After the recent gun attrocities in America involving the killing of so many 6 year old children, the people of America are once again forced to open the debate on the highly protected 2nd amendment. One side is calling for the abolition of assault weapons whilst the pro gunners are calling for even more guns, to the point of installing an armed guard in every one of the 100,000 schools in the USA.
I'm with you on this subject.It is very easy to be shocked by an event in an other country and subsequently condemning it for creating the circumstances that allowed it to happen. Mostly because you think these circumstances don't exist there where you life. In the US you have people killed by gun-violence, in France for example each year entire families get wiped out due to a "drame familial"... so we're going to ban marriages in France as of January 1st? Point is that every country has it's (non-)certified nut-cases who are capable to organize themselves in such a way that they can do what they want to do. No law, regulation or whatever will stop them and it's got nothing to do neither with the economic state, an out-dated constitution etc.
Almost to underline mental illness and gun control, on Christmas eve,
Police: NY gunman set a trap for firefighters before killing self -- An ex-con set a car and a house ablaze in his lakeside neighborhood to lure firefighters, then opened fire on them, killing two, engaging in a shootout with police and committing suicide while several homes burned. Authorities used an armored vehicle to evacuate the area.The gunman fired at the four firefighters when they arrived shortly after 5:30 a.m. at the blaze in Webster, a suburb of Rochester on Lake Ontario.
I did not write the article, Ian Welsh did -- nevertheless, I see a different US in the deep south. Florida is for the most part, NYC south. It is not unusual to see or hear a gun battle between 2 rival drug gangs - with Automatic weapons everyday around here or in New York City, Los Angeles,Chicago and Washington. Drug and gang wars are understandable from a rational point of view. From all accounts the shooter's murdered mother was a fine, upstanding educated woman: she just collected semi-automatic assault weapons for target practice with the grandkids.While no nation is immune from mental illnesses, the additional pressures in the USA may be the trigger that causes some to irrationally act out against innocent children.
Bruce is there not always two sides to every argument as the barest minimum, there are as many as one could wish for without them becoming too many, but total consensus would mean silent totalitarianism anywhere. Thus the dichotomy begins with the notion that what he is writing is absolute gospel truth and ends with the conclusion that everything is not OK. The left right dichotomy that you see there is rather a fey description to a European leftist. I have been in the USA and seen none of the violence, but certainly poverty. Economics will never explain everything but contribute to more than meets the eye. Mental health, now there is a whole lot of open questions. What has been said about Adam Lanza has put a finger on autism, there is no evidence since an autopsy cannot come up with that magically, and anyway people should know that autism is not per se a condition that produces violent people at all. He may have had some other kind of mental illness, but we shall never know. Let's drop words like evil, they serve no useful purpose. To dismiss something as leftist prattle is no more useful. His analysis might be right. In tone, what Welsh wrote is certainly not left wing by any criteria I understand, but maybe by refuseniks who see things differently and even uncompromisingly. So let us not call it anti-USA.
What is wrong is that the USA has none of its original mission left. It is a country with an immense dream that the thirteen states turned into a constitution. It was pure Enlightenment, the adoption in the passage of the USA's of Enlightenment philosophers' and political activists' ideas, Paine, Rousseau and so on, are exactly those Marx, Weber and a few others so disliked in the USA used. Now the right brands ideas anti-constitutional or commie if they do not like them and liberalism fares no better. That is unbelievable when retracing the steps of US history. No, you should not be an easy target but it is the opposition to liberalism that social democratic Europeans find hard to understand and the gun issue is one of those, at least the pro-gun lobby and its impact on law making. We also see some of the right wing politicians, especially the hardcore bible bashers and their entire demeanour comes over as fanaticism without rationality. What should we see from outside other than a nation that has become a demagogy that tells the world how it should be then does contradictory things inside its own boundaries. The USA is only one of the American nations between the Arctic and Antarctic, it is globally becoming the least popular. Does that not mean time to 'look in the mirror', then think again? As South American friends often said to me, in the USA they call themselves America, they are not, but they are Americans like us but so very different and cannot see why we cannot be as they are. Perhaps the USA actually needs to see how and who they are becoming.
Nobody wishes to knock the USA, certainly not I, I as happily know every damned country for its bad sides, always have and always will. I wish the USA well, but as it sometimes says in school reports 'needs to do better.'
For the last 25 years or so, the right has set the narrative in the US while the left has rolled over and played dead. However, it is good to occasionally be reminded that a leftist nincompoop is no more helpful. This is one of the most remarkable loads of nonsense I've read in a long time.
Again, if your aim is simply to bash the U.S., fine, then you don't really need to compile much evidence to support your argument. In fact you don't have to do anything but sit back and wait for the next unhappy event that supports your worldview. Americans will be happy to provide you everything you need.
