Finding Sanity in the Rhetoric

Last week, in my effort to discuss “truth,” people’s attention was diverted to the question of the moment, which had to do with increasing taxes on the rich to avoid the fiscal cliff. Our country still teeters on that cliff, and it appears that our brave politicians decided not to decide; thereby leaving the growing multi-trillion dollar debt to our descendants.

This week: The #1 news item is the tragic, tragic story of the school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. Instead of honestly addressing why some young men choose to make a name for themselves by killing others, most political and media talk is directed toward a quick fix. The discussion is largely driven by emotion, which is understandable, considering that twenty young lives were snuffed out.

But there is another emotion. Not compassion or grief but the emotion of excitement—excitement at the opportunity to advance whatever political agenda fits. That explains why the quick fix of the hour is gun control.

An example of the irrationality of the emotion is the Rhode Island college professor who called for “the head of the NRA president on a stick.” When pressed, he backed off, saying the NRA president should be put in prison for life. Compassionate soul, he is.

So, a few thoughts on gun control.

Most of you heard about the Portland Mall shooting last week which took the lives of two innocent people. But given the conditions, did you wonder, as I did, why more people weren’t shot? KGW reported that Nick Meli, a 22-year-old with a conceal carry permit was at Clackamas Town Center that day. He heard the commotion and positioned himself behind a structural column. During brief seconds when the shooter was working with his weapon, Meli drew his Glock 22 and had the gunman in his sights. Because of a bystander nearby, Meli didn’t shoot. But the shooter saw Meli with a firearm, and right afterward, the killer shot himself. It would appear that the presence of an armed citizen likely saved lives, simply by confronting the coward bent on killing as many unarmed people as he could.

That brings us to the practice of lawful self-defense. In his book, Buy a Gun, Chuck Baldwin reports that “most people are probably not aware of the fact that American citizens use a firearm to defend themselves more than 2.4 million times EVERY YEAR. That is more than 6,500 times EVERY DAY.”

Mass shootings are nowhere near the hysterical level the politicians are saying. The Chicago Tribune reported “…FBI and police data that counted shootings between 1980 and 2010 in which four or more people were killed: The average pace was about 20 mass murders per year, with a death toll of about 100.” Yes, that’s a hundred losses of life, but way out of proportion to the extreme infringement of liberty being tossed around.

Less might be more when it comes to gun regulation, anyway. According to the Washington Times, violent crime peaked 25 years ago when just “a handful of states” had conceal-carry laws. Gun sales have increased over the past four years, and currently 41 states have gun-carrying laws, yet violent crime has decreased according to the FBI in June. According to PJ Media, “States with the highest gun ownership have the lowest firearms homicide rates” and “States with the lowest firearms ownership average the highest firearm and non-firearm homicide rates.”

Gun control hasn’t been the panacea advertised. Since private ownership of guns became unlawful in the UK, gun deaths have gone up 89%. For three decades, Chicago banned all handguns. The crime rate skyrocketed. Murders soared. Desperate city officials considered calling the National Guard to combat out-of-control violence. The Supreme Court struck down Chicago’s individual firearms ownership prohibition in 2010, but the city’s elite rewrote the law and the city still has among the strictest gun control laws in the country. How’s it working out? I’ll tell you this: Last month, Chicago had 38 homicides. I should note one exception, brought to my attention by anti-gun friends: gun deaths have plummeted in Australia following imposition of strict gun control laws in 1996.

Where would you have our lawmakers start? Aren’t there enough gun laws as it is? Why not just enforce the laws we have?


About samuelehall

A follower of Jesus, husband, father of 3 adult children, writer and learner.
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12 Responses to Finding Sanity in the Rhetoric

  1. Ken W. Durrell says:

    Hello Sam,
    The thing I took exception to in your initial comments is that I believe you referred to the twenty innocent young children that were killed, but I believe there were also six innocent adults also killed in the rampage.

    I am a gun owner and sportsman/hunter, but I am not an NRA member. I don’t agree with some of their philosophies. My dad probably instilled in me many of my ideas about guns and how to use them. He told us if you have to take more than two or maybe three cartridges when you go hunting and you can’t bag a deer, you might as well stay home – in other words we learned marksmanship.

    I see no place in society for these assault rifles with clips that hold 30, 50 or 100 cartridges, other than for arms manufactures to sell tons and tons of ammunition. A ban on the sale of new ones won’t stop the carnage because there are so many thousands of them already in the hands of the public, but it is a step in the right direction. Actually, in my humble opinion, it would have been best if the ban had not been allowed to expire in 2004.

    I have seen a lot of change in our society in my life time. When I was in grade school we didn’t even have a fence on the playground along the road. Now when I pick up one of my grandchildren at elementary school, there is a 6′ steel fence around the building that looks like a jail cell. Now there are those recommending armed guards at every school. When I was a kid armed guards were at a prison. What does this indicate about the direction our society is going?

    Whether it is at a school, a movie theater, shopping mall, etc. the reasons mass shooting occur is no doubt a complicated matter involving a multitude of issues.

    I don’t have a concealed weapons permit because I have not felt that threatened by anyone, or maybe I just naïve. But I feel more threatened when I get on the highway not knowing which other drivers are texting, talking on a cell phone, taking pictures of the scenery with their cell phone or even reading a book while they are driving. I guess that is in part why I drive a 3/4 ton 4 X 4 pickup.

