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Thread: Guns take pride of place in US family values

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    State Researcher HankT's Avatar
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    This article has several features that are worth commenting on but the one that seems most impressive to meisthe confirmation from afar that the gun rights/owneradvocacy in the U.S. isin the ascendance. Ithas, in fact,won. There are more guns in the United States, based an anyone's estimates (215 to 270 million)-- pro, anti or neutral. A reasonable analysis easily acknowledges that most everything important is going in the direction of us gun-owners and carriers. And even the gun users...

    Now, if we can just go to thenext stage of cultural change that will accomodate our gun rights as a matter of routine. That will be a different battle--requiring different behaviors and rhetoric. Unfortunately,

    The NRA, other orgs, and millions of gun owners in the last 30 years or so got us to the point we're at. It's up to us to improve and refine, andinstitutionalizethat position.





    Guns take pride of place in US family values

    Despite the spiralling rise in the daily number of shootings in the US, its arms culture has a firmer grip than ever, reports Paul Harris in New York

    Paul Harris
    Sunday October 14, 2007


    Observer

    Shirley Katz is not afraid to fight for her rights. Last week the schoolteacher, 44, went to court in her home town of Medford, Oregon, to protest at her working conditions. Specifically she is outraged she cannot carry a handgun into class. 'I know it is my right to carry that gun,' she said.

    Katz was in court in the week that someone else took a gun to school in America. This time it was a pupil in Cleveland, Ohio. Asa Coon, 14, walked the corridors of his school, a gun in each hand, shooting two teachers and two students. Then he killed himself. Coon's attempted massacre made headlines. But a more bloody rampage, the murder of six young partygoers by Tyler Peterson, a policeman in Crandon, Wisconsin, got less attention, even in the New York Times - America's newspaper of record - which buried it deep inside the paper.



    Guns, and the violence their possessors inflict, have never been more prevalent in America. Gun crime has risen steeply over the past three years. Despite the fact groups such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) consistently claim they are being victimised, there have probably never been so many guns or gun-owners in America - although no one can be sure, as no one keeps a reliable account. One federal study estimated there were 215 million guns, with about half of all US households owning one. Such a staggering number makes America's gun culture thoroughly mainstream.



    An average of almost eight people aged under 19 are shot dead in America every day. In 2005 there were more than 14,000 gun murders in the US - with 400 of the victims children. There are 16,000 suicides by firearm and 650 fatal accidents in an average year. Since the killing of John F Kennedy in 1963, more Americans have died by American gunfire than perished on foreign battlefields in the whole of the 20th century.



    Studies show that having a gun at home makes it six times more likely that an abused woman will be murdered. A gun in a US home is 22 times more likely to be used in an accidental shooting, a murder or a suicide than in self-defence against an attack. Yet despite those figures US gun culture is not retreating. It is growing. Take Katz's case in Oregon. She brought her cause to court under a state law that gives licensed gun-owners the right to bring a firearm to work: her school is her workplace. Such a debate would have been unthinkable a few decades ago. Now it is the battleground. 'Who would have thought a few years ago, we would even be having this conversation? But this won't stop here,' said Professor Brian Anse Patrick of the University of Toledo in Ohio. Needless to say, last week the judge sided with Katz and she won the first round of her case.



    It is a nation awash with guns, from the suburbs to the inner cities and from the Midwest's farms to Manhattan's mansions. Gun-owning groups have been so successful in their cause that it no longer even seems strange to many Americans that Katz should want to go into an English class armed. 'They have made what was once unthinkable thinkable,' said Patrick, a liberal academic. He should know. He owns a gun himself. Even the US critics of gun culture are armed.



    To look at the photographs in Kyle Cassidy's book Armed America is to glimpse a surreal world. Or at least it seems that way to many non-Americans. Cassidy spent two years taking portrait shots of gun owners and their weapons across the US.



    The result is a disturbing tableau of happy families, often with pets and toddlers, posing with pistols, assault rifles and the sort of heavy machine-guns usually associated with a warzone. 'By the end I had seen so many guns and I knew so much about guns that it no longer seemed unusual,' Cassidy said. He keeps his in a gun safe in his home in Philadelphia. 'This turned into a project not about guns but about a diverse group of people,' he said.



