Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Exploding Assorted Gun Myths

As the Newtown parents prepare to confront the most intransigent politicos in D.C., and the gun nut supporters and NRA zombies scream like hysterical harpies about Obama “playing politics” – it is well to bring up some of the numerous gun associated myths that too many Americans accept. These were assembled in the March/April issue of Mother Jones magazine. (Some readers may recall it was Mother Jones and David Corn who broke the hidden Romney 47% video last year, which arguably tilted the election to Obama.)

Here are the major gun myths in the MJ section-article ‘Out Front’:

Myth #1: ‘They’re coming for your guns!”

Fact: America’s roughly 80 million gun owners already have the feds outgunned 79 to 1.

Total weapons owned by law enforcement and the military: 4 million

(Side note: Ok, I will concede, and MJ doesn’t note this, that the feds do have military fighter jets, tanks, nukes and now – from last nights news’ reports- a powerful laser capable of blowing jet planes out of the sky. So even with a 79:1 ratio it might be a tad unwise for a United Citizens Militia to go up against Uncle Sam!)

Myth #2:”Guns don’t kill people- people kill people”

Fact: The states with the highest gun ownership rates have a gun murder rate 114% higher than those with the lowest gun ownership rates.

(Secondary fact, as noted by Rachel Maddow: Bullets kill people! Take all the bullets away and all the guns are useless, and so are the bad guys who might use them on good guys!)

Myth #3: “An armed society is a polite society”

Fact: Drivers who carry guns are 44% more likely to make obscene gestures at other motorists and 77% more likely to follow them aggressively. Among Texans (who admittedly may not constitute the optimum unbiased sample) those with concealed handgun licenses were sentenced for threatening someone with a firearm 4.8 times more than those without.

Myth #4: “More good guys with guns can stop rampaging bad guys.”

Fact: The total number of mass shootings stopped by armed civilians in the past 30 years: ZERO

The chance that a shooting in an Emergency Room involves a weapon taken from a guard: 1 in 5.

Myth  # 5: “Keeping a gun at home makes you safer”.

Fact: For every time a gun is used in self-defense in a home, there are 7 assaults or murders, 11 suicide attempts and 4 accidents involving guns in or around the home. Making the last more likely: 43% of homes with both guns and kids have at least one unlocked firearm.  To see a recent case to do with what I'm referencing here, go to: http://www.salon.com/2013/04/09/new_jersey_4_year_old_accidentally_shoots_6_year_old_in_head_ap/

Myth # 6: “Carrying a firearm for self-defense makes you safer.”

Fact: In 2011, nearly 10 times more people packing heat for self-defense were shot and killed in arguments than by civilians packing heat trying to stop a crime. A Philadelphia study found that the odds of an assault victim being shot were 4.5 times greater if he carried a gun and his odds of being killed were 4.2 times greater.

Myth # 7: “Guns make women safer.”

Fact: Six times more women were shot by husbands, boyfriends and ex-partners than murdered by male strangers. A woman’s chances of being killed by her abuser increase more than 7 times if she has access to a gun.

Myth  # 8: “Vicious, violent video games deserve more blame than guns.”

Fact: Japan spends $10 more per capita on violent video games than the U.S. Its total gun homicides in 2008? ELEVEN.

In the U.S. the same year: 11,030.

The difference? 88 firearms per 100 people in the U.S. but in Japan only 0.6.

Myth # 9: “More and more Americans are becoming gun owners.”

Fact: More guns are being sold, but they’re owned by a shrinking portion of the population. In 1973, 50% of Americans said they had a gun in their homes, today 43% do.

Myth #10: “We don’t need more gun laws, just enforcing the ones we already have!”

Fact: Weak laws and loopholes backed by the gun lobby make it easier to get guns illegally, including via ‘straw purchases’ (e.g. having someone with a clean record buy a weapon for a felon.) Nearly 40% of all gun sales involve private sellers and don’t require background checks. One investigation found that 62% of online sellers were willing to sell to buyers who couldn’t pass a legal background check.

Will any of these myths being shattered make any difference? Will they help the parents of the Newtown victims make their case? This is doubtful so long as reason and common sense take a back seat to ideology and irrationality fueled by tons of NRA lobby money. The sad fact is, as with other areas, one party is almost totally contaminated by gun lobby money so they will not likely change – not even to pass a law for universal background checks which 90% of Americans support.

It could be, just saying, the other reason it’s so hard to make headway on this issue is because the nation itself is schizoid in its approach to violence.  It is disputable then that a nation can, via its military, commit mass murder overseas – say by launching pre-emptive wars (killing 600,000 Iraqis) or  ‘accidentally’ killing 11 Afghan villagers, including kids in a coordinated rocket attack, then expect magically that this arena is divorced or separate from the one at home where gun violence reigns. Pull out of Afghanistan, stop all plans for war making – including possibly Iran- THEN go to battle for changes in the gun laws at home! In other words, stop believing that the violence executed militarily (by a perceived empire)  overseas has nothing to do with the nascent vibe of violence at home!

It was, indeed, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. himself who first recognized the intimate connection between violent military overseas adventures  - in this case Vietnam (1968) - and violence at home.  In speech after speech in early 1968 he came down hard on U.S. policy in 'Nam, and LBJ, incensed, ordered his phones tapped. LBJ regarded King as an ingrate, especially after getting Civil Rights legislation and the Voting Rights Act passed. But King saw that none of that mattered if a nation promoted a culture of violence by its very aggressive wanton war mongering. Expecting minimal violence at home, while waging extraordinary violence in a foreign land (irrespective of the justification), was therefore as irrational as it was indefensible.

See also: http://www.smirkingchimp.com/thread/jeff-cohen/48983/the-elephant-in-the-room-militarism

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