WORDS: 2,123 — I’d not wait for a vaccine for this social “disease”. The only way to fight off this pandemic is to go get your own gun…. thus spreading the good cheer to all. Nothing like herd immunity in gun ownership. After all, Colt Firearms back in the 19th century sold guns using the motto… “God created man, but Col. Colt made him equal.” Seems to me that still holds true today. There’s an awful lot of “equal” people out there.
I actually started composing this post prior to the November 30 Oxford High School shooting in Michigan. What will make this shooting event more outstanding than “usual” [“sigh] school shootings is the background illustrating a comprehensive failure in parenting, unlawful adherence to gun laws regarding minors, school administration “red flag” processes, and likely a couple other areas I am missing. A case study in the proverbial “perfect storm” of incompetence in gun ownership. Of note has been the notable crickets emanating from normally combative Conservative gun-lover blogs.
No, I’m not going to lament about the pro’s and con’s of the Second Amendment as it was last interpreted by the Supreme Court. I don’t agree with their interpretation one bit… but it is the law of the land and it’s part and parcel to my defending the Constitution. But I can, and am, going to belabor the point that this nation is in a world of hurts over the sheer number of guns spread throughout the entire country, with very little regard to the capabilities and responsibilities of gun ownership at a time when carrying in public, concealed or open, is fast becoming a norm. I own guns; I’m ex-military (for whatever that seems to suggest). So I know what you might think I don’t know. With that qualifying out of the way let’s move on to a serious number involving gun ownership. A very significant number of gun owners suffer from… well.. here it is from Wiki…
An estimated 26% of Americans ages 18 and older — about 1 in 4 adults — suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. Many people suffer from more than one mental disorder at a given time. In particular, depressive illnesses tend to co-occur with substance abuse and anxiety disorders.
Given individual gun owners, registered, is in the millions, simple math suggests the 26% of all those millions of gun owners have a mental disorder. Scary? It should be. But let’s qualify that a bit. Not to overly stigmatize those with mental health quandaries, not all mental disorders result in something bad happening in life much less with a firearm. In fact, most mental disorders are themselves undiagnosed, being managed, or are of lesser impact. This means not all people with mental disorders are going to be mass shooters or active shooters in the local mall. What should be of note in this group is that suicide by firearm is high, across the board, and all ages. Yet as of this writing there’s nothing to keep a person with a diagnosed mental disorder that might contribute to a random violent act to harm themselves or others, from purchasing a firearm providing they have a clear police record. This is not as easy to remedy as it sounds. It’s not adding a checkbox question, “Are you currently under care for a mental disorder?”
It’s one thing to place civil rights restrictions on people who have a history of breaking the law.. but it’s an entirely different situation in the consideration of someone’s mental health and restricting their civil rights in an anticipatory, pre-emptive way when no crime has been committed. There’s some serious legal challenges to that with violating a person’s rights. Most notably is that there is always the risk of a given restriction, a right taken away, being abused and corrupted in some form as a form of a blanket attempt to curtail rights for ulterior power motives by unscrupulous persons. So.. does that mean we continue to allow gun purchases only on persons without criminal records and let the mental cases go unchallenged? Yes, of course… for now. Until some future plan can be made legal or until science itself can catch up to correct mental health issues.
Sadly, the rare but nonetheless all too tragic active shooter situations in this country in a given year, along with people reaching a point of depression to the point of harming themselves.. well, our Bill of Rights are more important than the individual. As a nation we will have to accept the occasional mass shooter or active shooter killing innocent people, along with Rickenhouse-style events, until such time as we figure out a way to stop them without violating rights. It’s a moral and legal conundrum, if not an abyss of a dilemma. Some of this could be mediated a bit by not creating looney-tune open carry laws and customized stand-your-ground laws to fit some local gun owner biases. At the moment few in the public sphere seem to care given all the other more urgent priorities for the nation. To that I would agree. For now, let them buy guns if they want to.. and to those areas… states… with residents that want their guns to determine their lives and need laws to allow expansive use (permission to dodge legal responsibility) to threaten or kill people, people will continue to experience deadly events because of it. After all, that’s the price of having an “inalienable” and “God-given” right.
Morality and the law aside for a moment, let’s deal with the shear numbers of weapons in the land and see where we stand as a free democratic republic.
We Can’t Even Answer A Simple Question… How Many People Own A Gun In This Country?
Here’s one of the problems with trying to do statistics on firearms. This is one report in a series from the Guns In America Project (HERE)…. from their report, How Many People In U.S. Own A Gun?…
The answer to this question is not straightforward. The exact number of U.S. gun owners is unclear due to the fact that there is no federal registration requirement or similar regulation that would enable an official count. In fact, federal law prohibits a central registry of firearms owned by private citizens.
About 40% of Americans say they or someone in their household owns a gun, and 22% of individuals (about 72 million people) report owning a gun, according to surveys from Pew and Harvard and Northeastern.
