Gregory Paul: "What the Newtown Gun Disaster Really Tells Us"

If Americans really, actually want to dramatically bring down the sky high rates of general murder and mass shootings down to the much lower levels that other prosperous democracies enjoy, then it is going to have to bite the bullet as it were, and do what the other 1st world countries have done. Tightly control and restrict access to fast repeating firearms, rifles and especially pistols. That’s it.

As I have pointed out elsewhere (, as traumatizing and horrifically brutal as they are, mass shootings are not the real American problem. Even in the unusually active 2012, about four dozen Americans were killed in the four shooting sprees. The chance that a given school, workplace or theater will be targeted is correspondingly miniscule – the standard line remains true; a student is at far more risk of injury or worse walking or driving to school than being inside it (facts that should be used to reassure frightened children). It is the everyday killings that are the really, really big problem. About 11,000 Americans are currently murdered by gun in a year. Each day that’s about as many as died at Sandy Hook Elementary. The total killed in American rampage shootings over the decades in the hundreds. Since the last World War over a million have been gunned down in ones, twos and threes, about twice as many American military personnel killed in combat. It follows that our obsession with mass killings is somewhat misplaced. Also poorly understood by many is the central reason why the United States is a Land of Murder.

American homicide is not primarily due to a depraved culture, media violence, mental illness and the like. Nor are Newtown and the growing wave of mass shootings in the US a sign of moral decay in a nation gone amoral. People have been murdering one another on a regular basis as far back as the paleoanthropological record goes. The famed Iceman of the Alps has an arrowhead in his back. Ancient graves sometimes contain the remains of adults and children who died by violence. A thousand years ago Christian Europe was a killing ground with sky high homicide rates. We still don’t know who Jack the Ripper was. Levels of homicide have always been above the western norm in the US. Especially after fast firing revolvers began to appear prior to the Civil War. Murder rates have dropped dramatically even in America in recent decades. Most important is how homicide has become remarkably rare in the rest of the advanced democracies, probably to a degree never seen before in societies.

The vast majority of murderers are not mentally ill. In particular, the outstanding number of America killers are not mentally defective compared to the much smaller homicidal cohort in other advanced democracies. And of the millions of mentally disturbed, just a tiny fraction of a percent are seriously violent, and the likelihood that any one of them will commit one of the rare mass killings is miniscule. Nor are the vast majority of disgruntled workers who occasionally engage in mass shootings mentally ill, and only a tiny fraction of the discontented go postal. Who will kill is the proverbial needle in a haystack (outside of gangster culture). Even a massive effort, funded with billions of taxpayers’ dollars, will successfully detect and abrogate only small percentage of killers (again outside organized criminal cliques). For the gun industry and its lobby to drop the problem of American murder in to the laps of those who are already hard pressed to treat mental illness is a perversion. And a carefully crafted diversion from the real problem. There is an urgent general need to boost investment and effort in improving mental health care in general, and to better prevent those who are ill from acquiring weaponry, and doing these things will suppress shootings to a degree. But even if the mental health community somehow managed to identify, track and prevent every single mentally ill person from killing, it would hardly affect the general murder rate, and would not bring a total halt to mass slaughters. Since 2000 about 120 mass shootings have been aborted by tipsters and law enforcement, so the system in place is actually quite effective. But it is not, and cannot be, perfect, so rampage killings will continue to be shockingly repetitive as long as society tries to rely on detecting and stopping mass killers, without also doing what is necessary to make it too difficult for mass killers to get their hands of weapons of mass destruction.

(Ironically, mental illness may have played a critical role in establishing the twisted tradition of rampage shootings. The event that set the modern precedent was the clock tower shooting at the University of Texas in 1966. The young shooter experienced a series of disturbing personality changes in the months before he went ballistic, and an autopsy found a deadly tumor that was probably critical to his becoming lethally depraved. If not for that growth, it is possible that school shootings at least would not have entered the consciousness of the nation in way that set a trend.)

