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A new kind of gun-toting American

Lattes and our passive nature can't save us from gun violence. Particularly, the kind wrought on the nation by disturbing shifts in gun ownership trends.


Three incidents of gun violence in as many days last week have left the people of Seattle shaken. The spate of shootings cast an eerie pall over the Memorial Day weekend in the Emerald City, a city unaccustomed to thinking of itself as either a violent or a dangerous place.

The appalling string of shootings began Thursday with the death of Justin Ferrari, a 43-year-old father of five and seven-year-old children who was preparing for a weekend get-away with his wife and running errands in the Central Area of Seattle.

On Saturday at Seattle Center the peace and harmony of the annual Folklife Festival was shattered by gunfire which hit another bystander, wounding him in the leg. The police pursued the shooter into the crowed Seattle Center House.

Then early Sunday morning there was a series of drive-by shootings in South Seattle. With sixty bullets fired in four drive-bys, its a miracle that no one was killed or wounded. 

When such terrible and deeply disquieting things happen, we want an explanation. We want to know, “What’s going on?” We ask, “What does this mean?” And we want to know, “What can be done to stop it?”

So far, it doesn’t seem that there is any clear or simple explanation, other than the fact that we live in a violent society where 100,000 people a year are killed or wounded by gun violence.

As a nation we are not, sadly, strangers to horrific events of gun violence or mass murder. Columbine, Colorado; Blackburg, Virginia; Oakland, California and a dozen other locations come to mind. But Seattle? Land of lattes, joggers, and people so polite it may be hard to decide who should go at a four-way stop?

Perhaps that’s one meaning of the week’s terrible violence, that we in Seattle are not exempt. This is not something that happens elsewhere and to other people. It happens — is happening — here.

In an April 23 New Yorker article “Battleground America,” Jill Lepore explores America's high rate of gun ownership (There are 300 million privately owned firearms in the U.S.; enough to give one to every American).

"The United States is the country with the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. (The second highest is Yemen, where the rate is nevertheless only half that of the U.S.) No civilian population is more powerfully armed. Most Americans do not, however, own guns, because three-quarters of people with guns own two or more. According to the General Social Survey, conducted by the National Policy Opinion Center at the University of Chicago, the prevalence of gun ownership has declined steadily in the past few decades. In 1973, there were guns in roughly one in two households in the United States; in 2010, one in three. In 1980, nearly one in three Americans owned a gun; in 2010, that figure had dropped to one in five."

Beneath all the numbers there has also been a deeper change in American culture. Where many Americans once owned guns as part of a rural or small town lifestyle that including hunting, a nationwide shift toward more urban and suburban lifestyles has changed that. Now gun ownership for other reasons — as an expression of a person’s political commitments and rights — has increased. It’s less about a way of life that includes duck hunting and more about a way of life in which, at least for many, being a citizen means being armed.

This did not come about by accident.

“Between 1968 and 2012," Lepore writes, "the idea that owning and carrying a gun is both a fundamental American freedom and an act of citizenship gained wide acceptance and, along with it, the principle that this right is absolute and cannot be compromised; gun-control legislation was diluted, defeated, overturned, or allowed to expire; the right to carry a concealed handgun became nearly ubiquitous.”


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Comments:

Posted Wed, May 30, 6:21 a.m. Inappropriate

Mr Robinson, somehow you seem to have this all backwards...

Yes, there was a change in American culture, but it was an aberration that started in the 1960s, and it's almost over now.

Firearms had always been part of our national identity and heritage. They are tools we used for hunting, both for sport and subsistence. They are tools we used for protection, both personal and national. They are tools we used to compete with, both in war and in peace.

The flower-child generation looked at everything that went before them, and flipped it on it's head. Firearms became tools of oppression and murder in their view, with no redeeming characteristics.

To support their beliefs they used emotional appeals, made-up 'facts', and biased 'statistics'. They also came up with a 'revisionist' view of US law and the Constitution that de-emphasized the most forceful and direct statement in the entire constitution.

No where else do the words 'shall not be infringed' appear.

They demonized the firearm and ruthlessly slandered their owners. They stereotyped them as fat old white men who are mentally deficient. They implied that men who had firearms were compensating for a lack of sexual ability.

And worst of all, they tried and succeed in singling out firearms owners, and passing laws specifically aimed at eliminating their constitutional rights.

Mr Robinson is correct in one statement here, the NRA did become more political in the 1970s. It had to. It's members were being persecuted legally, politically and socially.

So they pushed back.

