Opinion

Bernd Debusmann

In America, violence and guns forever

By Bernd Debusmann
January 14, 2011

Another American mass shooting. Another rush to buy more guns.

On the Monday after the latest of the bloody rampages that are part of American life, gun sales in Arizona shot up by more than 60 percent and rose by an average of five percent across the entire country. The figures come from the FBI and speak volumes about a gun culture that has long baffled much of the world.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation compared January 10, 2011, with the corresponding Monday a year ago.

So what would prompt Americans to stock up their arsenals in the wake of the shooting in Tucson that killed six people and wounded 14, including Gabrielle Giffords, the congresswoman who was the target of an unhinged 22-year-old who has since been charged with attempted assassination?

To hear gun dealers tell it, demand went up because of fears that the Tucson shooting might lead to tighter gun laws. There was a similar spike in sales after the 2007 mass shooting at Virginia Tech, where a deranged student killed 32 people and himself in the worst such massacre in American history.

Fear of regulation also drove up gun sales after President Barack Obama won the presidency in November 2008. In the first two months of 2009, about 2.5 million Americans bought guns, a 26 percent increase over the same period in 2008.

According to a CBS poll taken two days after Jared Loughner shot congresswoman Giffords in the head, Americans are almost evenly divided on the issue of gun control – 48 percent said gun laws should remain as they are or be made less strict, 47 in favor of more regulation. That is down from 56 percent in 2002 and confirms a Gallup analysis this week that found public support for stricter gun laws has declined over the past two decades.

That prompts one to wonder how many Americans see gun violence as the inevitable by-product of a free society – and whether the gun lobby has been right all along in saying that gun control advocates are out of touch with much of the country.

As one of the staunchest opponents of more gun regulation, John Lott, puts it in a book entitled More Guns, Less Crime: “American culture is a gun culture – not merely in the sense that in 2009 about 124 million people lived in households that owned a total of about 270 million guns but in a broader sense that guns pervade our debates on crime and are constantly present in movies and the news. So, we are obsessed with guns…”

WORLD LEADER IN PRIVATE GUNS
That obsession has long secured the United States the number one position on the list of gun-owning nations. There are more guns in private hands than anywhere else on earth. On a guns-per-capita basis (90 guns per 100 residents) it is comfortably ahead of second-ranked Yemen (61 per 100), according to the authoritative Small Arms Survey issued by the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.

That obsession, in the eyes of gun control advocates, borders on insanity and some of the wrinkles of America’s permissive gun laws are so bizarre they beggar belief. To wit: “Membership in a terrorist organization does not prohibit a person from possessing firearms or explosives under current federal law.” Neither does inclusion on the government’s ever-growing terrorist watch list.

So found the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the research arm of Congress, after looking into the background checks of prospective buyers gun dealers are required to file to the FBI. According to a GAO report read at a congressional hearing last May, sales of guns and explosives to people on terrorist watch lists totaled 1,119 in a period of six years.

The National Rifle Association (NRA), one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, came out in opposition to proposed legislation that would have barred people on the list from buying guns. Why? They are placed there on “reasonable suspicion” of terrorist links and the NRA argues that suspicion is not enough for Congress to take away the constitutional right, enshrined in the second amendment to the U.S. constitution, to own and bear arms.

After the Tucson attack hurt one of their own, members of Congress are worried about their safety but whether that will translate into greater willingness to tighten gun regulations remains to be seen. The test will come when a New York Democrat, Carolyn McCarthy, introduces a bill to ban extended magazines, such as the 33-round clip used by Loughner.

Such magazines were illegal from 1994 to 2004 as part of a ban on assault weapons the Bush administration let lapse, a move that prompted gun control advocates to predict a sharp increase in the number of gun deaths. That did not happen. The rate of gun deaths – by murder, suicide or accidents – has held steady at around 31,000 a year and the murder rate has actually dropped.

Which is an argument gun enthusiasts and their lobby are certain to field when McCarthy’s bill is debated. After that, the topic will fade – until the next mass shooting.

(You can contact the author at Debusmann@Reuters.com)

Comments
75 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

The problem with all laws is that the honest, law abiding citizens will obey them, and the criminals won’t (that is why they are called criminals). I am a law abiding sportsman who owns firearms. I will obey any new law passed by Congress. But the people that we would all agree should not have access to guns are not the one’s standing in the check-out line with me at Bass Pro Shops.
The Arizona shooter was apparently metally ill. How do you prevent that? This is the same issue raised with the Virginia Tech shooter. What access rights should the government have to your medical history? How should they be able to use those access rights? It is already illegal for a mentally ill person to purchase a firearm. How is the clerk at the gun counter at Sportsman’s Warehouse supposed to know, without access to the person’s medical history? Difficult questions, with no good answers.
A ban on high capacity magazines, whatever they are, simply makes a political statement. But if you believe that banning these magazines will make them go away, you may as well pass a law banning automobile accidents as well. Again, the law abiding owners will turn theirs in, and the criminals will laugh.

Posted by IowaView2000 | Report as abusive
 

You wrote – “The test will come when a New York Democrat, Carolyn McCarthy, introduces a bill to ban extended magazines, such as the 33-round clip used by Loughner.