(There are critical practical issues with mental illness and gun ownership. Currently only those who have committed actions that have gotten them into the legal process are placed into government records and banned from owning firearms. Expanding the list will require government registration of people merely for being mentally ill in a manner that professionals guesstimate put them at risk of being violent. The danger is that it will discourage folks from seeking help, violate patient confidentiality, violate civil and legal rights to the point of being unConstitutional, result in massive legal hassles, and immerse professionals in massive paperwork and legal disputes. It will be a procedural and human rights nightmare – yet would do little to solve the problem. New York mental caregivers are raising alarms about the bill just passed in their state.)

Ann Coulter is as always trying to blame the mental illness issue entirely on liberals, who in their ungodly and callous foolishness deinstitutionalized the mentally ill, leaving the violent among them free to assault crowds. She is pulling our legs. If conservative Republicans had been running the country the last few decades, their antigovernment ways would mean that the mentally ill would have been deinstitutionalized – keeping people even in Cuckoo Nest level establishments is fabulously expensive — leaving the violent among them free to assault crowds.

Nor can the media and entertainment violence that the gun obsessed are blaming for the American calamity be a key factor. That’s because such violence pervades the prosperous democracies to about the same degree, yet only the US is afflicted by high levels of murder. The Japanese, Aussies, Canuks, French, Brits, Swedes, Spanish have the same media technologies and much the same legal access to faux violence, but they do not slay one another at nearly the same rate we do. There has not been a decline in media violence of late — it may well be increasing — that corresponds to the decline in homicide in the western countries. The effort by the gun complex to fob American murder onto Hollywood and company is another cynical, perverse campaign of distraction away from what and who is really at fault.

To emphasize how two faced the NRA is, the museum at their headquarters has of late featured an exhibit titled Hollywood Guns! There you could see the shotgun used by Keith Ledger in The Dark Knight! The exhibit makes sick sense in that the gun industry — as they well know — is highly dependent upon the glorification of guns and their use in the media to egg on guys to purchase yet more weaponry that they don’t need. So does the release in association with NRA of a video game on gun shooting. The gun lobby adores entertainment violence featuring guns because it is massive promotion and advertising that don’t have to pay a red cent for. It’s the same with toy guns and boys’ games of war, cowboy versus native American, and so forth. The gun maker and sellers have to push guns as hard as can be done because they have a bad business model – guns last a long time, so folks rarely need replacements for the weapons they regularly use for practical purposes such as hunting. This is unlike another amoral industry that parallels the gun makers in using deceptive arguments to push deadly products to shrinking markets. Cigarettes and other tobacco products that are used only once. The poor gun industry has to get each of the dwindling cohort of gunphiles to build up bigger and bigger arsenals of vanity guns. Because the number of households sporting guns is in long term decline for demographic reasons that cannot be reversed, the only hope of the firearms industry is get the firearm aficionados that are leftover to collect as many weapons as they can cough up cash and credit for. That has required the development of a gun cult that is obsessed with the devices, driven in part by fear of criminals and tyranny. (The boom and bust rushes in gun sales after mass shootings driven by fear of gun control is not the best thing for the industry in the long run. Eventually the dwindling number of gun owners will be saturated with weaponry to the point that even they will not be willing to purchase more masses of heaters, and gun sales will belly out.) The big star of media violence is the Glock, the grim looking, Austrian created machine pistol that has become America’s handgun of choice. the If not for the media, for its own mercantile purposes, making guns seem desirable to have from childhood on, the firearms industry would implode.

That means that cutting down on media violence would contribute to suppressing lethal crime – but not in the gun friendly way the NRA wants us to be naïve enough to think it would. Assume that the audience for media and game violence dwindled to the point that it was no longer sufficiently profitable to produce and distribute the product enmasse. That would reduce interest in owning guns, wrecking the firearms industry. With fewer guns in the population, homicide would become less common. But this is hardly likely to happen. Lots of folks like their faux violence – much as many seek the manufactured thrills of intense theme park rides – and as long as the market is there, there are capitalists who will maximize their sales by producing entertainment violence, their right to do so ensured by the Bill of Rights. If we want to tame homicide by the necessary step of getting rid of most guns, it will take legal action.

Also not primarily to blame is a slack judicial system. The rates at which liberty loving America imprisons its citizens is vastly higher than in the rest of the democracies, or even autocracies – the USA has more people in jail than all of China. Mass shooters tend to be suicidal in any case, they fear not punishment.

