I’ve been commenting on threads about the latest Fort Hood shooting, which has been frustrating. You can say that guns don’t kill people.. people don’t kill people! That someone with the intent to kill, will. I agree in part. However, guns sure make it a lot easier. It makes it easier to intimidate, to commit a crime without ever even having to shoot the gun, or even to just kill someone by accident. The reality is, 30,000 people die a year by gun deaths, and 1,100 died by stabbings. It’s just not the same. America has higher rates of violence than any other developed country, and in cities like Detroit, the murder rate is higher than a country at war. This is not ok.
There are many reasons why crime occurs, and there are many solutions which must take place simultaneously. Some of this is policy, and some of this is cultural. I grew up in a family that owned guns, and being taken on hunting trips for moose, antelope, elk, deer.. my uncle and cousin are the type of people who brought guns into our latest camping trip to the Grand Canyon, just because they could. While for me personally, owning a gun is not important to me, the people I know and love are the people being described in the news as gun nuts. However, I also had to take hunter’s safety when I was 12. I was raised around not only a culture of guns, but a respect and a healthy fear of them, and the importance of safety. The guns are locked when not in use. Owning a gun is a responsibility.
It’s time to wake up America. We do have a gun problem, and this requires a massive cultural change, as well as policy change. You may have the legal right to own a gun, and it’s a personal obligation, not a policy obligation to keep this out of the hands of your family and keep the community safe. This is about not walking into the community with your gun on your hip just because you can. Gun owners don’t need to intimidate and frighten people who don’t like guns. It’s your right to have one, use it responsibly. No parent wants to see their child get into their gun cabinet and accidentally shoot their sibling. No parent wants to hear on the news that their kid stole their gun and went on a shooting rampage at school. There are so many tragic cases of misuse of weapons that no national policy is going to fix, or mental health expert is going to be able to intercept. So be more responsible. Lock your guns up. Not only in cabinets, but put a gun lock on them as well. People need to have more respect for guns.
Gun owners should also speak out for sensible policy changes. It makes them look crazy when it’s against the law to have a national registry of weapons. The US not only has a crime problem, we have a problem with the internationally trafficked weapons trade, which allows weapons to stream across our borders and into the hands of the highest bidder. Gun stores only sell about 60 percent of guns. The rest are bought at gun shows or illegally, with these numbers only being best estimates because it’s hard to pin down percentages within a thriving black market. You have to register your car and get a license plate for it, yet doing the same with a deadly weapon is so unimaginable? I don’t think most people are against this, yet the large lobby’s like the NRA have a loud voice and are speaking on behalf of people everywhere.
And yes, there are confounding issues of mental health, poverty, drugs, the cycle of crime, that contribute to higher crime rates and gun deaths. Just one solution is not going to work, we need to tackle crime in America from many angles. We are the most violent developed country. Let’s fix it.