We need a world with fewer guns, more reason and a balanced set of priorities.

We could use a world with more reason

Here in the US we are yet again reeling from another mass killing, this time in an elementary school.  As I click around on Facebook, Twitter and on various blogs I find a wide array of responses to the tragedy in Connecticut, some more resonant with my feelings than others.

Two responses of which I took particular note dovetailed in that they both reference a video that has gone viral.  Both Brother Richard and Brian Dalton (Mr. Deity) refer to Bryan Fischer’s reaction which blames schools for “kicking God out.”  He argues that “God is a gentleman and does not go where he is not welcomed and invited.”  I wonder where he was in 1994 in Rwanda. A church filled with nearly 1000 believers was left filled with corpses over three bloody days, sadly only an exclamation point on a 100 day, 800,000 person genocide.  I also wonder where he is while children are molested by priests.

Yes, yesterday there was a horrible event in the US that led to the deaths of 20 young boys and girls, but according to UNICEF “research and experience show that six million of the almost 11 million children who die each year could be saved by low-tech, evidence-based, cost-effective measures such as vaccines, antibiotics, micronutrient supplementation, insecticide-treated bed nets and improved family care and breastfeeding practices.”

Doing the math, that means over 16,000 children also died yesterday in what could be called “genocide by neglect.”  Simple question:  why do we ignore 16,000 and at the same time have saturation coverage of 20?  Why will we come to know the names and faces of the victims in suburban Connecticut but rarely if ever learn the stories of the thousands that die each day unnoticed?

We need a world with fewer guns, more reason and a balanced set of priorities.

Note:  This is cross-listed on www.servingatheists.org

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Comment by jay H on December 16, 2012 at 9:06am
A world with more reason isn't going to change incidents like this, because these are extreme outliers. 99.999% of the population would never do such a thing, so unless you can magically modify the minds of the last of the unbalanced few, it won't change anything.

Nor will a gizillion new laws change anthing (hint: murder is already illegal) though politicians need to demonstrate they're 'doing something'.
Comment by James Kz on December 16, 2012 at 5:06am

Rwanda was a long way from the USA and it was government policy to ignore what was going on there. (Bill Clinton has said he regrets that decision.) The alternative, of course, would have been to send in military forces with much larger guns. And note the vast majority of deaths in the Rwanda genocide were perpetrated with machetes.

Newtown is in the USA, in a state with very-restrictive gun laws.

We are left with a conundrum: you cannot uninvent guns. Moreover, aside from the obvious fear factor (you have to buy a gun for self-defence, a staple of the NRA), there are other legitimate reasons for guns. Particularly if like me you live in such a rural area that there is actually dangerous wildlife (and domestic animals), there is no "animal control" and even the sheriff is nearly twenty miles away. There have been cougars reported in the next county over.

Tourists travelling through to other places dump dogs off here, that then become feral. Raccoons can get as big as buses apparently. (Shoot I saw a squirrel yesterday that was as large as a chihuahua.) There is legitimate sport target shooting, and legitimate hunting.

Everyone in this village owns a gun. The last crime reported here was in 1933, when the sheriff broke up an illegal poker game in a boxcar on the siding.

(It was noted on the BBC yesterday that for a number of years, the UK had such restrictive gun laws that Olympic athletes had to go to other countries to practice shooting.)

Note too, that on the same day as the Newtown shootings, a man went through a school in the PRC and wielding a knife went through about as many children. There have been numerous such attacks in China this year. No press about it here. Because it is not here.

On the other hand, the rest of the world in their various press outlets are fascinated by our seemingly insane gun laws. Yet Norway, one of the most restrictive in the EU, generated Anders Brevik.

Switzerland on the other hand, where practically every male is required to own a gun, has virtually no gun crime.

As I mentioned on my own blog, the politicos and NRA will argue "now is not the time to have this discussion." But if not now, when? When is the right time, when people are killed every day with guns (and drunks with cars, and baseball bats, and knives, and bombs). The problem is not the method of killing (though arguably a gun can do it quicker than a knife, a bomb can do it quicker than a gun).

The problem is killing. Unfortunately, there are already people saying that "the fellow must have been mentally unstable." That paints mental patients further into the stigma that they are dangerous, and make such people more likely not to seek help (for fear of stigma).

We do not know the fellow's mental state. Unless some psychiatrist comes out and says, "Yeah I was his therapist and this nut case was crazy as a loon," we do not know his motivations for this act - because he is dead and cannot tell us.

As long as there has been life on earth there has been killing - we are just more efficient than most other animals.

But the real question is when are we going to have this discussion? Those in favour of gun ownership, and those opposed to it, are about as far apart as the abortion debate, shouting empty rhetoric at each other. Until there is reasoned discourse, not likely in this society, there will be more of this.



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