Monday, July 11, 2016

The Score in the Gun Debate

American militia firing at the British infantry from behind a split rail fence during the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, March 15, 1781. Note the commanding officer standing in the rear. Illustration by Don Troiani, National Park Service, 1976. Public domain.
We can judge from the score that pro-gun advocates are winning the arms race in the United States. Among the losers, seven children and teens (age 19 or under) are killed with guns in the U.S. on an average day (all my statistics are from EveryTownResearch.org, who in turn gets their numbers from the Center for Disease Control).

On an average day 91 Americans are killed with guns. Of those 91 deaths: 31 are homicides; 56 are suicides; 2 are unintentional; 1 is "legal intervention"; and 1 is of "undetermined intent." The 12,000 homicides with guns every year has remained nearly constant against a backdrop of otherwise declining crime rates.  Black men are 10 times more likely than white men to be murdered with guns. Black Americans make up 14 percent of the U.S. population but suffer more than half of all gun homicides. Twice as many Americans are injured with guns as killed with them.

Certainly people bent on killing themselves or someone else will find a way, but in both murder and suicide a gap of hesitancy lies that the expediency of a gun closes. Statistics show that in any country less gun-obsessed than the US, the murder and suicide rates are much lower.

In an average month, 51 women are killed by their intimate partners. When a gun is present in a situation of domestic violence, it increases the risk the woman will be murdered fivefold. This statistic alone illustrates how the expediency of a gun closes the gap of hesitation.

America’s gun murder rate is more than 25 times the average of other developed countries.

The typical gun advocate cites the Second Amendment, which says:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
At present, the latest pronouncement on the definition of militia comes from the Supreme Court:
In the 2008 decision of the Supreme Court, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the de jure definition of "militia" as used in United States jurisprudence was discussed. The Court's opinion made explicit, in its obiter dicta, that the term "militia," as used in colonial times in this originalist decision, included both the federally organized militia and the citizen-organized militias of the several States: "... the 'militia' in colonial America consisted of a subset of 'the people'—those who were male, able-bodied, and within a certain age range" ... Although the militia consists of all able-bodied men, the federally-organized militia may consist of a subset of them" (Wikipedia).
A group of men flaunting their weapons as if they were proud of walking around with their flies open, dining in fast food restaurants, and generally intimidating the public, do not compose a militia. They have not come together as a militia to combat some threat to the general peace and tranquility—if anything they are terrorists out to disrupt peace for the sake of testosteronic interpretations of law. 

Bubba, marching up and down the Tortilla Curtain with an AR-15, looking to kill "a meskin," illustrates stupidity and not an exercise of Second Amendment rights. First, the idea that so-called "illegal aliens" are "stealing jobs" is an evil lie that dehumanizes and reduces to slaves the lowest but essential sectors of the American work force. Migrant laborers are not stealing jobs; they are assuming the agricultural positions gradually abandoned by African Americans over the century after emancipation. These lies originated in the Reagan White House, and Bubba is stupid enough not only to believe them but to think they justify murder.

If the Supreme Court cannot come up with a stricter understanding of the Second Amendment—one that renders the 18th-century dictum in 21st-century terms—
A well regulated National Guard being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of Guardsmen to maintain readiness may keep and bear their issued Arms without infringement.
I've also seen Bubba's threat on a bumpersticker:
If y'all outlaw guns, I'm going on a killing spree (translated).
We saw results of that kind of thinking in Dallas just recently. Yes, it will be extremely difficult, dangerous, and time consuming to disarm America, but there will be seven children today who, if they could still speak, would ask me to start. It's taken centuries to arm America, and the lobbying money of a lucrative gun industry jealously guards the status quo. Once outlawed, and honest people yield ten percent of guns, over the next century or so, anyone found with an illegal arm would spend twenty years or more with no weapon more dangerous than a prison shank. Eventually people will get the message. A sane policy of treating drugs as a health problem instead of a criminal problem would create enough space in the prisons to accomodate the resistance.

People are dying because of the injustice of gun ownership in the US. Yet Control remains paralyzed in this manner because the US is not a democracy but a corporate dictatorship. There are many nations in East Asia and Western Europe in which a much greater quality of life is achieved because there is a greater harmony between people and their government. The US has high murder rates, crime rates, poor education, poor mental and poor physical health and many other social problems because of a willful choice on the part of the corporate dictatorship. Conditions in America are not fated, not destiny, and things can be changed. I cannot expect to change American policy on this or any other issues by voting. I can use the gun issue as just one of many signals that it is time to wake up, but there is no hope to change the policy until the yoke of the corporate dictatorship is removed and democracy is established in North America.