NRA members were the driving force behind this change, and they backed it in the polls, and with contributions to friendly politicians. A large and widespread membership is the only real power the NRA had, yet it was enough to turn the tide.

By fighting one state at a time, one county at a time, one range at a time, they were able to preserve firearms rights in 'patches' across the country.

In some cases, they were able to advance new legislation. In Florida, concealed carry was revolutionized with the concept of 'Shall Issue' in the 1980s.

The gun-banners solution to Florida's' crime wave in the '80s had been to post signs asking criminals with guns to stay out of certain places.

Police chiefs issued permits that that point, at their own discretion, to 'good' people. Of course 'good people' usually meant that you were a friend of the mayor, or the chief. It probably didn't mean you were Hispanic, or Black, or poor.

The 'Shall Issue' laws removed this 'power' from local officials, where it had rested since the Reconstruction. The new laws said that if you met certain criteria (mainly background checks for mental health and criminal activity) the state had to issue you your carry license.

The results were dramatic. Critics and supporters alike were stunned by the number of licenses Florida citizens applied for. The self-protection role of firearms had not been forgotten, and given a steady and visible breakdown of law and order in the state, it was needed.

And the interesting thing is, crime started going down in Florida. People started remarking on how criminals always seemed to pick on tourists, and realizing this was because tourists couldn't have a firearm in the state.

Other states started following Florida's model. Mainly in the South and West, but eventually moving across the country. Interestingly, only one state didn't have to make some kind of change to their concealed carry laws.

In Vermont, it has always been legal to own and carry a firearm as long as you are a law-abiding resident. Crime in Vermont is very, very low.

So now the pendulum has swung back. With more and more real data showing that and armed society is indeed a polite society. And that in the hands of a lawfully armed citizen, a firearm is both safe and effective.

A whole set of generations, marked but not swayed by the 'boomer propaganda is rediscovering firearms. Mr. Robinson's 'study' showing lower firearms ownership is mere wishful thinking. Just go to a range or a store and look around.

You won't see fat, old white men stockpiling AR-15s (which by the way, aren't 'assault rifles'... more propaganda). You will see twenty and thirty-somethings there with their friends, male and female.

The ranks of female shooters has swelled over the last few years. They are the fast growing demographic of new shooters. The reasons are many, but the trend is not just clear, it's in-your-face obvious.

The Boomer-generation's skewed view on firearms is dying. Americans are returning to firearms ownership for sport and protection like no other time in US history. Firearms manufactures literally haven't kept up with orders for the last few years.

Frantic, rear-guard actions like this skewed and biased article are being fought right now by the old-school gun-grabbers. They see themselves being sidelined be history, and everything they believed in being consigned to the trash-heap of history.

Future generations will look back at this past 50 years of organized oppression the same way we look back at Prohibition and say "what were they thinking'?

Is life perfect? Of course not, but it never is.

I can guarantee you that the incidents Mr Robinson mentions at the start of his article were not done by law abiding citizens with carry licenses. A fact he most disingenuously hopes you will forget or ignore for the rest of the article.

His article is filled with 'facts' that won't stand up under a minute of scrutiny (search on his 'study' for a great example). In some cases his statistics are accurate, but his conclusions have no logical connection to them.

And last but not least, his actual final words. The entire basis of the 'boomer philosophy, that emotion trumps logic.

There's a reason Mr Robinson wants you to feel 'outrage'. If you are outraged, you aren't thinking clearly. You will miss logical fallacies and won't take the time to check facts.

If you are outraged and not thinking clearly, he and his cohorts can control you. And as we've seen again and again over the last 50 years, the gun-control groups are less about guns, and more about control.

spencer60

Posted Wed, May 30, 6:29 a.m. Inappropriate

Is it me, or do these three stories have something else in common? Not one of the shooters hit what they were aiming at.

I seriously doubt that any of them had much experience with their weapon. I seriously doubt that any of them had ever been to a range. Their idea of the accuracy of a handgun (almost nil beyond a surprisingly short distance) probably came from TV and the movies.

So I see two separate classes of gun owners:

A) responsible people who have a legitimate purpose for their guns, have rifles or handguns, who know how to use them, and know how to use them safely

B) criminals who do not have a legitimate purpose for their guns, primarily have handguns, don't know how to use them, and don't use them safely

Why can't the NRA see the difference between these two? Why can't the law see the difference between these two?

