In 2012 there were fifteen mass shootings in the U.S.A., culminating in the most tragic, on December 14, 2012. On this day, the world learned of the tragic murder of twenty-eight people, including teachers and twenty children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown Connecticut. The killer was twenty year old Adam Lanza, who then turned his Bushmaster XM-15 rifle on himself to avoid apprehension.
This incident resulted in an immediate call to panic stations by a large section of the American population. What still seems bizarre, however, is that this mass panic did not appear to relate to fears of further incidents of mass murder and mayhem. The reaction related to fears that that the U.S. Government might finally do something about the free ownership of personal arsenals of automatic and semi-automatic firearms and high-volume magazines by the civilian population.
Firearms and high-capacity magazines have been flying off the shelves, like canned food after a natural disaster. This “panic-buying” indicates that America’s collective ‘Fight or Flight’ mechanism has kicked in. But what are they scared of? Film-maker Michael Moore has opined that American gun owners, who are predominantly white males, really retain their guns to shoot “black” and “poor” people. So much for the original reason for the creation of the cherished Second Amendment. Mind you, these avid consumers of deadly toys will never admit it, particularly with a black President in office.
On December 12, a four year old child, in Houston Texas, was left in a critical condition after accidentally shooting himself in the face with a hand-gun his father had left loaded in a nightstand. I would ask, why did this guy have a loaded gun in his night-stand? Such incidents haven’t prevented long-term N.R.A. toady, attorney Dave Kopel, continuing to argue against safe-storage requirements for firearms. What a guy.
On December 17, three days after the Sandy Hook massacre, a gun-man started shooting in the Mayan theatre, in San Antonio Texas, but was shot and stopped by a female. Gun ownership advocates, including the N.R.A., immediately seized on the report, promoting the incident as evidence that a lone, armed citizen saved the day, dropping the gun-man with one shot. They did this to promote their attempt to avoid gun restrictions by arguing that, instead, schools should have armed guards for protection.
The aspect of the case that they de-emphasised, was the fact that the “citizen” was a trained, experienced, off-duty police officer, who was working as a security guard at the time. In other words, this was not just some random schmuck who discovered the John Wayne who lives inside every one of us and who was luckily armed and ready to prove that every American is a potential hero, ready to save the day from Terminators, Bin Laden, or whatever other evils hide in the American psyche. The police officer involved in the incident was highly trained and experienced and used to high-pressure situations but had still only managed to wound the gun-man despite firing four shots.
N.R.A. supporters demonstrate daily that they are equally willing to prostitute the truth. I was amused recently by a website which promotes natural medicine and related therapies and products. Since the Sandy Hook massacre this site has been pulling out all stops to aggressively promote gun ownership and to attack supporters of new legislative constraints. The site’s owners do not appear to recognise the inconsistency in these two spheres of interest.
The owner of said website recently expressed his indignation about the fact that his facebook account had been temporarily suspended due to a quote posted on it from, get this, Mahatma Gandhi. This quote related to Indian people retaining their guns under British Colonial rule. As if the champion of passive resistance would condone a bunch of selfish white Americans, under no such threat, using the murders of twenty children to hang onto their personal arsenal of lethal toys. As if, for one second, the guy who runs said natural medicine website, would ever protest against anything other than sales tax on his products or someone taking his guns away.
This is one of thousands of examples of manipulative, farcical Tweets on the topic. Film-maker Michael Moore is subjected to a daily torrent of abuse, on social media and elsewhere, as a result of his brave and vocal stance in favour of tighter gun laws, including limiting sales to seven round capacity magazines. He has even gone so far as to Tweet, “I would repeal the Second Amendment”. I could practically hear the howls of pain and horror, from Down-under then read the responses accusing Moore of being a Marxist, chicken-shit etc.
The usual chestnut constantly thrown at him (and me) is along the lines of “cars kill people, why not ban cars”. Well kids, based on data compiled by Bloomberg, by 2015 firearm fatalities will probably exceed traffic fatalities for the first time. And this is despite the vastly greater car ownership numbers. So much for that argument.
