January 17, 2011
I have been closely following the news in the aftermath of the horrendous shooting incident on the 8th of January in Tucson Arizona, which killed six and left thirteen wounded. The attack, once again, fuelled the ongoing debate of gun ownership and gun control in the United States and some of their citizens’ staunch defense of their rights to the Second Amendment of the American Bill of Rights which states: “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.”
Given the fact that the original documents were written well over two hundred years ago, my personal view on the matter would be that to “bear arms”, by using today’s types of firearms, hardly compares to the “bear arms” with the kind of firearms the American forefathers were referring to back in the1700s. Methinks the Tucson shooter wouldn’t have done as much damage had he been wielding a musket or a flintlock pistol.
The political and domestic climate, that Americans were living in during the late 1700s, cannot come close in comparison to today’s world, so the Gun Lobbyists’ claims that it’s their “right to bear arms”, (for self-defense purposes only, mind you), hardly applies to today’s standards.
While I’m not exactly anti-gun, and let’s face it, how many prairie boys do you know who didn’t own a .22 rifle, I do have a hard time understanding how the diehard gun lobbyists feel that semi-automatic handguns, with thirty-shot-holding clips, and sub-machine guns are weapons of self defense. And I have an even more difficult time understanding the argument that it is exactly “these types of attacks” which prompt people to “load up” in case they too are caught up in a firefight rather than accepting the argument that “these types of attacks” would be lessened if fewer people had these types of weapons available to them.
Many Canadians tend to take a “holier than thou” stance regarding our neighbors to the south but we Canadians are not nearly as different as we like to think we are and we are greatly affected by what goes on in the Excited States of America. That said, I don’t think Canadians are even close to the Americans when it comes to gun loving. To that end I did a little research regarding guns, the pro-gun lobby, the anti-gun lobby and some statistics, myths and truths regarding firearms in our world today. I will share some of my findings with you now.
• Population of the United States-305,689,000.
• The latest estimation of the number of firearms in the United States-275,000,000.
• Guns per 100 American residents-90. (Number of guns divided by number of residents; this number is not a representation of the percentage of people who possess guns).
• "The level of gun ownership world-wide is directly related to murder and suicide rates and specifically to the level of death by gunfire." International Correlation between gun ownership and rates of homicide and suicide.' Professor Martin Killias, May 1993.
• A government study found that the United States has by far the highest rate of gun deaths, (murders, suicides and accidents) among the world's 36 richest nations- 10.2 per 100,000. Canada-2.4 per 100,000.
• MYTH: Keeping guns in the home increases personal protection. TRUTH: Self defense is not a good argument against gun control. Two studies published in The New England Journal of Medicine revealed that keeping a gun in the home makes it 2.7 times more likely that someone will be a victim of homicide and 4.8 times more likely that someone will commit suicide.
• MYTH: "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" is a good argument against gun control. TRUTH: This pro-gun argument makes about as much sense as claiming that "glasses don't see, eyes see". Glasses are a tool, which help people to see just as guns are a tool that help people kill and injure others. A study done by the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence reported that a victim is about 5 times more likely to survive if an attacker is armed with a knife rather than a gun.
• MYTH: If you outlaw guns only the outlaws will have guns. TRUTH: If you outlaw guns, very few criminals will have guns. In America, guns start out legal then they enter the black market one way or the other. Nations with very strict gun control laws such as the UK, Australia, and Japan have much lower gun crime rates than the US.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a prominent activist and clergyman in the African-American civil rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s. Dr. King was shot and killed by an assassin’s bullet on Thursday, April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. I am writing this article on Martin Luther King Jr. Day and thought it apropos to quote him at the conclusion of this article. The quotation is from a sermon that was delivered in Montgomery, Alabama, at Christmas, 1957. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote it whi1e in jail for committing nonviolent civil disobedience during the Montgomery bus boycott. Oh how little we have learned.
“Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies -- or else? The chain reaction of evil -- hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars -- must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation." –Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968).