As a result of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, these last days I’ve been busy reading opinions and editorials about the 2nd Amendment and gun control. When it’s time to analyze tragic events like this one, emotions run high, and people will always find a scape goat to blame.That’s why, in an atmosphere like this, to make a case in favor or against gun control is a very difficult thing to do. Politicians, activists, celebrities, journalists, and TV hosts, all of them, seemed to have thrown logic and reason out the window. And this is not the right time to get lost in a sea of emotions and pursue political agendas.
Let’s take a look at CNN host, Piers Morgan, whose only argument for gun control is to call Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, “unbelievably stupid.” Or Soledad O’Brien, who almost went ballistic interviewing John Lot, author of the book “More Guns, Less Crime.” If these TV hosts think that these emotional outbursts are going to make their arguments more believable, they’re awfully wrong. Yes, this might get them some ratings, but I doubt the general public would ever take their arguments seriously. Specially, when most people nowadays don’t rely on TV to get informed anymore.
I’ve chosen six articles. Some are very objective, others poignant and though provoking.
The first one is How to Spot a Hypocrite in the Gun Debate and Other Reflections on Newtown by Michael Krieger.
One of the key lessons from all of human history is that the easy way to deal with any tragedy is to scapegoat. In some cases, like in Nazi Germany, the scapegoat proved to be unpopular minorities, especially Jews. These days, many Americans have fallen into the trap of scapegoating Muslims and the Islamic religion for all the bad things that happen on the planet. The key similarity I see in these sorts of situations is that the population affected by some trauma (hyperinflation and economic collapse in Germany and 9/11 in the United States) tends to resort to the knee-jerk reaction of scapegoating an easy target rather than diving into the complexities of the issue and engaging in societal self-reflection. This is extraordinarily dangerous.
From what I can tell, some of the most ridiculous polices are the direct result of a trauma, people getting emotional, and then begging for a response. In my own lifetime, 9/11 is the perfect example. Our national response to a gruesome attack that killed thousands of innocent civilians was to tear up the Constitution, specifically the cherished Bill of Rights, with insane Big Brother type legislation like the “Patriot” Act. We basically launched the war on terror by waving a white flag. Truly defeating terrorists wouldn’t have consisted of running to the mall and shopping, as George W. Bush insisted, or giving up the freedoms that made America the most attractive country to move to for the last two hundred years.
The way to judge victory or defeat in the ”war on terror” eleven years later is not to check the statistics on terrorist attacks. They way to judge victory or defeat is to look at the nation economically, socially and politically and ask yourself are we better off or worse off? I think the verdict is clear on that front, and I do in large part blame our childish and emotionally reaction to the national tragedy of 9/11.
The second one is from Bloomberg Business Week: A Post-Newtown Guide to the Gun Control Policy Debate by Paul Barrett (I personally suggest to read all these articles in their entirety. Paul Barrett’s is a very good one).
Like abortion, guns evoke irreconcilable political and cultural cleavages. We live in a big country. Our conflicting values cannot all be neatly squared.
A couple of weeks before Newtown, our premier sports broadcaster used his Sunday Night Football halftime soapbox to issue a heartfelt appeal for reducing the prevalence of handguns. Responding to the Kansas City Chiefs’ Jovan Belcher murder-suicide, Bob Costas said, said: “Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.” Similar pained cries have echoed in the wake of the Connecticut disaster —for example, this column by the New Yorker‘s Adam Gopnik, entitled, “Newtown and the Madness of Guns.”
The emotionalism is understandable. Yet railing against guns in general gets us nowhere. What are Costas and Gopnik suggesting? Confiscating some, most, or all of the 300 million firearms already in private hands? The Second Amendment, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, says that’s not happening. Our democratically grounded political system says that’s not happening.
The United States, for better or worse, is a gun culture. Nearly half of American households have one or more guns, according to Gallup. Publicly mourning the degree to which firearms are woven into the fabric of our society only plays into the hands of those who contend that any discussion about regulating guns is a pretext for prohibition. The hard truth for gun foes is that the firearms are out there, and they’re not going away.