The gun culture in America cannot be reasonably defended so let's get that out of the way. Mass shootings happen more often in the US than anywhere else in the world because there are plenty of weapons and they are easy to buy. This is not likely to change in the lifetime of anyone now alive. One could build a the case that it represents a serious flaw in American society and many in the US would agree with you. This piece, however, is so ridiculous that it's difficult to know where to begin.
1) Name a country in the world not under economic pressure. By this logic 4 years ago things should have been even worse.
2) Again, this could describe every country, and at least for someone, every job on earth and that it represents a possible cause of mass killings is beyond stupid.
3) You'll get no argument from me that Americans are over-medicated. But this argument reminds me of an episode of the Simpsons in which Chief Wiggins' explanation for criminal behavior was that people were "all hepped up on goof balls".
4) This statement is profoundly ridiculous on it's face and if you're inclination is to believe it, nothing I say is going to change your mind. It is simply a load of leftist prattle.
5) All I can say is, "Okay, if you say so". I'm actually surprised he didn't throw in something about obesity and gas-guzzling cars for good measure.
"First, enact gun control." Damn, this is so simple! Why didn't anyone think of it before?
I was not aware that mental illness the result of society. I knew there were some possible environmental causes but I had thought genetics also played a role. Scientologists have much the same view of mental illness and drugs. Maybe we should all read L.Ron Hubbard.
The only sensible thing this guy says is that the truth is somewhere in between. The rest is just anti-American stupidity. What, no comparisons to the Nazis?
This is my solution. It makes more sense but is no more likely to happen than anything Ian Welsh suggests.
1. Give all the right wing crazies, gun nuts and other assorted loonies and their followers who are currently ruining the US the states of the former Confederacy. This won't require a lot of shifting of people since this is where most of them are anyway.
2. This time the rest of us not only allow them to secede, we actually demand it.
3. Get them to build a wall around their new country. They probably won't need any encouraging.
I could not let this pass without comment. There are things wrong in and with America. It is not a perfect society and never will be. The consequences of too many guns are part of that. There are things about the States that are difficult to explain and even more difficult to understand, even to an American. I can't and won't defend the gun culture. Americans are too quick to wrap themselves in the flag and we could do with a few less religious fanatics. But this is Yank bashing purely for the sake of it. We're an easy target. We can't move that fast anymore because our food is full of high fructose corn syrup. We're 5 percent of the world's population that use 25 percent of it's energy and we're too quick to throw our weight around. Okay, I got it.
Now, if you have any helpful suggestions, apart from eating less and getting more exercise, I'd be happy to hear them.
By the way, can someone please tell me how to set the auto-correct to American?
Sorry all, fat fingers.
Actually, it is Ian Welsh. See: http://www.ianwelsh.net/on-killing-sprees/
Yes Chris, well said. Just a note, Switzerland used to have every man with a gun at home. My nephew made the choice of doing civil duties instead of military, pushing half of all men do the same. Those who do no military training but the occasional civil duty such as a period of fire service, ambulance crew and other similar things never hold a weapon, let alone take it home. In fact, women now volunteer for military duty and get the gun. It is kept for a limited time, well within military age, is a fairly conventional breech loaded carbine albeit a modern one. There are many more hunters proportionately than most other countries as well. They are allowed one weapon at home, further ones they own are kept by their club. Conditions for weapon holding by hunters and military service are more or less the same. The regulation of how and where a firearm may be kept, plus the inspection of those aspects of keeping it at home, are regular and strict. Ammunition is minimal and not available over a shop counter legally for military weapons. It would appear that strict regulation works given how low the firearms fatality figures are for Switzerland and how rarely those are with legitimately kept weapons.
Extraordinarily, despite being a country with a large pharmaceutical industry, Switzerland is also a country with a low proportion of people on the drugs you mention. One of the reasons we do not live there is that health care is probably more expensive than almost anywhere else in the world. It certainly makes the USA look cheap. The public health offer for the 'poor', yes they do have them, is limited to next to nothing. However, where there is a need such as in the case of mental health and disability, the state provides it unconditionally and without payment. As few pharma-products as possible are used and therapies of other kinds encouraged and provided. The services are coordinated nationally. It may be a small country, but the cantonal system makes them all but self-governing and the federal government has far less authority over the country than the US government. So those denominators should add up to something similar but because of the checks and controls, plus cohesive networks of information on health provision they do not.
There are problems. Domestic violence - mainly men against female partners and some extreme punishment of children. However, the punishments for these offences are consequent and the future of offenders, male or female, very uncertain. Finding a job or accommodation, even buying a house, with a criminal record for violence is not at all easy. Little of that is ever any form of armed violence, least of all firearms being used to wound or kill. Compared to violence against the person in the USA it is small beer statistically. That also says something, I think.
