The utterly horrific Colorado shooting is still being processed, as I write, into the collective conscience of America. First, clearly the care for the wounded and survivors must be paramount for everyone. Let us all labor with one goal to that end at present. Once this is over, however, there will be time for reflection on what has caused this tragedy. Here are some preliminary thoughts – that join my thoughts and prayers for the victims – that may be worth reflecting on in the months ahead:
Is it guns, or people, that kill? As the old saying goes, Teddy Kennedy’s cars have killed more people than all the guns of 99% of all gun owners in America. And this true around the world. My brother lived in ultra-safe Switzerland for years. Why is Switzerland so safe?
Is it because guns are outlawed?
Wikipedia notes: “If you were a Swiss man, you would be a soldier as well. Every able-bodied Swiss man must go to the army in Switzerland for 90 days (Rekrutenschule-Ecole de recrue) and then every 2 years until the age of 42, he must return for practice for 19 days. This allows the government to raise an army of 400,000 men, fully armed, within 24 hours, as every soldier has an assault gun in his house, complete with ammunition. But there is more to this than a picturesque democratic institution.”; moreover, “Each individual is required to keep his army issued personal weapon (the 5.56x45mm SIG 550 rifle for enlisted personnel or the SIG 510 rifle and/or the 9mm SIG-Sauer P220 semi-automatic pistol for officers, medical and postal personnel) at home with a specified personal retention quantity of government issued personal ammunition (50 rounds 5.56/48 rounds 9mm…)
Could it be, as former gun control advocate turned gun rights supporter Dr. John Lott of Univ. of Chicago maintains, in his eponymous book More Guns, Less Crime, that we are safer with more guns? Certainly, a single trained concealed carry theatre-goer in Colorado would have put an end to the rampage much earlier, with significantly less loss of life. As Exhibit A: scarcely one week before the Colorado tragedy, a similar situation had an opposite ending in Florida, where 71 year old Samuel Williams stopped an armed robbery when two masked men entered the Palms Internet Cafe around 10 p.m. Friday, July 13, 2012. Make your own conclusion from the the surveillance camera, which captures it all. Dr. Lott documents many thousands of similar situations, but here is one woman, in her own words, discussing how her gun saved her life. As a matter of fact, Gun Owners of America, cites statistics indicating guns are used 2.5 million times a year in self-defense, or around 80 times a day (other statistics estimate this number could range as low as 1.5 million, but either number is a lot!). This includes 200,000 women a year using guns to defend themselves against sexual abuse. As a matter of fact, as of 2008, armed citizens killed more violent bad guys than the police (1,527 vs. 606).
It appears George Washington had it right, when he said “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that is good.”
What about concealed carry?
Statistics from the recent past show states that passed concealed carry reduced their murder rate by 8.5%, rapes by 5% and robbery by 3%. Florida, which passed concealed carry in 1987, saw its higher than average homicide rate drop 52% during the following 15 years after passage, to below the national average. And no, concealed carry does not result in chaos, as the average Floridian is more likely to be attacked by an alligator than by a concealed carry holder.
As a matter of fact, the US. Dept. of Justice, in its (admittedly dated) publication, “The Armed Criminal in America: A Survey of Incarcerated Felons, Research Report July, 1985,” stated that 60% of felons they surveyed agreed that “a criminal is not going to mess around with a victim he knows is armed with a gun”; 74% agreed with the statement “one reason burglars avoid houses when people are at home is that they fear being shot during the crime”; and finally, 57% of felons agreed that “criminals are more worried about meeting an armed victim than they are about running into police.”
Meanwhile as gun sales climb to record highs – 47% of American adults currently report that they have a gun in their home or elsewhere on their property, and given that many gun owners have multiple guns, there may be more guns now than Americans – 2010 FBI data shows violent crime continuing to fall in the United States, with homicides dropping out of the top 15 causes of death in the country. The statistics undermine a favorite argument of anti-gun groups that “more guns equal more crime.” The reverse is true. As Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel. Noted, “These statistics vividly demonstrate that the lawful possession and use of firearms by law-abiding Americans does not cause crime…There have never been more firearms in civilian possession in the history of the United States, and crime, including homicide, continues to decline throughout the country.”
