Discussion topic for this month: “Guns and America”
- Do you think there is a Gun Problem in the US? Why or why not?
- Is gun ownership a ‘sacred’ right, as the NRA claims? (See Discussion Notes, below)
- Is the Constitution, as wrtten 250 years ago, also sacred? If so, are we prohibited from regulating guns?
- If you hold the Constitution to be ‘sacred’, how is your sentiment different from a theist who holds the Bible to be sacred?
- If you agree that guns in America are a ‘problem’, do you have any solutions to suggestions?
DISCUSSION BACKGROUND INFORMATION:
NEUTRAL ON THE ISSUE:
Polling on the Issues: Pew Research
http://www.people-press.org/2013/03/12/why-own-a-gun-protection-is-now-top-reason/ Americans’ opinions are all over the map…unsurprisingly, there is a large divided between political parties and gun owners vs. non-owners. If you love statistics, this is your site!
From the Council on Foreign Relations: “U.S. Gun Policy: Global Comparisons” http://www.cfr.org/society-and-culture/us-gun-policy-global-comparisons/p29735
PRO-STATUS QUO POSITIONS:
The NRA, Self-Proclaimed as ‘Freedom’s Safest Place’ www.home.nra.org Welcome to the home pages of the NRA. One thing that caught my atheist eye immediately is the conflation of gun-ownership and religion which is then expressed as the ‘God-given right of gun ownership’. Among the many, many (VERY angry and apocalyptic) articles on the NRA site is a prominently-featured six minute video decrying the ‘unholy arrogance of atheists’. In the NRA’s words: “Dana Loesch exposes the global alliance of elitists, media activists, Hollywood celebrities, campus radicals and political power mongers who have openly attacked sacred American values and the people who cherish them with ruthlessness, contempt and downright hatred. She calls out these Godless Left saboteurs for sharing the same fanatical fervor to tear apart the foundations of America as the terrorists who threaten our very survival.” See it here: https://www.nranews.com/series/commentators/video/commentators-the-godless-left/episode/commentators-season-5-episode-17-the-godless-left
Wayne LaPierre’s ‘Truth About Background Checks’. https://www.nranews.com/series/wayne-lapierre/video/wayne-lapierre-the-truth-about-background-checks/episode/wayne-lapierre-season-1-episode-5-the-truth-about-background-checks
Guns Equal Freedom: What the Left Just Doesn’t Get http://www.conservativedailynews.com/2015/09/guns-equal-freedom-what-the-left-just-doesnt-get/ “…Liberals just don’t understand why our Founders wrote the Second Amendment in the first place… As Mao Tse-tung observed, ‘Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun’…”
The Libertarian Party Postion: America’s Millions of Gun Owners ‘Are People Too’ https://www.lp.org/issues/gun-laws The official Libertarian Party line equates ‘gun control’ to the failed policy of alcohol prohibition. “The primary victim of these misguided efforts [of gun-control advocates] is the honest citizen whose civil rights are trampled as frustrated legislators and police tighten the screws…”
CHANGE STATUS QUO POSITIONS:
When Did ‘Freedom’ in the U.S. Become Synonymous With ‘Guns’?http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-schwartz/six-thoughts-on-guns-and-freedom_b_6688940.html Here is an un-apologetic response to the NRA position which the author calls out as “…a bizarre, frenzied religion…a cargo cult that worships the smooth barrel of a gun, a false idol, with its prosthetic, prophetic promise that we can blast our way into heaven…”
Freedom and Control-Control http://www.guninformation.org/freedom.html The government has an obligation to protect people’s fundamental rights such as the right to live. Thus the government has an obligation to place more restrictions on individual gun ownership if doing so leads to more lives being saved.
Why Is It So Difficult to Find Reliable Statistics About Gun Violence in the U.S.? There’s a very good reason you’ve found it hard locate comprehensive studies about gun violence in America. It’s because, since 1994, Congress has blocked and de-funded all attempts by the federal government to collect and assess gun violence statistics! Researchers who persist in trying to uncover the facts about guns in our country are harassed and threatened with elimination of funding. Read about it in this “History of the Federal Funding Freeze” researched by the American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/science/about/psa/2013/02/gun-violence.aspx
- Congressman Who Restricted Gun Violence Research Has Regrets http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jay-dickey-gun-violence-research-amendment_561333d7e4b022a4ce5f45bf “Rep. Jay Dickey (R-Ark.) authored the controversial 1996 amendment that remains in place. He wishes Congress would change it.”
- Senators Take a Small Stab at Ending the Ban On Gun Violence Research http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/senators-gun-research_568f2cfee4b0a2b6fb6f8d41 Four Democratic Senators call for hearings into ending the two-decade old ban that prevents the CDC from keeping or analyzing statistics about guns in the U.S.
‘Bad Apple’ Gun Dealers: 5% of Gun Dealers Sell 90% of Guns Used in Crimes Across U.S. http://www.thecrimereport.org/news/crime-and-justice-news/2015-11-bad-apple-gun-dealer-report
50-State Study: More Gun Laws = Fewer Gun Deaths http://www.cbsnews.com/news/50-state-study-more-gun-laws-fewer-deaths/ Overall, states with the most laws had a 42 percent lower gun death rate than states with the least number of laws… [however], it’s likely that gun control measures are more readily enacted in states with few gun owners — a factor that might have more influence on gun deaths than the number of laws.
Ringing in the New Year: The Final Mass-Shooting of 2015 http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/california-dad-killed-by-his-son-after-argument-over-washing-machine-leads-mass-shooting-1535719 He was a chronic drunk with a huge arsenal of firearms. His daughter-in-law was using the washing machine which, for reasons we’ll never know, angered him so greatly that he shot her dead. His rage unabated, he then finished the job by shooting his invalid wife and a family friend to death. His son wrestled the gun away, shooting and killing his drunken father. He is now charged with murder. Thus ended 2015 with both a bang and a whimper.
New Year! Happy?
Bring your ideas to next week’s meeting and take your best shot….but no live ammo, please!
BTW, These 10 Countries Have the Highest Murder Rate http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/10/worlds-highest-murder-rates_n_5125188.html Hint: the U.S. isn’t one of them!
the range of $20 – $25 per head per year.