1165 What is it with Americans and guns?


after 'Explainer', SMH, 27 May 2022

What is it with Americans and guns?

The US is the only country in the world where guns outnumber people, with an estimated 393.3 million firearms - that’s 120.48 per 100 people (up from 88 per 100 in 2011). It’s also one of the few countries with a constitutional right to bear arms – and comparatively loose gun regulation.

Research has repeatedly found that higher gun ownership correlates strongly with more gun deaths, just as more gun regulation leads to less.

In America, mass shooting deaths dipped when a ban on assault weapons was in force (pushed through by Biden in 1994 when he was serving in the Clinton administration).

But the ban was allowed to lapse after a decade, and deaths climbed again soon after – as assault weapons, such as the AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle the gunman used in the Uvalde shooting, became more popular.

Mass shootings are often followed by spikes in gun sales – last year saw a surge in both. Texas-based professor of law Eric Ruben says: “People think [buying a gun] keeps them safer because everyone has a gun now.”

The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, goes the line from conservatives. But Ruben says you only have to look at the two most recent shootings in the news: in both cases, armed guards or police were unable to stop the shooter.

It’s not just Republicans in the south who love guns. Ruben, who grew up in upstate New York where there is also a gun culture, says guns are deeply embedded in the American psyche and tradition. “If you go all the way back to the founding, there was a law on the books requiring white men aged 18 to 45 to have a musket in good working order so they could muster for the militia.

“People grew up around guns, hunting with their dad,” says Ruben. “It can be an important part of people’s identity.”

“It’s John Wayne, it’s Rambo,” says Doherty. “It’s the mythology of the pioneering America: you make your own way.”

Here’s where guns come into the Constitution, the supreme law of the US. The Second Amendment of the American Constitution reads:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, 

the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

So, with the 2nd Amendment the Founders were most likely thinking about ...

“... the security of a free state”  for which “a well regulated, armed militia is necessary.”

However, gun-toting Americans have their way with The Second; to begin with, they delete that first, most important sentence altogether and thus not only re-interpret it, but negate its main message in order to put in place their own Amendment  to suit their warped agenda. It now says:

“The right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed, 

so that Americans can freely continue killing one another.”

If you go back to the Founding, there was a law requiring men to have a musket in working order, so they can join a militia. Then arms were not for protection from criminals … but for protection from tyrants; now arms are for murder of - mostly - non-whites, school children as well as for suicides; research out of Harvard found victims use guns in self-defence in less than one per cent of contact crimes.

Nevertheless, to some gun-rights activists, freedom begins and ends with the (mis-interpreted, re-defined, re-amended) Second Amendment … hence no regulation on guns can be tolerated. Guns are deeply embedded in the American psyche and tradition, but recently there has been a shift away from keeping guns for stopping the occasional tyrant, to owning them for self-defence.

And that shift didn’t happen by accident.

Americans weren’t given their freedom – they fought for it, throwing off British rule through revolution (after the Brits tried to disarm parts of the American colonies, no less).

As such, the original Articles of Federation had not even allowed America’s new government to raise a standing army or to call up the militias. The new Constitution did, but the Second Amendment was added to ensure a militia would remain among the people.

How has the Second Amendment evolved? The Second Amendment

For 200 years, the Second Amendment sat unchallenged by the courts. But by the ’90s, America’s main gun lobby, the National Rifle Association (NRA), was campaigning to expand its meaning from the right to arms for the defence of a free state to the right to defend yourself and your property.

More and more scholarship, much of it funded by gun lobbies, built up this case, says Ruben, and by the 2000s “most Americans believed the Second Amendment gave them a right to self-defence”. Former conservative Supreme Court chief justice Warren Burger was among those who railed against this shift as a misunderstanding of the Constitution, calling it:

“One of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud’, on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime”.

But in 2008, in the case of the District of Columbia v. Heller, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment did indeed give a right to bear arms for individual self-defence, striking down a ban on handguns in DC. (Research out of Harvard has found that victims use guns in self-defence in less than one per cent of contact crimes.)