We don't need to restrict gun ownership so much as we need to restrict gun sales. The right to own a gun may be protected, but the right to sell one isn't guaranteed by the constitution. We also need to regulate gun storage, both because criminals steal guns that aren't properly stored and the failure to store them properly also leads to tragedy.

coolpapa

Posted Wed, May 30, 7:51 a.m. Inappropriate

The New Yorker piece is wrong. In Switzerland every male is issued an assault rifle to keep at home upon entering the militia (which is compulsory), and is allowed to keep it. Yet the murder rate there, in one of the world's highest per-capital gun owning countries, is among the world's lowest. The issue is LEGAL ownership. You can reasonably assume that none of the shootings that took place over the Memorial Day weekend happened with a legally owned firearm.

Posted Wed, May 30, 7:52 a.m. Inappropriate

that of course would be "per-capita"

Posted Wed, May 30, 9 a.m. Inappropriate

Another thing those 3 stories have in common: it wouldn't have done any of the victims any good if they had been carrying a weapon for protection, the primary reason the pro-gun folks carry.

alally

Posted Wed, May 30, 3:47 p.m. Inappropriate

Yes. People carry firearms for protection. People also use seat belts, fire extinguishers and parachutes.

Seat-belts won't always save your life in a car crash. A fire extinguisher won't always put out a fire. A parachute won't always open.

Does that mean we should get rid of them since they don't always allow us to escape every dangerous situations unharmed?

The Dept. of Justice (much to it's own embarrassment) has estimated that firearms are used defensively by law-abiding citizens between 800,000 and 2 million times a year.

In some cases (less than 20% if I remember correctly) shots were fired, but in most the criminal simply became aware that the intended victim was armed and broke off the attack.

Having a legal firearm is like having a seat-belt in a car. The best way to survive a car accident is not get in one. The same is true for a self-defense situation.

However if you are in either, having that 'protection' gives you the possibility (but not the certainty) to escape alive from a dangerous and deadly situation.

In an imperfect world filled with imperfect people, that's about the best you can do.

spencer60

Posted Fri, Jun 1, 8 a.m. Inappropriate

But it would have helped the guy who resorted to throwing stools at the shooter.

Posted Wed, May 30, 9:32 a.m. Inappropriate

John Carlson Wrote:
"In Switzerland every male is issued an assault rifle to keep at home upon entering the militia (which is compulsory), and is allowed to keep it......"

Interesting comment. You cite the Swiss experience, and yet the first clause of the 2nd amendment defines the right to bear arms shall not be infringed in order to maintain a well-regulated militia. As I believe Paul Fussell once rightly suggested, the right to bear arms should be in conjunction with regular drilling in a local militia.

Just like the Swiss.

Bella

Posted Wed, May 30, 11:01 a.m. Inappropriate

Paul Fussell is incorrect. Both of you need to understand how the militia is defined in history and current law. It is basically every able-bodied man (with recent modifications for women in certain roles), between the ages of 18-45.

Look up the Milita Act and is amendments. The last one was in 1990. Unlike in Switzerland, the 2nd amendmentincludes all of the above as part of the unorganized miliita. It is the very basis of the pool for the draft--that unorganized militia. Everyone who registers is part of it. The "well-regulated" used to mean ensuring their would be enough arms in time of emergency. Today it means more that there is a pool maintained for the draft.

In addtion, the Supreme Court has also ruled that firearm ownership is a individual right of all Citizens, subject to reasonable restrictions. These two factors make the militia arguement moot today, but not in the way you want to beleive.

Marksp

Posted Fri, Jun 1, 5:40 a.m. Inappropriate

10 USC 13: Militia (no drilling is required)

-STATUTE-
(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied
males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section
313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a
declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States
and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the
National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are -
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard
and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of
the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the
Naval Militia.

Explorer1

Posted Wed, May 30, 9:50 a.m. Inappropriate

"In the 1970’s and 1980’s, a concerted effort, led by the re-styled and newly politicized National Rifle Association, convinced Americans of a new interpretation of the Second Amendment, an interpretation which the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Warren Burger, termed a fraud on the American people in an interview with Lepore."


It's hard to consider Warren Burger a disinterested observer in this history, since he and Earl Warren oversaw a tremendous amount of new constitutional interpretations during their tenure, most of which amassed unprecedented power in the hands of the central government. The Second Amendment is only ambiguous in the eyes of those who can profit from such ambiguity. For the Second Amendment to truly represent a guarantee of the military to own guns, it would have to be the only amendment in the Bill of Rights designed to protect the government from the people. One would also have to accept the bizarre notion that whereas throughout the Constitution, the phrase "The People" means the mass of the civil population, in the Second Amendment, and in the Second Amendment alone, it means "The Government." Such an interpretation begs credulity.

dbreneman

Posted Wed, May 30, 10:39 a.m. Inappropriate

The 1970s was a decade that brought a host of survivalist movements, perhaps in response to the economic maladies and civil disorders. That's the earliest instance, to my knowledge, that the notion became popular that citizens would be armed in order to resist an imagined future government tyranny. When crime rates spiked, peaking in the 1990s, the notion become popular that an armed citizenry would deter crime.

