Monday, December 17, 2012

Mass Murder, Guns and Americans

The Misunderstood? (via)

In the face of deadly events and violence aimed at children, it seems the most sane response is the expressed desire for it to never happen again. Prevention is far more difficult a task than most might imagine. The causes and cures aren't easy. But as so many have said in the last few days, it's a grim task but we must attempt to rise to it's challenges, to discuss a myriad of problems and solutions with a goal of improving our world.

I offer a few links to explore below. 

 -- Just prior to the massacre in Newtown, CT, Mother Jones magazine provided an overview of mass shooting events from 1982-2012, noting among other aspects that "Of the 142 guns possessed by the killers, more than three quarters were obtained legally. The arsenal included dozens of assault weapons and semiautomatic handguns."

-- As recently as August of this year, residents in Newtown debated adding restrictions to the growth of shooting ranges in their town. Complaints were growing as many of the ranges began loading shooting targets with Tannerite, which can create large explosions when struck by high velocity ammo:

"Something needs to be done,” said Joel T. Faxon, a hunter and a member of the town’s police commission, who championed the shooting restrictions. “These are not normal guns, that people need. These are guns for an arsenal, and you get lunatics like this guy who goes into a school fully armed and protected to take return fire. We live in a town, not in a war.

"I’ve hunted for many years, but the police department was getting complaints of shooting in the morning, in the evening, and of people shooting at propane gas tanks just to see them explode,” Mr. Faxon said."

One of the nation's largest political lobbying groups for gun ownership, the National Sport Shooting Foundation located just a few miles away from the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newton, sent a spokesperson to the city council debates on restrictions. He said:

"Among the speakers was a representative of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, who was described as saying he believed there was a greater danger of swimming accidents. “No privileges should be taken away from another generation,” he said. "No safety concerns exist"

-- Those who call for more guns as a problem-solver, as an expression of liberty and freedom are making a critically flawed argument. An opinion piece by Firmin DeBrabander provides this viewpoint:

"This becomes clear if only you pry a little more deeply into the N.R.A.’s logic behind an armed society. An armed society is polite, by their thinking, precisely because guns would compel everyone to tamp down eccentric behavior, and refrain from actions that might seem threatening. The suggestion is that guns liberally interspersed throughout society would cause us all to walk gingerly — not make any sudden, unexpected moves — and watch what we say, how we act, whom we might offend.

"As our Constitution provides, however, liberty entails precisely the freedom to be reckless, within limits, also the freedom to insult and offend as the case may be. The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld our right to experiment in offensive language and ideas, and in some cases, offensive action and speech. Such experimentation is inherent to our freedom as such. But guns by their nature do not mix with this experiment — they don’t mix with taking offense. They are combustible ingredients in assembly and speech."

Both in Newtown and earlier this year in Aurora, CO,  the killers used a semi-automatic weapon, variants of the AR-15. In Aurora, the killer used a Smith &Wesson M&P 15-22 model of this rifle, outfitted with a 100-round drum magazine. The American Rifleman magazine writes of this military-styled weapon this way: 

"It has many of the features of a tricked-out AR tactical rifle, but is light enough for easy all-day carry on small game hunts for squirrels, rabbits or prairie dogs. It's also really fun to shoot in informal training exercises in an attempt to get to know this tactical-looking .22 rifle.

"The M&P 15-22 pointed easily and with its 25-round magazine, chewed through ammunition. It was so easy to send multiple rounds downrange that one shot just never seemed enough."

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