One-year old Gordy ran into his parents bedroom playing with his older sister. There, the sister found a loaded handgun and within moments, shot her brother in the head, destroying half his brain.
Gordys mother now occasionally picks him up from the home and returns to her house where he sits, repeatedly playing the same tune on an electronic keyboard a true story.
Nationally televised shooting tragedies, such as the Tucson, Ariz., killings, Virginia Tech slaughter, Milwaukee slayings, Fridays homicide in New York and the painful Colorado massacres, are just the tip of the iceberg relative to less-publicized daily shootings of family members, co-workers, neighbors and others.
Most of us are unaware of the appallingly high damage being inflicted with guns. America lost 3,000 people on 9/11. Yet, that is only equal to the number of Americans maimed and killed every 10 days with firearms! Approximately 30,000 people die each year and more than 70,000 are wounded. This tragedy has repeated itself year after year, until the number of lives lost and ruined by gun use dwarfs those who have died in all the wars weve ever fought.
Two fallacies of anti-gun control arguments are (1) focusing on criminal behavior to the exclusion of the millions of people who are crippled and killed through other firearm discharges, and (2) ignoring the fact that numerous assailants are law-abiding citizens until the moment they start shooting.
After the Virginia Tech massacre, Sean Hannity (Fox News) stated that students should be armed to prevent such mass shootings. His ideology ignores the far greater carnage that would be created from campus suicides, accidental shootings and individual homicides. Moreover, you may have read the Heralds Tri-City Forum recently regarding the Community Conversation on the Second Amendment.
One of the writers suggested that increasingly restrictive gun laws in England led to more crime. What was not revealed by selective crime statistics, however, is that in England (population 50 million) only a few dozen people are killed by gunshot each year.
There are legitimate uses of guns, but they generally do not cure societal ills. Firearm-related injury is so high among us because we combine excessive gun availability with abnormally high societal problems. A more socially responsible answer to violence is to do what other advanced countries have done: Control guns better and ameliorate the conditions that lead to derangement and societal violence.
Does our Constitutions Second Amendment grant Americans the right of individual gun ownership? A slim majority (5-4) of Supreme Court justices, those who also ruled corporations are equivalent to people, argues that it does. Other judges disagree. The Second Amendment: 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.
The introductory clauses lead many people to conclude the intent was to allow states to maintain an armed militia (todays National Guard). Interpretation of the amendment, therefore, is more a matter of ideological emphasis and bias than statement of obvious fact.
Moreover, lets focus on the essence of the Constitution itself. The Constitutions often-ignored Preamble establishes the purpose and meaning of the entire document and therefore the foundation of our nation: We the people of the United State, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
The squeeze of a trigger too frequently robs people of tranquility, welfare, liberty (which you cannot enjoy if youre dead), and achieving a more perfect union. Shouldnt these goals be considered when interpreting the remainder of the Constitution? But even if individual gun ownership is now considered a right, that doesnt mean we have to forever live with eight children being killed by gunshots each day. One solution is to elect politicians who will enforce existing gun regulations, make better laws (particularly concerning sales of semi-automatic weapons), and appoint different judges. Gun advocates have created a self-fulfilling prophecy concerning the apparent futility of gun control. The more guns exist in our society, the more their statement about criminals being able to obtain guns becomes true. NRA-type organizations and ideologies helped to create this deleterious situation to which they now argue guns are the solution. See how it works? Greater awareness is needed on this issue. With a gun in the house, the odds of kith or kin being shot are much higher than successfully fending off an intruder. Similarly, it would be uncommon that someone would unholster their sidearm at the scene of a chaotic mass shooting and slay the assailant. Nor will guns defend us from tyranny, given plutocracy already has thwarted the Constitution and taken the country without a single shot being fired.
We have created a tragedy that is far worse than war or foreign terrorism. By the end of this century, another 10 million Americans will be killed or wounded via firearms. Where is our humanity? If more citizens had supported meaningful gun control 50 years ago, wed have far less suffering today. Gordy never had his say. Mark Mansperger is an assistant professor of anthropology and world civilizations at Washington State University Tri-Cities. His research includes cultural ecology, development and international economics.