Such magazines were illegal from 1994 to 2004 as part of a ban on assault weapons the Bush administration let lapse, a move that prompted gun control advocates to predict a sharp increase in the number of gun deaths.”

Sorry, but that’s in-accurate. These magazines were still legal to own, as long as it was manufactured BEFORE 1994. Thanx.

Posted by easyco99 | Report as abusive
 

To paraphrase Franklin, If you give up freedom in the name of security, you will have neither. People dying by the hand of a deranged person is not a reason to give up your liberties. Liberties are more precious than individual lives. Since April of 1775 literally MILLIONS of men have died for these liberties. Each and every liberty has been paid for with the blood of patriots. If you give away a liberty/freedom/right you may never get it back.
It is sad that those people died, but they would have died anyway. Traffic accidents still claim more lives in the USA than guns. The leading cause of death is being born.
The Republic is a idea that should out live use all. An idea that some liberties are eternal, given to citizens (not subjects) by the divine. We will have to give an accounting to those who went before us, on how we squandered the gift of liberty that their blood has purchased—because we were afraid? Are we the same people who subdued and settled a continent???

Posted by Urbanjack3l | Report as abusive
 

Isn’t it a pity that the US can spend money on groping children at airports, but not provide cover for a senior politician acting in their official capacity in public?

Isn’t it a pity that none of the law abiding citizens in the group had a concealed weapon?

Isn’t it a pity that a paranoid schizophrenic who had given clear indications of his violent and deranged thought processes to the extent that many reasonable people had considered him a real and present danger was ignored by law enforcement until it was too late.

It is illegal for someone with mental health issues to purchase a weapon, so the purchase of the fatal weapon was illegal; that the shooter was able to transact nevertheless demonstrates a failure by authority.

Perhaps the US needs to stop focusing on the phoney war on terror and start addressing the real issues of criminals and madmen.

Posted by forthurst | Report as abusive
 

Free internet porn for kids at a push of a button, casinos on every street corner, music/tv glorifying violence, drinking, womanizing,drugs etc! We need to be armed to the hilt to deal with the poor morals shaping our society! Asking our cops to talk nice and give killers the benefit of the doubt is a national disgrace too! Need much stricter laws and any red flags from student should require a major intervention with parents and law enforcement! I’d make a case for putting up the 10 Commandments in every school house and every prison in the nation too! Our laws are largly based on the 10 commandments, why shouldn’t impressionable kids learn the basics-cause a few freaks take issue?

Posted by DrJJJJ | Report as abusive
 

Go ahead and ban the manufacture of those magazines. You’ll just have a rush of people buying them before the ban goes into effect. And it would be absolutely wrong to try and confiscate magazines from people who already own them. Would you reimburse them for the price of it?

Posted by hud1599 | Report as abusive
 

The second to last paragraph is the only one worth reading:

“Such magazines were illegal from 1994 to 2004 as part of a ban on assault weapons the Bush administration let lapse, a move that prompted gun control advocates to predict a sharp increase in the number of gun deaths. That did not happen. The rate of gun deaths – by murder, suicide or accidents – has held steady at around 31,000 a year and the murder rate has actually dropped.”

Which is the only bit that matters. High crime rates are not caused by our guns. They are caused by our lower class’ culture of poverty and crime.

Posted by Tallefred | Report as abusive
 

Tucson’s latest gun show starts tomorrow, and runs the weekend. We as a nation have no right to hold a memorial to any innocent killed by gunfire. Telling their family ‘tough luck’ would at least be honest

Posted by auger | Report as abusive
 

You are right those of us not from the U.S. do regard the country’s gun situation as truly bizarre and archaic – it is like the country is caught in a time warp. Many citizens of the U.S. can not see what is so blindingly obvious to those of us who live without a culture that thinks it is acceptable that individuals have the ‘right to carry arms’. It is pointless I know expressing my opinion on this point as the belief is so ingrained in the thinking processes of the bulk of the population that they are safer carrying guns – the country would have to be deprogrammed – the U.S. population are literally brainwashed into believing they are safer carrying guns.

It is intriguing to read the passion behind some of the comments – to think that it is a liberty to be able to carry something that is designed to kill – perhaps it was acceptable in 1775 but it is to be thought that human beings have evolved a little more in their thinking – obviously not..

Posted by kiwibird | Report as abusive
 

greater regulation is the answer.
–the biggest problem, in my opinion: arizona doesn’t even require a permit anymore to carry a concealed weapon!
–the gun shows in arizona are a free for all as well, with over the counter receipt of a weapon ready to use out the door with no background check. i’ve seen people with broken arms and bloodied bandages buy weapons at shows and stores-obvious that the gun is purposed for revenge-and the only thing the seller is worried about is making a sale.

Posted by thebruce | Report as abusive
 

There are many nations that have more guns per capita than the United States and there are also other countries that have more gun violence than the United States. Columbia and Brazil are the worst in gun violence and even canada has more guns per capita than us. It is not the gun issue; it is a mental health issue. Even here in China where I am teaching they have mass killings, but the killer uses a knife. They had a few last year where a crazy man went into a kindergarten and killed dozens of children. Then they had a few copycat killers who did the same. Those who oppose guns are ignorant to the reality here. If we make guns illegal, then there will still be killings by knife. I suppose the anti-gun crazies would then want to make knives illegal. What is needed is more focus on mental health and education.

