Thursday, February 7, 2013

We have issues...

By we I mean we human animals who live in the United States. Most of us are aware that on December 14th of 2012 a 20 year old white male named Adam Lanza entered an elementary school in Newtown Connecticut and murdered 20 children and 6 adults. We who live here in this country are sadly familiar with the news of a mass killing by, usually, a "deranged white guy" wielding a "semi-automatic firearm" of some sort or another. By the way, from the time of the Newton shooting up until yesterday (about a month and a half), we Americans have managed to kill another 1,619 of ourselves with guns (murder, suicide, accidental).

Like most other human animals who live in the U.S., I've been hearing about such instances of mass violence against groups of humans for years. According to this source there have been 62 such violent happenings since 1982...that's about one such killing spree every 6 months.

Consider this: Here's a table showing all American deaths in all the wars we've been involved in, including the first one noted....the Revolutionary war. (source)

Revolutionary War
War of 1812
Mexican War
Civil War (Union and Confederate, estimated)
Spanish-American War
World War I
World War II
Korean War
Vietnam War
Persian Gulf War
Afghanistan War
Iraq War

Now one of the first things I noticed about this table was the absence of any reference at all to the number of "Americans" killed in what was actually our first "war"...the one where the arriving Europeans killed the people living here first...the Native Americans. This table implies there never was a war against Native Americans...or maybe it presents a greater few of the invading Europeans were killed that they weren't worth noting.

Context that number of dead in the preceding table...1,171,177 killed in all wars since about 1776, a span of approximately 236 years,  with the data in this figure which covers only 44 years.

 Total deaths caused by firearms in the United States (excluding war deaths, source):
1968 to 1980 377,000
1981 to 1998 620,525
1999 to 2010 364,483
2011 32,163
Total 1,384,171

Since 1968, since the year in which Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered with a gun (about 44 years ago), we "Americans" have managed to kill more of ourselves with guns than we have had killed in all the wars we've ever fought. When I stumbled across that information I was stunned. Just absolutely stunned. But the topper for me was the following graphic (source):

Like many, I've read about the belief by some that somehow civilians owning guns would keep the "government" from turning tyrannical and oppressing "the people". As the above figures show, for every firearm (handgun, rifle or shotgun) owned by the U.S. military or police, civilians own 79 firearms (handguns, rifles or shotguns). I'm sorry but that's simply sick. Those numbers don't reflect a concern with freedom or with rights...those numbers reflect a societal illness.

For a number of years I've been uneasy with anyone who seems to like guns. I grew up in rural Oklahoma, guns were all around and "normal". I spent some years in the military where I carried a gun every day I was on duty. Even there, even in the military, I was mildly uneasy around people carrying guns (including myself). I guess my take on guns and those who like guns is very well summarized by this graphic I saw on facebook.

Now I don't know the source of this assertion nor am I certain the issues involved are simply esteem issues. But I have absolutely no doubt that a significant number of the people in this country have issues...and guns aren't going to fix them, in fact, guns are going to make the consequences of those issues even worse than they are already.

I'm not unaware of the fact that some people do fear for their safety and it may be that their fears have some justification...If you're fearful...get a good taser or some other non-lethal device to protect yourself. You won't ever read about a "mass tasering" or a "mass pepper-spraying" where there were lots of dead. If you're determined to have a gun at least, at the very least, only have non-lethal ammunition in your gun and your home.

Bottom line, we've killed more of ourselves with guns in the last 44 years than have been killed in all the wars we've ever fought. Civilians own 80 guns for every 1 gun owned by the police or the government. Just how much more do we need to know to understand that we have serious problems with violence and with guns? We seem to be delusional and irrational about all of this...or at least many of us are. Why are we listening to people who are working out personal issues...especially when they seem to be working them out by acquiring devices designed to cause death? The whole thing is appalling and repulsive and alarming.

My posts are primarily directed toward our behavior toward our fellow animals, toward whom we are horribly violent and harmful. Well...we're also pretty violent toward ourselves, at least in this country and all of these things are connected. Certainly violence and killing is violence and matter who are the dead. The notion of thinking it is a good thing to have devices around that are designed to cause death is a notion that concerns me. Period.

Living as an ethical vegan means not harming other living beings. Wanting to have lots of devices designed to kill living beings...well...that seems to be the opposite of ethical veganism.


Christina said...

I am also uneasy around guns and people who carry them. Humans are just a little too unpredictable.

Anonymous said...

Holy c.rap! That is alarming.

Bea Elliott said...

That certainly is a staggering statistic! In my wildest dreams I figured the military had twice the weaponry of civilians.

Not knowing how to get weapons out of bad people's hands is as frustrating as trying to figure out how to get good people to stop harming others.

On the humorous side of a sad situation I like Chris Rock's cure: $5,000 bullets

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Christina. Agreed. Unpredictable and bereft of sound judgement.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting DEM. What stuns me is how we have avoided knowledge about the state of things and the extensiveness of the death and destruction. We cause the death of billions of our fellow Earthlings and we don't seem to flinch at wiping ourselves out either.

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Bea. I suspect most of us are/were oblivious to the frightening reality.

I saw a suggestion that seemed sensible and would not involve "gun control" (which seems to make the paranoid froth at the mouth) and that was to require liability insurance for any weapon purchased and full responsibility for any harm caused by that weapon. We do that for automobiles and they aren't (theoretically) even designed to cause harm. But I'm not too hopeful that we'll be able to act sensibly...that seems to be really hard for us.

Bea Elliott said...

A liability insurance or "risk tax" would be a great idea in a culture that's ready to be rational and responsible. But I don't see it happening either...

BTW - I think gun violence and animal issues are certainly connected. It all stems from the same ignorant fear "remedied" by aggressiveness and hostility. "Big Gun" mentality sure kills a lot of nonhumans too. :(

Have Gone Vegan said...

Great post. As a Canadian resident I'm completely baffled by the American love affair with guns, and don't understand why the "right to bear arms" is so damn important. Americans have the highest gun ownership per capita rate in the world, so no wonder that Americans are 20 times more likely to get killed by a gun than someone from another developed country! All I know is that it looks like Americans value their weapons more than their kids. So sad. :(