The truth is, when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. The truth is, that the Colorado shooter would still have found ways to get, or make weapons, even if they had been made illegal (certainly, Timothy McVeigh and the leftist Unibomber found a way!). The truth is if guns kill people, then pencils misspell words, cars drive drunk, and spoons made Oprah fat! And finally, the truth is that, as Stephen Dubner wrote, “far more children die each year in swimming pool accidents than in gun incidents.”
And the truth is practically illustrated in Kennesaw, GA – where gun ownership is mandatory for every head of household, per ordinance [Sec 34-21], which states: (a) In order to provide for the emergency management of the city, and further in order to provide for and protect the safety, security and general welfare of the city and its inhabitants, every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm, together with ammunition therefore, and (b) Exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who suffer a physical or mental disability which would prohibit them from using such a firearm. Further exempt from the effect of this section are those heads of households who are paupers or who conscientiously oppose maintaining firearms as a result of beliefs or religious doctrine, or persons convicted of a felony.”
Kennesaw – contrary to what the gun grabbers would have you believe – is not the Wild West, but rather was voted by Family Circle magazine as one of the nation’s “10 best towns for families.” (http://www.familycircle.com/family-fun/money/10-best-towns-for-families/?page=4) The city website also claims Kennesaw ““has the lowest crime rate in Cobb County” – this in one of the most populated counties in Georgia. In fact, from 1982 through 2009, Kennesaw, with a population of just under 25,000, had only one murder, in 2007. Compare this to gun-free New York City, which in a recent 25-year period had more than 15,000 murders – 2, 245 in 1990 alone (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NYC_murders.PNG) – while Kennesaw, Georgia, had 1.
On a broader level, guns also have historically ensured American freedom. Bill Bonner wrote “When King George sent troops to put down the revolution a letter appeared in the London paper. It came from a man who had lived in the colonies. He told his countrymen that if they were shipping out to fight the Americans they should be sure to write their Last Wills and Testaments before they left. Because the Americans all had guns and knew how to use them.
And King George wasn’t alone: Isoroku Yamamoto, Commander-in-Chief, Imperial Japanese Navy, killed in action, April 1943, said “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.”
But what about other countries?
I’m glad you asked!
For England, as the article Barbarians Within the Gates, Part III, Schwarz Report, Oct. 2011, p. 5 noted, “The UK’s ban on handguns in 1997 “did not stop actual crimes committed with handguns. Those crimes rose nearly 40% according to a 2001 study by King’s College London’s Centre for Defense Studies, and doubled by a decade later, according to government statistics reported in the London Telegraph in October 2009.” Just for good measure, England has a 10 year sentence for possession of “any knife with a blade more than three inches long” (I literally have no idea if this includes butterknives!). No word yet if England has banned running with scissors or people using pencils with sharp points.
Across the English Channel, Holland’s draconian gun laws certainly haven’t helped – witness the recent report entitled 7 Killed 15 Wounded in Dutch Mall, while the Nazi guns laws against Jewish firearm owners 60 years ago, as Stephen Halbrook has written, “played a major role in laying the groundwork for the eradication of German Jewry in the Holocaust. Disarming political opponents was a categorical imperative of the Nazi regime.” This is one reason for the Second Amendment, which declares: “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.” This right, reflects a universal and historical power of the people in a republic to resist tyranny, was not recognized in the German Reich – and led to disaster.
Closer to home, as a dual US/Canadian citizen, who has spent half my life in both countries, Canada has some of the strictest gun control legislation in the world. From having a very close friend having a neighbor murdered right outside her front door, to my brother in law telling me about a knife murder at a mall down the street, to the week we moved from Canada, when someone with an illegal gun murdered a bunch of people on Elgin St. in Ottawa, the whole gun grabber thing is a disaster in Canada.