[...] People who own guns need to keep them away from children and psychologically troubled members of their households. With the right to own firearms comes great responsibility. We don’t yet know all the details about the Newtown killer and his deceased mother. Yet it’s hard to imagine what she was thinking: a disturbed, antisocial, 20-year-old son and a half-dozen guns?
The most important gun control can’t be legislated. It’s common sense.
At this point, let’s state some facts: Adam Lanza was a mentally disturbed individual, who might have suffered from Asperger’s syndrome. He was taking psychiatric drugs, and psychologically speaking, the boy was a ticking time bomb. Connecticut has very strict gun laws, and despite of that, Lanza was able to steal the guns, which were legally purchased by his mom. Plus, the attack happened in a gun free zone, where carrying guns are not allowed.
The third opinion is from what I think is one the best financial blogs of the Internet, Zero Hedge:
And while much needed insight into the shooter’s abnormal mental state is critical before passing judgment, the reality is that Lanza – who may well have been mentally disturbed – should certainly not have had access to the arsenal of weapons he ultimately used in perpetrating yesterday’s tragedy.
The much debated question, of course, that is already emerging is whose responsibility is it to limit such access: that of the individual, that of the closest family members, or that of the state, and if it is the latter, then the question becomes one of practical enforceability in a country where the second amendment is deeply engrained in the popular psychology, and where there are nearly as many guns as people.
The fourth one comes from the Jerusalem Post: Israeli gun control regulations ‘opposite of US’ by Ben Hartman
According to Yaakov Amit, the head of the Public Security Ministry’s Firearms Licensing Department, the difference between the gun laws in the US and Israel are as clear as night and day.
“There is an essential difference between the two. In America the right to bear arms is written in the law, here it’s the opposite… only those who have a license can bear arms and not everyone can get a license.”
Amit said gun licenses are only given out to those who have a reason because they work in security or law enforcement, or those who live in settlements “where the state has an interest in them being armed.”
He added that former IDF officers above a certain rank can get a license.
Anyone who fits the requirements, is over age 21 and an Israeli resident for more than three years, must go through a mental and physical health exam, Amit said, then pass shooting exams and courses at a licensed gun range, as well as background checks by the Public Security Ministry.
Once they order their firearm from a gun store, they are allowed to take it home with a one-time supply of 50 bullets, which Amit said they cannot renew.
The gun owner must retake his license exam and testing at the gun range every three years. As of January, Amit said, a new law will go into effect requiring gun owners to prove that they have a safe at home to keep their weapon in.
Aside from Israel’s strict gun laws, reasons for the lack of mass shootings can be attributed to the country’s closely knit family structure, small size and intimacy and informality between strangers or the universal health care which makes mental health services available for all.
When asked why Israel doesn’t have such killings, Amit said “you can’t prevent this entirely. You can’t ensure that someone won’t someday go crazy and do something like this, but we do our best to prevent it from happening.”
There is no “Full-auto Friday” or “Ladies Night” special deals at the Lahav gun store and shooting range in Tel Aviv, a shop that bears little resemblance to its counterparts in the United States
The fifth one is from Time: The Swiss Difference: A Gun Culture That Works by Helena Bachmann
Switzerland trails behind only the U.S, Yemen and Serbia in the number of guns per capita; between 2.3 million and 4.5 million military and private firearms are estimated to be in circulation in a country of only 8 million people. Yet, despite the prevalence of guns, the violent-crime rate is low: government figures show about 0.5 gun homicides per 100,000 inhabitants in 2010. By comparison, the U.S rate in the same year was about 5 firearm killings per 100,000 people, according to a 2011 U.N. report.
Unlike some other heavily armed nations, Switzerland’s gun ownership is deeply rooted in a sense of patriotic duty and national identity. Weapons are kept at home because of the long-held belief that enemies could invade tiny Switzerland quickly, so every soldier had to be able to fight his way to his regiment’s assembly point. (Switzerland was at risk of being invaded by Germany during World War II but was spared, historians say, because every Swiss man was armed and trained to shoot.)
