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America's Love Affair With The Gun

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The United States has a love for freedom and a love for guns. As a free country, people tend to not take kindly to someone telling them they cannot do certain things or have what they want to have. In some areas, people would squawk at neighbours who complain about a junker car or appliances left on the front yards of the home because although it looks disgusting and brings down property values, the ones doing it think they are owed the right to do what they want and have whatever they want on the property they own.

We even have a Second Amendment which guarantees a right to bear arms, no matter how awkwardly phrased it might be states, "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." On the one hand it speaks about how a well regulated militia is necessary to secure a free state, then goes on to state the people have the right to keep and bear arms for such a purpose. Which to some implies that they were meaning for all citizens to become part of this well regulated militia and therefore should not be restricted when it comes to keeping guns. To others, this phrase implies two different concepts of the need for a militia and a need to have unrestricted access to guns.

So what's the problem?

The right of an American all boils down to one word - freedom. We have been, especially within the last 50 years, bending over backwards to protect everyone's rights and freedoms even when they compromise the well being of others. When it comes to having arms, it is all about having the freedom to protect one's family, homestead, and country.

The Preamble states: "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for a common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America"

Face it, the United States can be a violent place to live, but there are more violent places in the world. It is deep in American culture where violence is glorified in entertainment and the media harps on topics to instill fear in the public.

American culture (as most Western ones) wants a speedy solution to any problem that comes in the way of instant gratification and what is more speedy than taking out the problem with a gun? The United States is one of the last "civilised" countries to allow the death penalty and has the highest record when it comes to executing those who committed crimes as minors. To have the right to bear arms in the US is deemed essential when we even fear the children (you Brits have people who fear your youths and chavs, I'm sure you understand). Yes, I know, it is foolish logic, but that's the way it is.

Do we really want a country where we are truly free without much government interference or do we want them to always step in and tell us what to do? In order to be fair to everyone, the government has had to step in a few times too many to tell us how we should behave and regulate our freedoms. One of these days it may go too far.

When this Amendement cleared into the first draft of the Constitution, a war was being planned against a well armed and organized army. There was no such thing as a United States army during the Revolutionary War. The ones who would fight this battle were militia men with high ideals to fight off what was viewed as the unwanted guest in their land - the British Army. [Yes, I know they were on New Land soil as a protection force for what was really a large colony of British citizens who refused to respect the boundaries and trade agreements with the Nativess causing the colonists to be in constant dangers. So what if the colonists did not want to pay more taxes for this protection, but wanted help, the soldiers should have found their own places to stay and stopped bothering the citizens who felt they should do as they pleased. Thus the reason for the Revolutionary War...to get a land of the free, if you were a rich, white male.]

For these colonists, there were rules and regulations about being armed which would limit their ability to protect themselves from these Natives, whose land they were trying to steal. The Natives were getting severely peeved and fought back. In order for the Colonists to have protection without paying any tax to the King, people would have to get access to arms and to meet up in groups to fight for a common purpose, to gain the freedom to do as they pleased on this land.

When the war was won, the Constitution was already accepted as law by many, but not all, states. After the war, eventually the rest of the colonies signed the document.

Even if the main threat of the British Army was no longer an issue, the new nation had other threat potentials and needed to maintain an armed militia until a more organized branch of an US Army could be created. With England out of the picture trying to secure India and the other colonies it had acquired, the US still was unsafe.

Other countries such as Spain and France could have easily picked at a weak target of the United States if there were no armed militia. As part of plans to expand their boundaries West, the Natives were not going to sit quietly as they were being pushed back further and further, so the new US citizens needed armed militias to help with the angry locals. Spreading West would displace Natives and involve bullying Mexico and England in turning over their land to this new nation. Without free access to guns, it would not be possible.

The hard core love of guns came with the romanticisation of the "Old West" which was more legend and hype than fact. Tales of "shoot first and ask questions later," "mob justice," "high noon showdowns," and the glamour of bad guys and gals with guns who were viewed more as heroes in folk tales than the real criminals they were are what glued Americans with the idealism of the gun. Instant justice in your hands when no one else, even your government, won't take care of you.

That fascination with the Wild West legend really grew during the era of the Great Depression. People were literally on their own. Jobs were lost. The rich were suddenly poor. There was no real safety net. The advent of prohibition gave way to mobsters with guns who were the only ones with money and power who ironically were the ones out there helping the poor instead of the government. It is safe to say most Americans do not really trust their government enough to do the right thing by them. A gun is a pocket of assurance when it fails.