My personal favourite, in the Tweet Hall of Shame, was sent a few days ago by a Texan woman. Said Tweet was in response to an ‘Anonymous’ account holder’s Tweet sadly informing Followers that the Indian bus gang-rape victim had died. The Texan woman immediately tweeted “Someone with a gun could have stopped this”, followed by the nurturing comment, “Stay armed…stay safe.” I guess one woman’s tragedy is another woman’s opportunity. If I could have reached through my computer and wrung her neck, I would have. See, violence does beget violence.
This idiocy makes me wonder if America is suffering from a mass, progressive form of mental-illness. One genius, Republican Kyle Kacal, even stated “ping-pongs are more dangerous than guns”. What’s more disturbing is that people elected this creature. What a coincidence – he’s also a Texan. The inescapable conclusion that one must come to is that Americans do not value the lives of American children as much as they value their gun collections. That is a frightening indication of the most extreme form of narcissism, maybe even Sociopathic tendencies.
Strangely the level of indignant anger and fear, held by gun-obsessed Americans, appears to be grossly disproportionate to their reaction to the National Defence Authorization Act 2013, which confirms the government’s rights to indefinitely incarcerate American Citizens. Nor do these same gun-totin’ patriots appear to have much interest in their First Amendment rights. Clearly Indefinite Detention and Freedom of Speech are vague and uninspiring concepts, compared with the definitive pleasure of cold steel in your hands.
An hillarious example of this dicotomy is the current attempt, by 100,000 guardians of the U.S. Constitution, who have signed a petition calling for the deportation of British journalist and CNN host, Piers Morgan. Morgan rightly called Larry Pratt, Executive Director of Gun Owners for America, a ‘dangerous’, ‘unbelievably stupid man’ for advocating more gun ownership to solve America’s mass-murder problem. The White House petition accuses him of undermining ‘the rights of Americans’ and ‘a hostile attack on the U.S. Constitution’.
These people might start showing an interest in the First Amendment if someone starts interfering with their Christian fundamentalist ‘snake dancing’ or church ‘fag-hating’ activities, but until then it’s a case of, “We don’t care about THAT amendment, we like the other one – the one with guns!” Mind you, gun-owners don’t mind exercising their free speech rights in response to Morgan. For example: “All this multiple assault weapon owner has to say is Get your Brit bitch ass out of OUR Country!” That Tweeter was also from Texas – remind me never to go there. I guess the Texan love affair with guns probably goes back to the time when the murder of JFK really put them on the map.
The United States Government takes care to ensure that the public are not made aware of the real effects of gun ownership on the health and longevity of Americans. Since 1996 Congress has forbidden the CDC from funding studies in relation to these issues. The ban now extends to the entire Department of Health and Human Services. (Source: Huffington Post). This isn’t surprising when you consider that American firearm and ammunition manufacturers earned nearly $1 billion in profits last year.
Gun ownership advocates are not above hiding information and statistics to protect their interests and it appears the Wall Street Journal are not above printing said falsified information to protect the big end of town. On December 26, 2012 they carried a story, by Joyce Malcolm, warning readers not to follow the examples of Australia and the U.K. She states, “Strict gun laws in Great Britain and Australia haven’t made their people noticeably safer, nor have they prevented massacres”. Newsflash, Joyce, Australia has not had a mass murder since 1996, when semi-automatic weapons were banned. Further statistics I have sourced from the Australian Institute of Criminology’s (AIC) annual report into crime trends, released on 4 March 2012, indicate that crime rates in Australia have continued to fall across most major categories. Pertinent to the date of Australia’s 1996 law changes, the report indicates that there has been a 27 per cent drop in the number of homicides between 1996 and 2010, with a drop of 11 per cent between 2009 and 2010. The study further confirmed that only 13 percent of these homicides were committed with guns, with 39 percent apparently committed with knives. I would add that, though each death is a tragedy, it’s not easy to kill commit a mass murder with a knife.
