Compared to the United Kingdom, statistics on gun violence makes us look like we live in a third world country
I figured out what we’re going to need in order to get true gun control legislation passed in the United States. My best friend lives in the United Kingdom. She and I correspond regularly, and though we talk a lot about food and dogs, the thing we have our most intense discussions about is gun violence.
As someone born in Scotland, of Irish lineage, living in England, she is well aware of what it is like when people are so impassioned about something that they will take extreme measures to address the issue. “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland is a prime example. The July 7, 2005 terrorist bombings in London is another.
Gun violence is hardly a concern to a Scottish girl walking the streets of London or taking a hike in the countryside of Kent, or a walk from the theater to a late supper at a nice family-owned Italian restaurant in Manchester. That’s not to say there aren’t other worries living in the U.K., but one thing she does not have to worry about is being hit by a stray bullet or being gunned down in a movie theater as a victim of another lunatic with easy access to guns.
The restrictions in the United Kingdom are so severe that the statistics when compared to the United States are breathtaking. The rate of homicide by firearms:
United Kingdom (2010 reporting year): 0.04 per 100,000 people
United States (2012 reporting year): 2.83 per 100,000 people
Add deaths by suicide, unintentional firing of the weapon and undetermined categories to the mix? The results are abysmal:
United Kingdom: 0.25 per 100,000
United States: 10.30 per 100,000
The gun lobby in the United States is big, powerful and well-funded, and apparently has very little concern for your child or your spouse or anyone at all getting injured or killed by one of the guns that, more and more, can be carried openly, loaded, with no need for training whatsoever. The number of incidents of threats leveled on people by gun-toting thugs – or what were previously considered law-biding citizens – has risen drastically, enabled by the National Rifle Association and Republican-controlled state governments. Some reasons for pulling a firearm out and aiming it at someone?
- Because someone’s grandchild wasn’t placed in a softball game.
- Someone didn’t think his kid had enough play time in a youth football game, pulled out a gun (where the wife of the son brandished weapons).
- Pulling a gun on a family at the park.
- Nine members of the same family are involved in an O.K. Corral-type shootout in Cottonwood, Arizona, leaving one family member dead and a police officer injured.
These are just four of the many manifestations that prove just how debased the gun culture is in this country.
Politicians in the U.S. seem to think that they have to stay on the good side of the NRA in order to get elected and re-elected. So many politicians, even politicians that should know better, are indebted to this organization because of the costs involved in maintaining their seats in Congress.
These supporters of virtually no restrictions on guns are saying scarier and scarier things. A recent blog post at the Huffington Post written by the executive director for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence elicited this comment:
He was speaking of Abraham Lincoln. Yes, the tyrant who forced the emancipation of the slaves during the U.S. Civil War. These people say far more extreme things than this. That the man who freed the slaves and saved the United States of America is a tyrant in the eyes of those who insist that they have a right to their guns says all we need to know about their twisted mindset.
You may recall that during President Barack Obama’s first campaign for the highest office in the land he was quoted during a stop in western Pennsylvania:
“You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
Obama got a lot of flak for speaking the truth. And the gun situation continues to get worse here. The president is not without blame for this, as are all of those in political life who kowtow to the NRA. It is true that he cannot take unilateral action on this topic. He would be vilified and even more of a target of the gun nuts than he is right now. He needs Americans to show their concern for this topic.
There are more and more organizations like The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence that are taking a stand. But there is a huge disconnect with many of the states. They look to the Constitution for their guidance – the constitution of the ENTIRE United States of America – in an incorrect reading of a poorly written amendment to it. But then they demand their ability to regulate guns at a state level. And then they get upset when states regulate too severely for their taste, even when there are states like Georgia and Kansas and soon Texas and others who have made or will soon make it legal for you to obtain a gun and allow you to carry it, loaded, anywhere (even in church), without a permit or license and without having to attend any kind of a safety class for the privilege.
It’s no wonder that my friend is bewildered that Americans stand and continue to allow all of these deaths by gun. What a mess we have made. As hopeful as I am that things will ultimately change, that we can still reverse this terrible spiral, this out of control fanaticism of gun owners, I fear that the answer is one that none of us wants but all of us trembles with fear at knowing, in our hearts, must happen.
What do we need, a few more major mass killings? Primarily, perhaps preferably, of children, for us to expect anything to change. One mass killing of children didn’t change us, would two? Three? A dozen? Why were the children of Sandy Hook not enough?
Is it because the children weren’t “important” enough? A murdered grandchild of a senator, maybe, or the daughter of the President? As horrible as that is to think about, could this be the only way for us to get back on topic, regarding just how serious this cluster fuck is? As America seems to be heading that way regardless, we have to hope we’ll want to change the horror our nation is becoming, instead of dully accepting it like many of us do now.
The gun lobby would challenge that many of these deaths are committed by criminals, as though that is any kind of a justification for leaving the status quo, or worse, allowing not only access to guns, but free reign in carrying them. They truly could care less about you or your family member taking a bullet to the head. We all have targets on our foreheads, living in the United States today.
As we continue to take little to no action, it seems that this must be what we want? Is that what you want?