Archives For gun control

In 1920, Hugh Lofting, a Brit who spent most of his life in the United States, wrote the first Story of Doctor Dolittle. In today’s world the original words are not considered worthy of the Newberry Medal for children’s literature it garnered in 1922.

However, the fictional animal – Pushmi-pullyu – the two-headed llama is an apt metaphor for my feelings about also being essentially British but with American citizenship. These United States, which I was proud to join twelve years ago, do not now feel the same. A feeling of disconnect colours my view to the extent I don’t know which way to go.

Nastiness permeates the political arena and has filtered into the public sphere to the extent it seems barely possible to discuss contentious issues without hate, or even a semblance of civility.

Why? Because racism and the politics of guns and abortion, notwithstanding the spectre of Trump and his acolytes, some of whom are attempting to out trump Trump, is eating into my soul and destroying all that I liked about being a part of this country.

I am fortunate to be able to bury my head, figuratively if not literally, in the sand as I walk the beach each morning with my dog, but still the news drifts in on the trade winds.

202 mass shootings in the US in 2022, and it’s only May. A mass murder is defined by the Department of Justice as ‘the killing of three or more people at one time in one location’. Last weekend there were six separate incidents – no, let’s be honest – mass murders or attempted mass murders:

May 13 – Water Street and Juneau Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin – 0 killed, 17 injured
May 14 – Jefferson Avenue, New York, Buffalo – 10 killed, 3 injured
May 15 – Airline Drive, Houston, Texas – 2 killed, 3 injured
May 15 – El Toro Road, Laguna Woods, California – 1 killed, 5 injured
May 15 – N Filmore Street, Amarillo, Texas – 1 killed, 4 injured
May 15 – 25th Street, Winston Salem, N Carolina; 0 killed, 7 injured

The Second Amendment declares ‘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’ is enshrined in the Constitution but that was in 1791.

Which one of those murders over the weekend of May 13th to May 15th, 2022, could be said to be at the hands of ‘a well regulated Militia’ and not a madman?

How can We the People not see that gun ownership must be controlled, must have safe guards to remove the ease of the purchase of firearms? To have stringent background checks. To close the loopholes.

The Violence Project reports the vast majority of mass murders are committed by men – around 95% – and that “white men are disproportionately responsible for mass shootings more than any other group.”

Interestingly, white men are largely behind the drive the tell women what they may and may not do with their bodies. A recent NBC poll showed only 5% of Americans believe abortion should be outright illegal. Yup! But that hasn’t stopped Governor Pete Rickets of Nebraska from declaring that, even in cases of incest or rape, a woman may not have an abortion. How dare he?

The same NBC poll reported 63% of Americans are opposed to overturning Roe v Wade but that hasn’t stopped governors like Greg Abbott of Texas from introducing a six-week abortion ban. A drip-drip eating away of the 1973 ruling. Maybe biology isn’t his strong suite and he doesn’t know pregnancy starts from the first day of a woman’s last period, in effect leaving only a one or two week window to end a pregnancy. A woman might not even know she is pregnant at six weeks. Maybe he doesn’t know menstrual cycles are not an exact science. That they can be varied, can be impacted by stress, by diet, so that window for some is even less.

If Roe v Wade is overturned, the United States will join places like El Salvador, Haiti, Iraq, Senegal, the Republic of Congo and others countries considered by the West to be third world.
Countries which do not have stellar human rights records.

Tolerance, compromise, civility, acceptance are all alien words in America now. Racism – blatant and insidious – is rampant in parts of the country. A country in danger of regressing. Of losing global credibility.

I recognize the privilege of options I have and the reality is that I am not so much drawn to Europe as pushed from the United States. That is the pushmi-pullyu effect I am feeling. I wonder was that how Hugh Lofting, a Brit with American citizenship, felt when he created his fictional character a century ago?

Governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, apparently rushed to the scene of a Kentucky high school shooting yesterday. In a prepared statement he said, “It is unbelievable that this would happen in a small, close-knit community like Marshall County.”

