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rivanna

America's gun violence

204 posts in this topic

When I read these words about the atrocity in Colorado last week - “we do what we always do after yet another horrific massacre – shed a few tears, say a few prayers, and then quickly go on to do what the NRA wants us to do -- change the subject” --I thought, how terribly true.

 

As many have said - it’s not only the gun lobby who is accountable, it’s our elected representatives from both sides, who lack the courage and plain common sense to renew the federal assault weapons ban.

 

We have neighbors, delightful people, who own guns-- to shoot snakes or other pests. We know some wonderful men who enjoy hunting. This isn’t about people like them. A recent blog by Jon Meacham seemed like a possible ray of hope - if more gun owners spoke out against assault weapons, there might be chance to get something done.

 

http://ideas.time.co...ssault-weapons/

Edited by rivanna
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It seems to me to keep things in perspective.... There is a far more dangerous weapon than the assault rifle that is responsible for over double the deaths caused by guns in the US. It is readily available to most all people and doesn't require a background check. Of course i am speaking of the automobile with over 30000 deaths a year in the US alone. Any deranged licensed or unlicensed person can drive it at high speed into a crowd and kill more than the 12 in the Colorado atrocity. One can hurl a fire bomb, or common explosives into a movie theater and also cause such atrocity. There are an abundance of ways to inflict death on groups of people that cannot be reasonably prevented at this time.

 

I don't think (imo) failing to renew the ban on assault rifles would have prevented this incident though we have no way of knowing. I would also take exception to the words of G. Stone as far as rights and the purpose of gun ownership go. The NRA does say... weapons don't kill... people do.... and there is much truth to that. I certainly don't have the answers to preventing such atrocities but i am certain banning assault rifles or all guns for that matter will not solve the problem of killings whether of individuals or the masses. Keeping criminals off the street is a difficult and complicated job and i applaud those who are working to make the world safer by doing so.

 

just my 2 cents from a different perspective.

 

Joseph

 

PS... From NPR In 2008...In a 5-4 vote , the U.S. Supreme Court declared for the first time that the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right of individual Americans to keep and bear arms. The court said gun ownership is an individual right, not connected with military service, and that it can be regulated in some ways.

Edited by JosephM
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Well, I’m surprised that we differ on this issue.

 

There is a far more dangerous weapon than the assault rifle that is responsible for over double the deaths caused by guns in the US. It is readily available to most all people and doesn't require a background check. Of course i am speaking of the automobile...

 

How often do we hear of people driving into crowds to kill?

Cars aren’t weapons used to vent anger on random strangers-- guns used to carry out intentional, long-planned hate crimes is totally different from car accidents.

I agree that banning assault weapons wouldn't prevent all mass killings, but I bet it would save many lives.

What do we have to lose?

Edited by rivanna
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Joseph,

 

I differ with you on this issue. I don't think doing something about gun deaths precludes dealing with auto deaths. We deal with both cancer and heart disease at the same time.

 

And, I would revise the slogan you quoted to say, 'guns don't kill people, people with guns do.'

 

I see no plausible legal or moral right for people to own assault weapons and cop-killer bullets. I see no legal or moral impediment to licensing gun ownership and require background checks, maybe psychological testing, demonstration of knowledge about gun safety, etc.

 

George

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In Australia we have quite strict gun licensing rules whereby you may only possess a gun with a licence, after having undergone a police check as well as justifying why you should own one or several firearms (usually reasons are you are in a gun club or you wish to shoot vermin such as rabbits, foxes etc in which case you need a letter from a sizeable landowner permitting you to do so there). Per capita we suffer a lot less firearms tragedies than the US, although we are not totally exempt. To me, the US does seem to have an absurd reputation concerning guns and ownership, which sets it apart from the rest of the western world.

 

Whilst guns don't kill people, only people kill people, I see no justification for weaponry such as assault rifles, machine guns, etc. If that's your hobby then I think you can give it up for the greater good of society.

 

Incidentally, when Australia suffered one of the worst single-handed massacres in 1996 (35 dead, 23 wounded) our government at the time banned all semi-auto firearms and compensated owners for handing them in. This included pump action shotguns, although other repeating rifles, such as a 12-round lever action Winchester that I own, still remain legal.

 

But I also agree with Joseph because I do believe it's an attitudanal thing rather than the availability of a particular weapon. Why do these people want to cause such harm and is the culture responsible? I do believe that if you remove firearms, these types of people will just come up with some other way to commit mass murder, ways that may actually be more horrendous (think 9/11 and Oklahoma bombing).