Ann Coulter is claiming that the problem is demographics. That American murder is largely a problem of minorities. But some other 1st world countries have more population diversity than the US, yet do not suffer close to the level of murder we do. Wrong again Ann.

What about America’s frontier past leaving us with a violent heritage? Canada, Australia and New Zealand have frontiers, and a fraction of the deadly violence.

The core problem is that America has way too many guns for its own good, which is the fault of the gun manufacturing industry that is trying to push its product to maximize profits like the tobacco industry. One reason we know that firearms are the main problem is because private gun possession correlates strongly with homicides. With 5% of the world’s population, the US has about half the privately owned guns. No other country has as many firearms per person (almost one for each of the latter), and no other advanced democracy has nearly as many heaters per citizen ( (Don’t swallow claims that Israel is gun rich — to keep weapons out of the hands of Arab citizens the laws are very strict, so ownership is a dozen times lower than in the US – and even in more gun friendly countries like Switzerland gun regulation is not as loose as in America.) In quantitative terms, the Pearson Correlation between guns and homicide in the 19 most prosperous democracies is 0.747; with 0 being no correlation and 10 a perfect correspondence, the actual result is abut as strong as they get in real world sociological terms. The relationship is so patent that it is amazing how many ignore it, and swallow the NRA et al. line that it makes no difference how many heaters pervade a population, while they point to the mental health and media communities as being at fault for American murder.

The reality is that no nation with a high level of gun ownership does not have a high homicide rate. And all nations with low rates of gun ownership enjoy low murder rates. Nothing surprising about that – to those who are objective. It is not hard to figure out why there is a correlation between private gun ownership and homicides. More guns around and about, more murders. That’s because guns help people kill people. That statement is literally true. In contrast the gun fanatic’s proclamation that “guns don’t kill people, people do” is one of those clever propaganda lines that is carefully designed to deceive. Denying that guns kill folks is like denying that automobiles kill people. A person who is running full tilt from home to work is not a lethal machine. The chance that a person who collides with a runner will end up dead is near zero. A car that is being driven from home to work is a killing device if it hits someone. Cars kill people, tens of thousands in the US every year. That the car is not morally responsible for running over a person is not the critical factor. It does not matter to the dead person whether or not the automobile was steered by a human, or a robot as many of them soon will be. The major danger factor imposed by autos – they are a leading case of death among the young — is a reason they are highly regulated from design to usage. By the logic of the NRA, bombs and missiles don’t kill people either. Actually, military equipment can be so lethal that is may be labeled weapons of mass destruction. That the weapons are inert unless someone fires or launches them does not mean they are not killing machines. For example, by NRA logic atomic bombs were not weapons of mass destruction because they would not have killed anyone had President Truman not ordered their use, so the actual killer of the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was Harry. The reality is that all those involved in creating and using the nukes were responsible, and nukes are weapons of mass destruction. Ergo, guns are a form of killing machine. When pistols and rifles are fast firing, high capacity firearms able to target and kill a couple of dozen in a few moments without reloading, they give an individual firepower equal to that of a platoon of Civil War soldiers, so they qualify as weapons of mass destruction.

(Firearms fans use terms like protecting “gun rights,” even though that indicates that guns themselves have rights they can be denied. So if guns have rights, are they not responsible for who they kill? To be consistent with their position gun advocates should say “gun owners’ rights.” A guns’ right group just sent me an email titled “Stop Obamas [sic] Assault on Guns,” which also implies that guns are entities that can be victimized.)

