Friday, April 20, 2007

Have gun, will travel

Some rootin' tootin' right-winger wrote a letter to the editor in yesterday's paper announcing that he has the solution to the gun crisis in america. More guns. MORE GUNS?! Sometimes this place is so backwards, it's scary. He goes on to say that the shooting at Va. Tech could have been prevented if only the teachers had had guns of their own. It's so sad to me that some people in this country are so paranoid and so extreme in their thinking. Yeah, sure. More guns would prevent the gun-violence epidemic in the US. Good idea. Jesus. Obviously this guy has had a little too much exposure to lead.
You know, I guess I'm just getting desensitized to it now, but when I first came here for the summer of '04, the prevalence of guns was overwhelming to me. Now, on any given day, you can hear gun shots (shotguns, handgun, automatic weapons) popping off in the distance. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's not like bullets are whizzing past my head every second, but I might go so far as to say that hearing gun shots is common. In '04, I lived north of Fairbanks in a cabin in the sticks (no water, no electricity), and I heard our redneck neighbours firing off rounds every single day. There wasn't a road sign for 30 miles that didn't have bullet holes in it. There was even an altercation between Ken and a drunk, hillbilly neighbour which ended in the neighbour and his teenage son standing at the end of our driveway with guns. Loaded guns. The police came and arrested the guy, and the family (they had a few children) have since moved away. But the point is, the mentality of some people here to just grab a gun to settle a dispute is terrifying. It's so easy. Too easy. There is no conceal-carry permit needed in Alaska to tote around a hidden gun. Granted, you need the most minimal of ID to legally buy a gun, but it's still very, very easy. I have since taken a handgun course here offered by the local NRA chapter. It was touted as a self-protection course. (I took it for my back-country, dog mushing adventures and that's it. I would shoot a moose to protect my dogs. The weekend-course was so I didn't shoot my foot off. I still can't hit the broad side of a barn door, but it was good to at least handle a pistol.) The class was extensive and we learned a lot about when, and where, and why you can shoot someone. The instructor and some of the other students were just so blas
é when talking about shooting, and potentially killing, another human being. I noticed it even when I was walking around searching for my lost dog last weekend. At the end of a muddy, windy road called Constitution Drive (go figure), there were a few ramshackle houses that were completely fenced in. On the gates were huge signs with the usual 'Keep Out' and 'No Trespassing' but then I noticed some more creepy signs in the bunch. Ones that read 'It's not worth dying for.' Meaning if you step on the property, you'll be shot. I was just looking for my freakin' dog, but I was too scared to approach any house.
But I digress.
More guns? No thanks. Stricter gun laws? Of course. But who knows if even that is the answer. Japan has the strictest gun laws in the world yet earlier this week the mayor of Nagasaki was shot and killed outside his campaign office. However, the statistics speak for themselves. Last year in Japan, a country with a population of 127 million, there were only 53 gun-related incidents and only two of those resulted in deaths. Two deaths.
There were 816 firearm-related deaths in Canada in 2002.
In the US, pop. 299 million, in 2004, there were 29,023 gun deaths. Staggering. Approximately 30,000 gun deaths in the US compared to 2. Even with the population difference, it's still unbelievable. To put it in perspective, the population of the Yukon Territory died a gun-related death in the US in 2004.
More guns, indeed.



Coldfoot said...

Not going to attempt to change your mind, nor am I going to completely rebut your points, but the statistics you cite about Japan are quite misleading.

The number of "gun deaths" in America includes suicides. Japan actually has a significantly higher rate of suicide that is not factored into the statistics.

The Japanese are much more aggressive in fighting drugs, and therefore have much lower rates of drug related violence. The US, being much more passive restricting drug traffic, has a much higher rate of drug criminals killing each other.

Tougher penalties for drug related offences would go much further to curb violent crime in America than gun laws.

Did a quick Google search and found this reference for my first point.

AKbushbaby said...

I appreciate your comment. How about both stricter gun laws and tougher drug penalties? I'm not trying to say I want more laws, but I think for those of us law-abiding, gun owners, I certainly wouldn't mind jumping through a couple of extra hoops (ie gun registry) if that is what's necessary for gun control. But, at the same time, more buracracy would most likely circumvent the problem because illegal, reckless gun owners/users will always be just that. Everyone cites ‘the right to bare arms’ but at what cost? And again, I don’t have the answer, because I have to admit, when Sam and I were rafting on the Kenai two summers ago and there was a bear in a pond behind our tent, I found solace in the fact that Sam was packin’ heat. In fact, that .44 was the only thing that let me sleep on that trip. So, I, coming from Canada, actually appreciated having some bear protection. However, I spent six years hiking and camping in the Yukon with no gun and did just fine. Anyway, you’ve sparked a lively debate and I appreciate that.