What’s unbelievable about that? I can tell you what is believable. It is believable that yet again the United States of America is complicit in the death of her school children. It is believable this tragedy has yet again destroyed the sanctity of education. It is believable a rural community is riven by the machinations of an out-of-control person with a gun.

What is unbelievable is that the United States of America seems wholly incapable of standing up to the lobbying power of the National Rifle Association and the band of idiots who continue to bleat and wail at any attempt to deal with the proliferation of gun ownership and the ease of gun purchase.

There has never been any attempt to deny the second amendment, ratified 227 years ago, along with the other nine first amendments, on December 15, 1791: “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.” It is not what is being touted now.

But 227 years ago the population of this wonderful country was just a tad smaller. 227 years ago the citizens of this great country had need of arms to protect themselves and their property. 227 years ago kids were not killing kids.

“Fatal school shooting” ran the headline. “2 dead, 17 injured at Kentucky high school: suspect held” read the subtext. Not surprisingly Marshall County is reeling from the atrocity. Any child’s death is horrendous – against the natural order of life. Children’s deaths at the hand of another child adds an even greater level of horror.

The AP report was chilling in its expectation there would be other fatal school shootings. “The attack marked the year’s first fatal school shooting, 23 days into 2018, according to data compiled by the Gun Violence Archive…”

And here is the truly terrifying statistic from the Everytown for Gun Safety. There have been at least, at least, 283 shootings at schools since 2013. One of those occurred on Monday. Thankfully not a fatality. But the life of a 15 year-old girl has been marred, perhaps irrevocably, after being shot by a 16 year-old classmate. How does a child trust again?

What the fuck is wrong with this country that the vociferous minority appear to think that number, 283, is okay? We see images on our screens of children wandering, shell-shocked, missing limbs, many of them orphans – they are children of war-torn countries. This is not a war-torn country.

Those images should not be replicated in the country purported to be the leader of the free world. Stories and photos of panicked children running to flee a madman, or mad child, with a gun in their high school atrium, cafeteria, classroom should not be the norm in the USA.

The 2 kids killed yesterday in Kentucky were 15 years old. The 17 other victims were also children. Governor Bevin said, “This is a wound that is going to take a long time to heal.” Really?

I did think to list all the gun incidents since the Sandy Hook slaughter in 2012, when 20 children and 6 adults were murdered at their school, but there are so many my eyes glazed over with tears. Let me though just list the number of gun related events in schools in 2018 – bearing in mind today is the 24th January, 2018: Jan 3rd – St Johns, Michigan; Jan 4th – Seattle, Washington; Jan 10th – San Bernardino, California; Jan 10th – Denison, Texas; Jan 10th – Sierra Vista, Arizona; Jan 15th – Marshall, Texas; Jan 20th – Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Then yesterday, January 23rd – Marshall County, Kentucky – the first deaths. Two young lives, gone.

Statistics are always rattled around but a couple are mind-shattering. For example, there is, roughly, 1 gun for every person in the United States or, using a statistic from the Small Arms Survey published in The Guardian – civilian gun ownership in the US is at 42%. Or here’s another from the Human Development Index – there are 29.7 homicides in the USA by firearm per 1 million people. 7.7 in Switzerland and 1.4 in Australia. Numbers that should frighten us.

But what is truly unbelievable is that when in 2013, 65% of US voters supported the background check bill, it failed to pass in the Senate. Remind me, aren’t senators there to promote the will of the people? A quick look at my copy of the Constitution confirmed they are. That particular amendment, the Seventeenth, was ratified on April 8, 1913 when senators became elected by the people, for the people, rather than chosen by the state legislatures.

January 2018 should be the month when We the People stand up to them – the NRA, the lobbyists and politicians – and say “we believe gun control is necessary. Believable.”

