“I am saddened and horrified. What I am not is surprised.” –Don Miller
Let the war of words begin. It is sad, but by the time I share this the furor over violence will have moved on until the next act of violence against our children. It has been six whole days.
Most of the reactions will follow a familiar path, “thoughts and prayers”, media outcries for change, pro-gun rights folks debate limited-gun rights folks and anti-gun rights folks. Time passes with nothing changing except more guns are bought until the furor dies and we are again shocked with the next school shooting. The debate begins again and honestly…we don’t seem to be as shocked as we once were. It has become another day in America.
This battle of words will be different this time. While most school shooters are male, this time the LGBTQ+ community will be the center of political arguments…and conspiracy theories and “false flag” conspiracies. If you follow the “there are only two genders” logic the shooter was male, if not she was a female. Does it matter to the dead?
I’ve seen suggestions resurfacing to arm teachers, my least favorite out of myriads of least favorites, to we must “harden the targets.” That sounds like something from a war zone or a “sh!th@le” country once described by a naval orange dressed in a blue suit. All ignore the underlying issue. A culture that embraces violence over diplomacy with access to vast amounts of weapons to execute that violence.
The arming of teachers I find reprehensible. Blaming teachers for every educational ill, accusing them of “grooming” or “indoctrination”, questioning their ability to choose books and now your wish is to put them armed in a class with your juvenile delinquents? I don’t really believe they are juvenile delinquents but wanted you to know that words hurt…so does a round from a rifle or pistol.
Another suggests “evil exists, and laws will not change that.” Why do we have laws at all then? Are laws for honest people? Evil does exist but why are we not keeping weapons out of the hands of evil?
Do I believe this latest killer is evil? No. I believe she was a troubled person who committed an evil act. An evil act that she is responsible for. I also believe there were contributing factors. I blame her for pulling the trigger, but I also blame those who helped put the trigger in her hand.
Let me be fair. It is not just about school, church, or supermarket shootings. It is the drive by in LA, or gang violence in Chicago or Baltimore, or the drunken good ole boy who decides to William Tell a PBR can off his friend’s head and misses a bit low with his hunting rifle. It is about domestic murder in the South and the death of college students in the Midwest.
It’s about students wounded while walking to their prom. It is about gunfire due to road rage and looking cross eyed at the wrong person. It’s about good old boys strapping AR-15s to their back when they get a coffee at the local coffee shop. It is about a lack of empathy and ignoring the sanctity of life in favor of an amendment to the Constitution.
I’ve shared this before but in case you missed it, in 2020, the last year for complete data, gun violence became the leading cause of youth deaths surpassing automobile accidents. Most were suicides. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2020, 54% of all gun-related deaths in the U.S. were suicides (24,292), while 43% were murders (19,384). The numbers came from the CDC and were backed by other sources.
According to CNN, personal safety tops the list of reasons why American gun owners say they own a firearm, yet 63% of US gun-related deaths are self-inflicted from a gun in their home. Please check my research. You might learn something.
It is a fact that it took a finger to pull the trigger, the gun didn’t do it on its own, and these Pew and CDC statistics do not reflect accidental gun deaths or where guns were a contributing factor but not the cause of death.
An undeniable truth is that we live in a gun rich environment. Five percent of the world’s population owns 44-46% of the world’s civilian firearms depending on the study you might be reading. According to a recent CNN study, we own more guns than we have people, one hundred-twenty guns per one hundred people. In 2022, 1.65 million guns were purchased by Americans, which is a slight decline from 2020. One Point Six Five Million.
According to a Scientific American study in 2015, and from what I’ve pieced together it hasn’t changed, assaults with a firearm were 6.8 times more common in states that had the most guns, compared to the least and the data is limited since until recently the federal government was effectively barred from gathering it. Thank the NRA and the “Dicky Amendment.” More than a dozen studies have revealed that if you had a gun at home, you were twice as likely to be killed as someone who didn’t.
Research from the Harvard School of Public Health determined that states with higher gun ownership levels have higher rates of homicide. Data even tells us that where gun shops or gun dealers open for business, killings go up. There are always exceptions to the rule, but some politicians would have you ignore the overall data and quote the exceptions rather than the rule.
