On Gun Violence — All Comments Are Welcome

Worst of 2016: Rampant Gun Violence in the United States

by

Tim Walker

2016 has finally ended. It will be remembered, and not fondly, for many things — a year we elected a reality TV star as our President, a year in which a lot of popular celebrities left us, a year in which the NFL’s Cleveland Browns won only one game. One thing it will NOT be remembered for, however, is that it was a year filled with the rampant, out-of-control gun violence that has come to plague our nation, because we choose to ignore that fact — desensitized, we simply look the other way. We have trained ourselves to accept gun violence as normal, the so-called ‘price we pay for living in a free society’. Barely a week goes by that we don’t see another mass shooting on the news or hear about it on the radio or read about it on Facebook — a dozen victims down south, 5 or 10 out west, 20 kids up in Connecticut — and then we turn a blind eye to the horror and go on with the rest of our day. Sublime. Oblivious.

Last summer, on June 12, 2016, a nightclub in Orlando, Florida called Pulse was the scene of the single deadliest mass shooting committed by a single gunman in U.S. history, and the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since the World Trade Center attacks. 49 people were killed and 53 were injured in the attack, many of them members of Orlando’s Latino and LGBT communities. 29-year-old shooter Omar Mateen, who called 911 and pledged his allegiance to ISIS before the attack, was eventually shot and killed in the club by Orlando police after a 3 hour standoff.

It doesn’t matter, the NRA says. We are guaranteed our 2nd Amendment rights by the Constitution of the United States. Bang.

On July 7, 2016, Micah Xavier Johnson fired upon a group of police officers in Dallas, Texas, killing five officers and injuring nine others. Two civilians were also wounded. Johnson was an Army Reserve Afghan War veteran who was reportedly angry over police shootings of unarmed black men, and stated that he wanted to kill white people, especially white police officers. The suspect was killed that night with a bomb attached to a remote control bomb disposal robot.

Guns don’t kill people; people kill people, the gun lobby declares. Bang.

Closer to home, here in Montgomery County, 10 shootings and eight homicides occurred within just two weeks during a string of gun violence in August. Of the eight homicides in the county for the month of August 2016, five happened within the city limits of Dayton.

Bang.

The horrifying images from dozens of mass shootings have become rote through endless repetition… frightened individuals running and hiding, tears, screams, the smoke, the bodies crumpled on the floor, police in body armor. Make no mistake, this country has a problem with its guns. I am not here to advocate for the disarming of our population, not by a long shot — I am a gun owner myself, and though I am not a member of the National Rifle Association, I do believe in our right to bear arms.

But this. The statistics are sobering indeed. The United States experiences gun violence on a level so far beyond the rest of the developed world, it boggles the mind.Of all the murders in the US in 2012, 60% were by firearms, compared with 31% in Canada, 18.2% in Australia, and 10% in the UK. The number of gun murders per capita in the US in 2012 was nearly thirty times the rate in the United Kingdom, at 2.9 per 100,000 compared with 0.1.

No one is sure exactly how many guns even exist in the US. The best estimates suggest a third of the population possesses at least one and there are a total of about 300 million guns in private hands. That’s nearly enough for every man, woman and child in the US to have their own weapon. And what or who is responsible for the endless mass shootings? Could it be an epidemic of mental illness, and an inability for people to find affordable mental health services? Do the math: a surplus of available guns + a lack of effective and affordable mental healthcare services = a level of bloodshed in this country that is unseen anywhere else on Earth.

On Friday, January 6th, 2017 (2 days ago as I write these words), in the baggage claim area at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida, 26-year-old Esteban Santiago shot and killed five people and wounded six others before he was taken into custody. It was later reported he flew from Alaska to Florida with a gun in his checked baggage, and upon landing retrieved the firearm and opened fire on the innocent people standing there.

As of this morning, no motive has been discovered. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Happy New Year, America.

Bang.

9 Replies to “On Gun Violence — All Comments Are Welcome”

  1. MikeSouth

    Why do I feel my resolve to stop venting so much here is being tested LOL….

    I think most people really do understand the primary causes of the problem but another problem stands directly in the way of addressing these causes. and “gun control” has nothing to do with either, people control does.

