It seems I've introduced my dear colleague Ray Stern to the fascinating world of facts, statistics and sources, as he finally breaks down and uses a few in his latest pro-gun nut diatribe, "The Anti-Gun Culture..."
In it, Ray returns once again to his us-versus-them, all-or-nothing theme, calling out those who want some common-sense gun legislation as being (gasp) "metrosexual."
Wow, I had no idea I dressed that well.
Stern insists -- in very, um, stern language -- that those on my side of the fence are, "Unwilling to take their own security seriously. The anti-gun culture doesn't fear guns in the way that members of the gun culture fear guns. Their fear is more irrational, phobic - almost superstitious, as if the very presence of guns invites death."
Well, Ray, I take my security seriously enough, but it doesn't mean I'm fearful of guns. Far from it. I'm from the American South, boyo. And I went deer and squirrel hunting with my grandfather, a WWII vet who kept pistols around his house.
Thing is, despite the fact that he was a decorated bomber pilot, who'd flown so close to enemy combatants that he could make out their faces as they shot up at him, he didn't feel the need to drive around with a gun, go into a bar with a gun, or wear one on his person, concealed or unconcealed.
Know why? Because he didn't need to, and didn't live in fear of physical conflict. Whereas, I see way too many pusillanimous Caucasian guys in this state, insecure in their own manhood, for whom a handgun is compensating for something they lack.
I'm not talking about their sexuality, necessarily. I'm talking about a deep-seated insecurity along the lines of a Bernhard Goetz. A gun makes such individuals feel invincible, whereas without it, they'd fear assault. The gun trumps that, though.
I don't want to deprive anyone of their security blanket. Let's just have a few measures in place that balance the Second Amendment rights of a Jared Lee Loughner with the fact that he was a danger to the community, something even a Wal-Mart employee was reportedly able to spot.
I do agree that there is a disconnect, Ray. You obviously believe everyone should be armed, or they deserve what they get. That is an extremist position. Also, it ignores the fact that you might be armed and still get gunned down, so would you deserve that, too? Do kids deserve it if they're not armed or their parents aren't armed?
This is where we differ profoundly. You say you do support some gun regulations, such as the mandated "instant" FBI check, which was the result of the very Brady Campaign you malign. A check, I might add, that the NRA opposed. Indeed, the NRA and gun enthusiasts such as yourself fought it tooth and nail.
Now, regarding the whole car vs. gun argument. I would remind you that this is one you raised in your first "editorial." Remember, the blog where you set up the straw man of mental health evaluations prior to gun buys, and the shibboleth of a pre-gun buy urinalysis? (See item number two of your blog, here.)
Yes, the numbers I provided included all gun-related deaths, including suicide and accidents. and I made this quite clear in the text, BTW. The proposition is, if guns are less prevalent in society, there will, as a result, be fewer overall gun deaths.
And that, in my opinion, would be a good thing. Similarly, the mortality rates -- of which you were totally unaware until I provided you a link to them -- involving motors were also totals.
But let's stick to the murders for a moment. Not accidents, or suicides, or manslaughter, just murders. According to the latest FBI crime stats, 67.1 percent of all murders were committed with a firearm.
Know why? It's easier to kill with a gun. Beating someone to death with your fists requires a tad bit more effort.
It's also easier to kill yourself with a gun, so no, there's no reason to take suicides out of the equation. They are very much part of the equation.
I was recently contacted by a woman whose mentally ill friend committed suicide after obtaining a gun over the counter with the standard FBI background check. Yes, he might have killed himself in another way, but pulling a trigger is so much easier.
Why not make it harder to kill yourself and others? True, we all have freedom of choice in that department, but a few speed bumps won't impair your ability to drive. They simply slow you down so you don't kill the kiddies in a residential area.
Ray focuses on murders alone, and begins comparing states based on this information, and that is one way to look at it. Murder is bad. Suicide is bad, too. And getting killed by accident or manslaughter, well, you're dead as much as if you were murdered.
According to the CDC's stats, just over half of all suicides in the U.S. for 2007 involved firearms. Men are far more likely than women to commit suicide with a firearm. And if one happens to be in the house when you lose your job or a loved one...
True, making guns harder to get won't stop all firearm-related suicides, much less suicides in general. There are a lot of ways to off yourself.
A study in the medical journal Trauma comparing U.S. homicides-suicides to those of 22 other developed countries found the following:
Among these 23 countries, 80% of all firearm deaths occurred in the United States, 86% of women killed by firearms were US women, and 87% of all children aged 0 to 14 killed by firearms were US children.
We can play this game all day, but the bottom line is that fewer guns and stricter gun control laws equals fewer firearm deaths.
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Now, you can make the argument about inconvenience, Second Amendment rights, the gun industry, and so forth. But all I want is a ratcheting back of the firearm fanaticism so that the pendulum swings toward the middle.
If you need your gun to feel like a man, or for self-defense, or whatever, by all means, you can have one. But it is not unreasonable -- seeing the carnage firearms can inflict -- that those of us who are not gun-obsessed would like to see some restrictions in place.
Unfortunately, as the gun lobby is very powerful in this country, this will remain an uphill battle.
In other words, don't worry, Ray. You'll be able to play with your guns all you want for the foreseeable future. And as long as you have your guns, no one will call you a metrosexual. Promise.