I learned early in life not to worry about what was going on in the my bedroom closet, because the number of children eaten by monsters hiding in their closets is miniscule when compared to the millions of five year old's consumed by the monsters hiding under their beds. The deciding factor, I decided, was dust bunnies. If your mother was some kind of obsessive compulsive clean freak who vacuumed under your bed ever week (which mine wasn't) not only were you more likely to develop asthma, but the monsters were driven out to look for food, and there you were right over their heads, a nice plump five year old, all tasty and tucked in tight like a burrito. Having a mother who qualified as anything better than a mediocre housekeeper was almost a death sentence. I thought it was just common sense.
Gun control is also common sense. People with guns kill people, that seems clear and obvious. In 2009, the lasts year for which figures are available, almost 30,000 Americans were killed after a gun went off. However most of those (55%) were suicides. And in 2009 the number of people killed when a gun went off accidentally was a grand total of 776. The remaining 12,600 deaths by guns were all homicides, out of a nation of 310 million. Pardon me, but is controling every single gun really an economically viable approach to solving this problem? Even considering the most horrific scenario, the odds of a child being killed while playing with a gun are about 1 in 5,000. Zero would be far better, but how much money are we willing to spend to preserve the gene pool of saps susceptible to the gun industry's twin marketing ploys of fear and machismo?
Guns are only responsible for 1.2% of all deaths in the United States last year. Five thousand more Americans were killed in automobile accidents. And deaths by gun violence are dwarfed by the number (616,000) who died of heart disease or cancer (563,000) or strokes (135,000). I can not escape the feeling our fears (liberals and conservatives) are focused on media friendly horrors while the monsters hiding behind the dust bunnies are not getting nearly enough attention. You have a 1 in 128 chance of falling off a ladder or a step stool or slipping in your shower in any given year. That means if you live to be fifty, the odds are you are going down. It turns out the last words you ever hear are less likely to be, “Stick 'em up” than they are “I've fallen and I can't get up”.
Last year more people died of spticemia than from being shot. You have a far better chance (1 in 1,000 ) of dieing in a house fire than being murdered in a home invasion robbery. And yet liberals don't seem willing to admit that gun control is largely a waste of money, while conservatives won't admit that (even in Montana) that guns for personal protection are at best ineffective and at worst arming your assassin. You want to really play Russian roulette? Try short changing the public education system. Oh, wait, we're already doing that.
Consider what happened in 1552, when Henry Pert of Welbeck, Nottinghamshire England was practicing his archery, as all freemen were required to do by law. Henry drew his bow, aimed at his target and released his bolt, only to have it hang fire. The arrow stuck against the bow's shelf. This was so unusual a hang up that Henry turned the bow around to examine the impediment from the other side, and that movement broke the friction and released the arrow. Henry shot himself in the head. With an arrow. He died the next day. A coroner's inquest adjudged Henry's death to be a misadventure. I would agree. But would England have been safer if peasants were required to be licensed before being allowed to possess a bow and arrows? Oh, wait, they were.
Shortly after 1560, deaths by black powder fire arms surpassed deaths by arrow, so perhaps this discussion will be clearer if we consider a firearm tragedy a little closer to our own time. In the summer of 1871 in Lebanon, Ohio, Mr. Thomas Mcgeean was arrested and charged with killing Thomas Myers in a bar fight. Mcgeean hired famous lawyer Clement Vallandigham, who was famous because he was a convicted traitor, who had been expelled to the Confederacy during the Civil War. And this was the most public case Vallandigham had gotten in years. On the evening of Friday, June 16 Vallandigham was joined in his hotel room by Ohio Governor Andrew McBurney. At about 9:00 PM, the governor asked Vallandigham if he had any surprises for his closing arguments the next day, and the 53 year old lawyer sprang nimbly to his feet. “I can show you”, he declared.
He jammed a .32 caliber pistol into his pocket and then abruptly yanked it out again, as if in the midst of an argument. As was intended the pistol went off all by itself. As was not intended, it was loaded. Later that night Mr. Vallandigham dictated the following telegram to be sent to his doctor. “I shot myself with a pistol in the bowels. I fear I am fatally injured. Come at once.” The doctor did, but the lawyer died anyway at 9:45 the next morning. Mr. Vallabdigham's sacrifice was not for nought though, as the jury considered it proof of Thomas Mcgeean's innocence. And the meaning here is that all guns are loaded, and so are all lawyers, but loaded guns usually win. Now, how many gun control arguements mention the late Mr. Vallandigham?
Okay, let us consider a non-violent alternative. In April of 1558 Mr. Thomas Alsopp of Coventry, England, was killed by a falling maypole. Should medieval liberals have pushed for strengthened regulations on maypole erections? If they had tried, I'm sure the maypole industry would have been eager to remind people that maypoles were part of the cultural heritage of every Englishman and woman. But were maypole safety regulations (fighting and defending them) worth the effort, as opposed to, say, discouraging witch burning? Just because the 16th century lame stream media (town cryers) could gin up profits by playing off alcoholic circular en dehors enthusiasts and rigid anti-circumspection-ists, were their profits (if any) worth the loss of civil focus?
Several years ago a Red Cross report on Kenya compared the death rates from AIDs there to the “equivalent to two 747 jets crashing every day.” Listen, The Republic of Kenya wishes it had two 747's crashing there every day. Every hotel room in Nairobi would be filled with media big foots, eager to get their faces smeared with as much blood as possible. It would be big news, lots and lots of big news. Money would be pouring in and there would be political pressure to design safer airplanes, better air traffic control. And any idiots who wanted to waste time claiming all that twisted aluminum and gore was God's will or divine punishment would be politically isolated and ignored. Kenya's tragedy is that AIDs victims die individual deaths, 150,000 individual deaths last year. Just like the victims of gun violence. But many, many more.
America does not have a gun control problem. We have a mind control problem. And as long as there is a profit to be made from our National Attention Deficit Disorder, the news media will continue to be obsessed with news that has not been new for decades.
Think we should tell them?
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