Some Actual FACTS on Gun Violence

 

Gary Horton seems to have gone on a rampage recently against private gun ownership, as exemplified by his most recent column on the subject, which ran on 28 August and was entitled “Did America Want to Go This Far Out on Guns?” (Link)

Here’s a sample of his histrionics: “Over a decade, American has lost 360,000 people to gun deaths. By comparison, we’ve lost some 3,100 to terror attacks. Gun deaths are 116 times greater than terror-related deaths. That’s 11,600%!”

Well, it’s undeniable that so many deaths are tragic, but why don’t we take a look at another number, since we’re comparing different manners of people dying?

During that same period of time, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 355,429 traffic accident fatalities (NHTSA Report), making them every bit as dangerous as those e-e-e-e-vil guns, again 116 times greater than terror-related deaths.

Well, what’s to be done about all this mayhem? In this particular column Horton doesn’t say, as it’s pretty much an orgy of hand-wringing. But judging from the totality of his columns on the topic I suppose he’d like to wave a magic wand and make all the privately-owned guns in the country vanish. The only thing standing in his way – other than the lack of that wand – is that pesky and “grossly contorted interpretation of a Second Amendment”.

But there is no Second Amendment equivalent when it comes to cars. Thus they can be regulated to any degree. So, if we want to save a boatload of lives, why don’t we mandate breathalyzer/ignition interlock devices on all cars, as well as speed governors that prevent them from going any faster than, say, 20 MPH? That would probably eliminate at least 90% of traffic fatalities since drunk driving is one major factor, and it’s pretty hard for an accident to be fatal at such low speeds. Maybe even eliminate private car ownership altogether, and mandate that everyone use public transportation! How about that? Everyone has to ride the bus!

We don’t do that because as a society we accept the fact that liberty – freedom of choice and action – sometimes has a cost in human life, a sad and harsh reality.

Horton also tries to peddle the clichéd trope that the Second Amendment only applies to “well-organized state militias”. I will very kindly label that statement as “misguided”. In fact US Code Title 10 § 246 defines the militia as having two components: the “organized militia”, which is the National Guard (Horton’s organized state militias); and the “unorganized militia”, which is all other law-abiding adults in the country who are, or who have applied to be, citizens. (US Code)

Of course, Horton indulges himself in the demonization of the semi-auto AR-15, the most popular rifle in this country, calling them “mass killing machines”. Interestingly enough, in Switzerland, members of their militia – which is all males of military age, as they have universal conscription – are allowed to keep their issued weapons at home, including full-auto guns. You’d think their streets should be awash in blood, wouldn’t you? But no…

I think there’s one more issue to address, and I think it’s pretty important. As I quoted him, Horton claims 360,000 gun deaths over a ten year period, so about 36,000 per year on average. However, according to the FBI Uniform Crime Report (UCR) for 2017, the last year for which data are available (FBI UCR), there were 10,982 homicides in which firearms were used, and only 403 of those were with rifles of any kind. If you average out the number of gun homicides covered by the five years of that report you get 9,733 per year. Multiply that by 10 and you get 97,333 for ten years, a far cry from that 360,000 Horton so freely bandies about.

In 2017, rifles – of which the AR-15 type is a variant – were used 403 times, and averaged 316 times per year over the five years covered by the UCR, for a ten year averaged total of 3,160. That means that rifles of all kinds, NOT just AR-15s, were used in only three percent of gun-related homicides. Not exactly an epidemic, is it?

I have no idea where Horton got his 360,000 number, and frankly don’t care. No matter how you slice it, that number doesn’t represent gun use in homicides in this country, as the real data clearly show.

Horton’s column is a very clear illustration of the hyperbolic scare tactics used by those who’d deprive law-abiding people of their gun rights, full of blatant misrepresentations and over-the-top rhetoric and demagoguery.

Don’t fall for it.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2019

(Published 4 Sep 2019 on my blog and in The Signal)

 

 

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Sacrificed On The Altar of Political Demagoguery

Last week saw the worst Islamic terrorist attack on US soil since the Twin Towers went down on 9/11, and it creates a confluence of political issues of immense proportions: the national gun control debate and Obama’s foreign policy failures.

