Friday, December 7, 2007

Guns in America: Why?

In the last couple of days I heard two shocking stories of innocent people being shot. The first, of course, being the 19-year-old who shot 8 people with an AK-47 in an Omaha shopping mall. The other story, which hasn't gotten as much press, is about an 8-year-old girl who was shot when she tried to protect her mother from the mother's ex-boyfriend.

These are very different circumstances: in one we have a depressed, angry young man who steals his stepfather's assault rifle and goes on a shooting rampage. In the other situation, domestic violence rears its ugly head again, as a little girl sees her mother get shot twice and then jumps in front of her to protect her from further harm. Unfazed, the ex-boyfriend fired six shots into the little girl, critically injuring her.

The common thread in these stories: guns.

Why does anyone need to have an AK-47 ? Or, for that matter, a 9mm semi automatic pistol like the one used by the gunman in Detroit? There is no reason to have these guns! I know the argument that citizens should have guns for "protection" but I would like to see a study showing how many times a crime has been averted because a victim had a gun. I've never heard of such a study, so if you know of one please let me know.

I have however, seen studies here, here, and here, for example, that show that guns kept in the home are much more likely to be used to kill innocent people than to ever be used in self-defense. From the Brady Campaign:
A gun kept in the home is 22 times more likely to be used in an unintentional shooting, a criminal assault or homicide, or an attempted or completed suicide than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense.
So I ask you: why ?


ebeth said...

Why? I'm all for peace and loving life, but imagine if the Brits had outlawed guns in colonial America. We would still be a bunch of colonies doing the work for some far off motherland. I don't know about you, but I sure don't like the current government and their continued push to take away civil liberties. If it comes down to it I want my revolutionary brothers and sisters to be ready.
Maybe, instead of no guns, the better solution is accountability. CA just passed a law so that bullets can be tracked down to the owners.

Sue J said...

>>the better solution is accountability. CA just passed a law so that bullets can be tracked down to the owners.

I don't think that's much consolation to the 8 dead in Omaha. We know who the owner of those bullets is. And he's dead, too.

Last I checked, we're not living in Colonial America. So I don't understand why people feel this need for protection with AK-47s and handguns. And I live in the city, and yes, I've had my home broken into before. My personal observation is that most people who advocate guns for "protection" of our civil liberties do not live in areas of high crime. That's just my opinion, but it's based on what I've read.

So, I still ask, why?

Mauigirl said...

Sue, I ask that every time something like this happens. Especially the assault weapons as you mention. It is an accident waiting to happen to have a gun in a household that is easily accessible.

Per the question of colonial America, however, I have recently started to wonder if there may be something to that comparison. The way George W. Bush and his cronies have been commandeering the Presidency and making it more and more all-powerful, I am wondering how far we might be from a situation where the government actually becomes the enemy. Perhaps there is a happy medium soomewhere - perhaps there should be an armory in each town where citizens could store their personal weapons and be able to access them at will. That way they're out of the reach of their kids or others in the household who could pose a danger to themselves or others. Just a thought. I'm still mulling over this newly paranoid thought that I have recently begun to have. The military takeover of Pakistan got me thinking...

Sue J said...

Since you mentioned Pakistan, I'll use that as an example of why we as a nation have no need for something like a stockpile of weapons for citizens to fight off the government.

Yes, the Bush Administration has been slowly eroding our civil rights and has taken us to war under false pretenses. But, (and this is a mighty big "but"!) Our system of democratic government is stable, whereas the democratic government in Pakistan is not stable at all and really never has been.

Although I too get paranoid about what this Administration might do, I am confident that America will survive this crisis of leaderhsip for this reason: As has happened before in our history, our President and Vice President are of one party, and the third person in line is of another. In many countries — including Pakistan — the minority party would not hesitate to "take out" the number one and number two in order to install their member into the White House.

This has never happened in the United States, and I do not believe it ever will. Our system of government is not perfect, but the foundation is solid. There is no need for the citizenry to arm itself .

And finally, I don't really understand the Revolutionary comparison, as we were a colony fighting for independence, not citizens worried about our own government.

Sorry for the longpost, but there was another shooting today and this argument for having guns around is really getting tiresome.

Mauigirl said...

Sue, good points, am just catching up with my blog visiting so hadn't read your response yet. Hope you still get mine.

Believe me, I am the most anti-gun person around, so I hate the idea of having any need for them. And I'm hoping it's true that our system is as stable as it always has seemed. I just have this scary feeling lately that our elections are no longer trustworthy. And if another right wing nutjob gets into office, I am really going to be concerned. But I guess I'll wait and see before I get too worried!

I do agree with you and I hope that we don't need to have guns in order to keep our rights and our democracy. Because I hate them and hate what usually happens when someone has one - someone gets shot tragically.