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The One Word that Should NEVER Be Connected to Mass Murders (But is…)

The One Word
Commonplace. That’s a word that should never accompany a gun murder of any kind.  Yet, with more than 300 million guns in the United States, hundreds of thousands of hours of slaughter available on TV and in the movie theaters, and carnage flowing out of every XBox, PlayStation, Wii and hand-held gaming device, gun violence is indeed commonplace.  Had it not been for the Kindergarden-aged children who were victims, we might have already moved on.

The United States is the most heavily armed country in the world, with at least 90 guns per 100 people in the United States according to the last Small Arms Survey look at the U.S.[1]  Those guns are increasingly in fewer and fewer hands. Probably less than 1% of the world’s population, own 2/3rds of those guns, one-third of the handguns and assault rifles world-wide CNN reports.

assault-deaths-oecd-ts-allThe U.S. is a very violent country, with more assault deaths than every other country in the world, as this Duke researcher’s graph, above, shows.  A Harvard Study clearly links the increase in guns to the increase in violent deaths, and the deaths by firearm per 100,000 population. More often than not it lines up with Red states with lax gun laws.


Time notes that 11 of the 20 worst mass murders of the last 50 years have happened in the United States.

Mother Jones reports:

“Since 1982, there have been at least 62 mass murders* carried out with firearms across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii…Of the 139 guns possessed by the killers, more than three-quarters were obtained legally. The arsenal included dozens of assault weapons and semiautomatic handguns…  Just under half of the cases involved school or workplace shootings (11 and 19, respectively); the other 31 cases took place in locations including shopping malls, restaurants, government buildings, and military bases. Forty three of the killers were white males. Only one of them was a woman. (See Goleta, Calif., in 2006.) The average age of the killers was 35, though the youngest among them was a mere 11 years old.” [2]

2012 has been a busy year:

Guns kill people far more efficiently and with less muss and fuss than other means, and they’re far easier to obtain, particularly by the mentally ill. Most of the murderers involved in mass shootings have some history of mental illness, a highly stigmatized and under-treated problem in this country.

The death biz is BIG biz in a country saturated with violence. There are 255 major small arms manufacturers world-wide, of which 45% (114) of them are companies based in the United States.[3]  There are another 5,145 smaller licensed arms manufacturers in the U.S.

Combat style video games are a multi-billion dollar industry, and our films and television saturated the worship of guns rack up billions in sales annually.[4]

Does all of this link up? The New York Times back in 1999, after the Colombine, Colorado shooting, notes:

“Hundreds of studies done at the nation’s top universities in the last three decades have come to the same conclusion: that there is at least some demonstrable link between watching violent acts in movies or television shows and acting aggressively in life.

“Proving such links irrefutably is almost impossible, and many studies have been criticized for methodological or other flaws. It is not one individual study, however, but the entire range of studies, taken as a whole, that has convinced most social scientists of the probability of a link.” [5]

The data has only continued to build as the games become increasingly more real and violent. The result of that is a destruction of the “off switch” for violence, says Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman in his book On Combat:

“Through violent programming on television and in movies, and through interactive point-and-shoot video games, modern nations are indiscriminately introducing to their children the same weapons technology that major armies and law enforcement agencies around the world use to “turn off” the midbrain “safety catch” that Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall discovered in World War II.”[6]

Just as smoking in the movies primed generations of Americans to struggle with unnecessary cancer and epidemic addiction, entertainment and domination of the media by the gun industry and its allies has been complete.

There are the legions of media apologists for the gun industry like Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post who misinform whenever a mass shooting dominates the news, but the proof is demonstrable.

It’s a brainwashing so complete that most Americans don’t know that the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has never struck down a gun control law as violating the 2nd Amendment.[7]

Most of the reversals of federal laws like the Brady Bill, which was passed only because Ronald Reagan was the victim of gun violence, occur in the United States Congress where ALEC and the NRA’s political influence can be more easily peddled.