 

Perhaps, like Australia, a step forward might be to remove certain weapons from the public, compensate for their loss, and introduce licensing. I think it is reasonable to possess a firearm if you're an active club member and/or genuinely shoot on farmland, but not to possess for self-defence or carrying around on your person.

 

Oh that's another thing - firearms owners here must secure their firearms in a certain type of secure cabinet which is secured to a brick wall from the inside (so it can't be stolen).

Edited by PaulS
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Joseph,

 

I differ with you on this issue. I don't think doing something about gun deaths precludes dealing with auto deaths. We deal with both cancer and heart disease at the same time.

 

Yes i agree. That was not my intended point of mentioning automobiles.

 

And, I would revise the slogan you quoted to say, 'guns don't kill people, people with guns do.'

 

Good point. And with knifes, poison, clubs, and other things that can be used as weapons.

 

 

I see no plausible legal or moral right for people to own assault weapons and cop-killer bullets. I see no legal or moral impediment to licensing gun ownership and require background checks, maybe psychological testing, demonstration of knowledge about gun safety, etc.

George

 

As you i see nothing wrong with licensing guns and requiring background checks and gun education or demonstrated knowledge. All are now requirements here in Ky and in Florida for concealed carry. However i do differ that the individual has a right to many of the guns that were designated as assault rifles. But that is just my entitled opinion. If one has a right to defend their family or home against an individual or gang it seems to me you ought to have a right to own a weapon sufficiently capable of doing so which includes SOME of the assault weapons which were banned..There are other reasons i would quote but i would rather not argue the point especially in the cafe.

 

Now for some Coffee,

Joseph

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My culture here in NZ is such that outside of the services, only farmers and hunters have firearms, and having a firearm for self defence is viewed as being a little "Wild West". Police are not allowed to carry firearms on their person on duty unless attending a job which (after threat assessment) will likely cause death or grievous bodily harm. If our police are seen in public wearing a sidearm, "normal" members of public often complain that they felt threatened by the mere presence of the weapon.

 

Given this attitude in the general populace, it should hardly be suprising that I am not a fan of automatic or semi automatic assault rifles outside of the military or law enforcement. They have no place in the home or community outside of law enforcement that I can think of.

 

Paul.

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If one has a right to defend their family or home against an individual or gang it seems to me you ought to have a right to own a weapon sufficiently capable of doing so which includes SOME of the assault weapons which were banned..There are other reasons i would quote but i would rather not argue the point especially in the cafe.

 

A few years ago, the chance of someone being killed accidentally by a gun in the home was 22 times more likely than it being used to save a life. I don't know what the statistics are currently.

 

I know that incidents do occur in which a family is threatened in their home. But, in all my years of life and that of my parents and siblings, this has never occurred to any of us nor any of my close friends. So, I would say the odds are pretty good. And, the presence of a gun would not guarantee our safety. But, if you and others get a sense of safely with a gun at home, I would accept it with good licensing and background checking procedures.

 

The Aurora kid was bright enough and diabolical and sick enough to have devised other means of mass murder. But, in cases of disturbed teenagers (like Columbine) it would be less likely. In any event, I don't think we should make WMD easily available because someone might devise something else to use. IMO, we should make it as difficult as possible.

 

George

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George,

 

As usual George there are always 2 sides to the story and the study. Here is one concerning your numbers. quoted. As you, with me also, no incidents have occurred with family or friends where a gun has been needed to be used to protect the family or self. Also i note that there has been no family and friends i know that have been accidentally killed by a gun in the home.

 

Now if you read the paper, of course all known accidents will make front page news. On the other hand one may have to dig a bit but will find where a gun was used to protect a family or business HERE. It is a heated debate with closed minds on both sides.

 

For me, I can only say i believe that banning guns here will not prevent criminals from obtaining and using them and that with proper background checks, training and education, each qualifying citizen has the right to have or not have a gun for personal protection. When they passed the concealed weapon carry law here in Kentucky, the anti gun enthusiasts said we would become like the wild west and killings would increase. There has been 216000 issued since 1996 and we are none the worse. Criminals ignore the law anyway and carried them prior to any permits and i have not seen any statistics where the concealed weapons permits have had an adverse effect. More states seem to be going that way and i am willing to comply with the majority rule.

 

Joseph

 

PS There as i said are always 2 sides to the issue . Here is an interesting article . on the Colorado case.

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Joseph, at least we feel the same way about the need for more thorough background checks, testing, etc.

 

I agree with George, there’s no plausible legal or moral right for people to own assault weapons.

 

It helps to hear the perspectives from Australia and New Zealand – how other countries handle these problems, with better results.