Posted by hujintaosson | Report as abusive
 

Violence breeds fear, fear breeds violence. Its a downwards cycle. When we learn not to fear, physically and spiritually, then we win.

Posted by JoeMulick | Report as abusive
 

I think its funny how journalists and politicians always criticize our gun laws and act like the rest of the world is gun free. Did you know that in Sweden you are required by law to own a gun and ammunition. They also have very little gun violence. If someone wants to kill someone else, they will. Should we ban knives? More children are killed every year because of drowning in pools, or chewing on toys, or not wearing there seat belt. Over 50,000 people die each year from motor vehicle accidents. Should we ban cars? The argument is ridiculous. Just another fool who wants the government to control its citizens, which is highly Unamerican.

Posted by Blackbird1996 | Report as abusive
 

i also would like to point out that i do feel safe carrying a gun, but it’s because there are situations like last saturday that still occur in society..
also, i hear more and more about the violence across the border and think to myself if it spilled over into the US, that is the ultimate reason why the 2nd amendment exists: it is the right of the citizen to protect his life, liberty, and happiness from foreign oppressors and invaders.

Posted by thebruce | Report as abusive
 

kiwibird, I know it is hard for you to grasp, but most people don’t have guns for protection. Only crazy people, which further proves my point. It is not the guns that kill; it is the crazy people. But, they would still kill without the gun if inclined to do so. Most people have guns for sport or collections, and they are trained to use them.

Like someone else here said, there needs to be nationwide rules on who can and cannot own a gun. But, to outlaw guns would not solve anything. Just look at the nations that have more guns than the US per capita and see that with regulation and education, they don’t have much of a problem. But if you are a kiwi, you are not used to big news happening in your country since there are hardly any people who live there. One murder there must be the talk of the country.

Posted by hujintaosson | Report as abusive
 

Most of the comments so far are pretty weak and boring… if you really want to do something about guns, make it mandatory to have passed a course of using, storing, and caring for the firearm. If you want more ‘deadly’ type weapons, you need to take more courses, eg, primary course would be for hunting rifles, then maybe hand-guns, then maybe semi-automatics, then assault rifles. So, the threshold to owning a hand-gun would be satisfactory completion of the requisite courses, which would need to be renewed every five years (or maybe 10?) and would require medical consent as well.

I doubt many Americans will like this concept – since it requires learning and someone checking up on them – but it could help save a lot of those 31,000 Americans a year getting blown away for nothing.

Posted by CDN_finance | Report as abusive
 

I just have an honest question to educate myself. How would the incident in Tucson have been different if the congresswoman and all the victims (excluding the 9yr child) had possessed guns? I’ll appreciate seeing comments describing some hypothetical scenarios as to how the additional guns could have prevented the shooter unleashing 30 rounds in seconds before any of those victims reach to their guns and shoot the lunatic.

Posted by questionerb | Report as abusive
 

Mr. Debusmann should study up on all sides of a subject before publishing his opinion.

It is a obvious FACT that States that allow rational citizens to carry firearms are blessed with less crime.

Posted by nhoop | Report as abusive
 

Mr. Debusmann should study up on all sides of a subject before publishing his opinion.

It is a obvious FACT that States that allow rational citizens to carry firearms are blessed with less crime.

Posted by nhoop | Report as abusive
 

World leader in privately owned guns is probably Afghanistan. Every adult there seems to own at least one gun. And it’s not a measly duck gun or even a pistol. It’s most likely AK-47, not neutered as per American regulations, with fully automatic mode and full size magazine – maybe even large capacity disk. And in addition to that may be something like RPG or DShK or even Stinger missile. Yemen is also most likely ahead of us if we admit that per every registered gun there are some not registered and therefore not making the stats. And again, those are much more serious guns than anything you can legitimately buy in America.
Maybe America is a leader among civilized nations. But guns are not the only measure by which America is a leader. Maybe it’s because America was destined to be a leader of the civilized world?

Posted by anonym0us | Report as abusive
 

Anyone who passes a background check should be able to purchase a firearm, regardless of make, model, type.

99% of people are good, law abiding people. That should make the other 1% carefully think what’s going to happen when they sneak into someone’s car, house, or whatever.

If someone in the crowd last week was carrying a gun, things could have been a lot different.

People forget that places like Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, California are just north of a failing country where drugs are more valuable than human life. Don’t think you need a gun, move to El Paso and listen to the gunfire south of the border, then next day walk past a gun shop and don’t feel tempted to walk in.

Guns = safety, period.

Posted by gcnever | Report as abusive
 

What the states should do is have weekly gun battles (mandatory). It’s a two pronged approach, provides entertainment but also gets rid of the psycho’s out there.

Posted by plubber | Report as abusive
 

Democracy always goes with difference,so is the case with gun control. In China it’s illegal to own a gun for a citizen, but that doesn’t mean we are safer than you Americans. Crimes are sitll happening, with many really shocking.If someone intends to hurt, he will. What the politicians need do is stop those from realizing their intentions, or even having them.

Posted by zk993 | Report as abusive
 

Wow. It’s really amazing how many people lack any kind of mental capacity to think this through.

