Monday, November 30, 2009

Things I don't understand about America's relationship with guns

By now you've probably heard about the horrific shooting of 4 police officers in a Washington state coffee shop. As if it's not bad enough that you have to put your life on the line for a bunch of ungrateful (and often dumbass) strangers every day, now if you're a police man, you're going to be watching your back while you're sipping a latte with your family. Horrible.

My sympathies aside, on my way back from the gym this morning I was listening to an NPR report on the aftermath of the shootings. The reporter was interviewing locals and getting their reaction to the tragedy and he came across one man, a taxi driver, who had this to say (and I paraphrase): "I think more people should carry guns... and be ready."

Um...I'm sorry. WHAT!?

Help me understand this America, please, coz Lord knows my English powers of logic are failing me here.

Four trained, armed police officers were sitting in a coffee shop, minding their own beeswax and, despite their on-the-job experience and years of training, were unable to pull their guns out of their holsters in time to protect themselves from this random lunatic. How EXACTLY would you, Mr. Taxi Driver, fair better under the same circumstances with a pistol in your pocket?

Is the argument that if other by-standers in the coffee shop had seen the gunman and were armed, they could have perhaps taken him down before he made his way through all four cops? Because that sounds suspiciously like a gunfight at the OK Corale to me. Maybe two of the cops would have been given time to pull out their guns if the barista had dropped the frothy milk and brandished a shot gun but then maybe the little 3 year old girl sitting with her mother and her hot chocolate would have got a bullet in the head instead.

The circular argument that, because some people have guns more people should have guns, just seems like the ramblings of a bunch of lunatics to me. And I'm sorry if you're pro-gun, I just can't get my head around this stuff, even after 15 years of living in this place.


he-prior said...

I totally recognize why you feel like fewer guns are better. Shoot-outs at the OK Corral are definitely not how we want to be spending our modern day Happy-Hour. But the point that Random Taxi Guy was making was an unfinished thought. No one would have been able to save those 4 cops last week, that's a hideous tragedy. But if more (not all) law abiding citizens were allowed to conceal/carry guns, criminals would be less likely to attempt these types of brazen crimes. Criminals are cowards; they are emboldened by the knowledge that the populous is unarmed and therefore are sitting ducks. I don’t want everyone carrying guns like the Old West, but I would feel a lot safer if trained, trustworthy individuals were licensed to carry guns and could be standing among us at any given time. That would be the criminals largest deterrent.
England has strict bans on guns, yet shootings still occur because bad guys get them. In the 4 years following England’s ban of handguns in 1997, crimes with handguns increased 40%. And as for protecting your own home, home burglaries in England happen 53% with people in their home as compared to just 6% in the US. Why? US homes are likely to have firearms for protection, English homes are not.
The only way fewer guns could reduce crime is for them to be un-invented, pressing the imaginary delete button on their existence to insure criminals could never obtain one. The man who shot those cops was not a licensed gun owner.

TravelVixen said...

Gun deaths per 100,000 population are approximately 11 in the U.S. and 0.38 in the U.K. (Data taken from Cukier and Sidel (2006) The Global Gun Epidemic. Praeger Security International. Westport.)

That's a big difference, however you mark increases or decreases year-over-year.

Out of that number 4/100,000 are homicides in the US, compared to 0.15/100,000 in the U.K. There are approximately 80 gun-related deaths every day in the U.S.

Your statistics also seem out-dated. In fact, gun crime in the UK has DECREASED over the years. The National Crime Recording Standard reports that there were only 17,343 gun-related crimes in 2007/2008 reporting year as compared to 22,400 in 2001/2002. This was, in part, a result of a 2003 firearms amnesty.

As for home burglaries, I don't believe your stats have anything to do with gun control laws. It would make more sense to me that population density increases buglaries. Comparing densely populated England to the whole of the U.S. (which has many sparsely populated areas) is like comparing Manhattan to the whole of Texas.

I like my chances much better in the UK thankyouverymuch.

There is absolutley NO LEGITIMATE REASON to carry a gun in a non-rural area, except to shoot another human being with it or unless you are a policeman. Therefore, there is no reason for guns to be legal for the average citizen. Period.

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