Edited by rivanna
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Karen,

 

That's what is great about this country. We don't have to agree on everything to live peacefully together. :)

 

I understand your and George's position Karen ... that there is no plausible legal or moral right in your opinion / view for people to own weapons that were listed as assault weapons for the purpose of the past ban. It has been presented to better minds than mine and the result to date is that it has been decided that there is both a plausible legal and moral right. I happen to agree. Perhaps as a result of some incidents or education or both, minds may be changed one way or the other. Or Perhaps not. it is not in my hands and if compelled, i will yield to a change but i am not convinced it will have better results. I concede that taking away guns in a country means less deaths by guns since that would make common sense as is evidenced by countries that have yet i am not convinced that they are better off for the loss of other rights that maintaining that position entails. Japan being an excellent example.

 

Just the way i look at it,

Joseph

 

PS Nothing i have said is to discount the pain and suffering i am certain families and friends feel over the loss in Colorado. My sympathies go with them. I only hope that those who have the power to make a difference can dialog and find reasonable ways to get to people like the perpetrator in this case before incidents happen. It seems easy to point to the gun as a simple answer and just ban them but to me the problem is much deeper than that.

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I think it is ironic that in America we are trying to make it harder for people to vote because we require more identification, but easier to buy a gun with no identification. People in the news keep saying it is not time to talk about this tragedy. I feel it is time and we should have talked about it a long time ago.

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I think it is ironic that in America we are trying to make it harder for people to vote because we require more identification, but easier to buy a gun with no identification. People in the news keep saying it is not time to talk about this tragedy. I feel it is time and we should have talked about it a long time ago.

 

Yes.

 

George

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I use to own 4 firearms as a result of growing up associated with farming and vermin control (rabbits, kangaroos, foxes etc). I haven't used these for years so decided to give them away (other than one rifle which has sentimental value - not in any sick way but because it was my father's :) ). Funnily enough, my fundamental christian friend strongly encouraged me to keep them all as I would be needing them in the end times!!! You gotta laugh.

 

I have always wondered why in the US there are so many who feel the need to arm up to protect their family or themselves. That just doesn't happen in Australia (yes, there are some who argue for it but they are by far a monority) and it would seem even more so according to Paul in NZ.

 

So what is the driving factor here? Is America really that violent and deadly a place that so many need to arm themselves for defence (when compared to say Australia or NZ anyway), or is it a mindset/fantasy that people are at such risk?

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Yes, I agree that it's time to once again return to common sense and ban the types of assault weapons used in mass killings of recent history and large capacity magazines.

 

I've owned guns for hunting and home protection, and appreciate the right to own weapons for such. An assault rifle exists for only one reason: killing lots of people in a short amount of time. It was designed for warfare, not hunting. Had the shooter in Colorado only gotten his hands on a hunting rifle and legal firearms, many people in that theater would today be recounting a horrific tale instead of lining a casket.

 

Joseph, I appreciate your opinion, but I think you are dead wrong on this one.

 

NORM

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So what is the driving factor here? Is America really that violent and deadly a place that so many need to arm themselves for defence (when compared to say Australia or NZ anyway), or is it a mindset/fantasy that people are at such risk?

 

Both. There is way too much violence and the risk is exaggerated.

 

We also tend to have a wild-west mind set. An example of our mindset is the 'stand-your-ground' law is some states. These essentially say that one has no obligation to avoid danger. If threatened, one can 'legally stand their ground' and kill the person threatening them. This is an issue in a recent incident in Florida in which a self-appointed vigilante stalked an unarmed stranger (an African-American teenager) in his neighborhood, then was involved in a confrontation and shot the teenager and killed him. He is claiming a 'stand-your-ground' defense.

 

George

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Funnily enough, my fundamental christian friend strongly encouraged me to keep them all as I would be needing them in the end times!!! You gotta laugh.

 

Although there are certainly some exceptions (see our Joseph), there is some correlation here between fundamentalists and gun proponents. It has been said that their issues are "guns, gays and God."

 

I have tried to understand why this would be and have concluded that there is no reasonable theological grounds for this and it must spring from a general conservative worldview. They also tend to be very militaristic in direct contravention of Jesus' teachings.

 

George

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Norm,

 

Its okay to think. :) and i respect your differing opinion and that of others here..

 

Here is an interesting comment from the white house... Obama

" I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals --- that they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities. I believe the majority of gun owners would agree that we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons; that we should check someone’s criminal record before they can check out a gun seller; that a mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily. These steps shouldn’t be controversial. They should be common sense."