Do any of you have any clue as to just how many firearms are in the hands of US citizens right now? Hundreds upon hundreds, upon hundreds of MILLIONS. If you liberals pass a law to get guns banned here in the US, what are you going to do…”declare martial law”…and have “The Gestapo” go door-to-door and tear apart every single home looking for weapons to confiscate? Do you have any clue how long it would take and how expensive it would be to search the homes of 300+ million people? There would literally be a war in the streets, as millions of citizens would be rising up and shooting anyone who was trying to break into their homes.

So unless you libs can manufacture a plague or something that kills all these people off, all these hundreds upon hundreds of millions of guns are never, EVER going to go away.

Posted by gruven137 | Report as abusive
 

kiwibird said “– the country would have to be deprogrammed – the U.S. population are literally brainwashed into believing they are safer carrying guns.” which sounds very big brother-ish to me. I do own some guns. I have never shot at anyone yet, but I am not afraid to defend myself, my family or my home. I have the right to defend myself, and am prepared to do just that should the need arise. Unfortunately, the country is probably as dangerous now as it was in 1775, but the danger is from wild criminals, not wild animals.

Posted by marcusg | Report as abusive
 

I think the reason Americans are obsessed with guns is fear. It seems the United states as a nation and the American people are always scared of something.
The recent panic over China’s new weapons are a perfect example. The US defense forces are over 10 times the size of China’s but still the US panics every time the Chinese or any other nation gets a new plane.
The American people seem to be terrified of foreigners their own countrymen and even their Government.
If I had as many enemies as the average American thinks he has I would carry a gun myself.
The fear might be justified, the US does have the largest prison population in the world which does tend to suggest a large criminal population.
Ultimately it is a cultural thing when I grew up a man carrying a gun or a knife for protection was considered a coward.

Posted by Sinbad1 | Report as abusive
 

Violence is present in every country – even disarmed countries.

Bernard, you have been shot twice – so your bio says. Did you ever think about what you might have done to defend yourself? Whose fault was it you were shot? The people that made the gun that shot you?

Bernard – please understand both sides of the issue before you write a story. Then present both sides as if you actually believe both arguments. Then you might have respect from your readers.

Ignorance and a reluctance to think past the ‘knee-jerk’ are one of the key issues behind our currently divided country – please stop fueling the fire.

Posted by WellEnough | Report as abusive
 

“That prompts one to wonder how many Americans see gun violence as the inevitable by-product of a free society – and whether the gun lobby has been right all along in saying that gun control advocates are out of touch with much of the country.” Reuters. Perhaps the group of Americans who would like to see regulations imposed on gun ownership have simply given up trying to fight the gun lobby. I thought one of the most interesting comments made during the Saturday coverage was made by the third young man who ran up to join the two other people trying to wrestle Loughner to the ground. He stated that he had a gun on him when he ran up to see what was causing the gun fire, but he never thought to draw his weapon. As far as I am concerned, Americans are more in love with the image of the gun owner, than they are with the reality of being a gun owner. Any military veteran who has ever had to depend on a weapon for their life will tell you it takes work: work to keep the weapon clean, secured, work to mentally jack yourself up to actually commit to shooting another human being, and work to avoid killing a colleague. Americans made fun of the Iraq people firing their weapons up into the air, but I don’t think we would look much better in a mass situation. Even the army makes you earn the right to handle a loaded weapon, and it isn’t easy. Fact of the matter is only a portion of Americans who possess guns have earned the right to load and handle them. Maybe that perspective will wake a few people the hell up.

Posted by electrolass | Report as abusive
 

One more thing that’s really amazing, and a question that people on here should be asking themselves is, why does a huge international new agency like Reuters and all it’s “worldly posters”, even care, at all, about the fact that many Americans keep guns in their homes for self-protection? Being a half a world away, why do you even care about it? It doesn’t personally affect you at all.

Talk about “paranoia and fear”…just reading some of the paranoid comments on here from you people in other countries (who hate the idea we have a 2nd Amendment to our Constitution) is enough to make any American want to carry self-protection when you come over and visit.

Posted by gruven137 | Report as abusive
 

hujintaosson your comment is ignorant and just makes you seem stupid. You obviously know nothing about New Zealand = the smart thing when you have no understanding of something is to just be quiet. There are always murders in New Zealand just as there are in other countries of the world. I can’t be bothered explaining what is going on when all you need do is look at the internet. Go educate yourself..

Posted by kiwibird | Report as abusive
 

Anyone who has lived under an absolutist regime knows very well the common people in such places are not free to own means of defense. The regime knows who they might resist and so make resistance difficult and illegal in itself. I have lived in such a place and it is not good.

People who want to outlaw guns mostly are not concerned about “public safety” but are concerned about the safety of oppressing armed people. It is not safe.

Posted by txgadfly | Report as abusive
 

From the copy of the 2nd Amendment I have in front of me: “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.”

Isn’t that referring to militias? And another thing: How come people under 18 are not allowed to buy/own guns in America?

Posted by tora201 | Report as abusive
 

kiwigirl you so right….
IowaView2000 wrote: ” The Arizona shooter was apparently metally ill. How do you prevent that?” – by banning guns you idiot!
urbanjack31 wrote: “To paraphrase Franklin, If you give up freedom in the name of security, you will have neither.” Franklin lived a wee while ago didn’t he son, I guess if you wake him up now from his eternal sleep he would say to people like you: “get your head out of your bum you fool, you twisting my words with your out of date gunlaws”.