Times have changed from when this requirement was needed for the safety of all citizens by an invading country wanting to take over the New Land. The United States has the world's best armed forces - army, navy, marines, air force, coast guards and national guards. National security is supposed to be also protected by the FBI and CIA as well as our border patrols and FEMA. All cities and towns as well as states have their own police force as well as paid or volunteer firefighters, emergency technicians and 911 operators. Many communities have neighbourhood watch programmes to help look out for each other. Some places even have private militia groups, vigilantes, and paid security guards. People in the US should feel like the safest people on earth, right?

The problem is US citizens still do not trust the government to help them when it is needed most. Look at the failure of Katrina. Two years on they are still in need of help and little interest from the government to do something about it. FEMA's own advice is literally to tell people to prepare for what they need in case of an emergency because you are on your own. The poor in the US got poorer while waiting over a decade for a raise in minimum wage laws. Those who lost their jobs or could barely make ends meet were denied benefits of welfare or extremely limited funds with ridiculous conditions. People who fell on hard times have experienced a wave of home foreclosures and others who really need to file bankruptcy find themselves unable to do so because they cannot afford it. Police are overworked and underpaid and get called on all the time of how they tend to abuse the rights of minorities and ignore pleas of help from victims of domestic violence, so these people do not feel safe at all, especially from the ones who are supposed to serve and protect. Acquiring student loans is becoming more and more difficult and the required educational system is under-funded leaving many children left behind.

Despite border patrol, illegal entry into the US is possible. As great as our armed forces are, when there is a President who wishes to thoughtlessly sacrifice the lives of too many soldiers, there is not enough to send into the battles he initiates which causes him to send in troops who are supposed to guard the homefront. It is safe to say that many in the US do not feel safe enough and the lure of the gun is ever present when the government does not care about your fate because it is too busy lining its own pockets instead of looking out for the best interests of the ones who elected them.

There are other Amendments in the Constitution that had to be updated to accommodate the changes in society. There have been changes to accommodate the fact that slavery was no longer acceptable and women had the right to vote and even the anti-liquor rule that was passed and repealed have all reflected changes to the evolution of this nation, perhaps it is time to re-think this one. The idea of having a gun as a right to protect ones' self and property should be a given if you are in real danger, unless the conditions which make this threat go away are addressed and solved. The problem is the threat is more hyped by media stories than actuality. Many of the problems solved by the gun are not because of a direct threat to loss of life, liberty, or property, but to settle a problem that should be settled in a civilised manner.

If one really needs a gun for protection, they should not be denied that right, however, not everyone should own a gun. There are people who are not capable of rational thought, psychopaths, and criminals who would not necessarily use these weapons for protection, but to harm others or themselves. Even rationally minded people can snap and in a jealous rage or a heated fight may be tempted to end it with a gun shot. With rights should come responsibilities and not everyone is responsible enough to own a gun.

Nuclear bombs are arms. I think everyone agrees no one should own them, especially in their private collections. Why the hang up with hand guns, or insisting people wait for a screening before they can own one, or to have a permit to own it? It is seen as an inconvenience to the majority of responsible gun owners and collectors, some are hunters and some just love to collect and most want legitimate protection.

With the Preamble and Constitution, we are caught in a Catch 22 situation. We want things to be just and have the home fronts here in the United States tranquil. We want to keep an armed military to defend ourselves from other countries. We want to look out for the best interests of others who live in our land. This is why the First and Second Amendments are at the hearts of Americans. There are also clauses in them that have been carried to the extreme ends which tend to make the original point less valid.

Our society tends to not be as squeamish when it comes to violence as many other countries. Other countries do watch the same violent movie and video games as we do in the United States, but they don't glorify it in the same way. Sex is more in your face than violence in these countries where people here are a bit more prudish about this form of entertainment. Sex and violence are in both types of societies, but one or the other is looked down upon as the greater evil.

Most countries either ban or strictly regulate guns, but even in countries without a ban, they still have far less murder reportings every year. Canada is very similar to the US in our Westernized society and they have greater freedom to buy arms, but they have very few deaths related to murder by gunfire. Could it be because the Canadian people feel more secure where they do not feel the need to take such dramatic actions to get their way or make a point?