 

 

 

Here is an interesting statement of Romney

"I don't happen to believe that America needs new gun laws,"

 

"And so we can sometimes hope that just changing the law will make all bad things go away," Romney added later. "It won't. Changing the heart of the American people may well be what's essential, to improve the lots of the American people."

 

 

I agree with Obama but note he doesn't say that law abiding and qualifying Americans should be banned from owning AK47 weapons but rather they "don't belong in the hands of criminals and on the streets. Certainly he says they belong in the hands of soldiers on the battlefield but he is not talking about the US armed forces because every soldier knows t

he Ak-47 is not a weapon issued by the US Armed Forces for its combat units. He says in his interviews that

 

not enough has been done to reduce gun violence and to ensure that guns don't end up in the hands of criminals. I think we all agree to that. Criminals are the problem, not guns. And for political purposes i think he will support an assault weapon ban which doesn't take away from those already present but forbids further import such as the last ban,

 

 

 

Romney seems to think that we have sufficient laws in place and i would partially agree that the real problem is more with enforcement of existing laws and keeping any weapon out of the hands of criminals or unbalanced individuals. They both have their points. America would be a difficult country for terrorists or gangs to take over because there are enough present law abiding citizens that have sufficient assault weapons to counter any attack. It may never happen but it is a real possibility in these turbulent times. The police force in America in my view does a reasonably good job of protecting us but the ultimate responsibility for any protection of life and family resides with the individual. Police can only do so much. I think each law abiding individual , educated in firearms and safety, who has passed a thorough background check has the right to own or choose not to own a weapon of sufficient capabilities to provide a defense within limits, against those who have firepower that a non assault type weapon might not be effective against.

 

 

George, there may be a correlation as you mention but in my view using such only clouds the issue.

 

Joseph

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I think we all agree to that. Criminals are the problem, not guns.

 

Actually, I don't agree while respecting you and your views. Guns in the hands of incompetents are dangerous. There are many accidental gun deaths that do not result from criminal behavior.

 

I also have a question about the term 'criminal.' While it literally means someone who violated the law, I think of it as those who habitually and intentionally violate the law. I am not sure I would classify some redneck who comes home and finds his wife in the arms of his best friend, gets a gun and irrationally kills them both as a 'criminal' although he inexcusably committed a crime. In fact, I think that most non-accidental gun deaths involve crimes of passion between those who are related in some way (family, marriage, socially).

 

I am also not sure that I would classify the teenage perpetrators of Columbine as 'criminals,' the kid at Virginia Tech or even the kid at Aurora. These are seriously disturbed people.

 

So, I don't think the issue is one of good guys (all mature, sober, responsible) and bad guys whose profession is committing crimes. It involves untrained, immature gun owners. It involves people who have anger issues, people who abuse drugs and alcohol, people who have mental problems, kids, etc., etc.

 

George

Edited by GeorgeW
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Actually, I don't agree while respecting you and your views. Guns in the hands of incompetents are dangerous. There are many accidental gun deaths . that do not result from criminal behavior.

 

Perhaps we agree more than you think? Yes, i agree with your statement but the same can be said of driving while texting on your phone.. The same can be said of alcohol or drugs in the hands of incompetents. The same can be said of autos in the hands of incompetents, knives, clubs, etc. Almost everything that exists has the potential for good or harm even in nature. That includes water, wind , fire, etc.

 

We do agree that guns in the hands of incompetents can be dangerous. No disagreement there. So lets find a way not to ban phones or autos or guns or knives or alcohol but rather to reduce the accidents caused by carelessness or incompetence with their use.

 

I also have a question about the term 'criminal.' While it literally means someone who violated the law, I think of it as those who habitually and intentionally violate the law. I am not sure I would classify some redneck who comes home and finds his wife in the arms of his best friend, gets a gun and irrationally kills them both as a 'criminal' although he inexcusably committed a crime. In fact, I think that most non-accidental gun deaths involve crimes of passion between those who are related in some way (family, marriage, socially).

 

Yes that may be true but a kitchen knife or baseball bat or other instrument will kill his wife and lover just as dead in a crime of passion. Do we ban those also?

 

I am also not sure that I would classify the teenage perpetrators of Columbine as 'criminals,' the kid at Virginia Tech or even the kid at Aurora. These are seriously disturbed people.

 

There is no disagreement here also. Seriously disturbed people will not be stopped by a ban. Any teenager that can use the internet can create a dangerous bomb out of household materials that will inflict damage/death. Or there are other ways to inflict massive damage like poisoning water, etc etc. . Do we ban those materials? A deranged person at a fast food place can do a lot of damage fast with a little knowledge of the rosary pea. Do we try to ban that plant or eradicate it from the world?

