15 January 2019

Guns and Violence in America

The problem of guns and violence in American society is a problem of overblown rhetoric compounded by willed ignorance. The National Rifle Association (NRA) and its supporters take a stand that is both principled and wrong in opposition to all reasonable discussion of the limits of the right to bear arms. Those who seek to regulate firearms, on the other hand, seek band aids without addressing root causes. (See "Why Root Causes Matter" for the views of another group of gun owners.)

More than 60% of gun deaths are suicides. Without accessible guns, many or even most of these people would find other means, albeit often less effective ones that fail. More than 60% of the remaining gun deaths are gang related. When physically mature teenagers kill one other over drug deals or turf, the anti-gunners add the numbers to their discussions of children being gunned down in their classrooms. (See "Gun Deaths in America".)

In 2000, I was a delegate to my County Democratic Convention. Because I liked Bill Bradley, I became more involved in the political process that year than normal. At the convention, there was a platform proposal to ban handguns that could accommodate more than six rounds “in the chamber”. I joined a small group of others who spent half an hour explaining that passing this proposal, which would push it on to the state convention, would embarrass us. It seeks to ban a gun that not only does not exist, but that cannot exist. Of course, we could have helped improve the language.* We weren’t interested in improving the proposal. We believed, or at least some of us did, that anti-gun planks in Democratic platforms hurt Democrats.

I wasn’t a gun owner then. I am now. In 2000, I still thought that I agreed with the NRA. Since becoming a gun owner a couple of years ago, however, my views have evolved and this issue has risen in importance to me. I now realize how much I disagree with the NRA, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, also how much more I oppose some of the same things the NRA is fighting against. (See "That's Not What They Meant" for part of my argument with one of the NRA's leaders.)

As a reluctant Democrat, I vote health care, the environment, the economy, and foreign policy over guns. On all of those issues, the GOP is nearly 100% wrong in my humble opinion. That doesn’t mean the Democrats are always right, only that they are better than Republicans. Even so, I’m growing increasingly frustrated with the priorities of Democrats who are more willing to seek a Constitutional Amendment eliminating the Electoral College than to find a way to win back the rural voters who once were the backbone of the party.

We need to have a real conversation in this nation about the root causes of violence. The United States is one of the most violent nations in the history of the world. Blaming the tools employed by the violent is no more useful than refusing to consider any improvements in safety training, safe storage, and limiting access to certain individuals.

*The author of the proposed plank meant magazine, but did not understand the difference. It might be argued that revolvers do accommodate multiple rounds in the chamber because each slot in the cylinder is essentially the chamber when it is lined up with the barrel. If so, this plank sought to ban revolvers holding more than six rounds in the cylinder, a very small percentage of firearms, but they do exist.

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