Barbarian at the Gates: It's the guns, stupid.

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    • #103995
      Ohio Barbarian
      • Total Posts: 21,911

      The two recent mass murders in El Paso and Dayton have highlighted the dangers posed by military grade assault weapons, designed for the sole purpose of killing as many human beings as possible in the least amount of time, in the hands of American civilians. The responses have been typical, from blaming anything other than the guns themselves to finding deep flaws in the American national character. Neither one is accurate.

      Let’s start with the character flaw thing. Very basically, it argues that America has always had this violent gun culture because the country was founded on genocide and slavery, and sort of implies we are now paying for the sins of our ancestors. The country was definitely founded on conquest–I think the genocide allegation is mostly false and this isn’t the place to argue that point–but slavery was definitely a pillar of the colonial economy and society. When the Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment, was passed there were three main arguments in its favor.

      First, newly independent Americans were wary of allowing any national government to take their weapons away from them because that could lead to some form of tyranny. Second, most wanted a guaranteed right to weapons to either repulse Indian attack or to attack the Indians themselves and seize more land. Third, Southern whites wanted to have the weapons necessary to suppress “servile insurrection,” or slave revolts. All of these arguments can be found in the political literature of the time.

      Well, a lot’s happened since 1791. There’s no more worry about Indian attacks and no Indian land left to conquer by force. Slavery’s gone. And gun control has a long history of ups and downs, with a lot of ups after the Civil War. For example, the first law passed by the newly incorporated town of Dodge City, Kansas, was a law banning guns within the city limits in 1878. This was common across the West. In the 1930s, fairly strict gun control legislation, including banning machine guns and sawed-off shotguns and licensing requirements for the rest was passed by the Roosevelt Administration. In 1968, the strictest federal legislation yet was pushed through by LBJ, banning the sale and distribution of guns “without a sporting purpose.”

      The gun nuttery we take for granted now is in fact relatively recent. First openly pushed by Reagan in his failed bid for the Republican nomination in 1976, much of LBJ’s law was repealed in 1986, and things just got progressively worse under every Republican administration up till now. The National Rifle Association, originally a sportsmen’s club founded after the Civil War, was taken over by the gun manufacturers themselves and screamed lies at gun owners about the big bad gubmint coming to take their guns and their freedoms. Vast gobs of money were raised to either buy or terrify legislators into submission, and it most definitely worked.

      My point is that there is no consistent American history of elevating guns to an iconic status. Things have gone back and forth. As for other flaws in the American character being the cause, well, the British and French had empires that did some pretty terrible things, too, including spreading human slavery, but they never had an epidemic of mass shootings at home. Why? Strict gun laws, that’s why.

      Which brings me to my second point. Now, the defenders of unlimited gun rights are blaming the spate of mass shootings since Columbine on everything from no prayer in public schools(so absurd I won’t even address that one), to mental illness and video games. The mental illness contention is particularly ironic, since the same people who are pushing that meme are the ones who want to cut what little funding for mental health programs there is. In fact, if mental illness were the cause of these mass shootings, it would make a great argument for Medicare for All!

      Of course, we’ll never see Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren making that case because neither one of them are dishonest enough to put the blame on the mentally ill. Only Republicans and some Vichy Democrats who accept NRA bribes will go there.

      If mental illness or video games really caused gun violence, then there would be all sorts of countries facing the same crisis America is. Canada has lots of guns, and video games, and some mentally ill people. I can’t even remember the last mass shooting in Canada. The same argument goes for Switzerland, where all adult citizens are required to have firearms in case the country is invaded. When was the last time you heard of a massacre in the Swiss Alps?

      So what is the cause of all these American massacres? Easy access to military grade assault rifles designed to kill the most people soonest. That’s it. That’s all. This was dramatically proven in Dayton last weekend when police killed the shooter within 30 seconds of him opening fire. Nine people died during that 30 seconds. By contrast, yesterday a man in Santa Ana, California went on a rampage with a knife. He killed four people in two hours. Big difference.

      We may never be able to end all violence and all murder, but we can certainly dramatically reduce the number of people murdered by military grade weapons of war, and maybe make kids feel safe at school again. But only if we focus on the true cause of all this mayhem. It’s the guns, stupid.

      It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

      You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the revolution.--Fred Hampton

    • #104086
      • Total Posts: 1,920

      The time involved in the Dayton shooting says everything. The well trained and armed policeman was on the spot when he was needed. But the type of gun used had already killed 9 people and wounded many others. That ends the idea that all we need to do is all of us to carry guns and it will end the shootings.

      Then we move to the scapegoating of the mentally ill and the red flag laws. Neither one of these shooters would have been spotted with red flag laws. The El Paso man is described as a nice quiet boy who has not record of being in  trouble at all let alone a record of mental illness. I do understand that his grandparents has some indication that something is wrong but what are we going to do with that? Make a law to insist grandparents call the police every time they disagree with their grandchildren?

      I read the rules the military use to control military style weapons like automatic weapons and after reading it the solution is clear. Go back to the ban on automatic weapons that we had before. No, many will not like it and may not be ready to surrender their weapons but it is a start. Guns that can kill so many people in 30 seconds have no place in the hands of so many unsupervised people.

      Thank you.


      • #104202
        Ohio Barbarian
        • Total Posts: 21,911

        @jwirr , I am very familiar with the strict safeguards the military places on those things. When I was in the Navy, the ship did have some M-14s, basically the American copy of the AK-47. Oh, it was fun to shoot, as was the .50 caliber, for that matter, but access to both ammo and guns was tightly controlled, for most excellent reasons.

        They only came out for practice or the real deal for everyone but the gunners’ mates when they inspected and cleaned them on a regular basis.

        No, we need to ban the damned things. I saw Biden’s picked up that banner, but with him the devil is always in the details, and I don’t trust him any more than I do MSNBC or Fox.

        It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don't want and get it.--Eugene Debs

        You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail the revolution.--Fred Hampton

    • #104794
      • Total Posts: 612

      Yes, it’s the guns, and any argument to the contrary is deflection of the fact that neither gun manufacturers nor the NRA nor the couple of million vocal gun nuts give a rat’s ass how many people get killed as long as they get what they want.

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