More Guns do not a Safer America Make

This is a guest column; ‘Mihael Willman’ is the pseudonym for a concerned Canadian – JG.

by Mihael Willman

“Years ago I strongly believed in the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the gun lobby’s slogan “guns don’t kill, people kill.” And, while I still agree that “guns don’t kill” in and of themselves, it’s the nut whose finger is on the trigger who kills.”

Another angry, socially alienated person with a twisted agenda has picked up a gun and gone on a shooting rampage, killing totally innocent victims. Another National Rifle Association (NRA) member, with a warped sense of values, is blaming the victims for not being armed! Not so long ago it used to be rape victims who were blamed for somehow provoking their attackers. Today, it’s shooting victims who are being blamed for not being armed to prevent their own deaths! And in their place of worship, recognized as a sanctuary from violence, where they go to pray and worship in peace and harmony.

Victims are to blame because someone came with murderous intent into their place of worship? What excuse will NRA members come up with next to explain away the shooting rampages which are becoming a part of almost everyday American life? Only the number of victims changes.

Years ago I strongly believed in the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the gun lobby’s slogan “guns don’t kill, people kill.” And, while I still agree that “guns don’t kill” in and of themselves, it’s the nut whose finger is on the trigger who kills. Unfortunately, since those days, the nuts with their fingers on the triggers have grown exponentially, as has the proliferation of guns in the United States! What is particularly distressing is the fact that many gun lobby supporters, who don’t appear to have any kind of mental issues, are showing an ever-growing disconnect from reality.

In parts of the United States people, with guns in holsters hanging from their hips or rifles slung over their shoulders as they go about their daily lives shopping, eating in restaurants, going to church, etc., who belong to the so-called “open-carry” movement, give one the impression that they are living in some revived “Wild West,” where danger is lurking around every corner and behind every bush. Looking at some of the people who are screaming apoplectically about how they will not let the government take away their guns without a fight doesn’t fill me with any sense of security. Quite truthfully they actually scare me more than the possibility of a future undemocratic American government which they claim to be protecting the country from.

Whether it’s the rank and file members, or the leadership of the NRA, whenever a shooting rampage occurs, resulting in calls for changes to American gun laws, without fail someone comes up with a statement which clearly shows their lack of common sense. And such was the case with the recent murder of nine black parishioners in their church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Some individuals, including Fox News reporters, at first tried to soft-peddle the reasons for the attack, going so far as to question whether the shooter was targeting Christians, even though a survivor clearly stated that the gunman had said he wanted to shoot black people. Former Texas governor and now presidential candidate Rick Perry referred to the killings as an “accident” by someone high on drugs. Clearly he has no concept of what an “accident” is. It’s when someone shoots themselves in the foot or shoots someone unintentionally. But shooting nine people, each of them numerous times, is not an accident by any stretch of the imagination. A spokesman for Perry later claimed that he had meant to say “incident” and not “accident.”

But the “foot in mouth” award goes to Charles Cotton, an NRA board member and an attorney, who posted the following comment on a Texas gun forum critical of state senator and pastor Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine victims:

“Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.” In an interview with The Associated Press, Cotton confirmed that he had written this comment, which was later deleted, but that this was his personal opinion and not that of the NRA. Wonder just how many of the leaders or rank and file members of the NRA thought, but didn’t say, the same thing?

I’m sorry, but advocating that people be allowed to carry guns into church, or other places of worship, in case an individual intent on homicide just happens to come in and start a shooting spree, is not the answer. More guns will not create a safer America. Rather less guns in the hands of mentally disturbed or unbalanced individuals, or even normally sane individuals for that matter, would go far in reducing the number of shootings.

How many times have we heard where someone in a fit of rage grabbed for a gun and shot and killed someone, just because he had a gun handy? At other times the shooter would have uttered a few colorful expletives, and would have been hot under the collar, until the moment of rage had passed. Now, because he or she has a gun within reach, a moment of rage becomes a life-altering moment, creating a victim and murderer for the stupidest of reasons and not because the victim was threatening the shooter.

For other instances of where the simple presence of a gun resulted in another needless death or injury, one only has to follow American news or search the internet, the cases are endless. In mid-June, at a wedding at the Waldorf hotel in New York City, someone brought a gun which went off. A bullet hit the floor, creating shrapnel which injured four people, but fortunately did not kill anyone! About the same time, elsewhere in the U.S., a three-year-old killed himself when a gun he found in his mother’s purse went off.

In December 2014, a two-year-old boy shot and killed his mother, when the gun he found in her purse supposedly went off while they were shopping in a Walmart store in a small town in Idaho. While a tragedy for the family, at least no one else in the store was shot. The 29-year-old mother of four, described by family as a responsible person, thought nothing of carrying a loaded gun, easily accessible to her four young children, in her purse. Clearly she was not responsible enough! One can only imagine the resulting tragedy if one of the children found the gun while at home and pointed it at his siblings. This happened in a small community of about 10,000 inhabitants, where crime was virtually non-existent! Claiming that a loaded gun was necessary for safety in such an environment is evidence of a paranoid mind.

In January 2015 a five-year-old boy found a gun in his home in Elmo, MO., which discharged and killed his 9-month-old brother in his playpen. About the same time another young boy was killed after he found a gun on a closet shelf. These are just a few examples of deaths which occurred because supposedly “responsible” gun-owners did not ensure that their guns were properly stored and out of reach of children, and because of the flawed “guns don’t kill” mantra. If anyone thinks that this is just a normal fact of life, do an internet search to see just how many such “accidents” occur elsewhere in the world.

There are places where gun ownership, even the automatic variety, might actually be considered a necessity. Along the U.S./Mexican border, where Mexican drug cartels are smuggling drugs and illegals across the border, farmers and ranchers are definitely justified in wanting to arm and protect themselves and their families. With U.S. border security thinly spread along the border and some Americans actually assisting the smugglers for financial gain, it probably is a case of everyman for himself. But in urban areas or small settlements, where crime is almost non-existent, arming oneself and carrying weapons around, just in case of a future confrontation with an armed criminal, is a sad indictment of American society.

When parents are proudly circulating videos, not of their child’s first steps, or first sentence, or other positive achievements, but of the first time they shot a machine-gun or other automatic weapon, then clearly there is something wrong with a percentage of the so-called “legal” gun owners. When children have to be protected from “negligent” parents, who allow them to go to the park alone, yet not from parents who think it’s great to teach them to fire automatic weapons at an extremely young age, or who leave loaded guns lying around within reach, then something is wrong with American child welfare authorities, the legal system and society in general. In the case of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the mother of the shooter, who warned a sitter not to turn his back on her son, or leave him alone for even a moment, still thought it appropriate to teach him how to shoot a variety of weapons. As a result of her lack of judgement, she became her son’s first victim.

According to the NRA, bad people intent on murder and mayhem can only be stopped by armed “good people.” I suppose the NRA and its supporters will not be happy until everyone in the U.S. is armed to the teeth, so as to be able to defend themselves and others against an equally well-armed person intent on killing people.

So what’s next? I’m just waiting for the day some NRA member suggests issuing guns to newborns the moment they enter this world? American gun manufacturers would certainly love that. Business would be booming like never before and the body count from shooting deaths would skyrocket.