The problem with the rapid fire guns that are so numerous in America is that they are force multipliers for those dysfunctional enough to kill spontaneously or by design — if the weapons did not exist or were effectively banned those who plot rampage killings would have to resort to explosives. But intense government regulations seriously hinder access to explosives. You can’t just go to a store or an explosive show and buy lots of dynamite, and even the ingredients of explosives are controlled. Making bombs can literally blow up in one’s face, and it is hard for a teen to whip up a patch without the folks noticing, while the same folks may be the source of guns. Nor are explosives as efficient as rapid-fire weapons, and they don’t have that satisfying mow down the screaming terrified victims with a spray of bullets cache your typical mass murderer is looking for. It is not an accident that almost all mass killings are executed with semi-automatics, it’s the easy and hip way to do it. If not for rapid fire machines massacres would be almost nonexistent. And as long as high performance guns are common there will be mass shootings every year. That’s because in any national population there are always a very few (mostly young males) who have gone over the edge into lethality. In most nations these persons have been kept from doing lots of damage. Until recently this was easy to do because the powerful killing devices needed for a run of the mill civilian to kill enmasse did not exist. We now live in an industrial world able to cheaply produce precision machinery enmasse, including the force multipliers that allow ordinary citizens to kill dozens of people in a few minutes. In all advanced democracies dangerous persons are constrained kept from doing lots of lethal damage with explosives via extensive regulations that make them hard to acquire. In all but one advanced democracy the killers in waiting are further hindered in their designs to wreck havoc by extensive regulations that make rapid fire guns too scarce for most criminals to get their hands on them.

So America does the most to allow the tiny percentage who do kill to do so on a large scale. Shootings mass and otherwise are all too frequent these days in America because we have allowed the development of a toxic combination of killer young males with ready access to weapons of mass destruction in the form of semi-automatic, high capacity magazine machine pistols and assault rifles originally designed to kill masses of soldiers on battlefields. When a society is saturated with such weapons of mass destruction, criminals will have little trouble getting a hold of a portion of them one way or another.

The theory, such as it is, of the gun makers’ lobby is that yet more guns are the solution. That theory can be correct only if the nation with the most guns per person – ours – has a very low rate of murder, while those with few guns have lots of people being victims of intentional homicide. Despite the opposite being true, in firearm advocates’ bubble of unreality arming all law abiding citizens with weapons of mass destruction will reduce gun violence. They imagine that law breakers will either be deterred from their nefarious deeds – which they won’t be when the illicit shooter is self destructive – or will be gunned down by the righteous shooter before they can do more damage. I have detailed why this is a dubious to point of dumb hypothesis for multiple reasons ( Those who are armed and/or protected by armed personal get shot all the time – police, guards, politicians, gangsters, gang members, so on. The Sandy Hook event makes the absurdity yet more crystal clear. It is questionable enough to have college students armed and ready to shoot in classrooms the way the NRA wants them to be. But are we going to arm elementary school kids? Of course not. Having the school staff pack heat has its own risks. As per when some students get their hands on one of the guns and an accident or worse ensues. The way to avoid that awkward problem, according to some weapons advocates, is for teachers to have their machine pistol in a holster on their person every moment they are at school. Never mind how uncomfortable wearing heat for hours at a stretch is.

Some of the gun obsessed decry that the adults at Sandy Hook did not have their own assault rifles to stop the shooter before he got to the children. This parallels the demand that all schools sport armed security guards that may be to distant from the mass shooting to intervene as per Columbine, or may be the additional victim of the well armed and armored shooter. Rest assured, if the NRA gets its way and puts armed guards in every school, or arms teachers and older students, the policies will be discredited as mass shootings continue to afflict schools. And schools are already very safe locations. There are also social problems with making schools into minipolice stations. It can change the culture from nurturing to punitive. A new report finds that doing so in Mississippi has resulted in overdisciplining students for minor infractions to their detriment. Nor will armed school guards will do nothing about the gun deaths on the homes, streets and noneducational public spaces.

And gosh golly, I remember a time when grade schools were open access to the public at large, armed guards and armored entrances not to be seen. Thanks to the obsession by a large minority of Americans with the heaters they have saturated the society with, those better days are past.

Around the turn of the century I felt pretty good as an American when in Mexico City I saw street police carrying assault rifles. Typical 2nd world country. Unlike the 1st world USA. Since 9/11 America has used megagovernment to spent hundreds of billions to wage wars and operations that have killed thousands of Americans, and abrogated legal rights, to deal with the loss of a few thousand Americans. Americans killed by guns has piled up to the six figures since those days, but the response has been to scream legal rights while doing nothing.

One way or another the gun advocates envision a country in which every school, workplace, public institution and most homes would be equipped with military style hardware. The strategy has been financially brilliant and morally depraved. Having caused the problem in the first place by saturating the nation with their products, the gun industrial complex would be the beneficiaries by producing more guns.