    • samuelehall says:

      Ken, thanks for your observations. I really can’t add much. The changes you mention are certainly indicative of the direction our society is going. We need to accept where our society is but if the direction is different than what we think is right, we should try to change it. Otherwise, we become part of the problem. That will usually take time and along the way, we’ll almost certainly be misunderstood. Part of the cost, but that’s where perseverance is required.
      Keep talking and honing your message. Get it to decisionmakers and be ready to follow up.

  2. Matt Kofron says:

    Yes we should have the right to bear a musket that takes 10 minutes to load and has one shot……why should anyone have the right to have a magazine that shoots 30 to 100 rounds at 4 to 6 per second. This is not the 18th century. A citizen does not have the right to bear a weapon of mass destruction. To legislate this would not make much difference……we need to control the secondary market for the 300000 guns in the USA, and have a discussion on our culture of violence.

    • samuelehall says:

      Thanks, Matt. You point up a more important factor than guns. In today’s paper, columnist Charles Krauthammer notes that more mentally ill people roam the streets today than when he was a practicing psychiatrist in the 1970s. A tiny percentage of them have the potential of becoming mass killers but bureaucratic and legal constraints make involuntary commitment of these dangerous people almost impossible until they wreak havoc. He and others have sounded the alarm against graphic, even sadistic, movies and video games that saturate our youth culture. Add them to the mix and we have a volatile situation.

  3. Stan Baldwin says:

    I’m so sick about this Newtown tragedy, I can hardly stand to read anymore obfuscation and rationalizations. Any story sounds true when partisans propagandize, whichever stand they take. Bearing arms is a constitutional right. I have two guns myself. But I have no nuclear arms, no tanks, no machine guns, no “assault rifles.” How anyone can stand on the graves of 20 innocent children, who clearly would not have died had the gunman not had the excessive weaponry he had, baffles me, Guns/ammunition pairings that made the atrocity possible (and that are totally unnecessary for hunting or personal protection) should be outlawed. The manufacture, sale, possession, and importation of such should all end. I have one question of those who oppose such common sense measures. How could the Newtown gunman have done what he did if the ban I cite were enforced? Please answer that one question, or just spare me any more talk

    • samuelehall says:

      Thank you, Stan. You speak for many others.
      Two thoughts: 1) The gunman would have killed many if he’d had two or three or six semi-automatic weapons (not assault rifles). Maybe not as many, maybe even more, as he might have been more methodical as there was no immediate armed response. I want to throw up, just thinking of it.
      2) I’m thinking that those who work very hard to protect 2nd Amendment rights believe that any diminution of the current law will lead to complete dismantling of the law itself.

  4. We still drive on our freeways in spite of traffic accidents. We still fly even after airplane crashes. Yet when it comes to shootings we want to take away the guns. Pilot error, and driver error we can understand, but killers with a gun still is not a human error. It is the weapon’s error. Go figure.

  5. Didn’t hear anything about another person in the Clackamas Mall detering the shooter with a gun. Seems like that would have been an important news element. I wonder who the decision maker was who decided we didn’t need to know that.

    Did hear that we gave assault rifles to cartels, which may have contributed to the deaths of Americans. This got very blurry very quickly, and nobody who made this decision was clearly implicated, for, if nothing else, being extremely stupid and arrogant.

    Also heard, rather blurry again, that the Libyan protection was reduced because we didn’t want it to look like anyone needed protection. Needing protection doesn’t send the right message. Again, the scapegoats have been chastised, but no one really knows who did what.

    We have a fiscal cliff coming. Beuhner has a bill that even his own party can’t support, but the Democrats have nothing. The news reports more rock throwing than cooperation. It seems like telling us about every rock each throws at the other is far more important than telling us anything about progress.

    Guns are made to kill. Doesn’t matter what anyone says, pro or con, that is what their only purpose is. Guns with lots of capacity are made to kill many quickly. The question is, who should have them? The bigger question is, who should decide this?

    I have presented three topics here, media coverage decision making, political decision making, and guns. We have many issues that need addressing. However, the questions I would like to see addressed are if those we have elected to address the issues are qualified to do so, and if those who decide what to report are qualified to do so.

    The media and political decision makers in this country scare me far more than guns do.

    • samuelehall says:

      Thanks, John, for your thoughtful comments. Yes, you’ve raised several issues; I don’t know if we can follow all of them but will try to pursue the topic of public/media response to guns in the light of mass shootings.
      To see the KGW report re the Clackamas Mall shooting, google “Nick Meli on KGW.” The failure of other outlets to follow up re this key bit of info appears to be a lack of professionalism or partisanship (which is a lack of professionalism).
      Have you contacted your congresswoman re your concerns? I’d like to hear what response you get. Politicians are impacted by citizen contact; they see each contact as representing X number of citizens (with X = 11, as I recall) with that same viewpoint.

      • Barry Mills says:

        Cell phone texting or dialing while driving, kill many more young people than guns. Easy fix and we don’t even bring this up. This could be stopped by eliminating the ability to text when the vehicle is in motion over 10 miles per hour. I think we need phone control.

      • samuelehall says:

        Thanks Barry. You’re a pragmatist. I’ve been run off the road several times by obvious texters, and just Monday saw a texter swerve around me and rear-end the car ahead.
        But the emotional gets the attention. Now, it’s guns; next week, it might be aliens landing on the capitol mall.

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