Perhaps it fits well with a general loss of faith in the notion of a public good, that even basic law enforcement should be a matter for the private sector. I've never found the notions persuasive that gun ownership either protects freedom, whatever that now means, or reduces crime. Nor have I ever found such ideas appealing; if the latte and jogger are symbolic of true blue Seattle, then the rifle is a symbol of a culture that is strange and alien to me.

Posted Wed, May 30, 2:42 p.m. Inappropriate

"the unorganized milita"

1978 Random House Dictionary:
militia, n. a body of citizens enrolled in military service, but serving full time only in emergencies.

Sounds pretty organized to me, unless you mean George Zimmerman. "Unorganized militia" is an oxymoron. There really is no such thing.

Steve E.

Posted Wed, May 30, 3:56 p.m. Inappropriate

You need a better dictionary... Try Webster

mi·li·tia noun \mə-ˈli-shə\

Definition of MILITIA

1
a : a part of the organized armed forces of a country liable to call only in emergency
b : a body of citizens organized for military service
2
: the whole body of able-bodied male citizens declared by law as being subject to call to military service

spencer60

Posted Fri, Jun 1, 5:38 a.m. Inappropriate

How about using the federal regulation which is in force today?

http://uscode.house.gov/download/pls/10C13.txt

-STATUTE-
(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied
males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section
313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a
declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States
and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the
National Guard.
(b) The classes of the militia are -
(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard
and the Naval Militia; and
(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of
the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the
Naval Militia.

Explorer1

Posted Fri, Jun 1, 5:39 a.m. Inappropriate

Unorganized militia is a legal term which is used in the United States Code - aka federal law.

I'd guess you are a product of our liberal school system, one who needs some history lessons IMHO.

Explorer1

Posted Wed, May 30, 4:02 p.m. Inappropriate

The Swiss example is a red herring- it bears no resemblance to the situation here, and cannot be used to draw parallels.
First- the Swiss do not OWN these guns- they are given stewardship of government owned guns, which are meticulously tracked. The guns are regularly inspected to make sure they are NOT used. The ammo is sealed, and you are in big trouble if you unseal it. So the Swiss do not have LOADED guns in their houses, they do not carry these guns with them, and they are forbidden from using them for self protection if a burglar breaks in- they are for militia use only.
So these guns have zero effect in deterring crime.

For a Swiss citizen to have a non-militia issue gun, he must have a permit, which is difficult to get. You must have a plausible (to the government) need, and you must take classes. Even then, you cannot just carry- you can only transport UNLOADED weapons in public to specific destinations.

So-the Swiss do not have an answer that helps out this argument much- their gun laws are much stricter than any in the USA, and more draconian than any that have been proposed by current lawmakers.

Ries

Posted Fri, Jun 1, 5:34 a.m. Inappropriate

So you are trying to say that when the Japanese Admirial stated the Japanese would loose a ground war with the US as there was a gun behind every blade of grass he was wrong? Some history would do you some good IMHO!
Gun ownership is a distraction when it comes to need to use one in self-defense. You have one (with ammo) or you don't, it does not matter whose name is on some piece of paper somewhere when your life is on the line.
The American government was established by honest men (who made a few mistakes) for honest people. Today we have biased folks publishing their propoganda while calling it news and anyone can spew do-do on the Internet and call it factual (while the sheeple are ignorant due to our liberal school agendas and too lazy to look up real facts or confirm what was said).
As for guns having no effect on crime, the following link should provide you some education if you are open enough to really understand the data.

http://www.duke.edu/~gnsmith/articles/myths.htm

Explorer1

Posted Wed, May 30, 10:42 p.m. Inappropriate

The subject of gun control, and many other subjects, are misunderstood because most Americans have been tricked out of their rights by politicians and the judiciary. The Second Amendment is not ambiguous where it says "the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed". What most Americans don't know is gun ownership is a God-given Natural Right because everyone has the right to defend themselves with any available tool (rock, club, sword, bow & arrow, or gun). Americans owned and carried guns prior to the Constitution and Second Amendment being written. This is proof the Second Amendment is only a document that is "supposed" to guarantee our right to be armed "in writing".

