Arms, told CNN.

The White House defended the right to bear arms at a press briefing Monday.

"As far as policy, the president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed," said Dana Perino, a spokesperson for President George W. Bush.
According to an IANSA report published in 2006, gun-related incidents result in 300,000 fatalities and one million injuries worldwide every year. Many of those guns come from the U.S.
...While most developed nations react to incidents of gun crime with legislation to insure stronger control measures on the sale and flow of firearms, the gun culture in the U.S. has resisted change.

Weapons manufacturers and pro-gun government officials have consistently rejected efforts by domestic as well as international bodies to regulate and control the flow of arms in and out of the country.

A report released by Amnesty USA noted that the governments of the U.S., China and Russia saw new regulations as "limiting their commercial and foreign policy options," while arms manufacturers feared "a threat to their bottom line."

According to the report, small arms manufacturing in the U.S. is a $2 billion-a-year industry. Companies profiting from that business, as well as powerful lobby groups like the NRA have consistently blocked efforts to clamp down on easy access to firearms.

International reaction

World leaders Monday responded to the Virginia massacre with messages of condolence as well as calls for change.

"Like everyone, I am deeply shocked by the terrible loss of innocent lives at Virginia University," said British Prime Minister Tony Blair, expressing condolences to the families of the victims.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard was more candid in his remarks, offering his sympathies, but condemning U.S. gun culture as a negative force in society.

Howard, who staked his political leadership on pushing through tough laws on gun ownership in Australia after a lone gunman in his country killed 35 people, said the Virginia shootings were a tragedy of a kind he hoped would never be seen again in Australia.

"We had a terrible incident at Port Arthur, but it is the case that 11 years ago we took action to limit the availability of guns and we showed a national resolve that the gun culture that is such a negative in the United States would never become a negative in our country," he said.

Among the victims in Virginia was a professor from India. His death brought a strong response from K. Subrahmanyam, a former member of India's National Security Council.

"It's not a question of an Indian professor getting killed in the firing. This is related to the American gun laws," he said.

"We can't do anything about it. It is something which has happened in the United States. They have got to change the law."
Interesting that Howard, ever so chummy with America, spoke out strongly against its domestic laws. Handguns are banned in the United Kingdom. And in many other developed countries there are great restrictions, including the need for people seeking a firearm to provide a valid reason (e.g. Italy), or if it is for hunting purposes (e.g. Sweden).

President George Bush visited today the site of the massacre at Virginia Tech university in Blacksburg, Virginia. "It's impossible to make sense of such violence and suffering", he said. It is actually possible to make sense of the violence: a disturbed student, possibly a bullying society, but not like the totally isolationist one of Columbine, where the most vivid student massacre in US history took place almost eight years to the date of the killings yesterday. Bush is amazingly thick if he cannot recon with rampant depression in Americans, which has next to nothing to do with lack of religion, and the easiness of acquiring a firearm.

I know, there is usually no reason to be so hostile to a man (George Bush) who already looks so bad. But really, this is a man who has fought against any measure of firearm regulation; a man who received large amounts of money from disgusting organizations like the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Gun Owners of America, organizations who, I might point out, care not about the rights of Americans, but about the profits of gun makers, plus a possible touch of sadism. The American gun culture and the politics associated with it are influential in Washington: lobbying groups like the NRA often get their way.

Okay, so the constitution allows the right for individuals and/or state-run militias — depending on one’s interpretation — to keep and bare arms. Great: if a government conspiracy strikes against you I’m sure your Magnum will do a fine job defending you against a couple dozen AKs and a handful of tanks. If a mugger strikes you on the street, yeah I’m sure whipping out and unlocking your small handgun would be a faster defense than a squirt of legal, and non-lethal, pepper spray. For all those who don’t undersand the concept of sarcasm, that was it.

Self defense is fine, but would it not be easier to just paralyze or harm in a minor way the perpitrator? There are plenty of options: from mace to the Taser to a less dangerous firearm.

Americans generally think of Mexico as a violent place, at least relatively to their society. Here's an interesting fact: "80% of guns in Mexico originate from the US".

The easiness involved in getting a gun makes it the weapon of choice for disturbed Americans, especially teens going through their more turbulent times, to commit suicide or harm others.

The majority of firearm deaths in the US are from suicide, a number around 70%, the same percentage representing homicide as a cause of gun deaths in other developed countries. Nearly half of all households in America have one of more firearms. One in three American households has a handgun (i.e. one could also consider it a gun not used for hunting or sport, more likely for crime or 'self defense'). Around one in ten of the at least 200 million guns in the US are used for hunting purposes.

However, in some categories violent gun deaths have dropped in the United States, and more regulation of certain types of rifles, namely semi-automatics and automatics, along with more locking features and child protection, has played a role. In the United States, the lifetime odds of dying from suicide by firearm is, as of 2003, one in 222; of assault by firearm, one in 314. There are over or around 30,000 deaths by firearm each year in the US.

