Thursday, January 7, 2010

bang, you're dead

Few topics get people riled up more than gun control, and every time some nut with a gun kills a bunch of people, the debate starts all over again:

In recent weeks, there has been some discussion online about the fact that virtually every household in Switzerland has at least one gun (issued by the government) and it’s said to be one of the safest countries in the world.

The most recent discussion that I’ve seen cites reference to the fact that the former Soviet Union, Turkey, Germany, China, Guatemala, and Cambodia (among others) have instituted strict gun control laws at various times in their history, much to the detriment of at least some of their citizens:

your number is up, pal

Being a doubting Thomas, I’ve checked out some of the assertions, and found that they are essentially accurate.

For example, although the 1938 German gun laws were actually a relaxing of the previous very strict gun laws, the laws specifically excluded Jews from the manufacturing and ownership of weapons and ammunition:

put down that ammo, Jakob

In addition, gun ownership in the People's Republic of China outside of the military, police, and paramilitary is forbidden. Possession or sale of firearms results in a minimum punishment of 3 years in prison, with the maximum being the death penalty:

trap shooting is closed for the day, Mr. Li

I’ve never owned a gun in my lifetime, nor do I plan to buy one, but I’m not a believer in the total ban of gun ownership in the United States.

I’m opposed to the total ban simply because it doesn’t work. Although Chicago instituted a total ban on guns in 1982, it has one of the highest death rates from firearms of any city in America.

However, I also believe universal ownership of guns by every household in America is totally idiotic.

If you click on the hyperlink in this sentence, you can see that the United States has one of the highest death rate from firearms of any country in the world. South Africa, which has by far the highest number of firearms related deaths in the world, has gun control laws similar to the United States. Like the NRA, The South African Gunowners' Association represents the interests of the firearms industry and gun owners. Like the NRA, it opposes and lobbies against the regulation of gun sales. SAGA is recognized by the NRA, the National Firearms Association of Canada, the Sport Shooting Association of Australia, and the Sporting Shooters Association of New Zealand.

In contrast, England (which has some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the world) has one of the lowest rates of firearm deaths.

The concept of a militia being necessary goes back to at least the 12th century in England, and debates about it have raged ever since.

The 2nd amendment to our constitution was adopted on December 15, 1791. According to the American Bar Association, there is more disagreement and less understanding about the right to bear arms than of any other current issue regarding the Constitution.

Because of a long history of neutrality, the Swiss Armed Forces army does not take part in armed conflicts in other countries, but is part of some peacekeeping missions around the world. Professional solders only constitute about 5% of the Swiss armed forces, which essentially means the country has no standing army.

By dad used to say that the only two countries that were neutral during WWII were the cowardly Swiss and the peace-loving Irish. Although his statement IS accurate, there were some other countries that were officially neutral during the war against Hitler, and some of them may surprise you in view of what’s happening in the world today:

Saudi Arabia

The interesting thing about Denmark is that the country was actually invaded by the Nazis, but still did not declare war against their oppressors.However, in view of the fact that the United States hasn’t actually declared a war since the end of WWII (and we’ve had a lot of “police actions” since that time) Denmark’s position may seem more understandable.

The United States has taken a much different path than Switzerland regarding the defense of our country and its allies, as evidenced by the fact that the 2010 budget for defense is $663.8 billion dollars.

I don’t want to know how much money that is for every man, woman, and child in America, but I DO know that it exceeds the GDP for Poland, which has the 18th largest economy in the world.

At various times in our country’s history, various citizens have become outraged at the government’s intrusion on their right to bear arms. One of the most recent groups to come into being was the Michigan Militia, which was formed in 1994 after the events in Waco, Texas and Ruby Ridge, Idaho. When the founder of the group, Norman Olson, blamed the Japanese for the Oklahoma City bombings committed by Timothy McVeigh, his credibility plummeted to zero, and the group essentially dissolved after that.

At some point in the Cold War, both America and the Russians came to the conclusion that we each had way too many bombs in our arsenals. Avowed anti-communist Richard Nixon was involved with the first meeting of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, which were held in Helsinki, Finland in 1969, and the arms race gradually wound down. None of us feels comfortable about the fact that both Iran and North Korea are trying to be nuclear powers, and Pakistan (an Islamic country) already is, but the current state of affairs in the world is in reality the unintended consequences of our arms race with Russia in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

To quote Pogo, “we have met the enemy, and it is us”.

Where do we go from here?

For starters, our country and our world will become MORE DANGEROUS and not MORE SAFE by adding more weapons. Although some people feel that the Nobel Prize committee was premature in awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama, if you re-read his Inauguration Day speech, as well as his speech in Cairo last June, I think you’ll agree that he’s on the right track.

As citizens, the best thing we can do to guarantee our safety is not to buy a gun, but to write a letter to your congressman. To paraphrase the famous bumper sticker popularized by the National Rifle Association in the 1970’s:

"I'll give you my keyboard when you take it from my cold, dead hands!"

And to quote Forrest Gump:

“that’s all that I got to say”

1 comment:

  1. wow!! thank you friend, your post provided two well sided arguments and had a strong emotional appeal at the end of it.