Just the Facts
The numbers say the focus in preventing tragedies needs to be on personal responsibility.
"Just the facts, Ma'am." That's what Sergeant Joe Friday said on the show "Dragnet": Just the facts.
Recently, in light of still another school shooting, I was appalled that another such occurrence had come about; I heard President Obama say that there had been 74 school shootings in the past 77 weeks since Sandy Hook. I had no reason to doubt him.
Then CBS News, not exactly a bastion of gun rights, repeated what the president had said. But their research said that in fact that the number of such tragic shootings HAD NOT INCREASED SINCE 1976! Say what?
How can this be? Surely they have! It turns out that CBS was right. According to the nonpartisan Factcheck.org, there have been "only" 34 school shootings since Sandy Hook that can be attested to as being the same; the president was wrong!
A blog from New York Magazine, hardly a supporter for anything on the right or guns, either, attested to the same, saying that these shootings had not risen in average number at all since 1976! Again, affirming CBS News. What else did they conclude? That the news media is the culprit; they sensationalize a shooting for days and weeks on end, giving the ILLUSION that such gun crimes are increasing when FBI stats say differently, and so do others besides the NRA!
So I decided to do more research on my own. Why, you ask, since this is a column about the outdoors? Well, I do a lot of things on a lot of days outdoors, and each and every time I carry some sort of firearm.
I also go out and shoot 500 to 1,000 rounds a year either on a hunt or mostly at inanimate targets and for relaxation. To be blunt, I simply love guns! I carry them because I like to do so. I use them because they bring me joy. I have, on occasion, defended myself with them. I like to hold them and look at them. Guns are neat in my opinion and I would feel naked in the outdoors without them.
And guess what? Millions of other men and women feel exactly the same as I do. So when an aberrant happening with a firearm occurs, the first thing out of the media and the politicians and nearly every liberal is to cry for more laws to restrict guns or the outright banning of them. That would ruin my outdoor pleasure.
So let us explore some facts. According to FBI stats for 2011, more people were killed with claw hammers, baseball bats and other blunt objects (496) than with so-called assault weapons (323)! Not all of these people were killed exclusively with assault-style guns; some were killed with other types of rifles.
But murder-by-guns in that same year numbered 8,583. Sounds high until you realize that most of these were by urban gang types killing each other with ILLEGAL firearms (just look at Chicago stats).
In that same year 726 people killed others solely with their hands. Another 1,694 folks were killed with knives.
This is the "minor leagues," though; let's go to the majors. According to the National Traffic Safety Administration, 33,561 people died due to automobiles. Of those, 32% (10,322) died at the hands of drunk drivers. Why is it we are appalled when a shooter kills four or five students, yet the same sense of horror and news coverage is not there when a drunk kills an entire family? And there are far more than 34 incidents of that.
Let's move on to drug use — illegal drug use. In 2012 there were 23 million illegal drug users, 12 years old and older. In 2005, 4.4 million teens used illegal drugs. That usage is on the increase since 2005 by 8%-9% per year.
According to the Justice Department, in 2012, 38,320 people died because of drug use and that doesn't include murder stats! You see, those are buried among those 8,583 gun deaths. That same year, drug deaths were the number-one cause of any kind of murder, suicide or overdose in 17 states.
Drug usage played a part in over 26% of all violent crime and that is increasing. I asked local detectives in all law enforcement agencies what the reason is for so much crime in Grant County, and they unanimously stated it was drug usage, especially meth.
Moreover, 57.3 % of drug users admitted to driving a vehicle while stoned.
Why is there no hue and cry over these issues? Well, for one, driving while drunk is already illegal. Most drugs are illegal and it is illegal to use them. More laws don't change this fact. And as far as I know, it is illegal to kill a person by any of the aforementioned methods.
So what is the point of outlawing guns or making more laws to stop their use in crime? All you do is upset the law-abiding owners who never will commit a crime anyway! Why doesn't the news spend hour after hour talking about drug and alcohol crimes?
In my humble opinion, it is because alcohol and drugs are accepted in this society. After all, who of us doesn't know someone who is a drunk or a drug user? You see, for some reason, we don't personalize any of the other methods or instruments, but we do guns!
If you ask a non- gun owner why they want more laws or why they want a ban on guns, get down to the real nitty-gritty, and they have told me, they feel very uncomfortable around them and would never use them, or they state flat out that they hate guns!
What we are dealing with is subjectivity or emotions, not objectivity, much in the same way I have expressed to you my love for guns; it is a two-way street. I will admit that a person who has been affected by a gun crime does have a certain emotional objectivity to their basis, and I will not say they are wrong.
Let us look at one more statistic: the percentage of gun deaths, compared to the 3 million guns owned, comes out to .000286. That is almost non-measurable. The outcry far outweighs the actuality.
So, based on all of the above, in actuality, it is not the object that is at fault; it is the person, whether sane or mentally disturbed. Alcohol cannot kill if left in a bottle; drugs cannot kill if not used; guns cannot kill if left in a holster or safe.
Candidly speaking, our society is very sick; we have become decadent and narcissistic. Our mantra is "whatever feels good do it" and we blame everyone and everything but the individual for their actions.
How many times did I hear after the latest killing, "Where were the parents? Why didn't others see the criminal's behavior? Why did the teachers and administrators not pick it up?"
We need to bring back personable responsibility. Make them pay for their crimes, not just rehabilitate.
When I did a stint as a cab driver here in Silver City, I had occasions to meet "gang bangers." They would tell me they were "packing." I asked them what if they got caught? I remember one personable young man in his late teens told me, "So what? I'll be back on the streets in no time. They won't punish me."
He believed it so he didn't fear the system.
One last story from the nightly news: A teen in Minnesota was apprehended before he committed a mass killing, thanks to a sharp-eyed neighbor. He said that he intended to kill lots of people, even though they had done nothing to him, and that he felt he was mentally ill, but he was awfully good at hiding it! This is why we need to get back to personal responsibility.
In the end, I need my guns for the outdoors just (a subjective analysis) as much as a gardener needs seed for their garden. So I wish they'd leave my guns and me alone and get at the real problem.
Keep the sun forever at your back, the wind forever in your face, and may The Forever God bless you too!
When not ramblin' outdoors, Larry Lightner lives in Silver City.