Thoughts and Prayers
In 2017, according to the FBI’s definition, there have been 307 mass shootings in the US. While the statistics for the number of deaths due to mass killings varies depending upon the method used to define such an act, there has been a constant over the past several years of many people offering thoughts and prayers.
To many, these thoughts and prayers seem hollow and empty since it hasn’t resulted in any significant decline in mass shootings in the US and Congress is loath to do anything but let the clock tick from shooting to shooting where they will offer up the same empty drivel. I propose a change.
Let’s begin with some actual thoughts about what has worked worldwide in deterring mass shootings along with some distinct differences and points of view based upon where one might live in the US.
I grew up and worked in small towns when I was much younger. Mostly farming and ranching country, these places have long histories of gun tradition. In my early years, my father took me out into the country at the age of 6, braced me while I sat and held his 30.06 hunting rifle and taught me how to hold that rifle, aim and slowly squeeze the trigger. I had no ear plugs and if my father would not have been bracing me, I would have landed hard on my ass. As the bullet spun its way into the side of a dirt bank 50 yards away, my ears rang so loudly, I lost hearing. My shoulder hurt from the impact of the butt of the rifle, even though my father had made sure the stock was seated firmly into my armpit. The lesson my father wanted to bring home to me, was the absolute power and seriousness of firearms. He taught me many lessons, the same lessons that many fathers in rural America teach their sons and daughters today.
Why do I mention this? Well, this kind of gun safety training does not always happen in metropolitan areas traditionally. Here’s a thought: Before anyone can purchase a firearm at any gun dealership, they must pass a gun ownership and safety test. We know that automobile accidents claim many lives in the US, but that has been mitigated ever since driver’s licenses and driver training testing became mandatory in the US. Pass a gun safety test, have your license or ID flagged as having passed via a checkbox (much like those of us who must wear glasses) and be done with it.
In fact, in 1993, CA passed such a law, and from 1993 until 2013; gun deaths in CA had declined by 56%.
In 1989, I lived in Northern California, when horror struck not far from where I lived at the time. At noon on Tuesday, Jan 17th a drifter opened fire on a school yard, shooting Vietnamese and Cambodian children, killing 5 and wounding 30. He used an AK-47 that he had purchased from a Sandy, OR gun retailer even though he had a long criminal history.
As a direct result of that shooting California politicians acted, first defining as best they could a semi-automatic weapon and then passing legislation that would restrict these firearms. 10 years later, they would go on to limit ammunition clips in CA to no more than 10 rounds. Those who already owned firearms that would now violate the law in CA could keep them through grandfathering, but would have to essentially register them. (The State did not keep records pertaining to gun serial numbers, gun sellers had to keep those paper documents on file which allowed the State to claim this wasn’t gun registration as the State did not keep records outside of the DOJ wait period documents).
The State also passed legislation requiring a 15 day wait period before anybody could take delivery of a gun or rifle after initial purchase. A document also had to be filled out and sworn to by the purchaser stating that they were not deemed dangerous by any court of law, had any kind of restraining order, a mental health disorder, were a convicted felon or were a member of the Communist Party. If any of these requirements were not met after the Dept. of Justice had reviewed the purchase, a do not sell warning would come back to the retailer and the sale could not be completed.
All of that was good news for CA vs. the rest of the country, until 2017, when gun deaths began to rise again in CA. A couple of things have been cited through studies as the cause. The first, being the gun show loopholes and gun show sales of firearms in Nevada and suicide.
So here are a few more thoughts:
First close the gun show loophole and require the same standards applied to gun retailers in terms of wait periods and review. Oh, did I mention this law should apply nationally?
Suicide by firearm. A Harvard study determined that this type of suicide outnumbered homicides in the US by 2 to 1. In the 63% of homes in the US who hold firearms, the rate of suicide is higher than in homes that don’t.
Mental Health. From State to State there re laws on the books that make it illegal for anybody to knowingly sell a firearm to any individual diagnosed with mental health issues. Last February, Trump repealed legislation barring any person who was listed with the Social Security Administration as being unable to work based upon a severe mental health issue. The SSA had previously been required to report these individuals to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Now, unless barred by State Law, these individuals can legally purchase weapons. Here is my first prayer. God help us.
There have been government programs in the past that distribute gun safety locks. This should be encouraged as suicide is many times an impulsive and not planned act. Studies also show that for every 10% decline in gun ownership, there is a 2 ½% decline in the rate of suicide.
This got me thinking about Australia. After the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, the newly elected Prime Minister, John Howard instituted similar gun control restrictions to California, but went one step further instituting a government buyback of guns and rifles paying a fair market value for the weapons as well s offering an amnesty for anyone turning in a firearm who possessed one illegally (they would not be compensated). Through this buyback program, Australia reduced the number of guns owned by its citizens by 20% and this was voluntary, not mandatory. As a result, the annual homicide rate in Australia dropped from 20 to 25%.
Not one of these suggestions to limit the impact of gun deaths in America prevent anyone mentally capable or anyone judged to not be a danger to own firearms. Not one violates the Constitution and in fact, several of these laws have faced such challenges.
One final thought. While there will always be people who do horrible things, how many lives would have been saved had these laws been in place in the entire US over the last 25 years? How many clips would have emptied earlier while being used during a horrible crime? How many kids would get to grow up? How many mothers would be spared the grief?
And while I am not an especially religious man, that leaves me with the following prayers: May God Damn those politicians who fail to act in the best interest of the lives of the American people. May God Damn those politicians who put Manufacturing lobbyist groups ahead of their constituents. May God Damn every fucktwazzle who picks up a gun and kills someone en masse or unjustifiably. May every limp spine, in the NRA, bag elected official rot in Hell and be voted out of office as soon as possible.
And last, but not least May we please have a majority of legislators who favor sensible, lifesaving gun legislation who are brave enough to stand up to the Spawn of Satan (aka the NRA).
Notes regarding footnotes: While I could have done the college paper thing and listed footnotes for all my source material, I obviously didn’t. Trust me all my data is backed up via multiple sources all of which are easily googled. I am not writing this to turn in to any college professor, fuck that. Some of the information in this article is from personal experience, some from more than 35 years ago when I once held a Federal Firearms License, had to know the law, had to fill out that paperwork when I worked for a major retailer that has a sporting goods department that sold firearms. I did so in a small rural town that had not had a homicide in over 30 years until the time I moved away. Individual gun ownership there was not the reason, it was a liberal town, and everybody knew one another. People even rarely locked their doors.
Notes regarding everything else. If you wish to, you can use this piece any time with or without attribution, I don’t care. I do reserve any legal copyright to the word “fucktwazzle” if not already taken.
I am going to post this as an OP at JPR. If you attack me personally, I will report you to the mods or hope they just ban you outright. If you wish to dispute or shit on any of the points I made, fine. I won’t respond to you, I don’t have time. This does not mean that my writing or opinions aren’t open to criticism, they certainly I, but honestly I am told fucking old to deal with any rebuttals.dlegendary1, djean111, eridani and 10 othershopemountain, mak3cats, Enthusiast, Marym625, Ohio Barbarian, HubHeaver, 99thMonkey, NV Wino, Doremus Jessup, Tierra y Libertad like this
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