3/23/2006

a call to action

Reading this on philobiblion today really made me think. Though we've refused to have any contact w/guns in our family (not even of the water-squirting variety), I think I need to be doing more to get the word out about gun control. Here's a beginning:

A child is killed by a gun every three hours in America. According to the latest statistics, nearly 1,000 children under 19 are shot dead every year. Another 800 use guns to commit suicide, and more than 160 die in firearm accidents.

Forty per cent of American households own guns, but those guns are 22 times more likely to be involved in an accidental shooting, or 11 times more likely to be used in a suicide, than in self-defence. On average, more than 80 Americans are killed by gunfire every day.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I completely agree. Guns are a bad idea all the way around.

amelia said...

i'm not really sure what you propose to do about this situation? i mean, i believe that there should be gun control. i'm not arguing for a totally laissez-faire gun market. but it's just a fact of life that guns will be a part of our society.

i grew up in a household with guns. i shot my first gun when i was probably only seven or eight. and i've shot everything from a wussy beebee gun to a very high powered handgun. i know lots of other people who have a similar background. yet i do not know a single person either directly or through an mutual acquaintance or friend whose life has been affected by either a shooting accident or a child being killed by a gun.

i think suicides due to gunshot are a bit of a red herring. if someone wants to kill themself, they'll find a way regardless of whether there's a gun available.

my question is: why is it that i grew up around guns and know all kinds of people who did, too, yet don't know anyone who has had a death as a result of accidental shooting? or even a serious injury? (i don't count the time my brother shot his own fingertip with a beebee gun). i really think that there are factors other than the presence of guns that create this problem. most likely to do with educational levels and poverty. and gun control will not solve those problems.

jana said...

Amy:
Do you know anyone who has had to use a gun in self-defense? Or for survival (i.e. hunting).

amelia said...

i know a lot of people who use guns for hunting and eat the meat. i have no problem with that. i have a problem with trophy hunting because i think it fosters attitudes i find harmful. but my brothers and most of my uncles are hunters and they use the meat they get through hunting to feed their families.

i do know people who used guns for survival. the one i know the best is my dad. he hunted regularly as a boy. and their family lived on what he shot. they were poor enough that it literally was a matter of survival.

i also know a lot of people for whom shooting is a hobby. and it is a hobby i understand. i've done quite a bit of target shooting and it is challenging and enjoyable. guns are interesting mechanisms. my brothers are avid shooters and they often target shoot for pleasure. i really don't see what the problem with that is.

it bothers me when people have a gut reaction to a gun as if it is inherently evil. it's not. it's a tool, like most other objects. and it can be used for either good or bad.

Anonymous said...

Guns are here to stay, unfortunately. Our society is already saturated with them. But going forward I think it's a good idea to put some logical curbs into play:

1. Require anyone who purchases guns or ammo to have a federally managed gun safety program issued safety licence, just like you would a driver's licence, as this is an inherintly dangerous item. Restrict those with criminal records or certain mental illnesses.

2. Assault rifles exist for one reason -- to kill people. You could argue they could be used for sport. I could argue that people can make sport of just about anything under the sun. Playing Rambo with an automatic weapon is little more than testosterone poisoning rum amok. They should be restricted to mil use only.

3. I find it difficult to believe that anyone in the 21st century in the US needs to hunt to feed their families. With the price of ground beef compared to the price of a hunting license (at least here in Utah) and the cost of rendering meat, it's a difficult argument to make with much credibility. Most men who hunt do so for the enjoyment. Finding enjoyment in taking life is a tradition that needs rethinking. Enjoying being outdoors is something else. Hunt your prey with a camera. Manage wildlife with professionals that thin the herd looking for the weak, aged and sick, not the big healthy "trophy" bucks that millions of years of natural selection intended to survive and refresh the gene pool. I've known some OLD timers that will tell you that the big bucks aren't what they used to be. We are messing with nature, and I mean MESSing.

