Priorities

December 11, 2007

Ever go to www.crooksandliars.com?  Great site.  It’s kind of a compendium of the daily posts from various left-leaning blogs (along with clips from The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, when they’re airing new segments).  Yesterday, there was a post from Jamie Holly lamenting the spate of deadly shootings we’ve seen in the States over the past week or so — the Omaha mall shooting, the Colorado church shootings.  It’s worth a read (as is today’s lead post, in which Tony Perkins, the leader of the far-right Family Research Council, is taken to task for blaming secularists for the church shootings).

Jamie raises the point that those on the right who seem all too willing to sacrifice our personal freedoms in the name of “Homeland Security” — the suspension of Habeas Corpus, the detention of suspects without trial, the illegal wiretapping of law-abiding American citizens, the use of torture against detainees — refuse to give an inch when the discussion turns to limitations on our Second Amendment right to bear arms.  Why is it that the Second Amendment is more important than the First (freedom of expression), or the Fourth (freedom from “unreasonable search and seizure”), or the Sixth (right to “a speedy and public trial”), or the Eighth (no “cruel and unusual punishments inflicted”)?  Why is it considered patriotic to allow the Federal Government to erode our personal liberties, but a crime against the intent of the Founders to enforce a ten day waiting period for the purchase of an automatic weapon?

Every year in this country, thirty thousand people die from wounds inflicted by firearms.  Every year!  That’s nine times the number of people who died on 9/11.  I offer that not to downplay the significance of the attacks on New York and Washington, but rather to point out the terrible cost of gun violence.  Even if we were to take out suicides and gun accidents, that would leave eleven thousand murders and cases of manslaughter involving guns.  Isn’t that too many?  Shouldn’t that be considered a matter of national security?  Weren’t last week’s shootings acts of terrorism?

Where are our national priorities?

Today’s music:  Sphere (Sphere)

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6 Responses to “Priorities”

  1. Mark said

    I am afraid to have to disagree with you here. Banning or restricting guns is not the answer. Statics show over and over that more gun control = more crime and the less gun control = less crime.

    Take for instance Kennesaw Georgia. They passed a law that requires a gun in every household 25 years ago, and then had a 89% decrease in crime even with a 4 times increase in population.

    http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2001/3/27/223955.shtml

    They passed their law in response to Morton Grove, IL who banned guns at the same time. Their population has remained about the same and crime has actually risen slightly since then.

    Car accidents kill almost 50,000 people a year in the USA, yet there are no plans to ban cars.

    So, I have to take to opposite end of the pole on this issue.

  2. davidbcoe said

    Thanks for the comment, Mark. Good to hear from you again.

    Yes, I’ve heard similar arguments before. If we give everyone guns, criminals will be too afraid to strike at any of us. I think that’s madness. More guns on the streets will lead to more gun deaths. The article you cite is an interesting one, but I don’t put much stock in it. For one thing, the period in which the crime rate fell was a time of incredible gentrification of the town of Kennesaw. It went from being a small southern town of middling means, to being an affluent suburb of Atlanta. The median income there is now over $65,000! That’s why the crime rate went down. Rich people with secure houses and good security systems moved in. You can go to neighboorhoods in New York City where similar gentrification takes place and the crime rate plummets. It’s not that all those people brought guns with them, it’s that they brought wealth, and in raising the standard of living in the area, they also improved social conditions. Of course, NewsMax.com, where your link directed me, didn’t go into that part of it, because they’re a right-leaning news organization and that’s not part of the narrative they wished to convey.

    Second, as the article you cite points out, Morton Grove’s crime rate was low to begin with, and it just remained flat.

    Finally, I’ve heard the car analogy before and it is utterly without merit. Guns kills 30,000; cars kill 50,000. But the rate of car ownership in this country is far, far greater than that of gun ownership AND people use their cars every day, several times a day. That’s not how guns are used. Comparing the death rates on a per household and per use basis, cars are WAY safer than guns. Plus, cars can only be used by people who have been through an educational regimen that teaches them how to use the car, that tests them both in written form and in a hands on examination. Clearly, there are many lousy drivers who slip through this process, but I think we can all agree that without the process matters would be far worse. If the NRA and gun rights supporters would agree to a similar system of study and testing for all prospective gun owners and operators, I’d be all for it. But the NRA has rejected suggestions of this kind out of hand. The fact that they’ve had their way on this matter is a travesty.