[...] One of the reasons the crime rate in Switzerland is low despite the prevalence of weapons — and also why the Swiss mentality can’t be transposed to the current American reality — is the culture of responsibility and safety that is anchored in society and passed from generation to generation. Kids as young as 12 belong to gun groups in their local communities, where they learn sharpshooting.
The Swiss Shooting Sports Association runs about 3,000 clubs and has 150,000 members, including a youth section. Many members keep their guns and ammunition at home, while others choose to leave them at the club. And yet, despite such easy access to pistols and rifles, “no members have ever used their guns for criminal purposes,” says Max Flueckiger, the association’s spokesperson.
“Social conditions are fundamental in deterring crime,” says Peter Squires, professor of criminology and public policy at the University of Brighton in Great Britain, who has studied gun violence in different countries and concluded that a “culture of support” rather than focus on individualism, can deter mass killings.
“If people have a responsible, disciplined and organized introduction into an activity like shooting, there will be less risk of gun violence,” he tells TIME.
That sense of social and civic responsibility is one of the reasons the Swiss have never allowed their guns to come under fire.
The last one is a blog titled Hey You by Jim Quinn
The world makes less sense every day. Little children are randomly slaughtered in their schoolrooms. Predator drones roam the skies over foreign countries exterminating bad guys, along with innocent women and children (collateral damage when it occurs in a foreign country). Drugged up mentally ill kids with no hope and no future live lives of secluded quiet desperation until they snap. Ignorant, government educated, welfare dependent drones with no self respect or respect for others, assault, kill and rob within their government created urban jungles. Sociopathic criminals who committed the largest financial crime in world history walk free and continue to occupy executive suites in luxury office towers in downtown NYC, collecting millions in bonuses as compensation for crushing the American middle class.
Academics, whose theories have been thoroughly disproven, continue to steer our economy into an iceberg while accelerating the money printing and debt issuance that will sink our ship of state. Corrupt, bought off politicians pander to the lowest common denominator as their votes are only dependent upon who contributed the most to their election campaigns, which never end.
Delusional, materialistic, egocentric, math challenged consumers (formerly known as citizens) live for today, enslave themselves in debt, vote themselves more entitlements, and care not for future generations. The alienation and isolation created by our sprawling, automobile dependent, technology obsessed, government controlled, debt financed society has spread like a cancerous tumor, slowly killing our country.
[...] The things we value in this culture – accumulating wealth, outward beauty, acquisition of material possessions, instant gratification, access to debt, government control, and curing our ills with drugs – are driving us insane. Who is really abnormal in a profoundly abnormal society? Believing that possessions, more laws or another medication will truly make us happy is insane. Popping a pill, buying a new iPhone, or passing another law will not cure the disease that permeates this nation. We need to recapture the humanity, civic pride and self-responsibility that built this country. Only an awakened populace can change our course.
There are no good or bad guys in this story. The whole society is at fault in here. From businessmen, who make millions of dollars by selling guns, movies and video games that glorify violence; shooters, who think that’s really cool to see an Ak-47 catching fire; to the political class of this country, who many times have been caught with their pants down, such as during the Iran Contra affair, and the Fast and Furious operation. This society has lost its moral compass, and these mass massacres are just a reflection of what’s rotting inside of it.
Please also consider Gun Control-Just Facts with statistics regarding gun ownership in the U.S.
Finally, I’m going to share two interesting videos.
The first one is “Debunking the myths of gun rights in America” from Adam Winkler, a professor of constitutional law at UCLA and author of the book “Gun Fight.” This is one of the most objective point of views regarding the 2nd Amendment I’ve found on the Internet. Watch Malcolm X, and Black Panther Party leader, Bobby Seale, defending the right to bear arms.
And the second one, it’s economist and author John Lott explaining the ideas behind his book “More Guns Less Crimes.”
The Intell Blog