Make no mistake. The campaign by the gun merchants, their lobby, and many of their citizen supporters is not about pragmatic policy making. The gun war is an integral part of the greater culture war in which archconservatives are working to remake American society into what they want it to be, at the effective point of the gun.

These United States are to be a more socially Darwinian, more 2nd world society in which those who best know how to use their guns are to be the safest, rather than having citizens relying as a collective on the police for their primary protection. In other words, the same religious right that claims to be opposed to the amorality of Darwinian bioevolution are claiming the God favors we all be armed to the teeth so society can be ruled by the law of the jungle. (Liberal Christians are aghast at this concept of the warrior god — but most children have died while kids without any god intervening, the Biblical God kills people on a regular basis, orders genocide of entire nations down the last suckling child, endorses brutal punishment of slaves as does Jesus who fashions a whip to assault people in at a place of worship, allows his entourage to be armed with swords, and explicitly denies being an entity of peace.)

It would be a culture of the gun, where all would be compelled to be lethal gunphiles whether they like it or not, ready to kill the killers if they like it or not. To put it another way, guns would essentially run the culture, rather than the people deciding to limit firearms as they do in all other developed nations. American would be a primitive, tribal society where guns are the primary security such as it is, more like Somalia and Yemen than the sensible civilized democracies where the law and police provide most protection. A main aim. Sell more guns.

The NRA’s claim that only a good guy can stop a bad guy with a gun is another clever propaganda line carefully designed to deceive — obviously the best way to stop a bad guy from easily killing one or a dozen or more is to keep the ne’er-do-well from getting a gun in the first place, rendering the righteous shooter superfluous. Everyone knows, or should know, that preventing as much as possible bad things from going down – such as cancer, auto accidents, people being shot at — is better than letting the situation get so out of hand that all that can be done is to minimize the damage when things go south.

It is tragically ironic how the Newtown slaughter illustrates particular defects of the gun lobby theory that the more guns that law abiding folks have the better. So much so that it is a public relations disaster for the NRA and friends. Think about it. The mother of the shooter was exactly what the NRA wants all law abiding Americans to be. A law abiding gun enthusiast. For purposes of self protection and sport, she accumulated an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. She then did what the NRA recommends. She was a responsible owner who became familiar with her heaters by firing them under professional guidance at gun ranges. She knew her stuff. Also in accord with NRA advice she taught her son to shoot. That maximized safety in terms of preventing accidents, and the mother protecting herself if the need arose. That was the theory. So what did she get for her love of the gun? The dreadful reality was that her son used some of her weapons to slaughter her, and all those terrified students and instructors as they struggled to survive and pleaded for their lives. So much for the safety of the mother and society. That she had seen to it that her son was well trained in firearm use only served to increase his ability to rapidly take out over two dozen human beings. So much for the wise advice of the NRA.

Another example of the danger of the law-abiding-citizen-until-things-go-south is the gunning down of the super sniper/war hero Chris Kyle. Profoundly concerned about those suffering from combat induced post traumatic injuries, Kyle was trying to help out a troubled fellow vet. Kyle thought taking his colleague to a shooting range was a good way to better the other vet’s condition. Instead the latter, who was legally able to handle rapid fire weapons, shot Kyle and another to death. As a gun range where there were plenty of armed people on hand to stop the shooter. That did not work because the shooter enjoyed the element that so often do, of surprise. Had the up to then law abiding citizen had no weapons there probably would have been fist-i-cuffs and at most misdemeanor assault charges. Had he had a knife the survival chances of the victims would have been much better. It was a force multiplying weapon of mass destruction that made it easy for one to liquidate two.

It was all too predictable. Those opposed to the common possession of weapons of mass destruction have long warned that guns purchased for protection are all too easily repurposed for destruction. Either by the original owner who starts out with good intentions but goes rogue, or by being taken or stolen by a person with ill intent. And of course countless firearms are acquired for criminal reasons from the get go.

The gun lobby has been playing a risky game. By pushing rapid fire guns they ensured that mass shootings would continue to be frequent, and would eventually become so grotesque that eventually most Americans would cry “enough.” Their theory has inevitably blown up in their face. They should have figured that it would, but their ideology blinded them to the coming backlash.

And the gun lobby has not doing nearly as well as it would like to. Despite their many legal victories electoral, legislative and judicial, the surveys continue to show that households with guns are declining rapidly due to demographic forces too powerful for the heater lovers to overcome (aging population, shift from rural to urban populations that have decreased hunting, more women in charge of households – demographic changes similar to those that are making American more progressive and Democratic to the distress of the right ( The decline in the lateral distribution of guns may be part of the reason for the drop in American homicides; certainly it has not hurt the situation. (So don’t be fooled by the gunphiles claim that since gun sales are up while homicides are down shows that guns suppress lethal crime. That the number of guns in the hands of the shrinking set of heaters owners is going up is not as dangerous as wider distribution of guns, because a criminal shooter can deploy a couple of firearms in a given crime, the rest of his guns are superfluous.) (Another reason for the decline in gun deaths is continuing improvements in trauma care, the docs are getting better at patching up gun victims if they get to the hospital alive.)

Currently, regulations on the weapons hunters use are stricter than the weapons that be carried amidst the public in most of the country. Its partly a matter of safety – allowing hunters to blaze away with multiple rounds would send stray bullets zipping about the woods – and of sportsmanship. We are doing a better job of protecting animals that are being legally shot at, than we are caring about our human citizens.

A gun adorer lie is that banning assault weapons is not sensible, because many nonmilitary rifles can be used in semi-automatic mode. But assault rifles are specifically configured to maximize the ability to kill many as quickly as possible. They are short and light so they can be swiftly and easily redirected to new targets in interior spaces. The pistol grip aids ease of handling. In more conventional guns the stock that is held against the shoulder angles downwards from the line of the main barrel. That makes it easier to carefully aim the gun at a bulls-eye, or a deer. But because the recoil along the line of the barrel is higher than the anchor point of the stock on the shoulder, the gun kicks up when fired, requiring that it be reaimed every shot, slowing down the shooter. The stocks of assault rifles are in line with the barrel, making it easier to keep on target during a continuous series of shots. Some assault guns have eliminated most of the stock, making the weapons even shorter and easier to maneuver and aim. Flash suppressers allow the shooter to better see and aim in the dark, as per the Aurora theater massacre. The size of the rounds is smaller than in high power rifles to increase the amount of ammo the shooter can carry, and keep the recoil low enough so the gun can be kept on target during rapid fire (but are more lethal than the even smaller pistol bullets used in submachine guns). Assault weapons are a force multiplier compared to nonmilitary semi-automatics. They are particularly easier for smaller bodied teens to handle than regular rifles, facilitating school age shooters (and the enslavement of children as foot soldiers.

Another gunphile deception that is coming out to counter the move to ban assault rifles has it that the most common civilian owned assault rifle, the AR-15 Bushmaster (basically the military M-4 and M-16 without the automatic mode) is not really all that lethal after all. You see, the AR-15 is actually just a .22 caliber gun (specifically .223 of an inch). It just puts a wee little quarter inch whole into people its little rounds hit. That’s the lie. The truth is that while the slug is slender for the reasons discussed in the prior paragraph, it is very long, and is propelled by a far bigger powder charge than a kid’s 22 at three times the speed of sound. When the slug hits flesh, it is too fast and too elongated to remain stable so it tumbles, creating a horrendous rip in muscles and organs, while the intense shock waves radiate into surrounding tissue. Video shows that AR-15 rounds send large blocks of ballistic gel bouncing on the table. I have seen a section of wood hit by an AR-15 round, the slug went in a whole foot. The results of the larger round from the popular AK-47 are even worse. And that’s just one hit, with semi-autos a dozen hits can be scored in seconds – as happened to some of the kids at Newtown.

But the truth remains that assault rifles are not the great American killer. They are hardly ever used in street and domestic murders — that’s the killing realm of the semi-automatic handgun, along with some revolvers. The use of assault weapons is pretty much limited to the occasional spectaculars – Wild West style shoot outs and mass shootings. Same applies to the big ammo magazines. Their elimination is important to cutting down on the slaughters in places of education, entertainment and work, but that will do little to ensure that America is no longer the Land of Daily Murder. That demands dramatically reducing the number and availability of the fasting operating handguns that do the vast majority of the killing.

Doing that is complicated by the claim that the 2nd Amendment protects the individual right to bear arms, which is bogus (as detailed at The provision is actually a defense of states rights, one that requires government regulation of firearms. The clause says so very plainly; “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.” The original states were worried that the new Federal government might go tyrannical one day. So states were given the right to maintain militias if they wanted to, to keep the fascist/communist/ic Feds at bay if the need arose. If the amendment were about individual rights it would not be the only one to be predicated by a government need, and would simply read “The right of persons to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Or it would explicitly include the right to self-defense and so on, like some state constitutional gun right clauses have done.

Ardent defenders of gun rights claim that the 2nd Amendment is the most important because it makes the others, including the 1st, possible – it’s only the guns that keep the tyrants at bay and all that. Plus they go on and on about how they are against Big Government. It is that “principle” that supposedly compels them to keep the Feds from tracking gun ownership. Yet the gun hypocrites are doing what they can to suppress the 1st Amendment in order to defend the 2nd – it’s like destroying the village to save it. And they are all for Big Government when it serves their purposes. So they want BG to provide armed protection for all schools – a massive project consisting of 100,000 guards that will tax the taxpayers already hard pressed to pay for education to cough up big bucks to expand police forces by at least 10% over what they currently are. The same people want BG to keep closer tabs on identifying and tracking the mentally ill so they cannot access weapons of mass destruction. Cynical hypocrisy, anyone?

The heater cultists who pretend to love the Bill of Rights and oppose Big Government want to see the part of freedom of speech that involves the production and distribution of violent imagery that may encourage lethal acts suppressed, in order to maintain the freedom to own weapons of mass destruction that definitely do facilitate killing people. Florida actually passed a law intended to deter health care providers from asking their patients about their possession of guns in terms of their health and safety. So much for the free speech rights of medical personal of all people. The first court review has already done constitutional eye rolls over that one. In exchange for keeping quiet about the Affordable Health Care act, the NRA tucked in a little noticed provision that keeps physicians from gathering data concerning their patients gun usage, a slap at the face of academic freedom.

The effort to keep the health care community from doing its job and researching and advising on the obvious health consequences of possessing and using firearms is underway not because the gun lobby objects to such projects per se, but because the research has tended to find that having guns around the house and about does more harm to persons’ persons than it does good. For a gun to be an effective way to deal with home invaders pt has to be loaded and unlocked so it can be used on a moments notice. But a gun ready to go is a danger to those in the home; they facilitate severe and lethal accidents (especially among kids), domestic homicides, and suicides. A Center for Disease Control study conducted over the 80s and 90s found that people who kept guns in their homes faced a nearly 3 fold increase in homicides, and nearly 5 fold rise in suicides, than those who went firearms free. The idea the gun lobby is pushing, that women improve their level of protection against bigger men with “equalizers,” is incorrect. Females put themselves at higher overall risk with guns and ammo in the house. Since those sort of results contradict the heater lovers’ ideology and bubble of unreality, and is correspondingly inconvenient to their belief in the inviolate right of all to pack heat, they are trying to halt the pesky science (as conservatives are wont to do with global warming, bioevolution, that rape often leads to pregnancy, and so on). With all gun deaths combined on the way to exceeding traffic deaths, which are researched to death as it were, the need for the science of firearms is painfully obvious. But the gun manufacturers’ allies have cracked down on the National Institute of Health’s research after they recently dared put out a report linking gun violence to alcoholism (much the same as how automobile accidents are often driven by alcohol are well researched). Obama has instructed government agencies to renew research of gun violence via executive order.

Even so, the NRA’s war against the 1st amendment the 2nd has been winning. You can’t egregiously yell fire in a theater crowded with potential victims. In many places you can legally carry a weapon of mass destruction into one.

The American gun mercantile lobby that is called the NRA has recklessly strived to encourage civilians to acquire by the hundreds of millions the semi-automatics that are killing machines without first seeing if objective research shows that this is a good idea.