 

So, I don't think the issue is one of good guys (all mature, sober, responsible) and bad guys whose profession is committing crimes. It involves untrained, immature gun owners. It involves people who have anger issues, people who abuse drugs and alcohol, people who have mental problems, kids, etc., etc.

George

 

No disagreement here George. I'm not trying to make it a good guy, bad guy issue. As you admit, it involves more than guns so perhaps we should focus more on people, education , and enforcement than bans?

 

Joseph

Edited by JosephM
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Since there appears more present that have spoken against guns or even just assault weapons especially in light of the Colorado incident..... i leave you with some words from Thomas Jefferson who might be considered a progressive Christian by some. Here is what he and other presidents and leaders had to say which i think is worth reading.

 

"Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."

--Thomas Jefferson, quoting Cesare Beccaria in On Crimes and Punishment (1764).

 

"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government"

-- Thomas Jefferson, 1 Thomas Jefferson Papers, 334

 

"The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good"

-- George Washington

 

"Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest."

-- Mahatma Gandhi

 

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

-- Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.

 

"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember it or overthrow it."

-- Abraham Lincoln, 4 April 1861

 

The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them."

-- Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story of the John Marshall Court

 

There are many others worthy of mention. While i personally might prefer to be killed than to kill another even in self defense, i maintain the belief that men ought to be able to have both the effective means and right to resist and choose their own option even if that means there is a cost in lives from accidents. Such in my view is not limited to guns as i have said in the previous post. In summary, i see the problem deeper than any proposed assault ban resulting from the OP incident.

 

That is all i have to say on the issue of this debate unless specifically addressed. All that i have said is my personal opinion only and not any part of a position by Progressive Christianity or this site management and i hope there is no animosity in the slightest from anything said.. Thanks for a civil discussion and Karen for bringing up the topic and moving it to this section.

Joseph

Edited by JosephM
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I don't think we want to take away all weapons because that would never pass, but we need some regulation. One must get a license to work in some occupations, to marry, and to drive, but one can buy a gun at a gun show without restriction. Why can't a gun be regulated like a car?

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That is all i have to say on the issue of this debate unless specifically addressed. All that i have said is my personal opinion only and not any part of a position by Progressive Christianity or this site management and i hope there is no animosity in the slightest from anything said.. Thanks for a civil discussion and Karen for bringing up the topic and moving it to this section.

Joseph

 

Absolutely no animosity from my side. Although I disagree with you on this, I respect you and your views.

 

George

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I'm not American, so I plead ignorance to some of the nitty-gritty points of law.

 

As a Canadian, I have not grown up in the same type of "gun culture" some (like me) may argue seems to be so overwhelming in American culture. It's not impossible to get a gun in Canada (legally) but you do have to jump through a lot of hoops, and you cannot just carry around with you in your pocket. No one is carrying a gun "for protection" to the grocery store, to a non-gun-requiring job, or to pick up their kids from school. The common public Canadian citizen is not carrying a gun on their person when you walk by them on the street. I like that.

 

Criminals and thugs are, of course, potentially carrying guns and other assorted weapons. I definitely do not like this. Our beautiful city has seen way too much blood already this summer, because of gangs (and wannabe gangs) with guns. Little kids are getting killed. Old folks are terrorized. It's a nightmare and it breaks my heart.

 

Gun make kids feel like grown ups, and grown ups feel like cowboys. The average Joe Citizen does not have the skill or training to use their gun properly to defend themselves or handle these types of situations. I feel very certain that had someone in the Colorado theatre tried to "take out" the gunman, even more people would have been shot and possibly killed. This is modern society, not the OK Corral.

 

A person with a gun feels powerful, invincible, when in truth they're still just human...except now they're a human with a gun. This is not a good idea. Thugs will always have guns - there is no way around that. But if guns are the problem, how can more guns be the solution? It's not like the US *doesn't* have a gang problem. It's not like the good folks with their licensed handguns are wiping out the problem. There is absolutely NO reason in my mind why a regular, city-dwelling person should have a gun. (Yes, cars kill people sometimes - but they are manufactured for a different person. The ONLY reason a gun is manufactured is to kill, period.)

 

We've had too many deaths lately, not even counting the victims of Colorado. Too much violence, too much blood, too many lives snuffed out. Yes, knives and baseball bats are dangerous too - but they don't do the same type of damage a gun does.

 

I wish everyone would just put down their guns. I'm so sick of guns.

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