On children, if we could have afforded to live in Switzerland and had my wife felt she could live in the restrictive social environment she grew up in in able to do so, then our children's health and education would have been far better than here or the USA, but more so their treatment as human beings would have been different. Neither would have been likely to grow up to be an Adam Lanza because the checks and balances in their favour would have largely eliminated it. Two federal systems, two high concentrations of fire arm holding and also as politically at odds with itself internally and culturally. However one does not have the problems the other has although it has the underlying tensions, particularly amongst the four language groups (never forget the oppressed Rumantsch minority), religious divisions (original Zwinglian protestantism is fanatical and still exists in some cantons) within Protestantism and Catholic populations plus a Germanic and Latin divide.
So, yes agreeing with the way you put it Chris, but raising a question then about why it went down that path by making the Swiss comparison? The NRA issue would be dealt with the Swiss way if the were public referendums on all major political issues, where the people's decision makes law and not some kind of congressional committee that is in a no win situation because lobby groups block it. If the polls are right, then with a referendum the USA would have enough of a majority to introduce stricter controls without the kind of unbeneficial negotiation that will now dilute it and NOT resolve anything. Early amendments to the constitution fell into place easily, today they do not. The USA needs to push the clock back in that respect and put governance back in the hands of its people, not an elite who are driven by the worst capitalist motives. The USA just needs those little finishing touches to bring back people to the process the Swiss have, then social cohesion is another problem but perhaps if the paranoia that seems to pervade in parts of the USA stop being the prevalent force, that will regenerate.
The two most important things to understand are that gun control would reduce harm significantly, and that gun control is a palliative for a sick culture. The US does have more guns than anyone else, but countries like Finland have a pile of guns and people don’t kill nearly as many innocents with them. Likewise every military age male in Switzerland has an assault rifle, and they don’t have killing sprees.
The first point first, China has people who go on sprees with knives. In fact there was one just recently in a school, 23 students were injured. That’s sad, but not one of them died. Not one. Guns make violence far, far more deadly. Reducing gun availability won’t stop attacks. It will reduce how deadly they are.
The key points of leverage on harm reduction are reducing clip sizes, getting rid of automatics and semi-automatics and radically restricting ammunition purchases. Likewise soft-target ammunition – bullets intended to fragment, and hollow point ammunition need to go away. These bullets have no purpose but to kill civilians. You don’t use them against military or paramilitary targets because they suck against body armor. As such they have no place, even if you believe in a 2nd Amendment “fight the government” argument. If you’re fighting the government, you’ll want ammo that can pierce body armor.
The second point is that America has far more of these attacks than anyone else. This is because America:
1) is under economic pressure. The more people who are in economic trouble, the more attacks.
2) has jobs which are intensely unpleasant, with the asshole boss being the norm. Don’t tell me otherwise.
3) has a startling rise in diagnosed mental illness, and a startling rise in the use of psychoactive medications whose effects we don’t really understand. In particular, there has been a massive increase in the drugging of young children (males are who we care about in this context) with amphetamines and dextro-Amphetamines, officially starting as young as 3 years old, and unofficially, earlier. Long term use of amphetamines is associated with psychotic breaks and violence, this is not in question, we have a TON of historical evidence. You cannot keep people constantly on amphetamines and not expect these sort of eruptions.
4) The increase in mental illness and medication is in large part because life in America is extraordinarily unpleasant. You live in a militarized surveillance society with no guaranteed health care and with a job market that doesn’t provide enough jobs for those who need it, allowing bosses to treat those who do have jobs like shit, and executives to take virtually all productivity gains for themselves. The economic model is to pile debt on consumers to create rental streams, but constant debt payments put people under major psychological pressure, all the time.
5) People are suffering an epidemic of chronic physical diseases on top of this.
You cannot have a pressure cooker society which is also militarized and swimming in guns. You simply cannot.
First step, enact gun control. Second step, stop treating your fellow Americans like shit and stop medicating young children (and everyone else) with record amounts of psychoactive chemicals. There are only two possibilities: either that many Americans really are mentally ill, or they aren’t. In either case, the solution isn’t to medicate them. It is to figure out what about your society is making them ill.
Actually, the truth will be somewhere between. More people are mentally ill because of your society, but not as many as are medicated. People have to be medicated to function in American society because it requires unpleasant and unnatural behaviour, virtually all the time. School and work both require people to act in ways that normal, healthy, unmedicated individuals find hard to sustain. Add to that the fact that social ties have, over the last 60 years, absolutely collapsed, leaving most people with almost no friend or close family, and people need to drug themselves to get through their day. They are sicks, scared and lonely. And at the very edges of this, the occasional person cracks, goes ballistic and kills a lot of people.
