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home : opinions : letters May 23, 2016

1/17/2013 2:32:00 PM
Letter: Wherever gun laws are most strict, armed crime rates are highest


And here we go again with our politicians, along with their cohorts in Hollywood, in the newspapers, and in the left-wing fringe blogosphere joining together to ram home legislation cut short by an Obama-mandated timetable of only a couple of weeks, charged with trying to cure all the ills perceived to be associated with mass shootings throughout the country.

It is interesting to watch our president utilize Alinsky's methods to gain whatever he wants through deception, fear and a short timetable. I'm sure the existing ills in our society will not be fixed by an executive edict of the commander-in-chief on such a short timeline. The issues that exist have been around for an untold number of years and cannot be fixed arbitrarily without much thought and discussion amongst all people involved.

It is important that certain information be kept in mind as the discussion unfolds, even though we all know many of the decisions have already been made by an intransigent dictator in Washington. It was obvious that our president was deeply moved by the atrocity at Sandy Hook, as were all Americans. We must proceed from this incident allowing cooler heads to prevail and issues which could really make a difference must be discussed and acted upon. Placing an arbitrary timeline to our national discussion negates finding viable solutions to our problems.

There are certain issues that are important to remember. In our Constitution the first, second, and fourth amendments - which guarantee freedoms of speech, gun ownership, and from illegal search and seizure - are the mainstays of our Constitution. The basic reason for the second amendment was to assure newly freed citizens they would be capable of meeting force, (either from criminal enterprise or by an overbearing government), with matching force. To deprive the citizenry of its ability to meet force of a tyrannical government with equal force is to negate our capability to remain a free and independent people.

It is easier to blame "gun nuts" than to blame the real causes of the heart-wrenching attacks that occur in our gun-free zones. Why can't it be seen that the Hollywood purveyors of wholesale violence add to our national dysfunctionality or that the creators of multiple killing games, where mass killing of people is promoted videographically and every day desensitize our youths and other impressionable people.

These desensitizing games and movies are more of a problem than are the mere presence of firearms in our society. Gone are the days when we watched family-oriented "Frank Capra"-style movies, which espoused family-values and morality and drew people together in a shared humanity, rather than intentionally alienating and segregating people from each other. It is secularization which is moving our countrymen away from the moral basis upon which our societies' bedrock principles were based for the first 200 years of our existence as a society. This secularization has taken over during the past 30 to 40 years and results with what we have now - a society largely de-void of a moral code for right and wrong, good and bad, or just and unjust.

According to a Gallup poll of Oct. 26, 2011, 47 percent of American homes currently own a firearm of some type. The number has been trending upward significantly as a result of recent tragedies and feelings of personal insecurity. It is estimated that current homes with firearms exceeds 50 percent. Recently, Americans have been buying firearms in historically unprecedented numbers and many previously available firearms and types of ammunition are now unavailable, out of stock, or quantities are extremely limited. Americans fear the tyranny of their government and believe attacks on our second amendment may result in their inability to self-protect either from criminality or tyranny.

Many screaming the loudest to curtail gun ownership rights -- the athletes, the Hollywood celebrities, the politicians, etc. -- either hire their own armed security or have security assigned to them and paid for by our taxes. The liberal elites and leftists want to deprive citizens of their right to protect themselves during times of crisis or emergency. During the emergency of Katrina, local police departments initiated a policy of confiscation of firearms from all people despite their Second Amendment guaranteed right to possess. Courts have since found local police exceeded their authority and they were eventually forced to return the firearms confiscated. One of the big problems with restrictive gun laws is that they fail to suppress the criminal use of guns. Usually wherever gun laws are most strict, armed crime rates are highest.

In many of the recent shooter incidents, the shooter illegally obtained his weapon. The Oregon mall shooter and the Sandy Hook school shooter both stole their rifles. Curtailing the sale of assault rifles or magazines would have done nothing to stop the senseless killings.

A better system of identifying and helping the dangerously mentally impaired could have. Keep in mind that these tragedies have occurred in "gun free zones" where the shooter knew he would be unopposed with no repercussions. The Israelis understand the dangers involved in living with aggression and have armed their teachers and administrators and provided necessary training in order to provide adequate security to protect the students.

Certainly we, too, can provide the necessary training and security protocol just as police departments do to verify that only the most qualified be allowed access to self-defense weapons and be charged with the responsibility to protect. Why do many businesses continue to post "no firearms allowed" signs, when "not" knowing whether a person is armed or not is the best deterrent to avoid criminal aggression? The simple fear "Are they armed?" often stops a criminal before he acts.

As Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president and CEO of the National Rifle Association recently suggested " We don't prosecute anybody under (existing) federal gun laws right now. If you want to control violent criminals, take them off the streets." Why do we have federal, state and local laws yet very seldom are the federal laws enforced? The best way to keep us safe is to turn the key on the criminals among us.

Fifty years ago at the behest of the ACLU and their multiple, continuing lawsuits, most of our psychiatric facilities were eliminated and most of the mentally-challenged individuals on permanent inpatient care were granted their walking papers with nothing more than a prescription and their word they would remain on them.

Tens of thousands of unstable men and women were allowed access to again roam the streets with only the assumption they would swallow their pills on time. The only remaining, large, mental-health hospitals seem to exist in prison psychiatric wards.

Would it not make more sense to reestablish these hospitals to treat the mentally unstable before they are able to act on their impulses? With the tens of millions of firearms available we cannot keep people from gaining access any better than we could curtail alcohol possession and use during the era of prohibition or even marijuana use today.

I believe we do need to have a national dialogue but to do so under the guidelines (and timeline) dictated by our commander-in-chief seems antithetical to a true cure for what ails us.

Gari Basham


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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, January 24, 2013
Article comment by: itsy bitsy Spider

Phew, Mr. Basham! I forgive the length of your epistle, but I wish you'd had the time to write a shorter one.

Many of your premises are worth frequent repetition and continued debate:

* If there were easy, enforceable solutions to humankind's predisposition to take arms against a sea of troubles and go out with a bang, philosopher-kings would have found them long ago.

* If strict gun regulations were the answer to that predisposition, the tragedy in Connecticut wouldn't have happened.

* The Second Amendment guarantees civilians' right to be as well-armed as any government enforcement agency--both to augment the government's ability to defend the citizenry from criminal aggression and to defend themselves against criminal aggression on the part of their government.

* Promoting the idea law-abiding civilians shouldn't be armed encourages criminal and disturbed elements to take advantage of their perceived inability to defend themselves.

* [Some] gun regulations discriminate against law-abiding citizens who can't afford to hire their own armed security and can't get public security assigned to them.

But some you haven't thought through enough to catch their inherent fallacy:

* You've turned the entertainment/predilection equation on its head. "Hollywood purveyors of wholesale violence" and "creators of multiple killing games" don't create violent tendencies. This is pure non causa pro causa. The purveyors cater (pander if you prefer) to an existing taste, and multiple clinical studies have shown that for normal blood-guts-and-action aficionados these fantasies are cathartic. (This isn't to say parents shouldn't monitor and guide children's consumption. Indoctrination, misinformation, suggestion, and negative reinforcement are as much of a problem in entertainment media as they are in other areas of life. But blaming inappropriate content for pathological behavior simply makes it harder to catch and deal with inappropriate responses. And censorship would make it impossible to discover why more people prefer Quentin Tarantino to Frank Capra these days, if in fact that's true.)

* You've assumed a belief in a particular deity is a precondition for a moral code and asserted that secularization "...is moving our country away from the moral basis upon which our societies' bedrock principles were based..." Several of our Founding Fathers were deists (today called secular humanism), several were atheists, and many of the colonists were fleeing religious persecution of one disfavored creed or another. You can debate the superiority of Christian influences over other religions, but this nation was secular at its founding. And the First Amendment guarantees it will remain secular. In fact, secular government is an absolute necessity if social violence does stem from decaying belief in specific doctrines and requires religious reform.

* You've assumed gun regulations' failure to curtail violence in this society means "The liberal elites and leftists want to deprive citizens of their right to protect themselves..." Not only is this a glaring generalization, it ignores the neo-conservative corporatists who seem to want the same thing. It also ignores the possibility of legislative incompetence.

And some you didn't develop enough to support debate:

* Restricting gun ownership is less relevant to incidents like Sandy Hook than restrictions on guardians and mental health workers' ability to rein-in pathological predispositions. True. But that's a Hydra in the pit of mental health policy and practice. And I'm sure you didn't mean concern for well-documented abuses closed state-run facilities, much less caused mass murders.

* You accuse President Obama of rushing a political agenda rather than pursuing legitimate solutions. Possibly true. But gun control wasn't on Obama's radar last term. Why is he pushing it now? He just won an election. He could have told his supporters to calm down and allow cooler heads to prevail. Why is he encouraging thems as wants'em to run out and buy AR-15s?

Since the Verde Independent isn't a magazine, I'll stop listing points that require an article or two.

