A British Guy Goes Off On The American Gun Culture (With Citations)
Recently, Tiffany Willis (Liberal America founder) said on her Facebook wall that she imagines that people in other countries are baffled by the U.S. gun culture. Here is my response.
Tiffany, “how odd”? NOPE, we honestly DO NOT understand your love affair with the GUN. How a modern western democracy has such stupid gun laws is scary. TBH, America is so insular they don’t notice. People are getting very wary of travelling to the U.S. You may as well go to Kenya or Nigeria…… mass shooting there at least are UNUSUAL. You people seem immune to them, however many accidents, killings, lunatics shooting, it makes no difference. NOTHING changes. We had one mass shooting, changed the law. Australia, one mass shooting, law changed, Norway …. etc…Just how many decent human beings have to die, before its unacceptable? I would have thought death is the ultimate REALPOLITIK?
To reasonable Americans it’s horrifying. After the Port Arthur shooting, Australians stood up and said, “This is not worth the lives of children.” After Dunblane, the UK stood up and said, “This is not worth the lives of children.” After the *endless* stream of school shootings in America, Americans have stood up and said, “This is not worth the lives of children” — and the NRA (the lobbying arm of America’s arms industry) has responded, “SURE it is!”
Then the US cannot claim to be any kind of democracy. If the majority of people want things tightened, but a lobbying group is more powerful than the people, it’s wrong on so many levels. From the outside, it seems you are going backwards, we abolish the death penalty, you kill more, we tighten gun controls, you after each shooting seem to loosen them. Concealed carry? Open carry? OMG, this is like the 3rd World ….. The U.S. started so far ahead, a clean slate, a fresh start and you are going backwards. I am sure sometime soon, I will read someone has been burned at the stake for believing in evolution, not creation.
How does the rest of the western world manage without guns to make them more FREE and manly? Everyone I see who is carrying a gun or shoots people in the U.S. looks like he has one friend and he is imaginary!
I always hear this from pro-gun people: what about the crooks! After WW2, the UK was literally AWASH with guns. Every type you can imagine. Millions upon millions of them — German, U.S., British, Italian, weapons from everywhere we had fought. The government offered several amnesties and people handed them in. This went on well into the 1980s. We don’t have criminals with guns just because everyone else handed their guns in. That argument will not wash!
Our police treat any crime involving a gun as a “shoot on sight” policy. Its the only crime in fact where this IS the case. This tends to make criminals very wary of using guns. The U.S. is not the only place with ghettos and poor, but you are the only ones with guns. So you feel safer with a gun? Yet in almost every “good guy, bad guy with a gun” scenario, the good guy loses. It’s not much of an argument you have there. BUT, as is endlessly pointed out, it was written in the constitution in the 1700s so must be right. They were still burning witches and using sail boats then.
A classic comment from pro-gun people in the U.S. is “dude, are you fucking high?” No, I am English, where policeman don’t have guns. We have extremely deprived areas, but no guns. I am living in Ireland, where again the police don’t have guns. This despite the fact we were in both countries living with terrorism, while you guys gave money to both sides, when terrorists were “somebody” else’s problem. 3,000 people died in Northern Ireland, but mainland English and Irish police NEVER had guns.
I have been in London when IRA bombs went off. Don’t tell me the police HAVE to have guns. We have special police units, called armed response units (ARU) whose only purpose is to deal with guns. Each police force has its own ARU. Kind of like the regular army and the SAS. If you take away everyone’s guns, so that guns are rare, deal with crimes with guns far more severely than normal crime as it risks killing far more easily and criminals stop using them. This is how the rest of the western world works. NO OTHER modern democracy has the guns and ergo the gun crime the U.S. does. How do we get along without having a gun, OMG, no concealed carry, no open carry. No gun crime. Find me another country with the rate of gun deaths the U.S. has! Erm, outside of violent African and Arab countries, you won’t find one.
I have traveled all over the U.S., from NY, to NC, AZ, CA, FL, OH and many other places. When I was in FL an English family had the father shot, and while being mugged, I heard the shot. The police swarmed the place. This is why Europeans are thinking twice about coming to the U.S. In 2012, there were over 500 gun murders in Chicago alone almost half the total of the EU-17 countries.
You are 60 times more likely to be subject die via gun in the US than the UK. Gun deaths, accidental and homicide ranged between 30,000 to 52,000 a year in the U.S. [33,000 last year]. Shooting fatalities of members of the police are extremely rare in the UK; there were three in England and Wales in the eleven-year period from 2000/01 to 2010/11.