    At the cutting edge of weapon culture remains the gun lobby and its most vocal advocate, the NRA. Founded in the 19th century by ex-Civil War army officers dismayed at their troops' lack of marksmanship, the NRA has transformed into the most effective lobbying group in Washington DC. It has scores of lobbyists, millions of dollars in funds and more than three million members. It is highly organised and its huge membership is highly motivated and activist. They can have a huge influence on politics.


    In 2000 Vice-President Al Gore supported stricter background checks for gun-buyers and the NRA organised against him, describing the election as the most important since the Civil War. It spent $20m against Gore in an election ending in a razor's edge result. Its influence was especially felt in Gore's home state of Tennessee, which he narrowly lost to NRA gloating. 'Their vote can select the President. They don't get to pick who goes to the White House. But they can tip the balance,' said Patrick.


    Democrats have learnt that lesson now. Many shy away from gun control issues, wary of taking on such a vociferous lobby group. In the 2006 mid-term elections the NRA was able to back a historically high 58 Democrats running for office. Every one of them went on to win. Such influence over the past three decades has seen the NRA fight a successful campaign against new gun laws. It has in fact loosened regulations, spreading the ability to legally carry concealed weapons across 39 states. And this has all been done in the face of a fight from anti-gun groups, backed by much of the mainstream media. 'Politicians are so afraid of the gun lobby. They run scared of it,' said Joan Burbick, author of the book Gun Show Nation
    But the key question is not about the number of guns in America; it is about why people are armed. For many gun-owners, and a few sociologists, the reason lies in America's past. The frontier society, they say, was populated by gun-wielding settlers who used weapons to feed their families and ward off hostile bandits and Indians. America was thus born with a gun in its hand. Unfortunately much of this history is simply myth. The vast majority of settlers were farmers, not fighters. The task of killing Indians was left to the military and - most effectively - European diseases. Guns in colonial times were much rarer than often thought, not least because they were so expensive that few settlers could afford them. Indeed one study of early gun homicides showed that a musket was as likely to be used as club to beat someone to death as actually fired.


    But many Americans believe the myth. The role of the gun is now enshrined in mass popular culture and has huge patriotic significance. Hence the fact that gun ownership is still a constitutional right, in case America is ever invaded and needs to form a popular militia (as hard as that event might be to imagine). It also explains why guns are so prevalent in Hollywood. Currently playing in US cinemas is the Jodie Foster film The Brave One, a classic vigilante movie of the wronged woman turning to the power of the pistol to murder the criminals who killed her boyfriend. Foster's character is played as undeniably heroic. 'There is a fascination with guns in our culture. All you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun,' said Cassidy.


    But this worship of the gun in many ways springs from economics and social problems, not the historic frontier. It took mass production and mass marketing to really popularise firearms. The Civil War saw mass arms manufacturing explode in America, including making 200,000 Colt .44 pistols alone. It saw guns become familiar and cheaper for millions of Americans. The later 19th century saw gun companies using marketing techniques to sell their weapons, often invoking invented frontier imagery to do so. That carries on today. There are more than 2,000 gun shows each year, selling hundreds of thousands of guns. It is big business and business needs to sell more and more guns to keep itself profitable. 'They will do anything to sell guns,' said Burbick.


    But there are deeper issues at work too. The gun lobby's main argument is that guns protect their owners. They deter criminals and attackers whom - the gun lobby points out helpfully - are often armed themselves. Some surveys estimate there are more than two million 'defensive' uses of firearms each year. But others say that this argument is a shield, using guns as a way of deflecting harder arguments about how crime is caused by economics, poverty and racism. 'The argument over guns redefines a lot of social issues as simple aspects of crime,' said Burbick. She argues that a way to make Americans feel safer from crime is not to arm them with guns but to tackle the causes of crime: urban poverty, joblessness, drug addiction and racial divisions. 'We have to take back the language of human security. To talk about solving those social issues in terms of safety, not just letting the gun lobby control that language,' she said.


