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I Said I Would No longer Talk Politics (I Guess I Lied)

I don’t write political posts. I don’t write them because politics tend to make me even more cynical than I already am, and so I self-medicate by writing humor that most people don’t find funny (so much for my career as a comedian). Today, however, I’m in a post-Christmas funk, and I’m tired of reading all the gun-control hype going around the internet. No, I’m sorry, but pithy memes won’t convince me of anything, and neither will the blinding emotional states people have over murdered little kids. Emotion is justifiable, of course. Still, we all need to grieve before we jump to rash conclusions, such as banning all semi-automatic assault weapons (whatever “assault” means). I can guarantee that Sen. Feinstein will simply use our collective emotional state against us with a gun ban bill she’s been planning for some time now. And if you’re the type who’s pro handgun, but feel that military-style assault weapons are unnecessary for common people, then you might want to get a hold of the bill text. The bill also calls for banning semi-automatic handguns that, according to the .gov summary, “can accept a detachable magazine and have one or more military characteristics”. Um, yeah. That means the most popular handguns around (Glocks, Sig Sauers, Smith & Wessons, Colts, etc.) will be banned under Feinsteins’s plan for us.

Here are some facts that are simple to understand: the U.S. has the highest per capita gun ownership in the world. When I say we have the highest, I mean it’s off the charts. No other country even comes close, yet we aren’t by any stretch of the imagination the top of the list for highest gun murders per capita. We rest at twenty-eight. Some would say–and I know this because I’ve heard it repeated in a tiresome way–that we’re at number four. That number is dishonest because it’s calculated by a simple number of murders by gun rather than by a per capita tally. Per capita is actually quite simple to calculate; most people can do it with a calculator if they keep one handy. You take the number of known gun homicides, divide this number by the total population for an exact per capita or “per person” tally, and then multiply the result by 100,000 (it’s generally given as a number of homicides per 100,000 people, but you could be creative and use a per 500,000 as long as you’re consistent in using the same number for each country).

At this point, an astute person who checks up on my stats will take note that the U.S. has far more gun murders per 100,000 people than comparably wealthy, European countries. And, yes, I agree that our status in the world of violent crime, which is closer to West Bank & Gaza than it is to Sweden, is frightening. However, if you study this chart, you will not find a clear correlation between gun homicide per capita and gun ownership per capita. It would be better for all of us to take deep breaths and consider what might be causing our high gun homicide stats–you know, those pesky underlying causes. Although you may not find any exact causative factors, you’ll discover plenty of trends. For example, there’s an enormous correlation between poverty and violent crime that must not be ignored. Also, it would be wise to consider what the war on drugs has done to our violent crime rates. Dare I ask how we’ve treated the mentally ill in our society? Dare I wonder how this correlates to the rash of mass shootings?

I know. I get it. Nobody wants to consider that we might have a hell of lot of disenfranchised people in our country. Personally speaking, I hate guns and tend toward pacifism. I want to stick my head in the sand and pretend that if we all just give up our guns peaceably, divine karma will inevitably visit us. But I’m also a realist. I’ve studied far too much history and know what happens when people are disenfranchised. I know what happens when governments disarm the people. And it’s never for the benefit or protection of the people. It’s either for the purpose of maintaining control over them (treating the people like peasantry), or it’s for the purpose of exterminating defenceless population groups.

I’m not attempting to make an airtight case for the right to bear arms in this short space. Also, I’m not opposed to any and all regulations of weapons, but don’t feel like arguing “proper regulation” right now. I don’t have a large enough readership to make a difference, anyway. I don’t know what I’m doing, except dropping words in the void because I can. So here are my last words: I don’t want to see our government manipulate us because we’re in pain over the murders of innocent children. Rather, we need to use our pain to find solutions for underlying causes–poverty, mental illness, instability.

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