People please believe me when it is said the US is the laughing stock of the world. whenever our children feel sad we remind them that they could be living in the US.

Posted by kassie01 | Report as abusive
 

There’s no point. There’s too many guns already out there. But I’d like to see us spend more on education and really cut defense spending significantly.

Posted by threeRivers | Report as abusive
 

@IowaView2000

It is a problem when the “law-abiding citizens” abide to a law no matter what its content.

To regard the lawmakers as perfect beings above petty interests and motivations is, at best, naive. For some reason, a lot of the lawmakers seem to feel a higher degree of satisfaction when taking liberties away. Of course, always for a “higher good”!

Usually, the more one is making concessions, the more concessions he/she will be asked to make. And before you know it, you wake up with a modern inquisition-like regime…

Guess what, no restrictive-liberty law has been changed so far without pressure from citizens refusing to abide to it…

Hence, a degree of “uncivilty” might be more civil than the govs want us to think. :D

Posted by mdiavaro99ro | Report as abusive
 

I can see having a gun at home for protection – if someone tries to break in at night, etc. But I can’t see the logic in carrying it on the street or in the bar. If you find yourself i a situation where someone will shoot you, you have no chance. It’s not like i western movies where he will challenge you to you walk back 10 steps, then turn and shoot. It doesn’t happen. The case in Tucson was another example. There were armed people there, but lives were saved by those who grabbed his ammunition and overpowered him by hands. And the two guys that say on TV that they were going to shoot the assassin, one was already hit, the other almost shot one of those who actually disarmed the assassin. fortunately, someone yelled to him: that’s not the guy and he didn’t fire.

Posted by frank654 | Report as abusive
 

One suspects the shooter would have carried out the attack if he had been limited to use of a 5-round clip. As for bans focussed on clip capacity, the Second Amendment places the onus of such restrictions on states. The State of California has the Roberti-Roos Law banning assault rifles. California still has more firearm-related casualties per capita than Montana; but, at least there hasn’t been a story about a mass shooting carried out by a whackjob since 1989.

Posted by SanPa | Report as abusive
 

Guns ? they are unavoidable in a society based on individuals instead of a society that is alive and well.
They keep making rules and laws about this and that in the public interest.All they do is drive wedges in the fabric of society that takes the people apart from one another.Thinking and exchanging ideas is the last thing the right wing republicans want.
By driving wedges , they killed the US society and we should take note and not make the same mistakes they have done.
Starting with smoking bans , tolerance 0 with alcohol etc.
All they do is empty the gathering places and transform the society into nothing more than a number of individuals with no relations with another whatsoever.People need to be taken in , drawn to a society that offers them something.The USA has long forgotten what a society is.

Posted by FuzzyTheBear | Report as abusive
 

@kiwibird, et al:

I would rather be “fooled” into believing I can protect myself and my family against violent acts better through gun ownership, than being convinced that life in our violent culture would be safer if only the criminals possessed guns.

For those who cannot understand the concept, try not to think of a gun as “something that is designed to kill”, but as “something that is designed to protect.” I suppose that’s about as “half-full” as you can stretch it, however, because there are societally-challenged individuals who see a gun as a tool to force their will upon others. Not a perfect world, is it. But who said it ever would be?

For all the high-minded ideals of progressives and pseudo-intellectuals around the globe, mankind has only advanced as far as the lowest rung of our society will allow. We have not yet been able to conform to some bizarre, progressive, Utopian society of perfect harmony, and I doubt we ever will. As long as we have a seemingly endless supply of morally deficient, sociopathic miscreants walking among us, we are forced to deal with them, and on their own level, as they cannot comprehend anything more.

I have long given up on any hope of “helping” these diseased individuals, and now subscribe to the basic philosophy which promotes “two in the head – make sure they’re dead.” It not only deals with the situation immediately and finally, but puts the myth of prison “rehabilitation” to bed.

This may seem shocking to some, but it really only concerns people who live here. If you are bothered by our guns, then retrain your attention towards matters that actually concern you. Our politicians already have heads full of nonsense; please don’t offer them any more of yours.

Posted by IrateNate | Report as abusive
 

Why the USA needs free health care, so the mentally ill can be help before its too late.

Posted by Skylor | Report as abusive
 

The shooter was clearly mentally ill and didn’t realize the US is a democracy. The person he shot was elected by thousands of people. I don’t know much about her political views, but I assume, based on her party, that she was actually trying to make it free for him to get the medicine and counseling he needed.

The debate should focus on why does it take so long for the guy to get the death penalty, when there are numerous witnesses, video, and physical evidence of him committing the crime. Now there is a debate about how ineffective the legal systems are in the US, which is also very American.

Posted by M.C.McBride | Report as abusive
 

OK – more laws will fix this – let’s start with making it illegal to shoot someone, oops already illegal. Wonder why that didn’t stop the lunatics?

OK – outlaw all guns (unconstitutional), how’s that worked so far with narcotics? Just imagine the same success with guns…

Require fingerprinting, background check, $250 Tax, & training class to exercise your 1st amendment right to free speech – do you have any idea how much harm one’s ignorant mouth and writing can cause? We can’t just allow anybody to spout out any thought without government control!

