Guns, Gun Control and Fear in America
Why Americans need to fear a future full of guns, instead of one without them
Guns, and Fear. This time on the Cross Section
In addition to stores, there’s a multitude of regulated websites that make it easy to legally buy guns across the country.
Additionally, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a team of city officials uncovered the ease with which someone could illegally buy firearms, with no background check, from second-hand dealers and unregulated websites.
Bloomberg’s team showed that in addition gun show loop holes that allowed illegal sales, one could easily buy a firearm off Craigslist, for the price of an ipod.
These second hand sales of guns often circumvent already lax laws that are in place across the country.
If you want a gun, you can get a gun. They’re out there. Everywhere.
There are well over 270,000,000 total civilian firearms in the United States, with the gun industry churning out thousands more each year.
Not surprisingly the U.S. ranks first in the world in gun ownership. If the production and import of guns stopped at this moment, we could still arm every man and woman of voting age and have hundreds of thousands of weapons and ammunition left to stockpile.
Now, in 1994 congress passed a significant piece of gun control legislation called the Federal Assault Weapons Ban.
It barred the importing or manufacturing of a multitude of semi-automatic weapons for use by civilians, including a gun called the AR-15. The AR-15 was one of four guns reportedly used by James Holmes in the recent Aurora Colorado movie theater massacre.
It’s modeled after the U.S. army's M-16 Automatic weapon. How did he get ahold of one since it’s illegal? Well it's no longer illegal. That weapons ban was allowed to expire in September 13, 2004, as part of the law's sunset provision.
There’ve been many attempts to renew the ban, but it's stalled in committee. The ’94 legislation also banned high-capacity magazines, that feed large numbers of bullets into a gun. The legal number of bullets in a given magazine became 10.
Police assert James Holmes had a 100-round drum magazine clipped into his Smith & Wesson semi-automatic rifle, he used to kill and maim innocent civilians in the Colorado movie theater.
He reportedly had legally purchased 2 Glock hand guns, the aforementioned AR15 assault rifle and a shot gun to do his killing.
In the 2011 Tuscon shooting that ended U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords poitical career and nearly her life, Jared Lee Loughner, was accused of shooting his Glock 19 into a crowd of people, killing six and injuring many others.
His gun was loaded with a 33 round magazine. Both Holmes’ and Loughner’s magazines would have been illegal, had the Federal Assault Weapons ban still been in place.
The reported 6000 rounds of ammunition James Holmes stockpiled for his killing spree is far from abnormal. The amount is so ordinary it sent up no red flags to law enforcement.
And to be clear, there are thousands of men and women who have 6,000 rounds sitting on their shelves at home who will never walk into a theater and commit mass murder.
It’s the combination of that quantity of ammunition and the ease of access to said ammunition that gave a mentally ill James Holmes the ability to murder so many.
If you buy bulk from a gun show or one of the plethora of websites that encourage super-sizing ammo orders, an individual bullet, costs less than a quarter.
Each and every one of them designed to take a life, or practice doing so.
In some states you can pick up gallon of milk and some shotgun shells at the same grocery store. There are enough bullets that already exist in the U.S. to kill every man, woman and child in this great country of ours, and still have literally tons to spare.
The truth is gun violence is good for business.
The gun selling business. In Colorado, between Thursday night’s shooting and Sunday, background checks for people wanting to buy firearms was up 43 percent from the previous week.
After the 2011 Tuscon shooting, sales in Arizona skyrocketed 60 percent while the nation saw a 5 precent increase during the same period.
But the record for gun purchases was broken in 2009 after President Obama was elected.
Many conspiracy theories suggest that in a second term, with nothing to lose, President Obama will finally implement his master plan of nefarious gun control, so look for gun sales to continue to soar in the coming months.
Fear is the organizing principle around guns.
Gun owners will tell you, that on some level they fear for their safety and so amass arms. They wish to transfer their fear onto their adversaries through the ownership of said gun.
But gun fear isn't binary. It flows much deeper.
Congressmen and Senators are afraid of the gun lobby, so they don’t push back with legislation. You wont hear much from either President Obama or Mitt Romney this election season about the renewing assault weapons ban.
And surprisingly, gun companies themselves, who’s business has been in a steady decline over the past thirty years, fear for their future.
But a future full of guns, not void of them, is really what America should fear.
Where do we think we’re headed should we keep up our internal arms proliferation to fight our cold war within?
Fear isn’t what made the United States of America great. Courage did. And Courage is what we have to marshal if we’re to find our footing.
In the Aurora shooting alone we lost a tiny child, students, men, women and active duty military.
Some of them showed extraordinary courage in the face of gunfire while trying to save others.
Their courage made more powerful because of, not in spite of, being unarmed.
We have to muster our own national courage to deal with these big issues in mature ways, because more guns will only beget more guns and fear more fear.
And in the the words of FDR “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
This is the Cross Section.