When I began writing a blog, I was advised by my publisher, to stick to one area. To become a pro. My realm of so-called expertise was to be expatriation – the good, the better and the best, as well as the occasional blip. As many people have learnt over the years, I don’t always take advice. And so, six years after starting this writing gig, I have covered many topics, often though with recurrent themes.

Guns have been an ongoing discussion – Get Your Glock Here (April 2012), Language and Guns (Jan 2013), Bang, Bang You’re Dead (Oct 2015), The American A & G Debate (Oct 2015) and today.

It’s been a dreadful year, and it’s only July. 2016 might well go down in the annals of US history as, in H.M. the Queen’s words, an annus horribilis. Guns, guns and more guns. Shootings on the streets, on college campuses, in night clubs, schools, shopping malls and private homes. Murder everywhere. All colours. All faiths. All people.

And yet there are still no adequate measures in place in America to control the purchase of guns and ammunition. If anything, the stridency of the pro-gun lobby becomes more vociferous. The President has been stymied at every turn. At every memorial service or funeral he attends, whether civilian, soldier, policeman or child, his anger, and I think his shame, is evident for all to see. Anger is easy to understand. And the shame is not his alone. It should be shared nationwide. By every American citizen, no matter colour, faith or political leaning.

There are federal gun laws dating back to 1934 to do with taxing manufacturers, or promising not to pass along guns to baddies, or over state lines, or increasing the minimum age for buying a handgun to 21. The Gun-Free School Zones Act in 1990 is self-explanatory – but as universities and colleges are called schools in America, I’m a bit hazy on the ins and outs of that. The 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act required background checks “on most firearm purchasers, depending on seller and venue.” Why ‘most’? Why not ‘all’? Then in 2004 the law expired on the Federal Assault Weapons Ban – something which beggars belief.

In 2005 the poor old firearms manufacturers and licensed dealers were deemed not liable should a crime be committed with one of their products. That little piece of legislation was called the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.

But where, I ask you, are the safe guards for you and me? Particularly in states wherein ‘open carry laws’ prevail? Texas is one of them, and where from August 1st, 2016 it will be permissible to carry handguns on college campuses. Gun-free zones will be allowed, which I’m sure relieves many parents sending their children off to college. I just wonder how students will navigate the areas between those zones – the much larger areas where guns are permitted.

How can it be sensible to encourage young men and women, some at a volatile stage in their life anyway, to carry a weapon to class? There seems, sometimes, to be a disconnect between what we see on the screens of our computers and televisions to what actually happens when a gun is fired. People, invariably innocent, die or are horribly maimed.

We hear the cacophonous sounds from gun proponents that good people carrying guns can stop bad people from shooting at us. Bollocks! And, in slightly less colourful language, a growing number of police chiefs around the country are agreeing. David Brown, the Dallas Police Chief, said after the dreadful shooting of five police officers, “… it’s increasingly challenging when people have AR-15s slung over their shoulder and they’re in a crowd. We don’t know who the good guy is versus the bad guy when everyone starts shooting.”

Guns shops and shows are advertised in the daily newspapers, often offering free financing or free interest. I could go out today and purchase a Smith & Wesson M&P15 “Sport II” with an adjustable stock and A2 sights, a forward assist flash suppressor and a 30 round magazine for $699.97. Now call me naive, but what sort of sportsman needs a 30 round magazine to shoot a deer – one that has probably been enticed with feed. That, my friends, is not sport.

So many people who should not have guns, who have slipped through the very holey safety nets, have them. How can it possibly be alright, for example, for those with a record of domestic abuse to retain their firearm license? Yet another loophole in the gun laws.

I have not heard or read one single instance of those in favour of more stringent gun controls demanding the banning of all guns. No one is asking for a rewrite of the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. Just common sense regulations.

Maybe I did take heed of my publisher, after all. There is a theme, albeit a number of them. I do not though profess to be an expert on guns or the control of them, merely a concerned citizen appalled at the needless deaths of innocent men, women and children.