Posted by loveliberty | Report as abusive
 

The mental health card has been played to death here. It only takes a slightly aggrieved gun owner (or an injured fox) to make 1 bad judgement call and they could end up being a murderer. If I had the opportunity to own a small arm here in the UK I would do so. There are too many dogs left unleashed and able to randomly attack any stranger. And in this country dogs are used as weapons and status symbols, not 1 magazine between them.

Posted by afocks | Report as abusive
 

Guns and their ease of availability are an extension of you. Just last week a guy got shot in the eye here when he cut someone off in traffic.

If a gun was not so easily accessible – the shooter would have got pissed, ranted and raved and moved on. If he had a machine gun – he would have killed the guy.

If they let guns in schools – there would be more deaths since kids are emotionally unstable. Why is it so hard to believe that adults are all emotionally stable and can handle guns safely?

Our political lobbyists believe that countries like Iran are unstable and should not have the ultimate gun.

People are people all over the world and will reach for the most accessible stick, knife, gun, nuke to lash out with when they are frustrated and unstable.

Ease of access, lack of training, and lethality make it probable there will be a higher statistic of death by guns.

With our current political 2 hard nosed party climate and inability for most people to think on their own – there will be a lot more deaths in the future

Posted by Butch_from_PA | Report as abusive
 

Burned Debusmann should write about things he knows and understands. He has no understanding of American culture. I don’t understand European anti-semitism, European hatred for the Roma (gypsies), or European hatred/fear of business and I don’t write about them!

Posted by scarr34 | Report as abusive
 

IrateNate = It concerns all people in the world because the U.S. it’s ideas – social,economic,psychological etc infiltrate all countries in the Western World. From thinking in education,mental institutions,libraries the list is endless that is why those of us in other western countries feel strongly about issues occurring in the U.S. Also the U.S. is so obviously spiral-ling out of control economically and socially (yes your gun laws are not helping)your banking excesses have hurt millions of people globally. So yes all of us people in other countries do have a right to comment – hey I thought the U.S. valued the freedom of speech. That’s okay though I would be annoyed too if someone else criticized my country – you are patriotic at least. Cheers, Kiwibird.

Posted by kiwibird | Report as abusive
 

In Canada you are allowed to own and carry long guns; however, a permit for a revolver is only issued in limited circumstances and barrel lengths and calibers are mandated by law. You also need a permit to even buy ammunition. I know that this does not stop the illegal importation of unregistered firearms; but the problem, at least in my urban experience, seems almost non-existent. All of these controls are regularly complained about by members and MPs of the Conservative Party, but they do seem to work. Shootouts in Canada, especially with concealed weapons, are pretty rare. I do not feel any less free for living under these restrictions, anymore than most US citizens presumably do not feel any less free for not being able to possess a nuclear bomb. In fact, knowing that the highways are not filled by drivers packing heat probably makes me feel even freer; and being able to go to a political meeting without the fear of seeing an attack with anything more dangerous than a cream pie seems an acceptable level of discourse.

Finally, to the commentator who suggested that countries with a higher percentage of gun possession have lower levels of crime, I am wondering on what planet they are finding those societies. According to Wikipedia, you own 50% more guns per 100 people than the nearest nation, about 3 times as many as in Canada and 4 times as many as in New Zealand. And I am willing to bet a shiny Looney that your death by gunfire rates are higher than those disparities would suggest. Admit it, your gun obsession is a sickness that is killing you.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cou ntries_by_gun_ownership

Posted by YoungTurkArmy | Report as abusive
 

Kiwibird writes, “…those of us not from the U.S. do regard the country’s gun situation as truly bizarre and archaic…”

Some of us here in the U.S. know how weird the gun dialog must sound to residents of other countries, because it sounds just as strange to us. For example, I personally can’t imagine anything that would make me wish to carry a gun, while clearly the gun proponents can’t imagine anything that would make them want to get rid of theirs.

Guns, religion, abortion, the death penalty, torture, the (im)morality of war and mass imprisonment are the bread and butter of American politics, and the divisions only seem to become sharper with each passing year. Yes, our American debates sound insane, but it is also true that they are all about the deepest human fears and passions.

Posted by Ralphooo | Report as abusive
 

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. That means to me our second amendment is about our security from outside threats. I do not fear an occupation army in my country, including US Army.

Posted by randytpa | Report as abusive
 

Guns forever? You bet ! Violence forever? Nonsense !

Posted by Californian16 | Report as abusive
 

As a matter of fact there was an armed, law abiding citizen in the crowd. Joe Zamudio. He rushed to the scene and helped restrain the psycho. He’s done several very enlightening interviews that you can look up on YouTube if you like.

By the way, bloody rampages are most certainly NOT part of American life. You are far more likely to be knifed in Scotland than shot in the US. In fact, violent crime in the US has fallen to historic lows in the last 20 years, even as gun laws have relaxed, and even as 90 million new guns have been sold.

How does that compare to the 89% increase in gun violence in the UK from 1999 to 1009, even as you “civilized” Brits were abdicating your responsibility of self preservation? Hmm?

Posted by 032125 | Report as abusive
 

@Anonymous. You say ” World leader in privately owned guns is probably Afghanistan….Yemen is also most likely ahead of us if we admit that per every registered gun there are some not registered and therefore not making the stats.”

