Sunday, April 5, 2009

Another bloody day

We're greeted by another gruesome mass killing this morning: this one the murder of five children by their dad, who then killed himself, in Washington state. This awful, shocking crime comes hard on the heels of a gunman "lying in wait" and killing three Pittsburgh police officers; a crazed man walking into a community center in New York state and killing 13; the shooting of four Oakland police officers; and, locally, the savage attack of a brother who killed two of his sisters and wounded another with a kitchen knife.

Are there reasons for this spate of deadly violence? The Christian Science Monitor considers whether the economic downturn might be a factor. Of course, those on my side of the political spectrum consider the proliferation and easy access to guns to be a significant factor. All of the crimes above, except the Milton tragedy, were carried out with firearms. It is far too easy in the United States to arm oneself like a small army.

While the disturbed young man in Milton was able to kill two of his siblings without a gun, it's unlikely that the third would have avoided death if the killer had a firearm, and it's likely he would have then opened up on others, including the responding police. Meanwhile, the man who opened fire on immigrants in Binghamton would not have ended as many lives had he been armed with just a kitchen knife.

Further, the recent violence pales in comparison to what is happening every day just over the border in Mexico. In the battle to reap the riches of America's narcotic addiction, the members of drug cartels are battling it out with law enforcement and each other with firearms made -- you guessed it -- in this country.

The US Constitution, laudable in many respects, has come up short with the Second Amendment. Or, should I say, America's leaders have consistently failed to galvanize the courage to adapt to the modern world on the issue of firearms.


Mary B. said...

Are we so numb to all of these stories that there are no posts?

N.starluna said...

I'm not sure there is much to say. These are tragedies to be sure. I agree with Jimbo that access to guns is one part of this problem. I just finished reviewing an article looking at the rate of firearm related deaths comparing states with different gun control laws. Not surprisingly, the states with the highest rates of gun related homicide, suicide, and accidental death are those with the weakest gun control laws, even after controlling for other factors known to be associated with gun deaths.

We are lucky here in Massachusetts that our gun laws are relatively stronger than other states. And even then, some researchers argue that our rate of gun related injuries and deaths would be lower if the surrounding states had stronger gun control laws. It's just too easy to get a hand gun in this country.

Anonymous said...

We are numb to these incidents to a certain point. Some of it I blame on the media and the way they harp on them as the next best thing to broadcast.

As an aside, we only tend to hear stories about how many people have been murdered in Boston in a given year, but lose sight of similar figures for other cities, and the country as a whole. Also, what is the distribution of killings in the country by gun, knife, etc. How many people are killing in the country in the average year? How many by gun? By other methods?

N.starluna said...

Yesterday I heard on the radio that there is a shortage of ammunition in the country. Apparently, the day after the election, people starting buying up all the guns and ammo they could in fear that the Obama administration was going to make it more difficult to purchase these in the future. The gun store owner interviewed reported that people are buying the guns and ammo for "personal protection." He told the story of a 69 year old woman buying an entire case of bullets for her AK-47.

I wonder if all those people who've been shooting up churches, social centers, and killing off their families said the same thing when they bought their guns.