Since Sandy Hook there has been a flurry of discussions across the country about guns, gun violence, gun culture and gun control. Many of the comments have come from anger, shock and, most significantly from the two very polarized sides of the debate on guns and gun control.
Those with an Internet GED in Constitutional Law have stepped up on both sides of the debate…defining, parsing, obfuscating the meaning of the 2nd Amendment to the point that it is not always possible to believe that they are all looking at the same 27 words. And that brings up the need to look at just what the conversation is all about.
First, we as a nation are not looking at ONE gun issue. Though many of the debates center around the same basic elements, the path to any solutions will have to accommodate the disparate issues that exist.
The December 14th, 2012 killings brought to the surface a tide of frustration and anger that has been building all year. Here is a quick review of the year, of the triggers of a national frustration and anger.
In February of this year violence erupted at Chardon High School in Ohio. Three died, three more wounded in the attack that used a Ruger 22 handgun. Also in February four people [plus the shooter] were killed at a spa in Norcross, GA.
In March the violence moved to Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center…one killed [plus the shooter] and seven wounded by a Beretta 9mm.
In April gunfire erupted at Oikos University in Oakland, killing seven and injuring three more.
May brought the violence to Seattle and the Cafe Racer, a cafe where four were killed before the shooter killed himself.
A June summer pool party at Auburn, Alabama ended with the death of three and then injuring of three more. The shooter surrendered.
July began six weeks of shooting that started with the Copper Top bar, in Tuscaloosa, AL. Seventeen people were injured. That incident was quickly overshadowed by the Aurora, CO assault at the Century 16 movie theater where the shooter killed 12 and injured 58 with an AR-15, shotgun and .40 caliber Glock.
August continued adding to the butcher’s bill with a shooting at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin. Six [plus the shooter] were killed. To end August a Pathmark Super Mart in New Jersey was the scene of a worker killing two and then himself. Further a man killed three members of his family in Maryland before turning the gun on himself. Then in New York City one was killed [plus the shooter] and eight wounded in a shootout on the streets of New York, near the Empire State Building with a 45 Caliber handgun. In Texas, on the Texas A&M campus three were killed [including the shooter] and four injured.
In September Accent Signage Systems in Minneapolis was the scene of six deaths [plus the shooter] with a Glock 9mm.
October brought the gun violence to Azana Day Spa, in Brookfield, WS killing three [plus the shooter] and injuring four others with a .40 Caliber handgun.
December has brought us shooting at the Clackamas Town Center in Oregon where two were killed with an AR-15 before he killed himself. And we hopefully end the violence at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut where a shooter killed 26 children and their teachers before killing himself with his AR-15, Glock 10mm and Sig Sauer 9mm. In the same weekend at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Birmingham, AL three were wounded before the gunman was killed. And east of Birmingham, AL yet another shooter killed three with an AK-47 before being killed by the police.
First, let’s look at the pattern, the drumbeat of repeated mass violence…only January and November are missing from this list, and it is by no means comprehensive, not focusing on the many families that were killed by the father who would then commit suicide…all on fears of “eminent economic collapse.”
The Butcher’s Bill: 96 killed and 112 injured in just 18 incidences. The fear and traumatic stress for those “only” injured and for the many witnesses, friends and family is beyond measure.
This type of mass murder serves as only one example of the violence by firearms. To that we add gang violence in our largest cities and drug pipelines. Further we have to look at, as a separate category, the families killed by their own by overwhelming fear of doomsday.
Then we have the very senseless violence of children killing and being killed by guns they find laying around the house, improperly stowed. Society looks at this violence differently in that, too many times the sole reason for the violence, that the adults did not properly care for their weapons while children were present are looked at as victims, their children taken from them in “accidents.”
Mass shootings, gang violence, families in panic, children killed by “friendly” guns; four separate problems…they will demand separate solutions.
Next subjects…causes and solutions. They will come over time if there is an honest conversation and desire to look at 21st Century issues driven by 18th Century constraints.