Atheists are a small minority in the U.S. Advocates of gun control might be a minority in America as well. In light of the recent shootings in Aurora I am curious as to how atheists in this network view the lack of gun restrictions. There are probably divergent views.
I have trouble believing that both presidential candidates are steering away from any call for reform after the horrific mass shooting. In my opinion it is insane to allow citizens access to assault weapons that can kill scores of people in a few minutes. It was even more shocking to hear on a news show that a family had to raise money to pay for the immense hospital bills for one of the victims while they were already crippled with medical bills from the mothers fight with breast cancer.
As a Canadian I came to stand with my U.S brothers for the reason rally and freedom from religion. I would be willing to come down to the capitol and march for two other important causes. Gun control and universal health care.
The Second Amendment was enacted so that citizens could protect themselves from the government. Citizens at that time had access to the same weaponry as the armed forces. The Second Amendment was not about insuring that Americans had guns for hunting or sport. Philosophically, as a nonconformist and minority, I like this. When I see the Arab Spring, it makes me appreciate the Second Amendment and its intent.
Pragmatically, however, I have very little faith that our species will ever overcome the natural tendency towards egocentrism, and resulting short sighted, emotion based, decision making. It does seem absurd for a society to regulate marijuana, sudafed (see Jon Stewart 7/23/12), food labels, safety devices of all sorts, driving, professional practices of all sorts, and NOT strictly regulate such obviously harmful instruments as ballistic weapons.
In the big picture, the majority of adult humans make the same types of immature life decisions as children. The only difference is the complexity of their rationalizations. Religious practices are an excellent example of this. Wars are another good example. For a war to occur, the leaders must somehow convince huge numbers of people to (often unnecessarily) risk death, while the leaders themselves remain safe. Truly rational animals might be able to handle real freedom... but we ain't that.
Edward, I agree that if you can regulate all the stuff you mentioned - why can't ballistic weapons be regulated. If you go by country the stricter the gun control laws, the better the outcome for firearm related death rate. According to some stats the U.S. stands at 10.27 per 100,000. Canada is 4.78, England is .46 and Japan is .07 deaths per 100,000.
That rate I put in for Canada was for 1998 from Wikipedia. I just found an article that talks about any type of murder and it states for all of Canada in 2010:
"The homicide rate fell to 1.62 for every 100,000 population, its lowest level since 1966, the agency says."
A few of you have talked about emotional decisions. The Conservatives pushed the get tough on crime and incarcerate people for longer button and got elected in 2011 when our crime rate was on route to the lowest level since 1966. A typical tactic that unfortunately works even when the stats prove it wrong.
Those damn politicians.
Russell (and others),
The statistics on homicide rate, and on gun-related homicide rate, indeed point to America as being markedly unusual amongst industrialized societies, and in a negative sense. However, I would argue that while any life lost to violence is regrettable, the percentages even in gun-happy America are astronomically small. That the rate is 10 in 100,000 or 1 in 100,000 is not a palpable difference for the "average" person who will never personally know any victim of gun violence. Even a rate of 100 in 100,000 - while indeed abominable in terms of actual lives lost - is still too small to be felt. My point is that death due to gun crimes or even gun misuse are still pretty rare, even in America. This means that for all of the sensationalism of AR-15 mass murders, we really have bigger fish to fry. This is no consolation, of course, to parents who lost a child in the Sandy Hook tragedy, but assuredly vastly more children are lost to diseases, traffic accidents (here I go again with that analogy!) and so forth.
So just as gun ownership is a psychological issue for the gun owners, so too I would argue, gun restriction is a psychological issue for those appalled by mass private ownership of guns. Guns are neither a salvation nor an execrable horror. They're small potatoes given the other crap that we have to face daily.
I like the car analogy. Spin it out a little farther.
I have to have liability insurance on my car, and I can be sued for damages if an accident is my fault. So let's require liability insurance on guns.
I have to register my car and pay taxes on it. Ask gun owners to do the same.
Cars have to meet some 220 safety regulations to be sold in the US; many states require annual safety inspections, and drivers can be ticketed for burned out bulbs, worn tires, cracked windshields, and a dozen other things. Should guns have a few more safety devices?
I have to get a separate license endorsement for a motorcycle. Should gun owners have to get more training before buying larger caliber weapons with larger magazines?
The police can stop me without cause to see if I am sober. Gun owners?
My medication bottles have child proof caps. Does everybody have a lock on their gun?
If guns aren't dangerous, why do the police go ballistic when they see a gun, or even when they think they see a gun? If the police can't tell the difference between a bad guy with a gun and a child with a toy gun, or a shopper examining an air gun, what chance do the rest of us have?
If only Congress were the people in power. I'm not sure when the power finished the shift from the people to the corporate interests; 1980? I'd think those interests not involved in guns and war would want their consumers kept alive, but I guess that's not a priority.
Venting in a most informative way, Craig. Thanks.
Yeah, many of us find it convenient to ignore that we descended from pond scum.
Even some atheists cling to the myth that we are better than that.
Indeed, just as generations having suffered massive injustices such as aborigines or black people in S.Africa need several generations to get over the shit their parents lived through, similarly I think it will think several generations of atheists within families to get rid of engrained religious thinking, even though people call themselves atheists. There is so much about culture that is taken for granted, people forget that culture is not made up of absolutes, not innate, but everything that a human is is taught by it's parents first, then it's peers later on. So as each generation of atheists divests itself of biased ideologies ingrained in them by their, eventually, after a few generations, it is possible that a significant percentage of atheists will have that "freedom" that a "truly rational" animal would have... so we'll have to wait at least a hundred years before we see that happen.
Changes to existing laws should be, to the greatest extent possible, rational rather than emotional. This would seem reason enough for lawmakers to tread lightly during the heat of a highly charged recent event. The PATRIOT act is an example of opportunistic policy shapers manipulating an emotionally vulnerable public and their representatives. I favor greater regulation of firearms, but don't want to see it shoved through for irrational reasons even if that might be a win for "my side". At minimum, we need general consensus on legitimate research to understand whether legislation is likely to achieve the desired effect. Then we various contingents can argue from firm footing over the desirability of the effect. There will of course be issues founded primarily in morality – abolition of slavery for example – that are not amenable to a purely rational cost/benefit analysis. In these cases we can still rationally asses the basis of these moral assumptions. Authoritarian arguments along the line of “God’s law” are obviously insufficient in a modern free society, and so are claims of libertarian gut feeling (often misidentified as “natural law”). Both belong to our discarded past of unsophisticated tribalism, though vestiges are still force-fit into our ongoing experiment in civilization.
Ted and Edward this site needs a 'like' button function, some great points in those posts. Edward you mentioned the cold medication regulations, I can't tell you how many times in recent years I have gone to the drugstore feeling absolutely horrible (allergies exacerbated by colds and flu) and had to jump through those ridiculous hoops all the while cursing under my breath while showing my license and signing their idiot screen... all because they want to control what we 'choose' to ingest, rather than control the things which cause mass environmental harm or have the potential to be used as WMD's....talk about your knee jerk reactionary legislative decisions....