Now bear in mind the U.S. is only five times the population of the UK. We had 2012/13 = 30 TOTAL gun deaths. That’s 30 against 33,000 for like-on-like period. While the U.S. has over 310 million guns in circulation, only 36 percent of the U.S. population has a gun. When will the other 64 percent stand up to them? Oh, these figures are from CDC and UN. This is a mockery of democracy anyway you look at it. 30,000+ needless deaths a year. It will soon surpass motor vehicle death as a killer.
The constant cry from the gun lobby is that you can’t get rid of guns as the bad guys will always have them. Well, let’s look at that. Australia had very similar very lax gun control laws — it also prided itself on its pioneer spirit and freedom, and the right to own a gun was part and parcel of that. I was living in Clare in South Australia at the time of the Port Arthur mass shooting. In 1996, in Port Arthur, Australia, 35 people were killed and another 23 were injured by a lone gunman who used two semi-automatic weapons to unleash a reign of terror on the small city. I saw how Australians reacted to this. Port Arthur is part of South Australia. Australia has states, with state parliaments and a central federal government, much like the U.S. A 28-year-old, who was described as having “significant intellectual disabilities,” was eventually caught and convicted of the crime. In the aftermath of this mass killing, the Australian government took bold and immediate steps to put in place gun control regulations. Since then their gun regulations have got even tighter. Their gun deaths are now on a par with most European countries.
One of the strange things is, in my job — designing and developing commercial and military games and simulations — I came across and worked with many U.S. military personnel from privates to lieutenant colonels and generals, in almost every case, they did not privately own guns. Why? I asked them and almost all said that guns were far too dangerous to have around in a non-military use. These are the people who use guns almost every day, thinking they are too dangerous within a civilian setting.
The simple truth is that the U.S. homicide and accidental deaths by guns [both total numbers and per 100,000] is in line with countries like the West Bank and Gaza, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Venezuela, etc… U.S. people consider their country to be safe, superior to these third-world countries, but the fact is you are safer in Zimbabwe, Uganda, Zambia, and Lebanon than you are in the U.S. People inside the U.S. have these figures hidden from them or they are never looked at. The rest of us are well aware of these figures and America is now seen as a dangerous place to go, which in reality it is. Statistically you are safer in most 3rd and 2nd world countries than the US. Why? How is this possible, with such a huge disparity in gun deaths to all other western countries, and why is it accepted?
How does the U.S. really compare on firearms? The world’s crime figures are collected by the UNODC through its annual crime survey. It has a special section of data on firearm homicides and provides detailed information by size of population and compared to other crimes. It is not perfect — some key nations are missing from the data, including Russia, China and Afghanistan. But it does include the U.S., UK and other developed nations. With less than five percent of the world’s population, the United States is home to roughly 35-50 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns, heavily skewing the global geography of firearms and any relative comparison. The death rate per 100,000 and overall is way out of line with other developed nations.
How is it that such a minority in the U.S. is so powerful? Why do the rest of the U.S. population put up with this? How could Australia react so fast, but the U.S., with many times this number of deaths and mass shootings, is unable to do so? The simple answer is the NRA and the huge power it wields. To the NRA, money is far more important than people’s lives. There are and can be NO disputing the facts. More guns per population leads to more deaths by guns and no, its not then taken over by knife or violent lawnmower crime. Guns are in a league of their own when it comes to lethality. The NRA behaves in a totally irresponsible, irrational and to any outside the U.S., illegal way.
There are other factors, of course, the way the U.S. views violence and the human body for example. In the U.S., the most brutal, gruesome deaths, maiming, violence and killing is seen as fine for viewing, but the slightest hint of nudity has a film rated “adult.” What is this about? Why is violence so accepted but sex and the human body is seen as so damaging? Many European and Scandinavian countries have much stricter laws on violence in movies, especially with regard to its availability to children.
This is a cultural acceptance of violence and guns as perfectly OK, but a hint of nudity is seen as dangerously corrupting to youth. Where have such skewed and twisted values come from and why are they so acceptable in the U.S., but seen as strange in every other western country? It’s almost a reversal of what is OK and seen as normal everywhere else. What is strange is that the U.S. rarely looks outside the U.S., so sees this as perfectly normal. Then you have a whole “but that’s Europe, or wherever, they are weird” going on. The sad truth is the U.S. is the weird country, the one out of step, being led down an escalating route of gun deaths by an uncaring NRA and politicians being lobbied by the NRA. The U.S. is such a beautiful country, full of decent people, but is being skewed and controlled by a minority who even with their vast resources and endless propaganda have less than 36 percent of the population behind them.
UNODC – http://www.unodc.org/
CDC – http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/injury.htm
World firearms murders and ownership –