At the moment it is a faint object, visible only in sophisticated telescopes as a point of light moving slowly against the background stars. It doesn’t seem much – a frozen chunk of rock and ice – one of many moving in the depths of space. But this one is being tracked with eager anticipation by astronomers from around the world, and in a year everyone could know its name.Comet Ison could draw millions out into the dark to witness what could be the brightest comet seen in many generations – brighter even than the full Moon.
As a matter of fact, Gun Owners of America, cites statistics indicating guns are used 2.5 million times a year in self-defense, or around 80 times a day (other statistics estimate this number could range as low as 1.5 million, but either number is a lot!). This includes 200,000 women a year using guns to defend themselves against sexual abuse. As a matter of fact, as of 2008, armed citizens killed more violent bad guys than the police (1,527 vs. 606).
It appears George Washington had it right, when he said “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference – they deserve a place of honor with all that is good.”
What about concealed carry?
Statistics from the recent past show states that passed concealed carry reduced their murder rate by 8.5%, rapes by 5% and robbery by 3%. Florida, which passed concealed carry in 1987, saw its higher than average homicide rate drop 52% during the following 15 years after passage, to below the national average.
Over the last several days, numerous commentators have lamented the vastly different reactions in the US to the heinous shooting of children in Newtown, Connecticut as compared to the continuous killing of (far more) children and innocent adults by the US government in Pakistan and Yemen, among other places. The blogger Atrios this week succinctly observed:
"I do wish more people who manage to fully comprehend the broad trauma a mass shooting can have on our country would consider the consequences of a decade of war."
My Guardian colleague George Monbiot has a powerful and eloquent column this week provocatively entitled: "In the US, mass child killings are tragedies. In Pakistan, mere bug splats". He points out all the ways that Obama has made lethal US attacks in these predominantly Muslim countries not only more frequent but also more indiscriminate – "signature strikes" and "double-tap" attacks on rescuers and funerals – and then argues:
"Most of the world’s media, which has rightly commemorated the children of Newtown, either ignores Obama’s murders or accepts the official version that all those killed are ‘militants’. The children of north-west Pakistan, it seems, are not like our children. They have no names, no pictures, no memorials of candles and flowers and teddy bears. They belong to the other: to the non-human world of bugs and grass and tissue.
"’Are we,’ Obama asked on Sunday, ‘prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?’ It’s a valid question. He should apply it to the violence he is visiting on the children of Pakistan."
Tragically, over the Thanksgiving holiday, the world was reminded how evil and cruel people can be. According to emerging accounts of the events in India, about a dozen well-armed and devastatingly well-trained terrorists laid siege on the city of Mumbai, killing almost two hundred people, and terrorizing thousands.
Regardless of the reasons, the indiscriminate shooting on masses of unarmed and defenseless people is chilling and reprehensible. How were these terrorists able to continue so long, relatively unchallenged, killing so many?
India’s gun laws are her business, of course. However, once the shock of these events and the initial reaction of fear passes, Americans should take away a valuable lesson about real homeland security and gun control from this tragedy.
Gun control advocates tell us that removing guns from society makes us safer. If that were the case why do the worst shootings happen in gun free zones, like schools? And while accidents do happen, aggressive, terroristic shootings like this are unheard of at gun and knife shows, or military bases. It bears repeating that an armed society truly is a polite society.
The fact is that firearm technology exists. It cannot be uninvented. As long as there is metalworking and welding capability, it matters not what gun laws are imposed upon law-abiding people. Those that wish to have guns, and disregard the law, will have guns. Gun control makes violence safer and more effective for the aggressive, whether the aggressor is a terrorist or a government.
History shows us that another tragedy of gun laws is genocide. Hitler, for example, knew well that in order to enact his “final solution,” disarmament was a necessary precursor. While it is not always the case that an unarmed populace WILL be killed by their government, if a government is going to kill its own people, it MUST disarm them first so they cannot fight back. Disarmament must happen at a time when overall trust in government is high, and under the guise of safety for the people, or perhaps the children. Knowing that any government, no matter how idealistically started, can become despotic, the Founding Fathers enabled the future freedom of Americans by enacting the second amendment.
In our own country, we should be ever vigilant against any attempts to disarm the people, especially in this economic downturn. I expect violent crime to rise sharply in the coming days, and as states and municipalities are even more financially strained, the police will be even less able or willing to respond to crime. In many areas, local police could become more and more absorbed with revenue generating activities, like minor traffic violations and the asset forfeiture opportunities of non-violent drug offenses. Your safety has always, ultimately been your own responsibility, but never more so than now. People have a natural right to defend themselves. Governments that take that away from their people should be highly suspect.