I'll just leave you with this premise: The ruling establishment, both public and private, both liberal and conservative, has at least two legitimate reasons to believe they've gotta do SOMETHING to control violent outbursts before January 2014. Think about it.

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Gary LaMaster

FYI, the 2nd Amendment originated with the Virginia Declaration of Rights written by George Mason which stated that the proper, natural, and SAFE defense of a free state rested in a well regulated militia composed of the body of the people, TRAINED to arms, and that STANDING ARMIES IN TIME OF PEACE SHOULD BE AVOIDED AS DANGEROUS TO LIBERTY.

That not only shows how much attitudes have changed, it would seem to leave some latitude for common sense regulation.

Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Article comment by: Phil Falbo

@ Mr. Basham

Below is a link to a list of hospitals providing mental health care by state in the US.

You think they '...seem to exist (only) in prison psychiatric wards: http://www.theagapecenter.com/Hospitals/Psychiatric.htm

But, since it sounds good to the uninformed, go ahead and say it.

It is apparent the NRA (and therefore, all republicant and right-wing folks) have decided the new dogma for defending gun rights is now to attack the mental health care system in the US.

"They' have decided that is the real cause of gun violence.

It is never "guns" that contribute to gun violence.

It can never be the guns.

The far right's new found empathy towards mental healthcare in the US is ironic, if not their latest lie.


Consider: "“Across the country, states facing severe financial shortfalls have cut at least $4.35 billion in public mental health spending from 2009 to 2012, according to the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD).

'It's the largest reduction in funding since de-institutionalization in the 1960s and '70s.'

'In fiscal year 2012 alone, 31 states that gave their numbers to the association reported cutting more than $840 million.”
“…29 states reported they've had to close more than 3,200 inpatient beds for mentally ill people over the last four years. These cuts have also forced agencies to make layoffs, reduce funding to community providers, and generally serve fewer people in their communities.”

Imagine that, since 2009, compassionate republicans cutting mental healthcare programs.

So, now that 'they' care so much for mental health, I wonder when we will see this republicant Congress propose the tax increases necessary to begin to treat those in need so the gun violence will magically disappear?

When will that happen? About the same time you hear the NRA finally admit guns contribute to gun violence.

The Fact is, Gari, relying on republicants to have a substantive 'national dialogue' under right wing 'guidelines, is absolutely, "...antithetical to a true cure for what ails us."

Unless, of course, the dialogue is about getting more guns into more people's hands.

Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013
Article comment by: Or Mary Jane

there would be even more shootings if psychotropics didn't curb delusional behavior. Spend some time with people who have delusional behavior that are off their meds, vs the ones that are delusional and take their meds. Then tell me what group you would feel more comfortable with.

Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013
Article comment by: Brian Carlson

Could Just Disappointed be John Bond? NO the sky is not falling. Enjoy the view through your rose colored glasses.

Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013
Article comment by: The Author of the 2nd Amendment Speaks

"...to disarm the people ― that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them." (George Mason, 3 Elliot, Debates at 380)
"I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for few public officials." (George Mason, 3 Elliot, Debates at 425-426)

Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2013
Article comment by: Perry Conrad

To Just, Please don't pick up on one unfortunate utterance in Gari's letter and attempt to dismiss the entire missive.
You may rightly disagree with the terminology he used to describe the president but the rest of his letter is ultimately true and should be given due thought and credence as a group of well thought out facts presented in a reasoned manner without mania or hyperbole.
Research the facts he mentions as well as many he has left out dealing with guns and crime. Don't just attack because of an unlikable reference to the president.

Posted: Sunday, January 20, 2013
Article comment by: Mr. X x

All this, and we still can't protect our borders...

Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Article comment by: Entitled to his opinion

Mr. Basham is just as entitled to express his opinion as any of the outspoken liberals who only want to talk about gun control.

I may not agree with everything he says, but I do agree with many of the underlying reasons for mass killings besides availability of guns.

In addition to Mary Jane's comment about meds, I would also add this: a lot more of us trained and licensed to legally carry concealed weapons I think would also be an effective deterrent.

Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Article comment by: Just Disappointed

You lost any credibility when you used the term "intransigent dictator". You've never lived under a dictatorship, and have no concept of what that means. A twice democratically elected President and you call him a dictator. Your a discrace and should go live in Somalia. Typical right wing fringe paranoid drivel. Go hide in your bunker, the sky is falling!

Posted: Friday, January 18, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Jane

It seems you forgot to mention the real cause of many of these atrocities. Almost without fail, these killers have been on psychotropic medications that cause delusional behavior.

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