Joyce Malcolm further cautions us that, in 2008, there was a twenty percent increase in the number of sexual assaults in Australia. What point is she making there – that if you take a man’s gun away you make him into a rapist? Statistics obtained from the Australian Institute of Criminology also indicate that rates of sexual assaults in Australia have actually been decreasing since 2008, by approximately four percent per year. Not to mention that, in 2010, the number of victims of Robbery was the lowest since 1996, when the gun laws were changed.
Conclusion: There is no evidence that tighter gun laws have resulted in increases in other crimes, regardless of what ‘Double-think’ is applied – as if this could EVER be a logical development. Statistics do, however, suggest that Australia IS a safer place as a result of the changes.
The information presented about Australia was clearly erroneous and misleading or at the very least, outdated and misrepresented. Ms. Malcolm’s other literary works indicate clearly which side she bats for. One could be charitable and say that the article is based on old information, though I believe Ms. Malcolm’s personal agenda has affected her findings. I wonder how, with good conscience, the Wall Street Journal can present an article like this without verifying currency and accuracy .
Cartoon by David Klein
This cartoon, by David Klein, accompanied the Wall Street Journal article. The meaning is pretty definitive. Those places to the left and right aren’t countries at all. They’re just places without guns, unlike the good old gun-totin’ USA, which still deserves a flag.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, the situation is this: The number of bodies, both in America and as a result of drone-bombing, continues to grow. Civilian arsenals also continue to grow, whilst levels of mental health decline.
Michael Moore and others valiantly continue to try to raise awareness of the demons living in the American psyche and to convince Americans that there might be another way to live, a way which doesn’t involve murder and paranoia. Despite what many fear, people like Moore and Morgan are not trying to rob Americans of their ‘man-brand’. They are trying to stop the United Sates from dissolving into civil war in a moral environment where war is a continuous state of normality, where piles of dead bodies are acceptable, even if they are the bodies of children.
They are trying to snap back to moral reality, countrymen who are numb to these frequent wars and deaths and who are possessed of a paranoid, self-centred view-point, fuelled by government after government who reinforce a belief that ‘might is right’, ‘the ends justify the means’ and ‘the goods guys always win’. Any chance that the majority of Americans can break out of this Hollywood-Disney mind-set, is stunted by a patriotic, mindless belief in their institutions of power, as influenced by a partisan media, which protects them, all the while, from a nagging suspicion, like a flea biting just behind the left ear that, ‘maybe this time, we’re not the good guys’.
Many Americans don’t feel the need to own personal arsenals but are unwillingly to speak against the Second Amendment. I would say this to them: You may look at your gun-owning fellow Americans and ask yourself, “Are these people just a bunch of gun-perves and wanna be ‘he –men’, or are they something more sinister”. As the communities of Sandy Hook, Connecticut and Columbine, Colorado, have sadly discovered, you’ll never know until it’s too late.
For the first time, I feel relieved about the size of the Pacific Ocean and the fact that we’re on the opposite side of it. I know there are lots of great and brilliant American people who are fighting for what is right and moral in the world, including gun-control, freedom of speech, the closure of Guantanamo Bay and an end to drone-bombing, but I know they’re pushing it up a hill and I don’t envy them.
The disinterest in the lives of one’s countrymen, women and children, exhibited by the N.R.A. and their supporters, demonstrates the worst excesses of the American “Me” generation, something of which the rest of the Western world are admittedly also guilty. Perhaps we fellow citizens of the West should look at the American journey as a cautionary tale and take action to limit the same developments in our own countries. We’re possessed of the same drives and fears as Americans. John Milius, quoting Lincoln in his script for ‘Apocalyse Now’, a film about the corruption of well-intentioned power, reminds us: “the better angels of our nature do not always prevail”. Maybe, with the continued efforts of good people like Michael Moore, the ‘better angels’ of the American psyche may begin to have a fighting chance. In the mean-time maybe the Pacific Ocean really isn’t big enough.