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The world’s gone mad.
No, make that the United States of America. With nearly 14,000 people dying from gun-related killings every year in this country – and lately we’ve witnessed some blatantly public series of killings – too often than not by ex-military personnel – almost every week for months now, outspoken voices in almost every sector – but Washington – are calling for some – SOME – kind of control over the incredible arsenals being sold and acquired as in no other nation in the world.
Consider, as if you could forget:
There have been at least 60 mass killings in the last 30 years—and most of the killers got their guns legally.
In addition to the shootings occurring in cities across the US every day in pockets of urban poverty, where the law of desperate, resigned and survivalist reigns, demanding an eye for an eye in street terms, come these more visible realities that have thus far moved no one to action:
- Five-year-old Nizzel George was shot and killed through the wall while he slept on a couch in his grandmother’s north Minneapolis home. Two teenagers have been charged with murder in connection with the shooting. Even now, the victim’s and accused’s families have been at each other’s throats inside and outside the courtroom.
- And recently, Malcolm Jackson, 16, was sent to prison for 25 years for the gun murder of Trequan Sykes, 16.
- An 8-year-old rural Dassel boy (condition unknown at this moment) was taken by ambulance to Meeker Memorial Hospital and later transported to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis on Thursday afternoon after he was accidentally shot in the head at his home with a black powder .44-caliber handgun by a sibling. The bullet had ricocheted off the ground and then hit the boy in the head.
- After work on Aug 14, Hamline University computer engineer student Aung Thu Bo and his girlfriend went to meet Steven Lewis, a convicted felon at a public location to buy a iPhone listed for sale on Craigslist, his mother said. Steven E. Lewis, 26, of Maplewood was charged in Ramsey County District Court with second-degree murder and aggravated robbery in connection.
- We still don’t know precisely what led a radical right gunman to murder six people at a Sikh temple in Milwaukee slightly over a week ago. The murders were an assault on peace, and on a religion that values complete equality and non-confrontation and which gives women equal status.
- A disgruntled former apparel designer, 58-year-old Jeffrey Johnson, was killed August 24 in a hail of police gunfire in front of the Empire State Building after he shot and killed a co-worker and engaged in a gun battle with two officers. At least nine others were wounded in the incident as the officers unloaded 14 rounds at the gunman, who apparently turned his weapon against them in one of Manhattan’s busiest neighborhoods. The violence erupted just as visitors began to queue up to ascend the famous New York skyscraper.
- Just this past Thursday or Friday, three more people died after an employee at the Old Bridge, NJ, Pathmark store, armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and an automatic pistol opened fire inside the store early this morning, killing two young store workers before turning one of the weapons on himself.
- James Holmes murders 12 moviegoers and wounds umpteen others in a Colorado movie theater showing a Batman film last month.
- The January 8, 2011, wounding of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in Tucson (not to mention the several bystanders – some children – who were killed).
- Then – all the school shootings and the McDonald’s massacre – over and over in many parts of the country. The mentally ill Army officer at Fort Hood, Texas. All over the last decade or so.
Deadly weapons – guns of every shape and character and capability – are amazingly simple to buy or acquire.
As one commentator extolled, the hate and intolerance in a nation built on the precepts of equality and diversity are an equal threat, and, by extension, to our very democracy itself.
And not a whimper from this President or any of the 435 Congressman cowering from the NRA as if giving license to more of the truly sick men settling grudges with one of the – get this now – 8,500,000 guns being made here or imported EVERY YEAR in this country. Japan – who kicked off the Pacific Theater of World War II with its very successful attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 now BANS firearms for its millions of citizens and there are TWO gun-related killings there per year.
More than 129,817 federally licensed firearms dealers peddle these weapons, according to the latest Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) numbers (Aug. 1) – almost as many dealers as there are grocery stores in the United States. Of those, 51,438 are retail gun stores, 7,356 are pawn shops and 61,562 are collectors (who buy and sell guns on a regular basis). This is not to mention the unlicensed and unregulated sales of weapons at gun shows, thousands sold without required background checks.
Needless to say, as so many observers have noted: gun murders – none of them in defense of hearth and home, as the conceal and carry bunch insist justifies the freedom to wield weapons of indiscriminate destruction – have become epidemic in the United States – the fourth highest rate of gun fatalities on the planet – and the highest among the top industrial nations by the thousands.
Public support for reform of gun laws seesaws back and forth – waxes and wanes – as one of the very public mass killings is first reported, then moves off the front page. Not so with those up for election this year – and that’s just about every office in the land, except some governors, including Minnesota’s. What might happen once the General Election is behind them – and us – is anyone’s guess. Will courage not present now suddenly surface after November 4th?
But the sheer frequency of such episodes now seems to be taking hold of reason among the masses – likely, even, among supporters of the Second Amendment’s so-called right to bear arms. The question may be whether the NRA’s hammerlock on the nation’s elected officials and other policymakers has been loosened by the rapidly increasing carnage by possibly deranged young and not-so-young men (all of them thus far are men), most of whom seem to have served on the killing fields of one war or another and have come home in a deadly state of mind.
TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI talk with two of those active and immersed in the area of gun ownership and misuse:
HEATHER MARTENS – President, ProtectMinnesota (or Citizens for a Safer Minnesota).
STATE SEN. JOHN HARRINGTON – newly appointed Chief of the Metropolitan Transit Police; former Chief of Police for St. Paul, MN; and Founder/Board Chair, Ujamaa Place (for retrieving young African American men from a downward spiral and breeding success).