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Re: SHOOTINGS

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On Apr 17, 2007, at 3:43 AM, ASC wrote:

The rest of civilized world never ceases to be amazed
with America's love affair with guns.
I need to say this for a couple of reasons. First as a counterpoint to responses about constitutional rights and sophistry about how people kill people and guns don't kill people; second, to point out that America has no such love affair.

Ssome Americans are indeed gun freaks, but don't lump the rest of us with the wackos. Historically, firearms have played an important, often ugly, part in life along our frontier. Most people (like my family, who were farmers) had them for hunting, and to a small degree for self-defense. As people moved west there wasn't any law, especially in the territories which had no government. There were plenty of criminals, ex-soldiers out of a job or just plain losers, westbound maybe just ahead of the law and who didn't mind taking whatever they wanted at gunpoint and who frequently took a shot at someone while nerved up on whiskey. And for better or worse there came Vigilance Committees formed to deal with the worst of them. As a result we built up a thriving firearms industry and a huge mythology which helps the firearms industry sell guns.

Actually, some of the mythology is partly true, Northfield, Minnesota was hit in the 1880's by members of the Cole-Younger gang looking to knock over the bank. That was before the FDIC and if the bank were cleaned out, the town was done for. The townspeople fought back, not with personal firearms, but rifles borrowed from local stores, and shot up the gang pretty thoroughly. Two townspeople were killed, the head teller of the bank and a farmer who didn't speak english and couldn't understand the warnings to take cover. Except for two who were killed, the gang took off but were rounded up a few days later except for the James brothers who evaded capture. Real wild west stuff, but not typical. Northfield was home to a number of Civil War veterans who probably had no more of a love affair with guns than anyone else who'd seen the elephant.

That said most Americans don't buy into the myths--there's no love affair. A great many Americans, probably a majority, feel horrified about loose gun laws. What we do have is too-easy access to guns, because some of the philosopher-kings in Congress have been rented by the gun lobby and because some people still truly believe their guns will hold off the US Army if they are beset by tyrants. The fact is that even easy access to guns alone doesn't make us all murderers. To its shame, Minnesota allows people to carry concealed hand guns, provided they have a permit which must be issued by local law enforcement after a background check and some (meaningless) safety training. But gun crimes haven't increased noticeably, because most people don't want to carry weapons. We still have plenty of accidental shootings and an unenviable murder rate, of course, but the cause isn't a love affair, it's accessibility.

Which excuses nothing, of course, but it does help explain what actually goes into all this. Accessibility, not love affairs, lets losers and wackos, for whom guns imply power over their enemies, arm themselves. Whenever they feel slighted, such crazies think of the myths, and imagine themselves going out in a blaze of glory, as a winner, finally respected by everyone. That's not a love affair with guns, that's lunacy, probably not much different than the lunacy which drives suicide bombers.

I went to school at VPI (that's the real name), and took plenty of classes in Holden, since it was the Engineering Mechanics building. Things have changed a lot, but I'm sure there were losers and gun freaks around then, too. There were plenty of things wrong back around 1960, but just as now, an excess of self-righteousness won't fix it. So cut us some slack.

Christopher Wright P.E. |"They couldn't hit an elephant at
chrisw(--nospam--at)skypoint.com   | this distance" (last words of Gen.
.......................................| John Sedgwick, Spotsylvania 1864)
http://www.skypoint.com/~chrisw/



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