“Indeed, media bias in favor of the NRA’s view of the Second Amendment (as protecting individual gun ownership) is so pervasive that even many gun-control supporters seem unaware that the federal high courts have never found a gun law to have violated the Second Amendment.”[8]

Gun advocates like the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the Koch Brothers/Grover Norquist run American Legislation Exchange Council (ALEC) kill off even the most common sense gun control legislation for fear of that “slippery slope” that gun sales will plummet like cigarettes, the prior champ in the death game, if they give an inch.

Constitutional Argument for Gun Ownership Weak

The gun industry controls the state and federal legislatures because they are wholly vulnerable to losing their argument in the courts. Since United States v. Miller in 1939, as FAIR reports, the constitutional argument for the right of individuals to bear arms privately is weak even with Far Right justices:

“The Amendment is only 27 words: ‘A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.’ While the NRA emphasizes only the last 14 words, the U.S. Supreme Court and appeals courts have focused on ‘well-regulated militia’ and ‘security of a free State’ to rule that Second Amendment rights are reserved to states and their militias – nowadays, the National Guards.

“The truth is — and one would hardly know it from the mass media — that since the Supreme Court’s unanimous Miller decision in 1939, all federal appeals courts, whether dominated by liberals or conservatives, have agreed that the Second Amendment does not confer gun rights on individuals. The NRA view, opposed even by such right-wing judges as Robert Bork, has been consistently rejected.”

Gun control laws are wholly enforceable. So why what can we do to make America safer, and gun owners more accountable?

  • Bring gun ownership back to the full Second Amendment – Everyone who wants to own a gun is welcome to do so, after they join their state’s unit of the National Guard, or enlist in a branch of the United States Armed Forces, or belong to a law enforcement agency.Have the Guard perform the background checks and the psychological evaluations and the proper training in use and storage. It improves our readiness for combat and puts large owner/collectors into a network where they can serve society and the community as in the way that they claim they intend to do.
  • Make gun sharing a crime – Most of the guns used in mass killings were legally purchased, often by a relative. Allow your gun to be borrowed,  or leave it unsecured and have it used in the commission of a felony and you face stiff criminal penalties and/or court-martial in the National Guard or military branch to which you belong.
  • Make psychological screenings of all gun holders mandatory. Can’t pass? Can’t own. Any militia. Any branch of service. Any law enforcement group.
  • Make proper storage mandatory – Keep a gun in your shoebox rather than a lock box? Amend the National Guard’s code to make such improper storage of a weapon an infraction of military code punishable by jail time.
  • Incentivize Safer Gun Technologies – The multi-billion dollar gun industry can be more responsible. There are new technologies that limit gun use to its intended owners. Incentivize the development of these weapons, and get manufacturers to offer deals to law-abiding gun owners to trade in their old weapons for smart weapons that don’t fire unless the owner of the weapon is using it. It’s time to lobby gun manufacturers to put better safety into their products.  We compelled the auto industry to add seatbelts and airbags. It’s time to get the gun industry pushing next generation safety as well.
  • Change Hearts and Minds – The cigarette lobby was defeated when enough people started awareness campaigns and educated the public to its dangers. It’s time for anyone horrified by these events to start giving to groups that are trying to curb gun glorification in the entertainment world.  The National Gun Victims Action and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence are two worthy places to place your resources.  It’s also time for celebrities, many of whom including Quentin Tarantino, Arnold Schwarznegger, Jason Statham, and Sylvester Stallone, have made their millions glorifying gun culture.

In our Wild West world, it is likely that the 300 million gats are out of the bag for good. There are people who love their guns.  They’re rabidly paranoid that they will be taken away. With powerful privileges come reasonable restrictions, though. Let’s live within the letter of the law of the Constitution, increase our national defense, and responsible gun ownership through the well-regulated militia that the Constitution calls for, and make gun violence less sexy, just as we did with smoking.

My shiny two.

Please take a moment and SIGN THE PETITION to call on Congress to enforce the full Second Amendment.

About Brian Ross

Brian Ross is a writer, screenwriter, political satirist, documentarian and short filmmaker who blogs for Truth2Power, the Huffington Post, and the Daily KOS, among others.

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