    In short, I think the Kennesaw situation is a singular aberration, and it’s the only example of its kind that people on the pro-gun side of the argument can point to. Ask police officers in any city in the country how they feel about arming citizens and they’ll tell you that they’re against it. Ask them how they feel about an assault weapons ban and they’ll tell you they’re for it. Ask them how they feel about banning cop-killer (teflon-coated) bullets and they’ll plead with you to tell your Senator and Congressman to get rid of them. Ask them how they feel about mandatory child-safety locks on handguns and they’ll tell you the devices save lives. And yet, over the past 20 years, the NRA and their allies have fought against every one of these measures.

  3. Brian said

    One thing I fear with tighter gun control is that the criminals and the police will be the only ones with guns. And the criminals will not likely care so much about the rate of gun deaths in America, since I think they still manage to get automatic weapons and more deadly bullets. Still I agree that less guns will reduce accidental death by gunshot.

  4. davidbcoe said

    Thanks for the comment, Brian. I suppose that is a danger — that criminals and police will be the only ones with guns. But I wonder (and I have no statistics to back this up — I really am just wondering) how many shootings each year are the result of law-abiding people, or at least people without criminal records, getting mad at a girlfriend or boyfriend, or going ballistic (pardon the pun) with road rage. You know what I mean? How many gun-related deaths and injuries would be prevented each year by keeping guns out of the hands of people who don’t initially purchase the weapon without any mischief in mind? It would be interesting to know.

    Thanks again for the comment, and for coming back to my blog.

  5. Mark said

    I do have to agree that unrestricted gun ownership is a bad thing, but I do believe that guns in the hands of well-trained and experienced shooters are a good thing. There are numerous documented instances where a gun owner was able to fend off attackers by being able to carry a gun with them wherever they went. I think an interesting statistic would be the number of lives saved by properly trained gun owners with permits, shooting an attacker before he/she are able to kill more people. This was such the case in the Colorado church shooting, a mall shooting in Texas, and a school shooting in Alabama.

    As bad as guns can be, they can also be very beneficial inproper hands. Unfornately, there ar enot and will not ever be enough police on the streets to guard every citizen against crime. We must allow those citizens who want to be able to dend themselves to do so, and not infringe upon their right to do so.

    Thanks for the blog, David. I enjoy checking it every day. Even though we disagree, that’s ok. That’s what American Freedom is about.

  6. MB said

    interesting post. I found this blog after finding your book “Thieftaker” at a Barnes and Noble which I am considering buying. Anyways, DBs comment on Kennesaw Georgia and the decrease in crime based on economic factors is an interesting one but it is somewhat of a stretch to assert that crime rates decreased because these same people purchased an unusually large amount of “home security” systems which led to this decrease. it is just (if not more) probable that these same persons possessed firearms under the proper application of the law.

    it’s always an interesting exercise to debate the issue of guns in the United States and the old saying, even though cliché still applies: if you outlaw firearms only criminals will have them. This stands because, overall (deny distasteful stats as you may) lawful gun owners are not responsible for the increase in violent gun deaths. To put it another way, our laws impose the most draconian application of gun ownership on excons through an absolute inability to possess a firearm of ANY kind with these same individuals being monitored on probation and yet many required a gun and commit crimes with an unusually high recidivism rate. They aren’t allowed to buy, aren’t allowed to possess (in most states) yet they acquire guns through illegal, black market sources (not the law abiding guy in the suburbs). So, in passing more draconian gun legislation, who are you really hurting? The criminal or the law abiding citizen?

    the following is dated but makes a great point.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/1440764.stm

    As for your question about crimes of passion, in 2006 according to the US National Institute of justice, guns accounted for 68% of the homicide rate, 42% of robberies, ad 22% of aggravated assaults. 77% of the homicide rate involved youths between the ages of 15 to 17 years of age, an age by the way, where youths are not allowed by law to possess or use firearms. (most draconian application of gun laws I. E. ban on ownership).

    So, 68% of homicides are caused by guns with 77% percent of that perpetrated by youths against other youths who, under law can’t possess a firearm. 32 % of all other homicides are through some other means such as knife, poisoning, automobile etc. interestingly, in the last six years, crime rates have gone down as states have passed less restrictive gun laws for individuals (and I mean the law abiding ones) to own guns. http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/offenses/violent_crime/index.html (correlation mine)

    The Following is interesting take: criminals less likely to assault or attack an individual if they thought individual was armed (and don’t discount source to conclude argument is wrong, doing so is a logical fallacy known as a genetic fallacy or “poisoning the well” and has no place in rational discussion) http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/493636.html/

    Anyways, jst my two cents. I’m also an historian with a focus on early American history (Colonial era and Early National) and I look forward to reading your novel.

    P. S. sorry about any typos, writing this on a tablet. lol

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