You are guessing and you probably forget that in Afghanistan and Yemen it is only men who have guns. In other words, half the population have no guns. In the U.S., the 90 guns per 100 residents applies to men AND women.

Posted by Komment | Report as abusive
 

guns and violence? I would rather guns and violence than be a slave.with camera’s everywhere fines for anything,no privacy,no hope.at least we can defend ourselves and our loved ones.

Posted by akal | Report as abusive
 

WellEnough: You are asking an apple and oranges question:

“you have been shot twice – so your bio says. Did you ever think about what you might have done to defend yourself? Whose fault was it you were shot? The people that made the gun that shot you?”

What happened to me happened in a country at war and in a complete state of anarchy (Lebanon). Reuters journalists do not carry weapons in combat zones lest they be confused as combatants by one or the other side. So, the question of defending myself didn’t apply.

If I were shot by a nut case in the United States, I would wonder both about the shooter and the system that allowed him to buy a gun.

As to presenting the view of both sides, it may have escaped your attention that this is an opinion column, not a news story.

Posted by BDebusmann | Report as abusive
 

A person’s right to keep and bear arms is related to a person’s right to be prepared for unforeseen events. The chances of your house being broken into, for example, is slim, but you have every right to prepare for such an eventuality if you choose. Another example: if the power goes down on the east coast and stays down, it’ll be Mad Max Thunderdome in a short period of time. That is a real possibility and, again, you have the right to prepare for it (protect your home, put food on the table).
Secondly, I would be interested to see how many “gun deaths” are more accurately described as “drug deaths”, i.e. shootouts between dealers, etc. Then ask yourself: Which is causing the violence, the inanimate object or perverse gov’t policies that put a market worth billions into the hands of armed gangs? The war on drugs occurs at all levels of society. Stop that insane war (regulate narcotics) and drug-related “gun” violence will drop or disappear.

Posted by mheld45 | Report as abusive
 

You know, there are two interrelated factors that contribute to much of the “gun” violence in this country: 1) the wasteful and counterproductive War on Drugs (or whatever Pres. Obama is calling it), and 2) the condition of our inner cities. Large swaths of most cities are no-go areas and simultaneously open-air drug markets. Therein lies the problem: participants in an unregulated market must provide for their own security and defend their market share with violence. The US gov’t needs to REGULATE the narcotics trade. We have plenty of pharma companies and pharmacies capable of handling the business, let them do it and give intelligent, mostly African American young men an opportunity to make better decisions and do something productive.

Posted by mheld45 | Report as abusive
 

Anyone who thinks more gun laws will solve the problem have obviously failed to notice that he clearly, willingly and actively disregarded the laws already present. What mental defect would make one think he wouldn’t just disregard another one? On the other hand, armed law abiding citizens have the ability to neutralize such a threat following the first shot. Idaho has open carry, even in banks, and I never felt safer. I was also never a victim of a bank robber. Apparently, the criminals prefer unarmed victims — they’re much safer.

Posted by justsayin2011 | Report as abusive
 

“…How does that compare to the 89% increase in gun violence in the UK from 1999 to 1009, even as you “civilized” Brits were abdicating your responsibility of self preservation? Hmm?…”

Murders with firearms (per capita)

# 8 United States: 0.0279271 per 1,000 people

# 32 United Kingdom: 0.00102579 per 1,000 people

Hmmm me thinks Brits are much more “civilized”

Posted by dan445566 | Report as abusive
 

A gun culture will eventually lead to shootings.

Posted by joao_s | Report as abusive
 

Bravo,Mr.Stalin,bravo!

Posted by Htos1 | Report as abusive
 

Gun sales go up because people are afraid that the left will enact more laws preventing honest people from obtaining guns. If there had been someone near this nutcase in Az. with a gun it could have ended with fewer dead an injured and without the million dollar show trial this fellow will surely get. In anaother incident, a security guard shot someone shooting up a city council meeting and he was afraid he would be in trouble! The police can’t be everywhere and people should have a right to protect themselves.

Posted by zotdoc | Report as abusive
 

Excuse me, Title implies that only Americans are violent. Truth is, you take away the guns, you still have violence. Look at GB and Australia. Bernd must be a control advocate by his writing. I don;t care what stats you pull, GUNS DO NOT CAUSE VIOLENCE, people do. And ALL humans are subject to violence, has been around since first standing up right. Really, if you want to write an article at least be fair, half truths only hurt you reputation.

Posted by RenegadeMav | Report as abusive
 

I can certainly confirm the comment ‘a gun culture that has long baffled much of the world’. In Australia some years ago when we had one of these crazy massacres the then conservative Prime Minster, John Howard, great friend of George W Bush put on a flak jacket and went out to speak directly to his right wing constituency and told them that gun restrictions would be tightened to avoid such future abominations, gun crimes have diminished since the change in the laws. It is beyond the rationality of the rest of the western democratic world that in the US you seem to be quite willing to have criminals armed to the teeth, crazies able to access military style weapons and live in continual fear as long as everyone can arm themselves to the teeth. An acquaintance did a teaching swap with an American teacher. The first thing the Australian was shown was where the numerous guns were kept in the house. I’m glad to live in a relatively gun free society.

