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Guns are dangerous and should be controlled

On September 11, 2001, the Trade Center was attacked and destroyed. Three thousand innocent people were lost and the country launched into an anti-terror campaign that led us into two unnecessary, unwinnable wars, (6000 killed, 60,000 wounded, hundreds of thousands innocent Afghan/Iraqi people killed and wounded). It created a new unnecessary government agency called Homeland Security, and passed an unnecessary Patriot Act among other things.

This $4 trillion ($4,000,000,000,000) response to the 9/11 attack was done while reducing government revenues under the Bush tax cuts (another $3 trillion), relaxing regulations on Wall Street, and disregarding defense contracting rules allowing single, sole source contracting to firms like Halliburton (Cheney) and Kellogg, Brown, and Root to get their paws into the National Treasury till for hundreds of billions to provide support services the military had always provided for themselves.

And yes, we haven’t had a terrorist attack of that magnitude from outside our borders since 9/11, Boston not withstanding. But what about the terrorists within?

In December 2013, 20 children and six adults were slaughtered in a barrage of bullets from an assault rifle that tore apart the small bodies of five, six and seven year olds – the actual carnage which is too horrible to conceive or show. In the aftermath analysis, we find there are about 100 murders, 35-75 by gunfire, every day in the United States. That’s 36,000 a year, or 100 times more than 9/11 and almost as many as were killed in Vietnam.

In the 10 years since 9/11 we have lost nearly 400,000 people and we have done exactly nothing to prevent it except to defend the greedy benefactors of uncontrolled access to all types of firearms and ammunition, the manufacturers, lobbyists (NRA) and distributors.

Why haven’t we been able to do something about it? Three letters, NRA, and the political power the agency has over elected officials responsible for passing common sense firearm control and related public safety laws. They use the second amendment to cover their arguments that all citizens, regardless of background, have rights to bear arms of any kind gun manufacturers can dream up to increase sales.

What we have learned and now appreciate is that most gun owners don’t belong to the NRA and 80 percent of those who do belong agree with responsible, common sense gun ownership regulations. The NRA leaders are, in fact, nothing more than a lobbyist group for the gun and ammunition manufacturers and their outlets.

NRA’s leading spokesman, Wayne La Pierre, utters the dumbest slogan ever – “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” – and his following buys into it. Fact is that non-law enforcement good guys facing bad guys with a gun usually end up dead.

There are only two reasons for private ownership of firearms which will never be infringed upon. They are self-protection and hunting. The third reason, recreation, opens the door to exotic weapons such as assault rifles, which serve no useful purpose in a civil society.

Relative to self-protection, in a recent year’s data sampling, there were approximately 200 gun-related self-defense incidents compared to approximately 36,000 deaths, a 180/1 ratio. Statistics also show people who have firearms are 22 times more likely for they or a member of their household to be killed accidently, commit suicide or be murdered.

In a country with 300,000,000 guns, most of which were sold for self- protection, only 200 per year served the self-protection purpose? This should give pause to those who have been led to believe they are safer with a firearm in the household.

So where is the argument to have guns for personal safety? Have you ever rehearsed a scenario where you feel threatened, scramble for your gun, load it, seek him/her out and think you would have the advantage over an experienced criminal? If you shoot first it may just be a friend or family member. If it is an experienced criminal your chance of winning a shootout is nearly zero. 

Guns used for hunting have reasonable restrictions – hunters don’t object or even want to use exotic weapons. They are sportsmen. Hunting itself serves very useful purposes. Their second amendment rights will never be infringed.

A third reason is recreational, the principal cause of conflict. Proposed legislation doesn’t address reducing the existing 300 million guns among us.

Maybe there is a better way to address the problem that is a win-win situation for both public safety and the gun industry itself. Exotic guns used for recreational purposes would be kept only in gun clubs with firing ranges, the only safe places to use them. A combination of government, gun and ammunition manufacturers, and NRA could expand the sites, establish standard rules and guidelines, and members/users would pay dues and fees to repay the investment and maintain the facilities. Individuals could either own a recreational class gun kept securely on-site or use firearms available at the club. The latter is especially attractive, since a variety of firearms would sustain long term interest.

Technology would also make this more attractive. Virtual targets such as wild animals, game of every variety, intruder profiles, military enemies…could be selected as targets and accuracy measured to provide feedback essential to maintain and enhance proficiency.

Gun clubs are in the same class as golf, fishing, sailing…any number of sports that require going to an external facility away from home. Manufacturers could still make and sell weapons of most types, dealers could sell them under reasonable guidelines, and owners/users would have a safe and interesting place to exercise their passion. — Lee Purrier, Park Rapids