San Berdoo terrsTwo Islamic jihadists stormed a social services center in San Bernardino, California, at which the employees were throwing a holiday party, and opened fire with a variety of guns, both long guns and handguns, killing 14 people and wounding 21 others. They were also armed with pipe bombs, and when the police finally searched their house they found many more pipe bombs as well as a “pipe bomb factory”. The pair had acquired their guns legally; the long guns had been illegally altered.

Syed Rizwan Farook, the male, was a native-born citizen of the US of Pakistani extraction, and a Muslim. He had visited Saudi Arabia several times, as late as 2013. His wife, Tashfeen Malik, was a Pakistani citizen, in the country on a fiancée visa, and also a Muslim, with ties to terrorist organizations. Her visa application to enter this country listed a non-existent Pakistan address.

Those are the facts. Now to the issues.

Gun Control

Literally before the bodies had even cooled Obama was swooping down on this event, like some deranged vulture, to exploit it for political purposes, in this case to advance his agenda for further restrictive gun control laws. He was immediately and enthusiastically joined by his Dem/socialist comrades in Congress, as well here in California by the Dem/socialists who run the state legislature.  It’s been a morbid and disgusting display of cynical political manipulation, an attempt to exploit the nation’s natural revulsion to this horrific event in the hope of severely restricting gun rights.

But the policies Obama & Company have proposed – such as expanded background checks – are already in place in California where this event took place; in fact, California has the most restrictive gun laws in the nation, and is often held up by Dem/socialists as the example to which the nation as a whole should aspire.

pipe bombOn top of that, Farook and Malik were also using pipe bombs, which are completely banned under Federal law.

So how would any new restrictions have prevented an attack like this? The plain and simple fact is they won’t, just as logic and common sense tells us, and just as this attack proves, as it took place in the state that has enacted the Dem/socialists’ wish list of gun restrictions, and included destructive devices already completely banned under Federal law.

This event simply proved the old maxim that criminals, by definition, don’t obey laws. Therefore further restrictive gun laws are only going to affect law-abiding citizens. Have drug laws kept drugs out of the hands of illicit users, or immigration laws kept illegal aliens out of the country? Of course not. Why would anyone with an ounce of sense think things would be any different with guns?

There’s another maxim that applies: the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

But laws that deprive the good guys of the tools they need to stop the bad guys are obviously only going to make the situation even worse. I know that if I’m at a party and some nut comes in shooting, I’d sure like something in my hand more suitable for defending myself than a Dixie cup full of beer.

There’s one law that would be effective in addressing the dangers of these attacks: a law that makes it mandatory that any law-abiding citizen who applies for a permit to carry a concealed weapon be issued that permit.

The plain fact of the matter is that the police aren’t bodyguards. Theychalk outline respond to crimes after they’ve already taken place. It’s up to each of us as individuals to protect and defend ourselves as well as we can until the cops show up. The cops are the ones who draw the chalk lines around the bodies; it’s up to us to determine whether it’s us or the other guy who gets outlined.

Will an armed citizenry absolutely prevent these occurrences in the future? Probably not all of them, but have you noticed that these things always take place in venues at which everyone is unarmed? Have you ever heard of a mass shooting at a gun range, or gun shop, where a lot of people are armed? Of course not.

And even if such an event does take place, I’m sure we could anticipate much lower body counts; fewer casualties. If only one or two of the people in San Bernardino had been carrying guns, and able to deploy them, the rampage would have been very quickly curtailed, either by the shooters’ retreat or deaths.

Foreign Policy and “Refugees”

From the Arab Spring to Benghazi to the rise of ISIS, Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East has been an unmitigated disaster. He seems to have absolutely no grasp of the issues or players involved, nor understand the consequences of his actions, or failures to act when appropriate.

He’s declared al Qaida as being “on the run”, and just recently characterized ISIS as the “JV team”. The reality is far different.

ISIS territoryNot only are both still active, but there are many splinter groups of both scattered around the world. ISIS alone has captured and consolidated enough geographical territory to qualify as a minor nation-state, though a rogue one. They’ve developed an economic infrastructure that revolves around oil exports as well as agricultural production. Contrary to Obama’s blind assurances, they’re developing into a regional power able to export their terrorism to the world stage.

