Sunday, August 30, 2015

Us Instead Of Them

The headline read: Why the U.S. is No. 1 - In Mass Shootings. At last, I thought. An answer. Then I was struck by a Marilyn Manson lyric: "The death of one is a tragedy, but the death of a million is just a statistic." Not the most original concept, but certainly in the aftermath of his somewhat contrived connection with the Columbine High School massacre that serves as something of a jumping off point for this discussion, it rang through to me. I was moved at this point to try and discern what, for the purposes of any further discussion, what a "mass shooting" is. More than one victim? The always despicable murder/suicide would therefore be classified in this category, and catastrophes like the one sixteen years ago in Littleton, Colorado are the kind that get their own spot on the History Channel web site. The next link in that chain might possibly be the movie theater shooting in 2012 in Aurora, Colorado. Or any of the other shootings that have taken place since 1966, the time frame that exceeded four deaths, the FBI's measure for what it considers "mass." The article discussed the findings of University of Alabama criminologist Adam Lankford's assertion that America's "exceptionalism" is what keeps us constantly in the lead in this particular category.
That and the guns. Of one hundred seventy-eight countries surveyed, the per capita number of guns in the United states was 88.8 firearms per one hundred people. Two hundred seventy million guns. Second place went to Yemen, with 54.8 per one hundred people. That means that in Yemen, if you wanted to shoot someone, you might have to wait a day until it was your turn to have a gun, then take your best shot. In the United States, you probably won't have to wait that long. Or at all.
America is generally proud of its first class status, but this is not a list at the top of which we should stand tall. I know: Blah blah blah Second Amendment blah blah blah cold dead hands. The problem continues to be those cold dead hands. To that end, Wal Mart is discontinuing the sale of semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15. Like the one purchased by James Holmes that jammed during his rampage through a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. Dark night indeed. Maybe if all the AR-15s purchased from Wal Mart or any other retailer would come pre-jammed, maybe a few more innocent lives could be spared. Maybe gun ownership is enough. Using them for mass killing isn't what the framers of the Constitution had in mind.

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