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America’s Great Firearms Hoax: Are You REALLY Safe?

August 28, 2016

Woman with gun

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.

Passed by Congress on September 25, 1789, and ratified on December 15, 1791, the Second Amendment has become increasingly an emotional—and divisive—issue for Americans. However, it took over two hundred years for it to reach an almost extraterrestrial intensity, as witnessed during President Obama’s two terms, during which the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the far right wing of the Republican Party voiced their shrill warnings that the federal government would seize their firearms. Gun sales have never been better.

The question on whether the Second Amendment protects the right of citizens to keep and bear arms, or whether it was intended by Congress to be exercised solely through a “militia,” namely established military units such as the National Guard, remains a hotly contested debate.

As explained in this law piece from Cornell University, there remains NO definitive conclusion on what the Second Amendment means specifically. That gun-loving Americans parrot the NRA’s refrain that citizens not only have the right to carry firearms but to possess those more appropriate in war zones or with police tactical units is a fraud perpetrated on an ignorant segment of American society.

Journalist Hannah Levintova observes in this prelude to an interview with Michael Waldman (The Second Amendment: A Biography), president of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University:

As America grapples with a relentless tide of gun violence, pro-gun activists have come to rely on the Second Amendment as their trusty shield when faced with mass-shooting-induced criticism. In their interpretation, the amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms—a reading that was upheld by the Supreme Court in its 2008 ruling in District of Columbia. v. Heller.

Yet most judges and scholars who debated the clause’s awkwardly worded and oddly punctuated 27 words in the decades before Heller almost always arrived at the opposite conclusion, finding that the amendment protects gun ownership for purposes of military duty and collective security. It was drafted, after all, in the first years of post-colonial America, an era of scrappy citizen militias where the idea of a standing army—like that of the just-expelled British—evoked deep mistrust.

Shooters Grill.jpg

The sheer lunacy of America’s infatuation with firearms ownership is manifested in countless ways. Check out this video Serving up the Second Amendment about a restaurant in Colorado where the female servers pack handguns on their hips (above photo). Ostensibly, the restaurant’s owner’s argument is that it keeps patrons safe and exercises the Second Amendment, which she incorrectly states is the basis on which the United States was founded. In reality, this is an intelligent marketing ploy, especially aimed at males: pretty gals packing six guns.

Let’s take a sober moment to reflect on a few firearm statistics:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2013 firearms were used in 73,505 nonfatal injuries (23.2 per 100,000 U.S. citizens); 11,208 deaths by homicide (3.5 per 100,000); 21,175 by suicide with a firearm; 505 deaths due to accidental discharge of a firearm; and 281 deaths due to firearms-use with “undetermined intent.” This adds up to 33,636 deaths due to “Injury by firearms”, or 10.6 deaths per 100,000 people.

Of interest, America’s neighbour to the north, with a population of about nine percent of the US, has a homicide rate seven times lower. The population of the United States is just over 315 million, yet an astounding 300 million weapons of various sorts are possessed by Americans. Contrast that to Canada and its seven million registered firearms (note the word “registered”). Extrapolating Canada’s population to its giant neighbour, you still only come up with a hypothetical 67 million firearms.

What about Down Under? Well, 20 years after Conservative Prime Minister John Howard spearheaded passage of legislation to ban assault weapons, there have not only been no mass shootings but firearm-related homicides and suicides have fallen sharply. Australia, in the 18 years leading up to 1996 when the legislation was passed, experienced 13 fatal mass shootings in which 104 victims were killed and 52 wounded.

Take a moment to read this illuminating article, Gun homicides in England are about as common as deaths from agricultural machinery accidents in the United States.

Police Fire.jpg

In 2015, the National Gun Victims Action Council produced the report Does the Quality and Frequency of Training Determine the Realistic Use of Firearms by Citizens for Self-Defense? The Council was direct in its findings on the civilian use of firearms for the purpose of self-defense:

What we can say with certainty is that carrying a firearm in public has enormous implications and responsibilities for both citizens and police officers….Safe and effective firearms usage requires mental preparation, legal knowledge, judgmental awareness, as well as firearm expertise, skill, and familiarity….Legislators and public policy makers must stop denying the reality that carrying and possibly using a firearm is the same as riding a bike and that once
you learn you are ready for the Tour de France or the Olympics.

The bottom line is that it is sheer folly for a civilian, regardless of spending time on shooting ranges, to believe that he or she is capable of functioning properly in a high stress situation involving an active shooter. As human beings, our ingrained and involuntary fight or flight reaction to extreme stressful and traumatic events produces instant chemical changes in the brain.

Called tachypsychia, time slows down, tunnel vision occurs and colour blindness may appear. It’s not something that one easily overcomes. Special forces and police tactical units train constantly to ensure that they’re capable of responding effectively to stress. Civilians don’t have this training. When placed in simulated situations involving gunfire and having to separate perpetrators from innocent civilians, including returning fire at the assailant, time and time again civilians fail. Check out this video clip series on what happens when regular civilians react to situations involving firearms.

Yes, there have been a few instances of armed civilians intervening in situations where a shooter or armed perp was about to do harm to others. However, in the totality of crime and mass shootings in the United States, these cases are minuscule. Remember that many more innocent people, including children, are killed and maimed every year because of firearms in comparison to bad guys who get the Clint Eastwood treatment.

Generations of gun owners have taught their sons and daughters that it takes as much patience and skill to be a good shot as it does to be a good steward of a powerful weapon.
— Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords (former Arizona state representative, assassination attempt survivor and gun owner)

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