Back to the Virginia Tech shooting: there was administrative incompitance abound as it took two hours for students to finally be alerted of the first shooting event. By then, it was too late. There is an investigation into whether the primary shooter of a confirmed 30 people (killed) had an accomplice in the first shooting, which killed two.

For some legal analysis, see Jack Balkin's timely overview of the Second Amendment of the US Constitution and how it relates to things like the 'war on terror'. He concludes:
Although there are abundant rhetorical similarities, I don't think that the issues arising from the Virginia Tech shootings and 9/11 are at all the same. What I do think they have in common is a tendency for overreaction: a tendency for salience-- and a sense of emergency-- to displace good public policy. If there is anything we should have learned from 9/11, it is that a sense of emergency can justify all sorts of bad decisions that we will come to regret later on.

Although Michael Moore is usually just annoying, this humorous-yet-informative cartoon scene from his documentary Bowling for Columbine is interesting, and funny:

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Wil Robinson said...

Unfortunate that some people could believe such a slaughter would have been perpetrated in a society where guns were restricted.

Guns don't kill people, people do. I know. But it's harder to strangle someone with your hands or drive a knife through their throat than it is to stand back and pull a trigger.

I noticed that Harry Reid spoke out today "warning" Americans not to jump to conclusions and push for any weapons ban...nice to see the Democrats placating the gun-nuts, once again selling their souls so that they might be elected...

clearthought said...

I agree, Wil.

The whole issue with the Democrats ties in again to the woes of a two-party democracy. (Better than one party rule though.)

I think on the matter of gun control one man who often makes an ass of himself makes sense: Michael Moore. As annoying as he is, Bowling for Columbine was a good documentary that portrayed this gun culture. Especially interesting was the part linking slave freedom to white suburban fears to guns in America.

Anonymous said...

Bowling for propaganda? Obviously, anyone that takes such drivel as Moore's propagandist summary flick is sorely lacking any real knowledge of the history of guns and slavery. But, I guess even history is a feel good approach, eh? If it feels good to believe it, then it must be true? Hardly.

Fortunately for Moore and the Left, time will allow for enough PC of history to justify the lies.

Anyhow, something that people always forget is that arms is a right to the people for many reasons - and some are preventive in principle.
There are many historical events that remind us as to why the governed have been victims of tyrannical governments that revoked the consent of the governed. This is probably the biggest reason, but not the last.
It is a fool that believes that the government will always be on the side of the consent of the governed (The People). As it is, and many who hate Bush and believe in outlandish conspiracies should understand this; if Bush or any President and the political elite on both sides turned the armies upon the people, the people - unarmed by current proposals - would have no recourse.
I find it interesting that the conspiracy of revocation of rights can be held against the right, who often stands against erosion of the bill of rights, but that the same conspiracy crowd will support and elect those who are openly moving to remove those rights in exchange for class separations as always proposed in socialist perspectives.

Thomas Paine wrote regarding the inevitable result in moving towards open democracy of the governed. He writes, and history proves that Democracy leads to socialism, then from socialism to communism, then communism to a dictatorship.

This is what the founders knew and proposed for the security of the Consenting governed.
Here is a point to ponder, and it is valid on all levels. Many propose to elect people who openly propose to continue the path of eroding our rights of independence, and eventually altering or revoking the entire Constitution. When this happens, how will the governed - unarmed and voiceless - be able to take the government back if they are unable to defend themselves.

I believe the policy of the left speaks for itself. You are not entitled to be independent or protect yourself beyond what the government wishes. You are only to be endlessly reliant upon those who govern you ... so give up your guns so you can be prey to the wills of the elitists and the criminals.

But, it is a "feel good" time in the nation, so truth doesn't matter in a time of peace on our soil, does it.

It only takes an ignorant mass of people to create a nation to be conquered.

Me, I don't like guns, but refuse to be hostage to those who don't abide by the law, and who do not care about me, my family or my neighbors. And since we are inviting the enemy of our freedoms to come to our shores, then I refuse to go down without a fight while watching my family or neighbors become prey as rabbits to the wolves.

The wolves [terrorists, thieves, foreign armies] always come to those places that the rabbits of peace cannot guard themselves. Why not?

Owning a gun is a responsibility, a right and a necessity. If you don't think so, it's only because you are trusting others who have guns to come to your aid. And what if they aren't available or are outnumbered?

If you really believe that our society would be safe without guns, perhaps you would also propose that all military and police throw down their guns too, since thugs can strip guns from them as well. Only ignorance and idealism would support this.

Consider posting on your own door "no guns here", and tell me you are safe. - Good Luck with that.

Anonymous said...

An armed society is a polite society