    It is a powerful argument. Critics of America's gun culture often point to other nations with high levels of gun ownership - such as Canada and Switzerland - but much lower levels of violent crime. The fact is that America itself is equally divided. Patrick lives in a quiet, rural part of Michigan just across the state line from Ohio and the town of Toledo where he works. 'I would be amazed if anyone within four miles of me did not have a gun,' he said 'But our homicide rate is zero.'


    Then look at where Cassidy lives. He has an apartment in Philadelphia, a city that is just as flooded with guns as Patrick's rural idyll, but also suffers from inner-city social ills. It has a stratospheric murder rate. 'There is a murder here every day. This is something that America has to come to terms with,' he said. Yet the differences do not lie with the simple existence of guns. Both places are full of them. They lie with the root causes of crime and violence, such as poverty and drugs, that blight many big cities. Guns seem neither to be totally the problem and certainly not the solution.


    However, that is a debate few in America are having. In the meantime, the gun culture is so firmly entrenched and society so full of guns that there is little prospect of it retreating. Even those who advocate much tighter laws have long accepted defeat of the ideal of creating a society where guns are rare in public life, or even completely absent. 'That notion is absurd. There is no way to de-gun America,' said Patrick.


    To cap a grim week, as Katz was winning her court battle in Oregon police in Pennsylvania were giving details of a raid on the home of a teenager who was plotting to attack a school. They found seven home-made grenades and an assault rifle. His mother had bought it for him at a gun show. The boy was just 14.


    America's worst shooting sprees
    Virginia Tech
    Seung-Hui Cho a Korean American, was a loner who scared classmates. In April he killed 32 students and staff, then himself, at Virginia Tech, the worst US school shooting.
    Amish killings
    On a Monday morning in October 2006, truck driver Charles Roberts opened fire in a school in Paradise, Pennsylvania. He killed five children, then shot himself.
    Columbine
    Colorado misfits Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris assaulted their high school, Columbine, in April 1999, killing 12 students and a teacher. They then committed suicide.
    Luby's massacre
    In October, 1991 George Hennard drove a truck into Luby's Cafe in Killeen, Texas, shot dead 23 people and injured another 20 before shooting himself.
    'Going postal'
    Patrick Sherrill, an Oklahoma postal employee, took a gun to work in August 1986, shot 14 staff, then killed himself.
    McDonald's massacre
    In January 1984 in San Ysidro, California, James Huberty killed 21 with an Uzi and other guns at a McDonald's. He was killed by a Swat sniper.
    Texas tower shooting
    In 1966 Charles Whitman murdered his wife and mother, then climbed a University of Texas observation tower in Austin. He shot and killed 14 people before police shot him.



    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world...190804,00.html







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    "An average of almost eight people aged under 19 are shot dead in America every day. In 2005 there were more than 14,000 gun murders in the US - with 400 of the victims children. There are 16,000 suicides by firearm and 650 fatal accidents in an average year. Since the killing of John F Kennedy in 1963, more Americans have died by American gunfire than perished on foreign battlefields in the whole of the 20th century."

    I wonder why they didn't quote the # of deaths by automobile accidents, falls, and every other cause of death that dwarfs gun violence.




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    JB wrote:
    I wonder why they didn't quote the # of deaths by automobile accidents, falls, and every other cause of death that dwarfs gun violence.
    Or how many of the under-19 deaths are the deaths of gang members who have been killing other people, destroying property, and doing robberies since age 13.

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    State Researcher dng's Avatar
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    It's not the guns, it's the people. You have many more criminals in large cities than the country. Articles like this piss me off.

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    dngreer wrote:
    It's not the guns, it's the people.* You have many more criminals in large cities than the country.* Articles like this piss me off.
    Exactly. Don't blame the tool. Blame the dolt who used it. There is too much of this blame-anyone-or-anything-else syndrome going around already. Nobody will accept responsibility for their own actions. This article just reinforces that position. That sickens me a little.

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    Particle wrote:
    dngreer wrote:
    It's not the guns, it's the people. You have many more criminals in large cities than the country. Articles like this piss me off.
    Exactly. Don't blame the tool. Blame the dolt who used it. There is too much of this blame-anyone-or-anything-else syndrome going around already. Nobody will accept responsibility for their own actions. This article just reinforces that position. That sickens me a little.
    I'd go a bit further to say that the dolt who's murdering people with a handgun is a tool.

