Violence and Guns

Violence in America is out of control.  I’ve written about this many times, and yet it has to be addressed again.  A few facts:

*  America is one of the most violent nations on earth and has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world.  Our five percent of the world’s population owns 35-50 percent of the world’s civilian guns.  Gun ownership is not deterring gun violence.

* Our culture is inundated with violence as an acceptable solution to problems, including religions that sanctify murder, genocide, and sacrifice of animals and humans to appease a deity and  murder of criminals for retribution for criminal murder.  Too many people have narcissistic entitlement and see killing of their perceived enemies as a reasonable solution to frustrations and fears.

*  For 217 years, the Second Amendment was considered a collective right of a state to maintain a “well regulated militia” to resist insurrections, especially possible slave revolts.  It was enacted primarily to win the support of slave-holding states to ratify the Constitution.  Not until 2008 did a radical Supreme Court erroneously decide it was an individual right for personal protection in spite of that being nowhere in the Constitution.  

* The Supreme Court ruled in 1939 that the government could limit weapon types not having a “reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia.”   Therefore, civilians may not possess short-barreled rifles and shotguns, fully automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, etc.  Adding assault-style weapons should be constitutional.

* The AR15 was developed by ArmaLite for the military in 1961 and designated the M16.  Sold by Colt, it became the primary US military rifle in 1965 until replaced by the shorter-barrel M4 carbine.  A civilian AR15 was introduced in 1989 and copied by many firearm manufacturers.  The military version can fire fully automatic.  Bump stocks were invented in 2002 to make a semi-automatic rifle simulate an automatic rifle and fire 400 to 800 rounds per minute.  

* Mentally ill people are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.  Less than 5% of all US violence is committed by a person with mental illness.  Our criminal justice system considers those with a mental illness or intellectual disability to have diminished criminal capacity.  We must reinstate federal money for violence research that was restricted in 1996 because the gun lobby was afraid of the results.  

* We each have a right and responsibility to defend ourselves and our loved ones.  But we use military and law enforcement agencies to wield carefully regulated power, including lethal force, on our behalf because it is far more effective than allowing unregulated and untrained individuals to take the law into their own hands.  

*  No regulation stops those who choose to ignore the regulation.  The argument that regulations are worthless because they won’t prevent criminals from committing crimes is an illogical and ridiculous argument unless we want to eliminate every law and regulation.  Every criminal is law abiding until they commit a crime.  We cannot determine who is safe to possess a gun unless we have universal background checks.  

The solution to violence in America requires a radical change in attitude.  We must not allow our legislators to be controlled by a multi-billion dollar gun industry and by people dominated by fear, paranoia and political greed.  The greatest threat to our safety is not the federal government or outlaw hordes or “lone wolf” terrorists but our narcissism and fascination with domination by force and power.  The solution will involve many components, including universal background checks, red flag laws, prohibiting bump stocks, limiting magazine size, and requiring safe gun technology.

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