Guns don’t kill people, societal rage does…


(Promoted from the comments on our post about gun laws and angry people. DJ discusses the growing and nasty divides in this country which threaten our unity, compounded and made worse by the already unhinged becoming violent. Is societal rage becoming the norm?)

That societal rage is exactly the issue. Outlawing fertilizer (yeah, you can’t buy potassium nitrate at the feed store in town anymore) didn’t stop bombings. The gun restrictions proposed won’t stop mass shootings, much less murders as a whole. Only 4% of gun crimes are committed with rifles of any variety, and a smaller subset (sources differ) are committed with assault weapons. So we already know going in that banning assault weapons will have a miniscule impact. Will it stop mass shootings? Hardly. Anyone remember Virginia Tech? A backpack full of America’s favorite weapon (9 mm handgun) will do the job.

Bob is spot-on – it’s the rage. Drive the freeway in LA and you’ll find it’s not limited to lone gunmen – they are just the ones who boil over.

Why are we enraged? How about this: of all the industrialized countries, we are the one with the most promise and the least delivered. Dismal health care, plummeting education, inadequate retirement, and all this despite a combined tax burden that can exceed 60%. Our dollar s being inflated away by the folks in Washington. Our jobs are going overseas. We’re not trained to start our own businesses. And we can’t vote for change, because both parties like things the way they are.

But it’s not just that. Our electronic society has driven us away from each other, not closer together. We spend more time online than with real people. And we’re fed a steady diet of divisive speech by the media. “They” are the problem. Left or right, take your pick. It’s the gun nuts. It’s the gun control nuts. And we, as individuals, are nurtured not in democracy, but in blame.

There is a solution, but the federal government can’t enact it, because it is part of the poisoned system that made it this way. Change comes only at the community level, one person talking to another, building bridges, and replacing blame with participation. That’s a tough road, but it can be done – I’ve seen it in one of the most divided countries in the world. If they can do it in Sri Lanka, we can do it here. (But then, Sri Lanka has national health care, too, and we still can’t pull that one off.)


  1. Of course there is rage, perhaps it is because, even subconsciously, the American people now realise that “the American dream” was an illusion, it was a con, perpetrated by the corporate world. It never did reach all Americans and it is doubtful if it ever reach a majority of the American people. It was propaganda that kept everybody beavering away with the selfish desire that they were going to make it big time. They were going to get up the ladder higher than others and accrue more than others. A little bit of rationalism would have told them, that can’t happen to everybody, so the dream was flawed from its inception. On the matter of guns, my only question is, what are guns for? There only purpose is to kill, that is what they were designed to do, they are not fashion adornments, they surely aren’t status symbols. Somewhere in the psyche of gun lovers there must be some link with the guns only purpose. Of course simply banning guns will not stop murders and massacres, but turning away from the love of guns might change that psyche.

    ann arky

    • Much of the gun stuff, especially in the American West, is because the gun owners don’t trust the government. This is crucial to understanding what it’s all about.

      • For the record, neither did our founders. They considered a standing army a threat to liberty, and saw an armed populace as the only lever of the populace to prevent eventual tyranny. Right or wrong, that was their view.

        Those of us who lived in Los Angeles in 1992 saw one aspect of the 2nd Amendment in action: when law and order failed, in some neighborhoods the only businesses that weren’t burned were those protected by their owners with very visible firearms. Photos of Korean businessmen on their roofs with assault rifles and (in some cases) flack jackets made news around the world. Someone want to explain again why Americans don’t need assault rifles?

        I listened to a portion of Obama’s speech on guns. He said, at one point, that if even one life can be saved, that we must take these steps. Which demonstrates clearly, I think, that even the administration can read statistics, and knows that banning assault weapons would not even cut gun deaths by 4%. We’re being primed to allow yet another infringement of our liberties based on a specious argument. Does the Constitution get thrown out to save one life? Can they outlaw cheeseburgers because heart disease is America’s biggest killer? Or cars, which are sixth? Then how does that logic apply to guns, which in 2011 didn’t even make the Top 15. It’s an emotional argument that serves political ends, not a logical one.

        I am amazed not that Westerners don’t trust our government, but that despite the evidence, so many other do. As we slide further into what by definition can only be described as fascism – the blending of corporate and government interests – and as our “democratic” government throws out habeus corpus and shreds the 1st, 4th, and 10th Amendments to the Constitution in a seemingly inexorable slide toward authoritarianism, do we dare to disagree with our founders as our leaders turn their attention to the 2nd?

        • Your founding fathers supported an armed Militia – not gun nuts.

          • That armed militia was made up of every citizen in the community, who were expected to be (and were, due to the needs of the times) armed.

            Based on that model, and living as I do in a place where firearms are an essential tool, I would suggest that I am not a “gun nut.” A firearm put to its intended use kills a predator – usually of the 4-footed variety. And yes, I’ve had to. I raise goats and chickens on the edge of the wilderness. People who work for me are expected to be able to handle a rifle, because predators don’t check to make sure there’s someone home who knows how to shoot them. If my workers don’t know or aren’t comfortable, I train them to use and respect a firearm. It’s required for the safety of livestock and people.

            BTW, my state has one of the highest rates of gun ownership in the country, yet one of the lowest rates of gun violence per capita. Contrast that with CA or DC, which have far fewer guns and far more gun violence per capita. There’s more to it than just the availability of guns.

  2. I don’t trust the government, I never have trusted the government, but I don’t want to have a load of guns in my house.

  3. Guns are tools that kill people when someone who has them uses them for the intended purpose.

    Putting highly effective killing tools in reach of the enraged is just plain dumb.

    Reduced gun availability results in lower death rates – the evidence exists for this.

    I don’t live in the US I live in a country where we made a reduction in gun violence by reducing the number of guns, but where the availability of guns is increasing and the gun violence is going up accordingly. Time we fixed it again and probably will.

    US could too if the paranoid don’t win out.

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