  2. BT

    Heck, in the interests of a discussion, I’ll take the bait. I grew up in the country. My family was white collar, but one step removed from the farm on my mother’s side, where my grandfather had been a Mennonite farmer, and given that he was born in the depression, my Dad’s family raised vegetables and chickens even though grandpa worked in a factory. Guns were everywhere in my neighborhood. Hunting tends to be handed down from father to son and my Dad didn’t like to hunt or fish, so I did not get that gift, but all of my buddies hunted. Their fathers taught them to shoot at a young age, starting out out with BB Guns then pellet rifles then 22s and then deer rifles. While I don’t hunt, I respect the sport and an individuals right to own hunting rifles and pistols for personal protection if that’s your bent.

    I suppose where for me it gets dicey is military weapons in the hands of every day people. Years ago, I wrote about a Mafia war in Northeastern Ohio. The home of one Mafia Kingpin was raided and they found just a ton of weapons. The excuse: They all belonged to the guys wife, who used them for hunting. “Yeah, when’s the last time she bagged a deer?” one of the officers asked.

    After Newtown, the Orlando incident, the young Muslim couple shooting up a Christmas Party in California, the deranged guy shooting up a movie theater in Colorado, I really do wonder who are we protecting when automatic weapons are easily accessible and so frequently used to create havoc and destruction that just wouldn’t happen with a six shot revolver.

    I know the gun lobby response is that the answer to gun violence is more guns in the hands of good citizens, but I’m not sure that an increasing arms race does anyone any good.

    As Tim wrote: Bang!

    • MikeSouth

      I tend to be as bit more pro armed citizens if you will, Like you BT I grew up with it, my dad DID hunt and I owned my first gun…a shot gun at age 5, we lived in a rural area and hunted quail we didn’t have to drive anywhere either we had bird dogs that my dad trained and over a thousand acres right out the front door, quail were plentiful.

      Unlike most people I have used a gun for personal protection, and by used I mean unholstered and aimed it. That meant someone else plus I was a split second from a very different life…or lack thereof.

      Maybe its my heritage but I have a very strong distrust of anyone who seeks power over me and I see gun ownership as the last line against tyranny.

      the question I pose is what exactly should render any weapon illegal to be owned by a law abiding citizen? The way it looks? A lot of people make reference to “military weapons” but lets be honest if it isnt used for hunting and even if it is any weapon is a military weapon…as the left often points out when that amendment was written we had muskets….muskets were used to fight wars then, I don’t think there was any intent to exclude muskets, or any other weapon in the framing of the second amendment.

      What we don’t see and what nobody likes to bring up is the single most important word that should be associated with weapon ownership that word being RESPONSIBLE.

      The trend seems to be to seek to place the blame anywhere but the individual, which is where the blame belongs. The “War on Drugs” has created a lack of space in prison with mandatory sentencing guidelines and the truth is you can do more time for growing a plant than you can for using a gun to commit a crime. That just shouldn’t be. I would start by getting non violent drug offenders out of the prisons, that would free up half the cells right there, now you commit a crime with a weapon you do enough time that by the time you get out your hormones or whatever have settled down.

      Everyone likes to twist numbers like Tim did but most of this country is not plagued with crime and there are countries with WAY higher rates of gun ownership that have almost non existent crime rates, while if you look at our country Chicago isnt called Chiraq for nothing, gun crime rates are astronomically high yet Chicago has the most restrictive gun ownership laws in the country.

      The problem is largely societal, we don’t hold the individual accountable the way we should and until we do….Bang.

    • BT

      The other reason Chicago is a straw man – and I appreciate Mike’s argument; I don’t think there are any easy answers here – is that the gun violence is limited to very specific areas of the city. I spend probably 10 weeks a year in Chicago for business, and my daughter lives in downtown Chicago. I feel as safe walking her dog at night in her Chicago neighborhood as I do walking my dog at night in my neighborhood in a small town in New England.

  3. MikeSouth

    I get what you guys are sayin but it isnt just Chicago There ar many areas where it is obvious that gun “control” makes no difference and my argument still holds that its more about responsibility…individual responsibility than it is about blaming an object. Lets face it those areas in Chicago you speak of, they have a very different “cultural attitude” than the areas where you feel safe, is this a race thing? fucking A it is but its all races where the cultural attitude is such that using a weapon to commit a crime is acceptable, not I say “weapon” not gun because I don’t care what the weapon is if you use it to commit a crime you should pay a heavy price for that.

    In my mind one of Obama biggest failings is that the whole race issue got worse under his watch when it should have gotten better.

    • schlermy

      It’s possible the media exploiting police shooting blacks(race baiting) has contributed to the race issue more than anything. Then we get black lives matter..and the mentally ill get weapons and go about shooting cops. Unfortunately the media aren’t being held accountable and they go on race baiting.

      Do note that Trump does scream/yell at the media..very interesting.

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