Posted by JohnAdel | Report as abusive
 

Miller holds that the ”Second Amendment guarantees no right to keep and bear a firearm that does not have ‘some reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia”’
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/const itution/amendment02/

Posted by adamt78 | Report as abusive
 

The nutball Right still has the usual problem with facts. Fits the ideology of superstition, fear, hatred and cowardice.

Posted by Eideard | Report as abusive
 

Incest- and pedophilia-praising right-wing science fiction writer Robert Heinlein is undeservedly famous for writing: “An armed society is a polite society”. Rarely has a claim and concept proved to be more notoriously, mass-murderingly wrong!

Instead, ridiculously easy and effectively unlimited access to semi-automatic handguns and anti-personnel rifles and high-capacity clips simply emboldens and quite overtly encourages one particular sub-group of gun owners — conservative-authoritarian gun owners — to spew Eliminationist hate speech and anti-liberal genocidal rants and death threats without any apprehension or fear whatsoever that anyone can stand up to these vicious bullies without being murdered. The truth is, an armed society is a recklessly belligerent and murderous society.

Now, we all know that these same particular hate-fueled gun owners who rule the NRA — the oligarchical power ruling everyone in this country when it comes to guns — will never permit this to be a sane and rational country. A sane and rational America is utterly incompatible with the NRA’s goals. Sanity and reason is their enemy, and they will never yield. To the NRA, virtually unhindered access to cop-killer ammunition and plastic or ceramic handguns that can evade detection is a sacred right delivered directly from God.

To this category of gun owner and the NRA, the Second Amendment isn’t merely a Constitutional amendment, it’s Inerrant Holy Writ that was delivered unto sacred parchment when the Abrahamic Deity took physical control of the Founders’ arms and hands and, as if telerobotically, brought The Sacred Right of Remote-Control Murder to mankind.

Fact 1: In the U.S., there are 90 guns for every 100 people, vastly more than anywhere else in the world. Fact 2: In the U.S., there are vastly more gun murders annually than anywhere else in the world. But to conservative-authoritarian gun owners and the NRA, there’s absolutely no connection between these facts (or, more accurately, they often know better but lie anyway). What more evidence do we need to know that sanity and reason are utterly incompatible with the NRA’s goals and politics?

Finally, the extreme defensiveness from the Right in this last week since Tuscon is compelling proof of their justifiably guilty consciences. In his first comments after the shooting in Tuscon, Sheriff Dupnik never named individuals or groups or political parties. Yet the Right again became utterly unhinged with defensiveness and denial at Dupnik’s plainly honest and non-specific first comments, demonstrating and emphatically highlighting their plainly guilty consciences.

Was Loughner directly motivated by Palin, Beck, Limbaugh and their hate-fueled ilk? The clear answer is no. I have seen no one claim or argue otherwise, although the Right falsely pretends he claimed there was a direct link. But look at what the hateful Right is arguing in response: “Since we’re not responsible for Tuscon, we’re completely and utterly faultless and innocent of everything, ever. The biggest victim of the Tuscon shootings was poor eternally innocent and perfectly sane Sarah Palin. Everything bad that happens in America is deliberately caused only by liberals, so we are morally right to pursue their final genocidal elimination with our God-beloved remote-control murder devices.”

Read Urbanjack3l’s and other “guns = freedom” responses for clear evidence of this. That author writes: “Are we the same people who subdued and settled a continent???”. Yes, you are: You’re the same kind of people who from the very first moment of the Eurpoean discovery of this land mass, insanely enslaved and viciously murdered everyone else to get your way regardless of the morality of your decisions and regardless of the consequences.

Conseratives are always on about “personal responsibility” — how a just and moral person takes personal responsibility for their words and deeds. Yet you never see a public conservative actually DO that! And that speaks volumes. Volumes and volumes of hate and hypocrisy and intellectual dishonesty.

Posted by Spection | Report as abusive
 

@Spection: how ironic that you accuse the right of “rants”, “hate”, and “unreasonableness”. John Stewart did a great piece (incidently parodying S Palin) about people who accuse others of various infractions while simultaneously perpretrating the exact same things themselves. You should watch it.

Posted by mheld45 | Report as abusive
 

If guns = freedom, Afghanistan and Iraq are the most free countries in the world.

Great post, Spection.

Posted by Gaius_Baltar | Report as abusive
 

I am an American Citizen. I own guns. My life, my families life, and my property are protected by my guns and I. I sleep like a baby, every night, knowing my Semi-Automatic 9mm pistol is by my bed, within arm reach. If an intruder ever came into my house, it would be his last moment alive on this earth. Period.

The only thing that keeps us civil, is our laws. Those who wish not to abide by them, risk losing there life. Either by my gun and I, or by a jury of there peers.

Anything less or different from that, means Zero to me or mine.

“Live Free or die.”-Gen.Stark. American Rev. War Hero.

That says it all about this great continent my European Ancestors took by force, using guns, from the natives.

Posted by Av8ts | Report as abusive
 

Your guns won’t save you from strangers gone nuts or from your government. Nor from other people being paid to take you out.

Posted by dann77 | Report as abusive
 

Im just so happy that in the UK we dont have guns readily available like you do in the US. God only knows what would happen if they allowed guns to be sold over here.

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