There might be 100,000 shooting by Police and Criminals in America each year, but according to the FBI there are over 2 MILLION lives saved each year because of guns. Please read this article for detail on gun rights http://blog.americanfreedombooks.com/2011/12/05/know-your-rights-second-amendment.aspx.

There is no lawful law that can be passed by man's government that can override a Natural Right. Gun control laws are legal(unconstitutional). Legal laws are fictional. The Founding Father's created America to be run by lawful laws (constitutional). Lawful laws are real laws. The "legal Democracy" certain treasonous politicians have created for America the past 200 years has been used to replace the "lawful Republic" created by the Founding Fathers. To learn more about legal versus lawful download the free information here http://www.americanfreedombooks.com/.

It is true when the author of this article says "When guns are a part of the mix, what might, without them, have been a fist fight and a bloody nose becomes a shooting and a fatality." On the other hand, when you look at the unconstitutional Patriot Act, NDAA Indefinite Detention of Americans, and the latest peacetime Martial Law Executive Order by President Obama it appears politicians are robbing us of our freedoms. So, when guns are NOT a part of the mix, what might have been a nation of free people usually becomes a dictatorship. Every American in the Founding Fathers' day had guns even before we declared our independence from King George; otherwise we would still be subjects of the Crown today.

Posted Fri, Jun 1, 5:25 a.m. Inappropriate

What do you expect? You want the people to be unprotected sheep in the land of wolves (criminals) that our so-called justice system refuses to deal with???

The seminal case establishing the general rule that police have no duty under federal law to protect citizens is DeShaney v. Winnebago County Department of Social Services (109 S.Ct. 998, 1989). Frequently these cases are based on an alleged ``special relationship'' between the injured party and the police. In DeShaney the injured party was a boy who was beaten and permanently injured by his father. He claimed a special relationship existed because local officials knew he was being abused, indeed they had ``specifically proclaimed by word and deed [their] intention to protect him against that danger,'' but failed to remove him from his father's custody. ("Domestic Violence -- When Do Police Have a Constitutional Duty to Protect?'' Special Agent Daniel L. Schofield, S.J.D., FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, January, 1991.)

It is a LEGAL FACT, the purpose oflaw enforcement is NOT to protect citizens! Even when they do bother to show up, they 1) normally arrive well after the fact and 2) serve as fact collectors to fill out a never ending stream of paperwork. The crime victim then becomes a victim of our legal system and probably will end up with a huge attorney bill on top of what ever damages they thug created, assuming the victim is still alive.

A read of the Federalist Papers will provide a solid background of the attitudes surrounding and the real meanings of the statements in the US Constitution.

A reading of 10 USC § 311 - Militia just may show many, many liberals that they are in fact part of the militia!!!

Explorer1

Posted Fri, Jun 1, 9 a.m. Inappropriate

Always remember: when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.

Posted Sun, Jun 3, 3:40 p.m. Inappropriate

Why is it we always want to take the easy way out of this conversation.

I don't like guns... especially the automatic type because their only real use seems to be against humans. So what I say next may surprise some.

Guns are NOT the problem, and as long as as we keep trying to "fix the gun problem" we will fix nothing. It's like putting a bandaid on your head because you have a headache. Nonsense.

So what's really going on? Let's look at the evidence. Every single one of these shootings (as well as other forms of murder, like the rape and beating of a 2 year old) involved men who felt (1) they were entitled to something and (2) they had a right to take it by some form of violent force. Rather than seeing violence as a final, defensive option, they went to it as their first, offensive option. No one should be surprised to see this happening. After all, we justified our invasion of Iraq the same way. And our local police department has repeatedly used violence when it was obviously not necessary (girl in jail, young man already on the ground, and of course John Williams to name just a few).

We need a local and national movement OF MEN who make it clear that if you can't resolve a problem without violence then you are not a real man. We need to teach young men that there are a whole array of options that don't involve violence, and that sometimes the most difficult, powerful, and manly thing to do is walk away. That violence is the loser's final act. And that using a gun to get your way (be it to rob a store, bring your partner into submission, or anything but defend yourself from an attacker) is the ultimate proof of cowardice.

THAT's how you make a real impact. This conversation about guns is a useless and idiotic distraction.

Posted Sun, Jun 3, 8:36 p.m. Inappropriate

Long, long, long jail sentences should work wonders.

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