Guns are big money. In an article by Fortune Magazine published by Yahoo, Gun rights groups spent $15.8 million on lobbying in 2020, compared to just $2.9 million in lobbying from gun control groups. Beyond lobbying, gun groups have contributed $50.5 million to federal candidates and party committees between 1989 and 2022, with most of those contributions going to Republicans. They spent especially heavily in the 2020 election, with $16.6 million in outside spending.
Oh, but the Second Amendment…. I’m not going to debate it except to say that one side always ignores two words, “well regulated.”
Will there be a change? If history repeats, I expect not. I don’t believe I am an overly cynical person but why would I expect change? Guns are as much a part of our culture as mom, apple pie, and Chevrolet. Other than exchanging duck and cover drills for active shooter drills little has changed.
Our history is rife with violence, mostly involving a gun. Our country was born from violence and expanded using violence, facts we don’t want our school children to hear. Do we have a greater propensity for violence than other countries? I believe so but if not, other countries have done a better job of curbing theirs.
We have violent games, violent movies glorifying the gun and the heroic figure welding it. I’m just as guilty. Several of my novels include violence…gun violence but the good guy with the gun always saved the day…unlike real life.
When I read my comic books, Zane Grey, or Louis Lamoure, I knew it was fiction. James Arness or John Wayne wasn’t really gunning them down in the streets. After I became a history student, I found out their fiction was…based on fiction. There were few gunfights in the streets and the Gunfight at the OK Corral lasted about thirty seconds. My novels are no different. They are fictional…but…real violence is real.
Other cultures have violent games, movies, and literature, but they don’t have real-life violence like we do here. Should we work to keep guns out of the hands of the violent? Should we look at the underlying issues that lead to violence and attempt to correct them?
It is mental illness. I believe someone who goes out and kills multiple children and adults is mentally ill…but that doesn’t give that person a free pass. As I said before, she pulled the trigger but if you are going to blame it on mental illness, other countries with much lower murder rates have mental illnesses too. Could it have something to do with our health system? Should we work to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill?
It is parenting, but why? Single parent homes? Parents having to work multiple jobs leaving their children to their own devices? Cycles of poverty? Again, among the states and cities in those states, statistics show that the higher the poverty rate, the higher the homicide rate…the higher the overall crime rate. This is true across all races and ethnicities and in blue, red, or purple states. Should we work to end poverty?
Criminals will always find a way…yes probably. Should we cut off access at the source? Gunmakers and smugglers? Everything is done after the murder instead of trying to prevent it. Could it be gunmakers and politicians are making too much money off the sale of legal and illegal firearms? Should we limit contributions from the gun lobby and NRA?
Maryland was one of the outliers in the Pew study. Strict gun laws but a higher number of gun deaths. Sixty-five percent of the guns used in violence in Maryland that could be traced came from other states with laxer gun laws. I don’t know the numbers but the same can be said about Chicago, I’m sure. Just something to ponder. Should we strengthen our gun laws?
Cain killed Abel with a rock. Yep, if the Bible is to be believed. I would rather confront a killer walking around with a bag of rocks than a bag of thirty round magazines and a rifle or pistol to put them in.
Along the same lines, “We’ve taken God out of … fill in the blank.” There are many countries who aren’t considered “Christian Countries” who have much lower gun homicide rates. Research Shinto Japan and while you are at it research their gun laws. Japan has a very violent history at times. How did these less Christian countries overcome the problem?
It does seem we have lost our appreciation for the sanctity of life…all life. Our hatred for others leads us to violence. Rhetoric against the Trans Community will increase due to this act, so will acts of violence toward them. Disagreement has become life threatening. We pick some “other” to spew our hateful rhetoric on.
Some Christians will say it is because we have become Godless, I will say that some Christians have driven me from organized religion because they are Jesus-less as they have replaced him with an idol in the shape of an assault-style rifle. If you can’t appreciate the Earth and the people who live on it, I want no part of you or your religion.
I don’t expect any of this will change anyone’s mind about guns…or violence…or mental illness and I don’t believe any effective change will occur. Gun violence is too engrained in our culture, and we pass it on to our children. I fear it is who we are.
Harvard School of Public Health
Don Miller’s violent fiction may be purchased through Amazon. So can his less than violent non-fiction. The link is https://www.amazon.com/stores/Don-Miller/author/B018IT38GM?ref=ap_rdr&store_ref=ap_rdr&isDramIntegrated=true&shoppingPortalEnabled=true