Last Sunday morning I happened to wander into the lounge where the 24-hour news channel was playing on the television. The newsreader began with “this just in” or a similar phrase as he prepared to read out the breaking news that had just been handed him. Great, I thought, is it another shooting in America or another terrorist attack in Europe? The newsreader continued, “From the US. . . ” Ah, it is another shooting then. It was.

This is what it has come to, I hear the announcement of breaking news, and I immediately suspect it is a shooting in the States.

Others have written about the “epidemic” of gun violence in the States. There are graphics circulating Facebook and other social media sources similar to the one below showing “Homicides per 100,000 in G-8 Countries.” The US at 3.2 is far ahead of the next highest, Italy at 0.71 deaths per 100,000.

[other countries are Canada, 0.5; UK, 0.1; Japan 0; Germany 0.2; France 0.1, Russia, no data]

Image 1.png

 

Or this image:

Image 2.png

[Image, published on 2 October 2015: graph showing Terrorism deaths in the United States in 2014, 18; Terrorism deaths in the United States, 1970-2014, 3,521; Gun violence deaths in the Unites States, 2015 to date, 8,512]

Although the data may be from last year, the trend of gun violence in American continues.

And then there is this image, a map of the US showing a red dot for every shooting in 2015. It looks like America got a bad case of the chicken pox:

Image 3.png

All this to say that you can find the statistical arguments and comparisons between the US and other countries all over the web. You can find arguments about the effectiveness of gun control. You can find other images that point out that those who own guns are more likely to die in a shooting (echos of Jesus, anyone?). Then, of course, there is the other side.

Statements like this:

Image 4

[Image: black background with bold white letters saying: “GUNS DON’T KILL PEOPLE. PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE.”]

or this one, which I find much more offensive:

Image 5

[Image: a Christian fish symbol altered slightly to look a bit like a shark with the following words: Guns don’t kill people, sin kills people (like the sin of disarming good people) Romans 6:23]

As an aside I fail to see how a reference to Romans 6:23 (For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.) has any connection with the issue of gun control. How anyone can make the claim that it is a sin to disarm good people is miles beyond my comprehension. (Surely good people are peaceful people, and therefore are not armed to begin with?) I can’t think of any verse in scripture with the slightest connection to this issue. Apart from all the ones about not killing people, of course. 

My concern with this post is less to provide detailed information on gun violence in America, and more to talk about the second amendment. This second of the 10 amendments in the original Bill of Rights appended to the US Constitution in the 18th century is supported religiously by those who are desperate to hold on to the right to own firearms. They even go so far as to claim that “the Second protects the First,” that is, my right to own a gun protects my right to free speech.

This would appear to mean something like “if you don’t let me say whatever I want, I can shoot you.” I suspect, however, that gun enthusiasts think it means that they hold the government to account for their own freedom because an armed population can more easily overthrow a government. Either way the implications are appalling.

For anyone who might not be familiar with the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. It reads as follows:

“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.”

The first half of this statement is crucial. The right to keep and bear arms is directly related to the need of securing a free State. At the time the local Militia and “minute men” were crucial in the protection of local people against military threats from indigenous peoples or foreigners. This was easiest to accomplish if each man owned and cared for his own weapon, ready to be called upon at need to defend home, town or country.

In a country that maintains a powerful military force, the core purpose of the second amendment is void. Without that need to have a local military force on call at a moment’s notice, the right to keep and bear arms should at least be examined and modified.

And, oh, by the way. Guns may not kill people without people to fire them, but guns are built, designed, made to kill (people or animals) or to simulate killing (shooting ranges, clay pigeons). Cars don’t kill people without people driving them either, but rarely (with the recent attack in Nice a tragic exception) are they used as weapons. They have other much more practical everyday uses.

These are my thoughts on the subject. I’ll close with this rather powerful poem:

American is a Gun

England is a cup of tea.

France, a wheel of ripened brie.

Greece, a short, squat olive tree.

America is a gun.

Brazil is football on the sand.

Argentina, Maradona’s hand.

Germany, an oompah band.

America is a gun.

Holland is a wooden shoe.

Hungary, a goulash stew.

Australia, a kangaroo.

America is a gun.

Japan is a thermal spring.

Scotland is a highland fling.

Oh, better to be anything.

than America as a gun.

Brian Bilston

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