All The Following Stats Can Be Found HERE
- The United States is the only nation in the world where civilian guns outnumber people.
- In 2019, the number of US deaths from gun violence was about 4 per 100,000 people. That’s 18 times the average rate in other developed countries.
- The US was home to 4% of the world’s population but accounted for 44% of global suicides by firearm in 2019
- No other developed nation has mass shootings at the same scale or frequency as the US
We can easily say that this is the price America pays for the Second Amendment right…. but that’s the problem, we don’t easily say it. After all, gun owners are law-abiding.
“Law-abiding”… And That Means What?
A common defensive argument from gun proponents and their objections to any sort of gun restrictions is that these controls supposedly punish law-abiding gun owners. I personally never have understood that concept of “law-abiding”. I mean, on any given day and for any aspect of social life, the average citizen is always law-abiding until they are not. The idea is that being law-abiding is a state of being that is constantly in flux. We are humans.. hence today we are law abiding and tomorrow we may not. Today I obey the stop sign, tomorrow I am pissed at the world and just say, “Screw it.” and run the same sign because there’s obviously no cross traffic at 2am. Human stress levels change from day to day hence also does our general day-to-day attitude and moods. If you own a car that privilege exists if you follow the rules of the road otherwise you surrender your license. The fact is, humans surrender their licenses each and every work day in courts around the country for reaching a point where their violations require action guard public safety. They become not law-abiding car owners as a result of not following the rules of the road.
But owning a car is not a Constitutional right and has no amendment. Gun ownership is a right… yet gun owners would prefer no restrictions.. no “rules of the road” to dictate use and behavior, or a responsibility toward public safety. There’s some assumption that a Constitutional “right” itself somehow will assure proper behavior in exercising it… and everyone exercising it is automatically “law-abiding”. There is also this growing assumption that a “law-abiding gun owner” can make public safety decisions in how to exercise his/her gun ownership in public to the point of deciding if and when to pull the trigger against another human being. Apparently this “Constitutional right” is a greater right than my right to walk around in public without the threat and intimidation of firearms being carried in public by anyone other than duly certified law enforcement personnel. No.. to me this “law-abiding” nonsense is not an all-encompassing presumption to justify anything, much less gun ownership without controls. “Law-abiding” is NOT a life-long guarantee. There’s this mindset that guns should be owned “anonymously” and willy-nilly in order to assure government can never confiscate them… given keeping government honest is supposed to be the whole idea in having guns, so sayeth the Court (but not the Founders). All a matter of interpretation, I suppose… and the will of the people hasn’t placed me in a decision-making process to assert my will onto the nation..
With Less Restrictive Conceal-And-Carry And Open-Carry Laws, “Self-Defense” Will Take On New (And Scary) Meanings
In the meantime, state and local municipalities are passing open-carry and less restrictive conceal & carry laws…. for “only” law abiding gun owners, of course. We see with the Rittenhouse case that open carry will help in vigilante justice (on the grounds of self-defense). Sadly, the body count among the innocent by-standers will have to go up before anyone takes notice. Then again, the 28 kids killed at Sandy Hook, the 17 killed at Parkland, the 59 killed in Vegas are all just the price we pay for having the Second Amendment as interpreted by the Court.
Here’s to the greater point here. Guns are here to stay in America… but guns are becoming far more available in huge numbers to an ever increasing population. The numbers I’ve reported above readily prove that. As those percentages increase so will the illegal use of firearms increase… and crime is NOT the large threat here. It’s the increases in social stressors, like the pandemic, the economy, etc., that affect our ability to compensate and adapt to change. This in turn directly influences the increases in mental health problems within society; people lashing out randomly, spontaneously. All it takes is one person with a couple 30 round magazines to kill or maim 60 people inside of 3 minutes. Realistically that even could not likely be prevented anymore simply because of the proliferation of guns. Since we can’t stop the proliferation of guns we need to get guns to defend ourselves in public from other people with guns.
Somehow we think our guns are enforcing our freedoms. Hardly. It’s our gun worship that’s reaching a point where it will be the single tool by which our nation will reach the edge of our democratic existence. The millions upon millions of guns in this country makes America nothing more than an armed mob. We are a divided nation in a dangerously political time of our national existence and the country is armed to the teeth. Patriotism itself has been bastardized and hijacked to pass for misguided nationalistic fervor… and guns are among us.
“If you don’t agree with me I’m justified in killing you for freedom.” Don’t believe that’s true? Here’s the Christmas greeting from two sitting Right Wing Congressional politicians and their families. You decide for yourself where this nation is headed.
.[About the featured image in the title: The image of the gun on the pillow (the text is mine) is lifted from the opening to the mid-1980’s comedy sitcom “Sledge Hammer”, itself a satire on the Clint Eastwood “Dirty Harry” movie character that seemed to have an affinity with guns and violence. It suggested a kind of gun “worship” that started growing back then… that has reached a crescendo today.]