Monday, June 16, 2014

Guns

Let's talk about guns.

I don't know why people gets so weird about them. I'm honestly at my wits end. I had dinner with a friend over the weekend where we talked about this very thing, about how bad gun violence has gotten, and how blind we seem to be to evidence-based fixes.

The thing is, America is pretty much the only developed nation that has such a high rate of gun violence. And some people say its because we share a border with Mexico, who constantly funnel in guns to criminals and drug dealers...ignoring that England also shares borders with other countries, and has successfully suppressed gun violence. Unless the argument is that Mexicans are just a violent people, which--HELLO RACISM!

I posted an Onion article on my Facebook a while back. The Onion has a way, frequently, of boiling things down to stark, funny-yet-depressing headlines. This one was no different.


The saddest thing about the above article is I had someone whom I consider to be a smart, reasonable person respond to my post and say that although the headline is supposed to be a joke, it's actually sorta-kinda true.

True? True???

It's true that there's no way to prevent this?!

I believe I've talked about Tobias Buckell's amazing post simply titled "Rice" before. It's a hard look at the myth v. the reality of guns in America and in other countries.

Just as an example, here are some statistics from links from his post:

9,470 gun homicides per year. The UK? 32. Canada? 181. Japan? Virtually 0. Germany? 277.

From: Wikipedia
From: http://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/compareyears/194/number_of_gun_homicides

From: businessinsider.com
And yet there's no way to prevent this?

The thing is, and I do not actually have the data to back up this particular inference, it looks like you can chart the rise of these types of shootings with the rise of people becoming ever increasingly paranoid of government overreach.

Here's how bad it's gotten in the US:

Someone in Oklahoma has invented bulletproof blankets to protect children from gunfire and falling debris from tornado damage (it is Oklahoma afterall, the only place that makes Arkansas feel like we got lucky in the tornado placement pool).

From: bodyguardblanket.com
Even if those things did work (and the jury's still out on that), it's still a horrifying idea to consider. Apparently, we in America are so completely unable to deal with our gun problem--we are apparently so afraid of having a few of our gun rights taken away--that we are willing to let our kids and teachers deal with the technicalities of surviving a school day.

And if you think the bulletproof blanket is just some people and schools being silly, I take you, again, to my conversation with a friend on Facebook. This was before the blanket stories came to light. My friend seriously suggested that we, instead of passing stricter gun restrictions, that we teach kids how to avoid shooters. The only downside that he mentioned was that when those kids grew up, if any of them snapped, they'd know how to circumnavigate the defense measures the kids would take.

Look, I am not anti guns. I think hunting is great if that's your thing, and who doesn't want to go to a shooting range and fire off a few rounds for fun?

But, c'mon people. Look at the above picture. Those are children laying on the ground, hiding under bulletproof blankets in an attempt to survive the next time someone decides to shoot a bunch of kids at a school.

We have got to get a handle on this thing.  We just do.