This diary is a bit of a trial balloon. On a site with writers of such intimidating skill as Crashing Vor, DarkSyde and Meteor Blades--hell, even the Caesar-like brevity of Kos and the fucking incisiveness of Fishgrease--I'm in a community where the bar for wordsmithy is pretty high. So I'm tossing this essay out--it's more in the spirit of a letter to the editor, since most of my points are agreed on, and not new to, the DKos clan. I do plan to submit this to some local papers (yes, those quaint anachronisms) as a first step toward entering the fray.
Because these murders at Newtown have put me in mind to enter the fray.
So, please, comment away on how worthy, or worthless, you find this little blurb. Don't be sparing. My aim is to become a better writer, not go plumbing for compliments.
What can we learn after this latest massacre, that we haven’t learned too many times already? What will we do now, after nothing was done following the Columbine murders? After the lone gunman blasted his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School, teachers hid the children and placed themselves between the kids and him. 20 children and six staff were shot regardless. Two school administrators attempted to knock his assault rifle away, only to be shot themselves.
“Sandy Hook Shooting Sparks Gun Sales Surge”, particularly AR-15 assault rifles, reports The Huffington Post on December 18. Makers of AR-15s and the National Rifle Association are doubtless pleased that more and more Americans are preparing this holiday season to kill one another. As of December 18 the NRA has yet to express any condolences for this latest mass murder. In 2011, nearly 13,000 Americans were murdered, 8,583 by guns. Only automobile accidents kill more people. It is years past time to identify the enemies in our nationwide epidemic of gun violence: gun manufacturers and their lobby, the NRA. Hand-wringing is no response. Outrage over these murders will be our fuel to overthrow the gun lobby.
The United States, population 315 million, leads the world in number of guns owned per 100 people at 88.8, and is second only to Mexico among developed nations in murder rate by firearm at 9.2 per 100,000 people. But let’s not compare the US to a nearly-failed state racked with drug wars, but rather to three other highly productive modern economies. Germany, population 82 million, sports a gun ownership rate of 30.3 guns per 100 people, and a firearm murder rate of 0.2 per 100,000; Japan, population 128 million, features a gun ownership rate of 0.6 guns per 100 people and a firearm murder rate which rounds to 0.0 per 100,000; the United Kingdom, population 69 million, has 6.7 guns per 100,000 and a firearm murder rate of 0.03 per 100,000.
German law requires gun owners to obtain one license per gun, to carry insurance, and does not permit loaded firearms in public. In Japan obtaining a gun license involves passing a safety course with a written test. British law further requires character testimonials and an interview, and makes obtaining ammunition extremely difficult, to the point that would-be gun assailants frequently use homemade (and not very effective) bullets. The US is indeed exceptionally different from them.
Among the many who have expressed grief, some have tried to blame these murders on lack of prayer in school, or the teaching of evolution. Prayer is not a staple in the schools of Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom, and the teaching of evolution is. They have no gun massacres in their schools.
Gun advocates call for school staff to be armed. Teachers might carry loaded pistols in holsters at all times, or perhaps leave the loaded weapons concealed in a desk drawer. But the Newtown murderer stole the guns from his own mother, a heavily armed survivalist, and shot her before going to the school. How long before a student overpowers a teacher, or breaks into the desk, and steals the gun?
The NRA’s most vicious lie is “guns don’t kill”. Guns do kill. Guns are the choice weapon of mass murderers. They make killing easy. Without the aid of guns, the Aurora, Colorado shooter would not have murdered twelve in a theater; the killer of Oak Creek, Wisconsin would not have murdered six in a temple; and the killer of Newtown would not have murdered twenty-six in an elementary school. Mental illness is a serious public health issue; it is all the more important to keep such powerful weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill.