U.S. gun culture diagnosed as a social disease

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Recently, a delegation from Tucson composed of some of the survivors of the mass shooting of January 2011, in which Rep. Gabby Giffords was gravely injured, met with the U.S. attorney general, urging him to take action and letting him know they expect President Obama to present a specific plan to reduce the horrific gun violence plaguing the nation.

In the wake of the two mass shootings this summer, some American physicians consider this country's gun violence a social disease. Mass murders of citizens by other citizens occur here with a frequency seen in no other nation in the world.

The mass murders in Colorado and the racist mass homicides in Wisconsin are illustrative of a type of tragedy for which the U.S. holds a near monopoly. The background facts speak for themselves.

First, the U.S. is awash in firearms. There are roughly 300 million guns in American households (per capita a gun for every citizen - this is the highest concentration in the world).

Second, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has a hugely powerful lobby that has been able to stop nearly any national debate on the issue.

Third, the U.S. has a history of hideous, omnipresent racism that has spawned a proliferation of hate groups among some white Americans -- citizens who have a very deluded, paranoid sense of victimization.

Fourth, massive inequality and poverty, long present in communities of color, has started to impoverish the ranks of hitherto comparatively prosperous Euro-Americans.

Fifth, there are 58 million Americans with significant mental problems (1 in 5).

Sixth, there has been a severe decline in mental health facilities (for this we can thank President Reagan: as California governor he systematically closed mental hospitals, and later as president he cut aid for federally funded community mental health programs).

Seventh, we have an arms industry, opting for profit over humanity, that makes billions each year on the sale of arms to hate-filled racists, the mentally ill and the general public.

 

With massive numbers of guns available in this country to the mentally ill, the race haters, the drug deranged, the people haters, and with huge inequalities, a lot of innocent citizens will be shot on a regular basis.

The result of a perfect storm of the above factors is an endless string of mass murders each year of innocent men, women and children. Staggeringly, research indicates that 20 mass shootings occur each year. The public only hears about the most egregious. Aside from mass killings, approximately 86 Americans die each day by gunfire. This adds up to 30,000 a year, with 100,000 wounded - much more than are killed in America's endless wars each year. The country is at war with itself. The figures are appalling.

The U. S. has, by one explanation, an ongoing gun culture because it is a nation founded on the genocide of one race - Native Americans - and the enslavement of another - African Americans. Guns were needed to slaughter one people and to subjugate another. Hence, the tradition of gun possession became embedded in the American psyche.

But we also need to look at the recent history of the arms business in the nation. At the end of World War II the Allies had a huge surplus of still very usable guns. There was no ready market anywhere for these firearms but in the U.S., as no other large and wealthy nation would have them within their borders. Even more weapons became available in the 1950s, when NATO forces changed to uniform cartridges and relinquished a stockpile of outmoded rifles. These also flooded the U.S., were imported very cheaply, often at less than $1 apiece, and could be sold at a huge profit, but still inexpensive for a purchaser - the rifle that killed President Kennedy cost $12.78. Massive imports of weapons took place at a time when the country was in the midst of serious political crises, which often incited violence. All this was with massive advertising by the NRA on the joys of gun ownership. A typical ad of the era read, "MORE FUN ... with YOUR GUNS ... the Year Around!"

However, also needed is an answer to the phenomenon of the young white male misanthrope who hates and kills. Is it just untreated mental illness? If so, why is it affecting mostly young white males? Or are these crimes also largely drug induced? More analysis is needed on this tragic phenomenon, particularly from the perspective of the Marxist theory of alienation, whereby some citizens become estranged from their own humanity.

In the meantime, to protect ourselves we need a "National Commission on Hate Crimes and Mental Health;" the tightening of gun laws; a huge reduction of public access to guns; banning of sales of the most lethal guns, assault weapons, etc.; national restoration of the mental health system; and a banning of huge ammo clips -- for just a start.

Photo: At a march and vigil against gun violence in New York's a Harlem neighborhood on Jan. 8, the first anniversary of the Tucson, Arizona shootings that killed six and injured 12. Kathy Willens/AP

 

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  • To all the gun enthusiasts: Nice responses!

    But I wonder... If guns are so effective at protecting and defending one's freedom, then why post your capstone project for home school social studies here? Does one actually need some sort of rhetorical defense against what you perceive as a threat to your life, liberty, or happiness? Could this possibly mean that your gun will not protect you from (I daresay) most things most of the time?

    Good job interfacing with the internet though. Genius.

    Posted by Joseph, 01/28/2013 2:24pm (1 year ago)

  • So WilBill, do we just have to live with and accept slaughters like the one that occurred yesterday and that have been occurring increasingly frequently? Or do you have a solution to the problem?

    Posted by Vimilimitex, 12/15/2012 11:51am (2 years ago)

  • "gun violence" is a social disease?

    I read the study linked to. Even though the study tried to blame the higher American homicide rate on the availability and use of firearms, the same study admitted the American suicide rate was 30% lower than average!

    So if firearms are responsible for the higher homicide rate, then using the same logic why aren't firearms responsible for the lower suicide rate? And since suicide is a worse problem than homicide, if you really want to lower the total number of deaths, then the answer is more guns?

    Fantastic! A solution found to the higher European suicide rate. They just need more guns. Problem solved. Hah!

    Posted by Brad, 09/28/2012 5:34am (2 years ago)

  • Good work comrades! Remember we will destroy the Americans from within. Without firing a shot. They will destroy themselves. Sorry, got to go. Back to my job of dividing the people and destroying the economy. Stupid Americanski.

    Posted by Barry Soetoro, 09/27/2012 2:01pm (2 years ago)

  • Well said, Willbill, well said. In fact, I'm going to copy and save your post, as it is well documented with sources and essentially destroys Mr. Bender's opinion piece.

    Mr. Bender apparently believes that most firearms owners are racists and suffer from mental disorders. I would love to see his sources for coming to such a conclusion. Then again, it would seem that he just made that up as part of an inflammatory argument. His opinion seems to be strictly based on his desire to reduce or eliminate firearms ownership, not based on any statistical analysis that would lead one to believe his desire would actually lead to reduced crime.

    Violent crime is a difficult issue to solve. Making the assumption that tools are the *cause* of violent crime is something done by the mentally lazy. Poverty, lack of proper education, lack of good role models, an "entitlement" mentality, etc. are all parts of the puzzle, but very difficult to resolve. It's so much easier to simply argue for "more gun control". But that is the lazy man's so-called solution, and in the end, it won't solve anything.

    Posted by Shiva105, 09/26/2012 9:36am (2 years ago)

  • Wow that was a very misleading article. While some things in it are true most have been twisted to support the writers view point, such as the 30,000 firearms deaths in the US each year. The writer failed to mention that over 24,000 of those where suicides not violent crime and a large percentage of the rest of the deaths where criminal on criminal, accidental or those caused by law enforcement shooting the citizens of this country.
    Quote "Sixth, there has been a severe decline in mental health facilities (for this we can thank President Reagan: as California governor he systematically closed mental hospitals. This sounds like a need for the government to do something first about the mental health issues considering most of the deaths where suicides. I could go on and on but this gives you a idea of the way the facts have been twisted in this article.

    Posted by Rob Edwards, 09/25/2012 7:33pm (2 years ago)

  • “….urging him to take action and letting him know they expect President Obama to present a specific plan to reduce the horrific gun violence plaguing the nation.”

    The inconvenient fact is that our right to Keep and BEAR arms have been increasingly restored over last several years and more citizens are now free to carry firearms in more places since the year 1900. Yet, homicides, including homicides with firearms, as well as all other violent crime have been decreasing since 2006. Moreover, after a dramatic increase in firearms sales and ownership after the last Presidential election including an increase in first time firearms purchases and an increase in firearms carry permits, citizen disarmament zealots and organizations predicted that there would be a corresponding increase in homicides and other violent crime. However, the U.S. homicide rate decreased from 5.0 per 100,000 in 2009 to 4.8 per 100,000 in 2010 and all other violent crime decreased as well.

    Preliminary data from 2011 shows all Violent Crime was down 6.4%, Murder down 5.7%, Rape down 5.1%, Robbery down 7.7%, and Aggravated Assault down 5.9%.

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/tables/10tbl04.xls

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2010/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/tables/10shrtbl08.xls

    http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2011/december/crime-stats_121911/crime-stats_121911

    By contrast, The United Kingdom enacted extreme firearms bans years ago, and gun crime in the U.K. has double in a decade.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/6438601/Gun-crime-doubles-in-a-decade.html

    It is no wonder that a Gallup Poll of October 26, 2011 found that 60% of those surveyed supported enforcing current gun laws more strictly and NOT pass any new laws while only 35% responded to enforce current gun laws more strictly and pass new gun control laws.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/150341/Record-Low-Favor-Handgun-Ban.aspx

    Citizen disarmament zealots and their organizations ignore these inconvenient facts because they debunk their propaganda, deception.

    “There are roughly 300 million guns in American households (per capita a gun for every citizen - this is the highest concentration in the world).”

    According to Smallarmssurvey.org, the United States ranks first (88.1) in per capita civilian firearms ownership per 100, so the casual observer would believe the U.S. would be in top 10 in murders, or at least the top twenty. However, the U.S. is not even in the top 30. The U.S. ranked the 35 in the World murder rate. In 2009 that came to 5.0 per 100.000 in 2009, and 4.8 in 2010.

    Switzerland ranks third (45.7) civilian firearms ownership per 100, and it unlikely that military weapons kept in Swiss homes are included since they are property of the Swiss Government, so the casual observer would believe that Switzerland would also have a high homicide rate. Yet, their murder rate was an extremely low 0.66 per 100,000 in 2009.

    By contrast, El Salvador ranked 92nd in civilian firearms ownership (5.8) per 100, so the casual observer would believe that they would not be in the top fifty murder rate. However, they ranked first in the world murder rate at a staggering 71 per 100,000 in 2009, second in murder rate in 2010 with 66 per 100,000 in 2010, and second in 2011 at 71 per 100,000. Honduras ranked 88th in firearm ownership per 100 and they were first in 2011 world murder rate at a staggering 86 per 100,000.

    http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/A-Yearbook/2007/en/Small-Arms-Survey-2007-Chapter-02-annexe-4-EN.pdf

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_rate

    It has also been found that there is no correlation between firearms ownership and homicide and suicide rates, and many of the countries with the strictest firearms prohibitions have higher homicide and suicide rates than nations without such restrictions.

    http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol30_No2_KatesMauseronline.pdf

    “Second, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has a hugely powerful lobby that has been able to stop nearly any national debate on the issue.”

    Google news search “Gun control” and you will find that the debate rages on.

    “The mass murders in Colorado and the racist mass homicides in Wisconsin are illustrative of a type of tragedy for which the U.S. holds a near monopoly.”

    April 26, 2002 - GERMANY - In Erfurt, eastern Germany, 19-year-old Robert Steinhauser killed 12 teachers, a secretary, two pupils and a policeman at the Gutenberg Gymnasium, before killing himself.

    November 7, 2007 - FINLAND - Pekka-Eric Auvinen killed six fellow students, the school nurse and the principal and himself

    September 23, 2008 - FINLAND - Student Matti Saari opened fire in a vocational school in Kauhajoki in northwest Finland, killing nine other students

    March 11, 2009 - GERMANY - A 17-year-old gunman dressed in black combat gear killed nine students and three teachers at a school near Stuttgart. Two additional passers-by were killed and two policemen seriously injured, bringing the death toll to 16 including the gunman.

    June 2, 2010 - BRITAIN - Gunman Derrick Bird opened fire on people in towns across the rural county of Cumbria. Twelve people were killed and 11 injured.

    August 30, 2010 - SLOVAKIA - A gunman shot dead six members of a Roma family and another woman in the Slovak capital Bratislava before killing himself.

    April 9, 2011 - NETHERLANDS - Tristan van der Vlis opened fire in the Ridderhof mall in Alphen aan den Rijn, south of Amsterdam, killing six before turning the gun on himself.

    Derrick Bird killed twelve people in the United Kingdom, the same number as Holmes killed in Aurora despite extreme firearms prohibitions in the U.K.

    He didn't have an "assault weapon".
    He didn't have 6,000 rounds of ammunition.
    He didn't have a pump action shotgun.
    He didn't have two Glock handguns.
    He didn't have a 100 round magazine.

    He had a 22 caliber bolt action rifle of the kind used to shoot squirrels, rabbits, and for target shooting.
    Please note that many of these mass shootings occurred in nations with extreme gun control.

    “This adds up to 30,000 a year, with 100,000 wounded…”

    Criminologists have found that U.S. citizens use firearms for self-defense 2.5 million times a year, and every life that is lost to firearms violence 65 lives are saved by firearms in self-defense.

    http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/jlpp/Vol30_No2_KatesMauseronline.pdf

    Suter E. "Guns in the Medical Literature - A Failure of Peer Review." Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia. March 1994; 83: 133-48.

    “….the tightening of gun laws; a huge reduction of public access to guns”

    Yes, you have made it clear that you are a citizen disarmament zealot.

    “banning of sales of the most lethal guns, assault weapons, etc.”

    Another inconvenient fact is that that in 2010, Aks, ARs, Uzis and all other semi-auto “Assault Weapons” as well as all other rifles accounted for 358 murders nationwide. That is less than three percent of all homicides and comes to less than one homicide a day. Not only does that mean that no one in you state will be murdered by an “Assault Weapon” or any other rifle this month but likely not next month, or even the month after that.

    By contrast, over four times the number of murders, 1,704, were with knives or cutting instruments, over twice the numbers of murders, 745, were with hands, fists, feet, etc, and more murders, 540, were committed using blunt objects like clubs, hammers, baseball bats, etc.

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/20 10/crime-in-the-u.s.-2010/tables/10shrtbl08.xls

    Additionally, a study funded by the Department of Justice concluded, “Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement. AWs were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban.”

    https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/204431.pdf

    In an April 5, 1996, column in the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer, who forthrightly supports total gun prohibition, wrote, "Passing a law like the assault weapons ban is a symbolic — purely symbolic — move in that direction. Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation."

    The fact is that these so called “Assault Weapons” are not military weapons. As Josh Sugarmann, the executive director and founder of the Violence Policy Center, put it in Assault Weapons and Accessories in America, 1988, “The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.”


    Posted by Wilbill, 09/25/2012 4:17pm (2 years ago)

  • I find it ironic that you talk about racism in the context of gun control. You must not be aware that the origins of gun control in this country had everything to do with keeping blacks unarmed.

    Posted by Joe, 09/25/2012 3:28pm (2 years ago)

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