In all other major countries except in the Middle East and the U.S., the death penalty is banned or only on the books and never enforced. Ironically, in those other countries where there is no death penalty and guns are a treat and not a right, murder rates are much lower. Murder still happens, but it is not as high as in the countries where both hand guns are plenty and the death penalties exist. Still, it is not the tool of the gun causing the problem, it is the attitude of the people holding the gun. This brings us to the First Amendment.

I am for the death penalty, in theory, but not for the way it is carried out. It is never met out to equally deserving criminals and those on death row tend to live there for as long as they would had they received a life sentence before being release to the public. Murder just seems to be one of those things a person motivated enough to do will take their chances as the odds are with them. The death penalty has never deterred murder. If everyone was considered armed perhaps that would make a would be thief think twice before committing a crime or perhaps it would insure the criminal is more heavily armed and will take action first before the victim can get their weapon out. With a death penalty looming over the criminal's head, they figure they are better off taking their odds and use the gun to try and get away.

We guarantee freedom of speech. We will defend the right of hate mongers who encourage acts of violence against those they deem as less than human. We give awards to media heroes who glamorize violence. We bend over backwards in giving our criminals more of a voice in their sentencing and punishment (or lack thereof) to the point of re-victimizing the victim and their families. People here know they can get away with being the bad guy and can sometimes become a martyr for their ways. Our society will embrace the right of these individuals to remain the way they are even though we grumble they are getting away with it.

Either Americans want the freedom from the government or we to become a more socialist government where the government decide what is best for the public at large [a nanny state]. The federal government was set up to look after the big picture of running the country. The state and local governments were to manage things in their own area, free from the heavy hand of the federal government. The individual was supposed to be free and self-reliant, while obeying the rules of the ones they elected to enforce them, they were granted the freedom to live their lives in a way they saw fit. Families, communities and church groups looked after the welfare of their own. This was a different time, a different America. All that has changed.

People moved. Families split in different directions. New people moved in from different countries with different cultures. People were strangers trying to fit into new communities with standards that did not always match the original nature of the rich, white former British citizens. Even the slaves and women would upset the status quo. There is mistrust of those who are different. Freedoms, which were fine for a group of people with very similar backgrounds, lifestyles and beliefs, had to accommodate for conflicting values by people who did not look like they did. No longer was it a given that your family, friends and community would have your back. It was up to the government to help people feel safe, but not even the government could do that job.

Unless Americans change attitudes about violence, the government will one day have to step in and take over that decision about guns. It is the attitude that endangers our children more than the guns themselves. If we take away all our guns, then yes, all the criminals will have guns. It would be like the war on drugs. Ban drugs and you make drug addicts criminals. Do we really want to lump gun collectors and hunters in the same category as rapists and murderers? If we take away the freedom to own a gun without solving the attitude of violence, murder will still be high in this country, only it will be done in other ways.

Kids who kill are often victims of our violent culture and most often victims of abuse. They need help, love, attention, counseling and sometimes medication. Even if you take guns away, these disturbed children will find other ways to let out their rage without the guns if they are not given proper help. The freedoms we have in our country are not the issue with problem people. It is the problem of attitude that needs to be dealt with, not the tools.

Violence should be put back to the repulsive act that it is. Criminals need to be punished. If a criminal goes to prison, they should be rehabilitated and made to learn a useful trade to make them productive members of our society once they get back out or else they will turn back to crime. Guns should be respected and not glamorized. Guns are to kill. Some people like to hunt with them. Some just like to do target practice as a sport. Some just like the way they blow up objects. Why deny them this right if it is not hurting anyone?

Guns are also good tools in self defense, but if the attitude in our society of violence was not this way, guns would be totally unnecessary for self defense. Since violence is something that our society has been conditioned to expect, we have prepared ourselves in advance to anything that could possibly happen and expect any criminal has a gun to kill us. With this attitude, criminals will carry guns to get away with a crime knowing that the victim may also be armed. Criminals also know that if they do kill, there is a chance for the death penalty. If they killed once, they may as well kill their way out of a spot to try and escape to save their own lives. Besides, even if they get caught the odds of being executed are rare.

Barbaric people who have no redemption from society and can never make up for the crimes for which they have no remorse and would be a danger should they ever get loose are sitting inside death row cells now. They sit for 15 or more years. They continue to torture the victim's families by staying alive and having to relive the awful act when they get an appeal. My question is why? Why 15 years or more?

