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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Half Cocked

by krshorewood

The notion that somehow if more guns would be available rampages such as the one last week at Virginia Tech would have been cut short Rambo style by a "law-abidin'" citizen packing heat. That's one of the pleasing myths peddled by gun nuts and the Republicans that love them.

First off, I am glad that this debate has still got some steam despite the ease with which we move on from events. It was a little irritating to hear people, mostly gun supporters, to puleeze, puleeze not politicize this incident out of respect for the dead. No, this was out respect for what many of them amounts to either their pleasure or paranoia, and they were hoping a week out people would lose their intensity on the incident.

An example of some of the thoughts still being generated this week is today's Bob Herbert column in the New York Times.

The notion of more guns means less violent is just bat crap crazy. Increasing something that is harmful in the first place only really works for things such as preventing small pox, not so smart when it comes to human behavior.

What propels the gun lust crowd is that mental picture of the "bad guy" they like to invoke. Just that term alone seems to lock someone into the skull of a six year old boy. But as one Virginia Tech student put it so well on a blog, it's not the person in the back alley you have to fear but the student sitting next to you in class who snaps.

The gun lovers like to point to those rare occurances when a gun is actually used for self defense. But at what cost?

In Herbert's column he cites a conversation with Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s Defense Fund. She says:
that since the murders of Robert Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, well over a million Americans have been killed by firearms in the United States. That’s more than the combined U.S. combat deaths in all the wars in all of American history.

That's certainly many times more than the number of people who have defended themselves with firearms.

Herbert concludes his column talking about who really pays the price for our outlandish gun owndership:
Those who are interested in the safety and well-being of children should keep in mind that only motor vehicle accidents and cancer kill more children in the U.S. than firearms. A study released a few years ago by the Harvard School of Public Health compared firearm mortality rates among youngsters 5 to 14 years old in the five states with the highest rates of gun ownership with those in the five states with the lowest rates.

The results were chilling. Children in the states with the highest rates of gun ownership were 16 times as likely to die from an accidental gunshot wound, nearly seven times as likely to commit suicide with a gun, and more than three times as likely to be murdered with a firearm.

Only a lunatic could seriously believe that more guns in more homes is good for America’s children.

If someone believes they are playing the big hero in defending their family by having a gun in their house the figures don't bear them out. Worse, the one-issue minds of many gun owners compel them to support the Republican Party -- like the NRA tells them to do -- and vote against not only their own interest but the future of their family.

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