Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Different Perspective on Gun Violence

First, this post is brought on by having watched the Piers Morgan interview with Alex Jones. If you haven't seen it, swing my youtube and have a look. In a nut shell Alex Jones does what he does, which is yell and get out as much information as he can. I know it may seem like he really isn't helping the gun community by acting the way he does but in a lot of ways, I think he did what at least someone needed to do. That's not what I am writing to talk about. Piers Morgan wanted just a couple questions answered, and Alex actually did answer them, but it's pretty amusing when you watch people who are in the same profession as Piers, how ludicrously alike they are. They all use the exact same tactic. They ask a loaded question to get a soundbite of someone like Alex saying what they want to hear, and they are done. BOOM! You said what I thought you'd say, ignore everything else, I win, you loose, roll the tape over and over and over. The "news" comes on every five minutes on TV these days so by the time every American has seen it, it's been thoroughly taken out of context and stripped down to just what they want us to hear. What is really sad is how black and white they think the issue really is and that they don't even seem to be able to fathom how obvious their tactics are. Take away guns, gun deaths decrease, problem solved. Piers wanted Alex to say, guns are gone in the UK, gun deaths are lower in the UK, therefore the problem is obvious. Ignore the fact that if we took cars away, vehicle deaths would drop dramatically, take away alcohol and drunk driver murders would drop dramatically (oh wait, didn't we try that one once?), take away swimming pools and drownings would drop dramatically. It all starts with "take away". Piers wants to know if we "need" AR-15s because apparently that is his justification for "taking them away" but as I said in my last post, it'll be a sad day when the American Government starts stripping rights because certain groups don't think we "need" them. Of course Alex didn't bite, he said exactly why they are needed. Piers contention is that a few mass shootings of late involved AR-15 variants. For one thing, the AR-15 came to life in the 1960s. Is he suggesting that they are some new thing? Does he actually believe there haven't been dozens upon dozens of other shootings that didn't involve an AR-15? 3, is his specific number. There have been 3, people don't "need" AR-15s and therefore it must be outlawed. Makes perfect sense. 

Now, for a different perspective, I got curious about my own state. What I already knew before hand was that the Columbine shooting happened in the middle of Clinton's Assault Weapon ban and that the 1990s where America's worst years for mass shootings. What many people miss with blanket statements like violent crime in the UK vs US, or murder rate, or any statistics like this is that we're different people with different cultures. The UK is about the size of a postage stamp and has 64 million people while we have 330. Each state, each city, each neighborhood has its own culture and the same goes for the UK. For all the dangerous places there are to live in both countries, there are places that are perfectly safe, or significantly less violent than other places. In fact, we know that most of our violence comes from big cities which no doubt, have completely different cultures. I come from a small town and have never lived in fear of violence. There is no doubt in my mind that if the UK looked at it's violent crime, it also originates in large cities, in exactly the same way it does in America. Why are we insisting that either country is more violent when it really isn't the country itself? If we know where the violence comes from, why aren't we looking at those places for answers and causes? My point is, there are trends and while they aren't as obvious as "guns are used to kill people", they aren't really that hard to find and they are more likely a better route to real solutions. I realize that lower life forms like celebrity news media have a hard time using critical thinking skills and making complex connections but it sure would be nice if we could start looking a little deeper.

So I dug a little deeper. I feel perfectly safe in my state. In fact, a lot of people don't even bother locking doors around here. So I found a map, some kind of real estate thing showing "crime" in specific areas around the state. According to that, I actually live in one of the LEAST safe areas in my state! That's funny, it has never felt that way to me. But that's not the point because it could all be BS. The numbers from the FBI on my state are interesting none the less. In the 1960s, my state was pretty damn safe, with a murder rate similar to the overall UK rate. But what do you know, Clinton scored his win with Assault Weapons in the 1990s and murder basically tripled and as I already knew, the 1990s were the most violent years. Thank God, the Assault Weapon Ban ended in 2004 and murder started dropping. We're back down to somewhere in the 3 or 4 per 100,000 from year to year range rather than 6 or almost 7. But wait, "assault weapons" aren't used to commit but a single digit percent of firearm murders in America. Could it be that there are actually other causes of murder and violence, beyond guns? Could it be that many states started passing more laws to help their citizens protect themselves about the same time? That's just crazy talk!

Looking at other states, there are plenty of places in the US that have murder rates just as low as the UK or lower, and no one should be surprised. They would love to believe that the entire country is a cesspool when in truth, most big cities are. Nothing new. But what might be something new to think about is the other crimes. Rape, robbery, assault, and the like are each tens of times, or hundreds of times higher than murder in my state. Don't murders take place during another crime more often than not? So we get back to the same problem. The mindset that living through the crime is better than dying. I can't say I'd rather die, but the issue is, the crime is still happening even without the firearms involved. The exact same crimes that often lead to murder. Of course, the number of lives saved by armed civilians doesn't make good news and can't be counted, so I guess in their eyes it's insignificant. What I do know is that I don't want to just let the crime happen and hope to live through it, and I know I don't want to die, therefore I will take responsibility for my own safety and take it very seriously. You are perfectly welcome to live in fear if you like, or be the victim of a nasty crime, it is of course, your right. At the end of the day I'd rather be wondering how many lives were saved, than wondering why so many had to die. Instead of banning guns how about we just ban big cities? Actually, that's a bad idea because I'd rather the crime be kept in those cities, away from where I live. 

And I can't emphasize enough how ludicrous this concept of "need" is. I don't think Peirs or the people like him need fancy clothes, polluting cars or SUVs, golf courses that waste natural landscape, I don't think he needs as much money as he makes because children are starving someplace, but somehow I think he would resist having these things taken away on the grounds that I don't think he needs them. Forget this "need" concept because it makes you sound like the Communist you are and start looking for real solutions instead of wasting oxygen. And, Piers isn't an American, so I can't figure out who would care about his opinions anyway. I mean if the UK was so good, why is he here?