Best explaination I have read and its by Ian Walsh.
This will probably be more information than you require, but the Second Amendment to the US Constitution was intended for national defense and came about, mainly, as a result of the founders' aversion to standing armies. The opening battles of the revolution at Lexington and Concord happened because regular army troops were sent to confiscate the arms and ammunition of the colonists in Massachusetts. So the original Americans were supposed to keep an appropriate weapon and be available to serve in the militia.
And the National Rifle Association was instrumental in passing some restrictive firearms regulations in the 1930's. A lot of Americans have the same questions as you.
Phallustutional measures? Could be the answer...
I am an American. I am a former police officer and retired FBI Agent and one of my collateral duties was as a firearms instructor. A handgun was part of my daily life for nearly 30 years. The only reason I mention all this is, I suppose, is to emphasis that I think I know a bit about the subject. To be honest, I hesitate to add to this discussion if for no other reason than I don't wish to wade through the inevitable anti-Americanism that this subject especially seems to provoke.
I cannot, however, explain any of this you without writing a book. Nobody can. I don't understand it myself but do have my own theories which, admittedly, tend to be a bit simplistic. But the gun culture in America is so embedded that it is permanent and anyone who heard the NRA press conference, if you can call it that, might reasonably come to the conclusion that the problem of gun violence in the US is unsolvable.I know I do. I did not come to France for any reason other than I like it here but have to admit that I am relieved to no longer have to worry about people with guns.
Ironically, among American law enforcement officers, I am in the minority view despite policeman being more at risk from firearms violence than almost any other group. It defies logic.
Somewhere in this thread is posted a link to the comments to an article in the Washington Post. This is one of Americas most respected newspapers yet if one were to base their conclusions solely on the comments to just about any article in the post, the inescapable conclusion is the America contains more than its share of ignoramuses. I would point out, however, that there seems to be no shortage in the UK or France, either.
My own opinion is that there are now two separate and distinct Americas. One sane and reasonable and open to compromise, like we're supposed to be and the other, well, they're why Rupert Murdoch is filthy rich.
And guns? In essence, men dominate the argument and everything with men, the world over, boils down to a penis measuring contest. Firearms, like cars, money, you name it, are an extender. Unfortunately for the US, this one is written into the Constitution.
It's not going to be easy to get Americans to give up their guns. Read the comments after this article from todays Washington Post http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/put-armed-police-officers-in-every-school-nra-head-says/2012/12/21/9ac7d4ae-4b8b-11e2-9a42-d1ce6d0ed278_story.html?tid=pm_poli
Since they'll be busy avoiding paying taxes, they won't notice...
I meant credibility and respect to the 'bow down before USA' world, but I guess you say it for your compatriots too.
Americans seem to be suffering from a form of mass paranoia where the terrorists are their fellow countrymen. I've had my fill of the NRA's slogans -guns don't kill, people do and guns save lives. Right! Explain that to the parents of the Children of Sand Hook Elementary School. It's a sick society where people think that it would be good to have an armed policeman in every school. I agree with Dave Pearce up to a certain point. 911 and the Bush years and Fox News have done something to the American mentality. Americans like me, who are against lax gun laws are said to be unpatriotic or worse liberal but we do exist and our voices are beginning to be heard.
"if they do not do so they will lose credibility and a lot of respect."
Too late, I'm afraid that's already happened. They lost mine a long time ago electing one warmongering president after another and then bullying other western countries into joining them in their "war on terror".
While the populace sits zombie-like in front of their plasma TVs the government systematically removes their rights and freedoms one by one. Too many nutters, too many guns.
The president of the NRA, the lobby group for gun owners, is asking the government to legislate for having armed guards at every school. Is that not violence begets violence? That way anybody wishing to do the same again will shoot their way in and then people will be killed and injured anyway. There are plenty of other 'soft' targets, old people's homes, maternity hospitals and so on. Or then there is the other variant, a large, packed shopping mall. Perhaps the assailants would simply dress themselves up with high explosives as 'terrorists' have done. Lots of shooting, then kaboom, or if a bullet hits them kaboom anyway. So checks like airports everywhere? Time and money when the USA is not at its most bountiful. Probably not.
Not only is the situation as it stands eroding their basic freedoms in the USA alongside the atrocities, but it also has no rationale whatsoever. Unless the legislators tell the pro-gun lobby to get lost and ban all but a minimal number of entirely necessary weapons, this kind of event will not end. The USA needs the courage to look inwardly and critically for once and act assertively instead of telling the rest of the world what is right and wrong because as much as anything else, if they do not do so they will lose credibility and a lot of respect.