The man who killed those nursing students in Chicago died on death row of natural causes. Why? What does this teach our children about violence when we keep these people alive for so long? If we must have a death penalty, why wait so long to get it carried out in the cases of obvious guilt (and there are many open and shut cases way beyond a reasonable doubt they are guilty, these are the ones who should be executed, not the ones where there are too many issues attached who deserve to have an appeal)?

If there is any hint of the doubt then put them in prison for life without possibility of parole doing hard labor until it can be appealed in the right direction. Otherwise, there are people who should be killed on the spot like the man who murdered Polly Klass. Either we execute swiftly and with justice or we should abolish it altogether.

The criminal justice system is responsible for a lot of the violence we see today. They do not rehabilitate. They do not punish. They just lock them away a few years where they learn to be better criminals. Our children see this example and the other examples of glamorized violence and take it to heart that this is acceptable.

The American decision of what to do about the Constitution will affect the lives of all American children. Should the Constitution be eliminated to protect them or should the attitudes leading to violence be dealt with instead of the means that assists in the violence? Is it worth the threat of basic freedoms being eliminated?

Out of all the countries in the world, the US ranks 8th for the most murders (homicides) per capita by handguns with a .02 per 1000 people who will die in this manner. In other words, for every 20,000 people, one person will be murdered by a gun. South Africa, Columbia, Thailand, Zimbabwae, Mexico, Belarus and Costa Rica all rank higher with South Africa leading the pack at .71 per 1000. These are all countries with loose or no regulations in regards to gun control.

Gun control does not necessarily mean less crime. For example robberies which are generally carried out with guns, Spain ranked first with 497,262 in the year 2000. The United States ranked second with United States 409,670 in 1999 statistics. Spain has stricter gun control laws, yet they came in higher for robberies than a country with loose gun control laws.

If guns were to be banned, then yes, only the criminals would have guns. This is seen as a dangerous situation when it comes to self defense. If someone breaks into your home, hijacks your car, or tries to rape you - they have a gun and you do not, the criminal will have the power to do what they want and leave you helpless.

It is one way to see the argument, but it is a weak one. Yes, the criminals would be in a better position to do what they wanted, but the likelihood that they would kill you would drop over the fact that they know you probably do not have a gun and are not in a position to harm them.

If guns were not readily available, there would be less guns in circulation leading to less crimes by gun.

Don't get me wrong, it is still America and the idea of any telling you what you can and cannot have will never sit well with anyone. I am not for banning all guns, just regulating them in a more responsible manner.

We need to have a license to drive a car. Why not have a license to own a gun? Why not make it mandatory for gun owners to take classes in gun safety, storage, care, and the law before being allowed to own and use a gun? Why not run a background check on those who want to own arms to make sure they do not have a criminal past or have proven to be a danger to themselves and others? Why not include a ban on people who have a restraining order placed on them?

I also believe the force they used on the so-called war on drugs has overcrowded prisons with people who need medical and psychological help to defeat a bad habit. This would make plenty of room to deal with the criminals who sell arms illegally. There should be a crackdown on these dealers. There are many honest, law abiding gun dealers whose businesses are being hurt by these thugs, not to mention the many honest, law abiding citizens who are being hurt by what these thugs sell.

It is not so much that the legally regulated arms are the problem as it is the unrestricted illegal arms trade that exists.

Yes, there are the temptations for those who are legally abiding citizens who own guns to become victims of their own weapons such as when kids get into them and fatal shoot themselves or another child or if depressed or in a heated family argument the gun is used to end it. Less access to guns would make fewer of these incidents. Among the law abiding, the most common reason for a gun death is by suicide and second domestic disputes.

In 1999, over 17,000 out of 29,000 American suicides were committed by gun versus the over 11,000 murders out of 17,000 were committed by handguns.

Emory University professor Arthur Kellermann, one of the leading researchers studying that relationship, has found that a gun in the home is 22 times more likely to kill a household member than an outsider and that it is seven times more likely to be used in the murder or assault of a household member than an outsider.

The impact of injuries:

A new congressional study shows that an estimated 3,000 people with domestic-violence convictions were able to buy firearms between 1998 and 2001, because the FBI was unable to complete background checks before the sales went through, the Washington Post reported June 26.

Article by Join Together

Responsible people act responsibly with guns. It is unfair to completely deprive everyone who will be responsible with them from having access, but it is also a given that fewer guns do mean fewer deaths and accidents.

I am in favour of better, not more, gun control.

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