Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Friday, 7 December 2007

Deja Vu




Stories about gun massacres in the US of innocent people going about their daily business are unfortunately almost run of the mill.
The latest tragedy in Nebraska follows a very sad and familiar pattern. What I find bizarre is the lack of response from the US authorities. It’s almost as if they’re in denial.
One of the elements of my army training that has stayed with me is the clear understanding of the lethality of modern weaponry, and the need for access to these things to be controlled.
Obviously, it’s not understood across the Pacific.
Today’s Australian editorial says it pretty well –
There was a morbid sense of deja vu about the murder of eight Christmas shoppers in a mall in Omaha, Nebraska, by a 19-year-old gunman who later killed himself. Robert Hawkins, who reportedly wrote in a suicide note that he wanted to “go out in style”, would no doubt be gratified by the global media coverage his gruesome crime received. Yet mass murder in the US has become horribly commonplace. The Virginia Tech massacre, the milk truck driver who murdered the Amish schoolgirls, the Minnesota high school massacre, the Columbine High School massacre, these are only the most gruesome cases that have made the headlines. In 2004, the most recent year for which figures are available on gun deaths in the US, there were 11,624 homicides and 16,750 suicides. The US has the highest rate of gun deaths in the developed world. In a 1994 comparative study of gun-related deaths in the 36 richest countries, the US came first with 14.24 deaths per 100,000 people compared with Australia which had only 2.65 gun deaths per 100,000.
The trouble is that guns are big business in the US. In the 20 years to 1996, the US manufactured more than 85 million firearms. So in spite of the fact that every two years more Americans are killed by guns than died in
the 10-year Vietnam War, the US Government remains the captive of the gun lobbies and refuses to increase gun regulation to protect its citizens. In contrast, in Australia, after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996 in which Martin Bryant murdered 35 people and wounded 37 others, then prime minister John Howard co-ordinated uniform gun laws in which all states and territories banned or heavily restricted the legal ownership of self-loading rifles, self-loading shotguns and pump-action shotguns, implementing a buyback program that destroyed 700,000 guns. Since then, the risk of dying by gunshot has halved and there have been no mass executions whereas in the decade leading up to Port Arthur there were 11 mass shootings, which killed 112 people. By 2003, the total number of gun deaths in Australia had dropped from 521 to 289 and gun-related homicides had dropped to one-fifteenth the rate of the US.
The Australian, more than any other paper in the country, champions individual liberty and freedom of choice, but we firmly believe that the right to life is the most fundamental freedom and it is clearly jeopardised in the US by the failure to heavily restrict and regulate gun ownership.

Pretty well said.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Seems to be discrepancy in shooting mass murders between the quoted source (for years 86 to 96) and a study done at http://www.cjcj.org/files/Mass_shootings.pdf
Can you source correct figures before posting?

1735099 said...

Comparing figures between NZ and Australia has no relevance to the situation in the USA.
Since I posted that in 2007, there's been Virginia Tech, Fort Hood,Denver, Aurora and the most recent at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
When will they ever learn?

Anonymous said...

Yep that's correct but your original post quoted figures that I cannot find and in my search the comparison figures for NZ and Oz were handy. Mass murders by firearms in Australia between 86 and 96.
Can you get some figures for mass shootings in other countries or is your fixation confined to easily acquired figures.
If you read the comparison fully you will note that so called experts indicate that the reduction in Australia of semi-auto, pump action weapons has been claimed as the reason for reducing mass murder by firearm but then in NZ these weapons were not removed from the public and the comparative figures followed the same trend in reduced numbers of mass murders over the same years as the study covered.
Your cry of irrelevance is not consistent with you call for the
further restriction on firearms.

1735099 said...

"some figures for mass shootings in other countries"
Comparative figures on gun deaths per head of population posted here (on a medical website with no political skin in the game) are revealing - http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=6166
Note which country heads the list....

Anonymous said...

"The United States leads the world's richest nations in gun deaths" cut and pasted from your source and yes the yanks are there for all to see, but there are no records for middle east, Africa, Russia, India, China and a large part of Asia. In the absence of wider ranging stats it is a bit harsh to suggest that the yanks are the bees knees in killing each other with firearms. You are selective in sourcing statistics to back up your claims, which reduces your credibility as a knowledgeable person .

Anonymous said...

Another interesting thing to note is that the study you have quoted indicates that
"Following are gun safety recommendations of the National Rifle Association which MedicineNet editors suggest those using guns note.

The three fundamental rules of gun safety must always be applied simultaneously when handling or using a gun:

1.Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
2.Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot.
3.Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.
The following gun safety rules should also be observed when using or storing a gun:

Know your target and what is beyond.
Be sure the gun is safe to operate.
Know how to use the gun safely.
Use only the correct ammunition for your gun.
Wear hearing and eye protection as appropriate.
Never use alcohol or drugs before or while shooting.
Store guns so they are not accessible to unauthorized persons.
Be aware that certain types of guns and many shooting activities require additional safety precautions"
The source you quote does not suggest the removal of firearms from the populace, merely safe handling and storage as quoted from people you see as "gun lobbyists.

1735099 said...

If you are unhappy with the stats I've found, you need to provide some that show no correlation between firearm deaths and gun legislation to substantiate what I think is your argument.

1735099 said...

"The source you quote does not suggest the removal of firearms from the populace"
No, but anyone with common sense would conclude that it might help.

1735099 said...

Try - http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/27/2/214.full.pdf+html
And - http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=382310
And - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9170242
Also - A study directly comparing firearm homicide rates in Australia before and after the Port Arthur legislation - http://injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/10/5/280.short
To quote from conclusion of the last report - Dramatic reductions in overall firearm related deaths and particularly suicides by firearms were achieved in the context of the implementation of strong regulatory reform.
These are all scholarly researched studies, not opinion pieces.
Notice a pattern?

Anonymous said...

"Conclusion: Dramatic reductions in overall firearm related deaths and particularly suicides by firearms were achieved in the context of the implementation of strong regulatory reform" this is to be expected in a study that excludes your subject- mass homicide by firearms. Suicide is the only area that showed any significant down trends.

1735099 said...

"overall firearm related deaths"
And you're telling me that mass homicides aren't a subset of overall firearm rekated deaths?
Bollocks.
And I'm still waiting for you to disprove the correlation.

Anonymous said...

From your source is the following...
"Design: Mortality data were extracted from vital statistics for 1979–2000. Data on firearm related deaths that were unintentional deaths, assaults, suicides, and of undetermined intent were analyzed."
This indicates that murders, mass murders, lawful homicides and manslaughter stats were not included and therefore any resultant data or findings therefore also excluded these stats.

Anonymous said...

I am still waiting to read my replies.

Anonymous said...

I'll take that as a win.

1735099 said...

"This indicates...."
Really? To what do you think "assaults" refers.
Read it again - carefully - concentrate.

Anonymous said...

Point taken. The full text instead of the abstract makes interesting reading.

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