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    Pay no mind to the bleatings of this bed-wetting hack, fellers. It is the usual crap that one reads daily in these commie English comics!

    The scribe in question, as usual, overlooks the fact that the Brits of my grandfathers generation went around armed to the teeth, and armed crime was at an all time low prior to, and after, WW1.

    He also overlooks the fact that OUR right to keep and bear arms is, of course, a doomsday provision to enable us to oppose tyrannical government, should the need arise! It has nothing to do with turkey hunting or plinking.....

    TrueBrit.



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    imperialism2024 wrote:
    Particle wrote:
    dngreer wrote:
    It's not the guns, it's the people.* You have many more criminals in large cities than the country.* Articles like this piss me off.
    Exactly. Don't blame the tool. Blame the dolt who used it. There is too much of this blame-anyone-or-anything-else syndrome going around already. Nobody will accept responsibility for their own actions. This article just reinforces that position. That sickens me a little.
    I'd go a bit further to say that the dolt who's murdering people with a handgun is a tool.
    haha

    Would you like some potatoes with that cheese?

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    State Researcher dng's Avatar
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    TrueBrit wrote:
    Pay no mind to the bleatings of this bed-wetting hack, fellers. It is the usual crap that one reads daily in these commie English comics!
    I wish we could. But, if we ignore these people, we will end up like Australia and Great Britain. We will be living in a "gun free" (if you overlook criminal's guns) country, and a crime infested country. Ignoring the bull crap and the anti-gun crowd is better for the blood pressure than arguing, but it will not make the problem go away. We will no longer have a way to defend ourselves from the government. Soon crossbows will be outlawed and we'll be back in the stone ages using clubs. If we do what gun owners in Australia and Great Britain did; NOTHING, America will be in the same boat, and that boat is sinking rather quickly. Socialism and communism are hard enough to fight when the are on the outside trying to get in, but once it is entrenched into the country, we will be screwed like the people in Russia, China, N. Korea, Venezuela, etc...

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    Regular Member Marco's Avatar
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    Always vote and don't leave home without your

    If you think like a Statist, act like one, or back some, you've given up on freedom and have gone over to the dark side.
    The easiest ex. but probably the most difficult to grasp for gun owners is that fool permission slip so many of you have, especially if you show it off with pride. You should recognize it as an embarrassment, an infringement, a travesty and an affront to a free person.


    ~Alan Korwin

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    From the article:
    "A gun in a US home is 22 times more likely to be used in an accidental shooting, a murder or a suicide than in self-defence against an attack."

    Um... now the 1-3 MILLION defensive uses of a firearm (Dr. Kleck's #s? - oops! I forgot who did the study )each year isn't really disputed. Now, wouldn't that put the # of accidental shootings, murders, and suicides at somewhere between 22 million and 66 million a year?

    At that rate we'd be a vacant country in a few years!

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    That's a good catch!

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    dngreer wrote:
    TrueBrit wrote:
    Pay no mind to the bleatings of this bed-wetting hack, fellers. It is the usual crap that one reads daily in these commie English comics!
    I wish we could. But, if we ignore these people, we will end up like Australia and Great Britain. We will be living in a "gun free" (if you overlook criminal's guns) country, and a crime infested country. Ignoring the bull crap and the anti-gun crowd is better for the blood pressure than arguing, but it will not make the problem go away. We will no longer have a way to defend ourselves from the government. Soon crossbows will be outlawed and we'll be back in the stone ages using clubs. If we do what gun owners in Australia and Great Britain did; NOTHING, America will be in the same boat, and that boat is sinking rather quickly. Socialism and communism are hard enough to fight when the are on the outside trying to get in, but once it is entrenched into the country, we will be screwed like the people in Russia, China, N. Korea, Venezuela, etc...
    Good points, I expressed myself rather badly! However, I like to think that we who post here can all hoist in the lessons to be learned from the unfortunate countries you mention, and resolve to ensure that we do not fall into the same trap!

    TrueBrit.

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