4. Target shooting IS fun, I agree. Use paintballs and protective gear as your target, or shoot on a silhouette range. Blowing up cans and bottles in the back country only makes more messes.

One last thought; suicide with a gun is one thing. Picking up a gun because you are angry and want to threaten someone else is all too common, and way too easy. And yet my farrier (and friend) Jim took his life with a gun two years ago one despondent night (blew his brains out). His 8 y.o. son was the first to find him. That's just especially wrong.

Anonymous said...

PS, my mom's older brother was killed by his own rifle when she was a young girl. He had it out in the field with him, had it leaning against the tractor. It slipped and discharged into his shoulder, and he died a few days later.

My friend Larry was a near-victim of road rage in San Diego some years ago; he was driving home one night in rush-hour traffic, all 4 lanes bumper to bumper, he happened to be in the fast lane. Some yahoo behind him in a jacked up 4x started flashing lights at him to move over. Yeah right. Larry ignored him, and the guy worked himself into a frenzy. When Larry finally moved over, the guy pulled up along side him, rolled down the window, and leveled a gun at his head, screaming obscenities (I swear I'm not making this up). Larry hit the brakes and swung in behind the guy, and called 911 on his cell phone. The guy thankfully spent a year in jail for that stunt, but it could have turned out very bad for Larry.

jana said...

Amy:
I do see guns as inherently evil because they are manufactured with the intended capability of killing life (whether it be human or animal life), and not to be interesting mechanical playthings. In my mind that's evil--it adds to the balance of violence in our world on all levels. Whether it's the killing of a chicken, a pig, or a human, in my opinion it's all inherently immoral.

I know that there are situations where the use of weapons is justified for the greater good (e.g. killing an animal for food). But I feel morally compelled to oppose and prevent this whenever I can.

Anonymous said...

so many children... !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

John said...

Yes, E.--sad, isn't it? :(

Hunting today is ultimately about recreation. Very few people who hunt do it to support their families (Jana's taxidermist and big game hunting uncle is one exception). Every one I know who hunts could buy five times the meat by the time they pay for equipment, licenses, transportation. Hunting is entertainment (and a sick one from my perspective).

I agree with Amy that there are probably additional factors to consider in the deaths of those 1000 children each year, but the prevelance of guns is probably one of the biggest.

amelia said...

i suppose where we disagree is in the idea that taking life is inherently immoral. i disagree. i do not think taking an animal life is inherently immoral. i think it can be if the life is merely wasted or taken in vain. which is why i said i have a problem with trophy hunting. but i eat meat and i don't think i'm doing something wrong by eating meat. if i were to glut myself on it, that might be a different story.

almost any pastime could be seen as bad in some way. i don't think hunting is any different. taken to an extreme, i'm sure it is damaging. but when my brothers go out once a year and get a deer that they then eat, i don't think they're experiencing anything akin to testosterone poisoning.

i could be convinced by an environmental argument, but it's not something i have studied adequately.

however, this all seems a bit beside the point. we're not going to get rid of guns in our society. we just aren't. so the question is how do we enact effective controls. rich's suggestions make sense. but even they will not be enough. because the fact will remain that lack of education and poverty will be involved in unnecessary deaths. even in many accidental deaths, i think lack of proper training and precaution is the problem.

and that's not to mention the substantial black market in guns. my brother was offered an oozy in the hallway of our suburban california high school. and was told that they guy could get anything else. when high school students can traffic in machine guns no amount of gun control is going to fully solve the problem.

Gray said...

I would enjoy living in a world where home-made yarn generated more excitement than guns.

jana said...

I'm with Gray on this one...I don't think that guns can be forcibly elminated from our world. Rather I would like to see a ground-swell shift in culture--a disdain for weapons, a recognition of the endless cycles of violence that they produce. And, eventually a safer place for children and bunnies and knitters and people who want to walk in Los Angeles in the dark. A world where people like to grow things instead of destroying them.

A noble dream? An impossible goal? Perhaps. But it's worth trying for, IMO.