For years there’s been a steady emigration from the region, primarily into Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt, and Europe. But the recent intensification of the conflict with ISIS, primarily in Syria and Iraq, has led to sudden surge in the number of people—again primarily from Syria – seeking to relocate, and has been labeled by the media as a “refugee crisis”. There’s no estimated number of how many people are seeking to relocate, as it’s an ongoing situation. Several countries have pledged to take in varied numbers of these refugees, and interestingly enough several countries in the region have decided not to take in any: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, and Oman.

Obama has pledged to import 85,000 of these refugees, with 10,000 of them to be admitted this fiscal year. In all his grand pomposity, he’s lashed out at those opposing his scheme, using terms such as “offensive” and “hysterical”. The problem for Obama is that there’s plenty to oppose in bringing those people into this country, particularly in such large numbers, and so quickly.

First, the usual screening time for approval of an entry visa is anywhere from 18 to 24 months, on an individual basis. And as we can see from Malik’s successful entry into the country, even then it’s not a foolproof system (to say the least). But what happens when the system is suddenly jammed up with tens of thousands of applicants from the same region all being entered into the system at the same time?

Gridlock, that’s what. Even the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has admitted that this is going to be very problematic. And I think we can easily assume that if these “refugees” are being rushed through the system in order to meet Obama’s political agenda, that screening will be haphazard at best.

Further, the myth that radical Muslims are a very small minority is just that: a myth. Sources vary, but the percentage of Muslims who support radical Islam is anywhere from 10% to 80% depending on locale, with the worldwide average estimated as 10% – 15%: (Breitbart) and (Answers.com).

Using an even more conservative figure of 2% to represent those who would actively participate in, or actively provide support to, terrorist acts at some point, means that for every 10,000 “refugees” we let into the country, we’re also importing 200 jihadists. Obama’s complete plan for importing 85,000 of them means we’ll be bringing in 1,700 jihadists and spreading them all around the country, a very bad idea. It strikes me as being akin to playing Russian Roulette with a fully loaded revolver.

There are those, starting right at the top with Obama, who call keeping those people out of the country “inhumane” and “racist” and “xenophobic”. Do those terms also apply to the six countries – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, and Oman – that are in the region and of the same religion that are also keeping them out? Or do they know something that Obama et al are simply failing to acknowledge?

Further, our legal immigration system has always used one primary guideline as the basis for admittance into this country: the prospective immigrant has to be able to positively contribute to our society. In whatCAIR way will these “refugees” do that? Since when did this country become a dumping ground for the planet’s dispossessed? Don’t we have enough balkanization at home already, with CAIR and #BlackLivesMatter and MALDEF other special interest groups raising a ruckus all the time at the drop of a hat? And what about the United Nations, that idol of the Left? Why aren’t they setting up some kind of “safe zone” for those people over there, in the region? Yet more proof of why they’ve earned the sobriquet “Useless Nations”.

Further, we as a country have to stop denying that Muslims as a group present a potential for violent activity unprecedented in our history. We have to face reality, and adapt to that reality. Muslims who are already in this country enjoy constitutional protections, and rightly so. Even then, as illustrated by the actions of Farook specifically, we already have a problem on our hands. The writing has been on the wall for quite a while; all one had to do was look at what was happening in Europe to see what was in store for us.

But why import even more in a large group that’s virtually impossible to screen properly? Does that make any sense whatsoever? Because once we let them into our country, they, too, enjoy constitutional protections. Better to keep them out as a preventive measure.

In Conclusion

It’s clear to me that the safety and security of this country and its people are under a concerted two-pronged attack by Obama and the Dem/socialist establishment. Whether it’s intentional or the result of sheer, willful blindness to reality I’ll leave for others to determine.

But for this country to be importing tens of thousands of people, among whom, without doubt, there will be Islamic fanatics intent on doing harm to us and our country, while at the same time crippling our ability to adequately defend ourselves, is a national disgrace.

 

©Brian Baker 2015