On Jan. 13, 2011 the Ottawa Citizen, even acknowledged that Canadian gun legislation is an abject failure: “As strict as Canadian gun laws appear, they do not prevent the movement of illegal firearms in or out of this country, nor their possession, and only cover those firearms that have been registered. Last year, Canadian police services reported some 8,000 victims of violent gun crime, ranging from assault to robbery and homicide — a rate of almost one person per hour victimized by violent gun crime. On average, more than 1,200 Canadians are killed and more than 1,000 injured with firearms each year.”
And if you thought the Giffords shooting in Arizona was bad (and it was!) in 2006 a Canadian gunman uploaded pictures of himself posing with a rifle. He bragged on his blog that he loved the Internet game based on the Columbine shootings. One day he decided to stop playing. He went to a Montreal college and, when all was said and done, he killed one person and seriously wounded another 19 before he shot himself. The stories in Canada go on, but I won’t Canada’s stringent gun laws, in the form of Bill C-68, apply to handguns and rifles. This has been universally acknowledged as an abject failure, including over $1 billion dollars lost on something that didn’t work.
Here’s the details for those of you that aren’t aware: There are nearly 7 million. registered long guns in Canada. Since 2003, when mandatory long gun registration was introduced, of the 2,441 homicides in Canada, less than 2% (47 to be exact) have been committed by those registered guns (figures cited from Canadian Centre of Justice Statistics). According to Statistics Canada, in 2008 there were around 23,500 victims of violent crime committed with a knife, with homicides and attempted murders about 1/3rd of such incidents (cited from Lawyers Weekly, 21 May, 2010). No word yet whether leftists will introduce a “long butterknife” bill – you know, you can never be too careful about those doggoned table settings, including possible strangulation by napkins!!
Meanwhile, Canadian John Myers writes about a personal experience in Alberta (and which is borne out by Dr. John Lott’s aforementioned book, “More Guns, Less Crime”: at Myers writes:
“I never imagined that a time would come where I would have to level my shotgun at a person; that I would take deadly aim with it. But that happened when I as a senior at the University of Calgary and was cramming for a final. Around midnight I heard a car screech to a stop outside my parent’s home which sat on an isolated street. I was home alone with the family dog, Elsa, a Great Dane with a gentle disposition.
In the news had been reports that two men were terrorizing women on Calgary streets. Two young women, Laurie Boyd and Debbie Stevens, had been dragged from their cars at night and murdered. I heard pounding at the front door. I knew something was seriously wrong when I opened the door to find my girlfriend Angela standing before me crying. Before I could even ask her what was happening a second car pulled into our driveway with the high-beams on.
I took Angela inside and went outside to see what the commotion was about. I brought the family dog with me and kept her leash wrapped tightly around my hand. Two men were walking straight towards the door; neither one saying a word and neither showing any regard for me or our dog which was growling and barking.
I dragged the dog back inside and gave her to Angela. I remembered the Remington that I kept in the front closet. I found it and then fumbled for the single target load shell that I kept in the corner of the hat shelf. It was all the ammunition I had, but I was damn happy to have it.
I was shaking, but I loaded the shell. I slipped back outside. I was surprised at how close these strangers were to me; perhaps fewer than 20 paces. I remember the taller of the two had his hand reached inside his coat.
It was dark so at first I don’t think they noticed my shotgun. But they knew it was there when I raised it to my shoulder and pumped the fore-end, chambering the shell. In a split second they spun and ran to their car, roaring off into the darkness.
More than a year later two men, Jim Peters and Rob Brown, were charged and convicted on multiple charges of murder. My girlfriend Angela later became my wife. To this day we don’t know if those men were the Calgary serial killers. All these years later we remain certain of two things: These men had evil intentions and we were damned lucky to have that shotgun.”
There’s more to gun ownership in America than meets the eye. Don’t let the leftists take the moral high ground on this one – that belongs one hundred percent to the gun owners.