About the tyranny thing. Just how is this going to happen? For a tyranny to work requires to collaboration of the military, which means the troops have to go along. Gun fanatics are generally rightists these days. The volunteer military is largely conservative – always will be because libs are not so prone to sign up for the military life.. So in the extremely unlikely event the army, navy, marines and airforce go anti-democracy, it should be in support of the right wing dictatorship, not the lefty tyranny the gun cultists fear. The tyranny theory is a ginned up fear factor based on a wildly unrealistic fantasy.

Here are America’s choices.

If American does what the gun crowd wants, and puts weapons of mass destruction into the hands of pretty much all mentally and physically capable and competent adults, and police and guards to protect schools, then it is highly probable that homicide levels will remain well above western norms, and may well be even worse than if the nation maintains the status quo. The US will be at risk of becoming even more like underdeveloped nations packed with rapid fire guns, like Somalia and Yemen. Expanding tracking of the mentally ill and tamping down media violence will not markedly improve the situation.

If America does what it is doing now, and maintains pretty much the status quo, then it is nearly certain that homicide levels will remain well above westerns norms.

If America enacts the modest gun safety controls Obama has proposed – banning the sale of assault rifles and extra large magazines to a greater or lesser degree, expanding background checks to gun shows, etc., improving tracking of the mentally ill – should not hurt and may produce some improvement, but is not going to drive homicide levels down to western norms.

Only if America adopts strong gun safety controls like those in other advanced democracies will the nation be likely to enjoy the low levels of lethal mayhem seen in the rest of the west. Australia, for instance, suffered from a series of mass shootings until the public could not stand it any more, and they banned major categories of firearms including those already in circulation via an enforced buyout. There have been no such slaughters since, and the general murder rate dropped by half. Great Britain has also seen less murder in the wake of strong controls. That so many do not recognize the obvious efficacy of gun limitations is another conservative bubble of denial.

The above is an analysis of what needs to be done to achieve certain results. It is not an analysis of what is and is not politically achievable now and in the future. If the last and best option – including an enormous enforced gun buyback to bring the ratio of firearms to people down to 1st world norms — is not achievable at this time or ever, then the US is doomed to continue to suffer from the high levels of homicide that have afflicted the nation since its beginning. If, as the gun fanatics contend, the nation must be loaded for bear in order to prevent the tyranny that is always just around the corner, or because the founders really did enshrine mass gun possession in the Constitution, then the cost is that America remains the Land of Murder. When the gunphiles pretend that we can have lots of tyranny preventing, constitutionally endorsed firearms on the one hand, and low homicide rates at the other, they are lying whether they know it or not. It is a juvenile have your cake and eat it too fantasy. The gunphile theory that if America goes gunless it is doomed to go the way of Nazis Germany, is pushing us to continue our real world disaster of being a nation where gun homicides are killing a lot more civilians than military combat is killing soldiers and sailors.

But do not despair. In the long term the development of an increasingly progressive population may allow the country to go down the normal western path of the sensible and serious gun regs that minimize murder. And Newtown and the grotesque response of the gun industrial complex may be another American tipping point towards the progressive side of sociopolitics. Perhaps the decline in homicide of late had contributed to a feeling of complacency even though America remains horrifically homicidal. But the mass shootings have become too common, accelerating one sickening event after another throughout every year, and with little kids being slaughtered in their classrooms, for the American majority to continue to go along with the firearm fanatics line that we need more guns to solve the murder problem. The press conference by the Looney Tunes NRA head the week after Sandy Hook — designed to reinforce the position of the gun manufacturer’s among the shrinking minority of angry white males (membership has soared in recent weeks) horrified many a centrist mother who does not want HER kids going to a school where the teachers and principles and hired security are packing heat. Rick Perry says the solution to the homicide problem is to be found in prayer rather than making it hard to get guns. The heater lobby had its post Newtown chance to come across as chastened and reasonable as some thought and hoped they might during their first week of silence. But they are incapable of doing that, all the more so because it would risk their income. Many more now understand that the gun lobby is run by right wing idiots doing the manufacturers and sellers crass bidding.

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© 2013 Economic & Social Justice Reality Report | Views expressed by contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editor, Editorial Board, ESJRR, or WPRR.