Since then, a slew of states across the country have wound back their gun regulation, including Texas, the site of the latest school massacre and America’s number one mass-shooting hotspot. In some states, it’s easier for an 18-year-old to get a gun than a driver’s licence, and even attempts to stop those on terrorism watch lists getting guns have failed.

At least 25 states also have “stand your ground” laws, sometimes known as “shoot first laws”, which allow someone to use deadly force where they reasonably believe it’s necessary to avoid being harmed.

Now, another gun-rights challenge is before the Supreme Court, this time against laws in New York requiring proper cause to carry a handgun in public. The ruling later this year could expand the Second Amendment even further, and tear down a swathe of gun laws still standing, mostly in Democrat-held states. After the Trump administration stacked the Supreme Court with a conservative majority, experts say it’s now open season for these challenges.

Amerie Jo Garza's father, a med aide, says he found out she was one of the victims (in Uvalde, Texas) when he arrived on the scene and was helping a little girl covered in blood. She told him her best friend had been shot.

When he asked her name, she said his daughter's. There aren't words.

What shall be done with the Second Amendment?

It was put in place at a different time in history (1791); it is not suited to our times.

It must be retired.

What shall be done with Americans' right to arms?

That right shall not be taken away; however, guns of all kinds shall be restricted to sequestered gun clubs. It is there people shall be able to enjoy their guns, to use any gun their heart desires, as much as they want. But the guns shall at all times remain on the premise of the gun club, under lock and key when not in use.

In the community individuals shall not be able to own, carry or use guns, unless they can provide good cause ... like shotguns for farmers (to perform their vermin control, with magazines of no more than five rounds capacity); for licensed hunters (who have undergone stringent background checks and training, they would only have access to one- or two-barrel shotguns); for police and perhaps security personnel ... yet, there would be very stringent conditions for anyone to own handguns and pistols.

A nationwide gun buy-back program shall be put in place.

It is likely these steps would prevent tens of thousands gun-death per year.


More on guns, from VOX

699 American Gun Culture

American Gun Culture, sooo funny, when seen from Australia

615 Gun laws. Yes? No?

And the debate goes on and on; incredible, really ... 
Gun laws opponent:
"Excuse me, but this White House uses the First Amendment to protect flag burning, to protect pornography, to ban school prayer … why when the Second Amendment clearly says that the Federal Government will not infringe upon a citizen’s right to keep and bear arms …"
Gun laws proponent:
"… in fact it doesn’t say that at all, it only say that if you remove some words from it … (it says) “a well regulated militia being necessary for the security of a free state, the Government shall not infringe …” The words regulated and militia are in the first sentence. I don’t think the (framers) were thinking of three guys in a (Dodge)."
Gun laws opponent:
"You don’t really know what the (framers?) were thinking, do you?"
Gun laws proponent:
"No ... but I do know if you combine the populations of Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and Australia, you get a population roughly the size of the United States. 

"We had 32,000 gun deaths last year ... they had 112. 

"Do you think it's because Americans are more homicidal by nature? 
Or do you think it’s because those guys have gun control laws?"

1167 Matthew McConaughey at the White House

Matthew McConaughey at the White House
with an emotional speech about gun control.
Will it change anything. No.

526 Guns

Another bloody massacre in America; will it ever end? No.

624 Obama's tears

Obama's tears are a big deal ...

594 The Riddle of the Gun

Sam Harris once again challenges me,
this time with his angle on gun control ...

498 A gun no more

Do you like interesting watches? And seeing guns destroyed? Check out how Peter Thum combines two passions ...

481 Bullets for art

As art goes, there's a new low point on display in Hyde Park ...

350 Gun Madness

Here's a subject matter close to my heart, Gun Madness ...

344 Guns

Another mass shooting this weekend in the US; they just love their guns, from a very early age ...

562 Oh Deer!

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