Yesterday I opined, rather too emotionally, that the execution of Kenneth Williams in Arkansas was a barbaric act, an abomination. I stand firmly by that opinion, albeit with less vitriol in my heart. In several of my comment responses to that post, I claimed that we cannot, if we are determined to maintain our devotion to state-sanctioned killing, call ourselves a ‘civilized society’. ‘Barbaric’ and ‘civilized’ are 180° apart.
Just as state-sanctioned executions must be outlawed in a civilized society, so must be the unlimited and uncontrolled proliferation of guns in the hands of civilians. Yes, I realized I have gone down this path before, and I realize that it tends to garner controversy, but I feel the need, at this point, to state my humble opinion yet again. One of the main goals of this blog is to root out social injustice wherever I see it, and I see it here. Two things inspired this post.
On Friday, Donald Trump spoke to the National Rifle Association (NRA), a group that played a powerful role in Trump’s election, providing critical support in battleground states. It spent more on behalf of Trump than any outside group and began its advertising and other efforts earlier than in any other presidential cycle. Mostly, Trump tooted his own horn, as Trump is wont to do, since nobody else will. But a few statements stood out as being blatantly egregious. Here are some excerpts from his speech, along with Filosofa’s Snarky Comments:
- “But we have news that you’ve been waiting for for a long time: The eight-year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end. (Applause.) You have a true friend and champion in the White House. No longer will federal agencies be coming after law-abiding gun owners. No longer will the government be trying to undermine your rights and your freedoms as Americans.” What eight-year assault? During President Obama’s entire eight years, there was not a single serious gun regulation law passed. Not one. Nobody came and took people’s guns from their hands.
- “That is why I have selected as your Attorney General, number one, a really fine person, a really good man, a man who has spent his career fighting crime, supporting the police, and defending the Second Amendment. For the first time in a long time, you now have a pro-Second-Amendment, tough-on-crime Attorney General, and his name is Jeff Sessions.” Good man? Is he speaking of racist, bigoted Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions, who believes in every WHITE man, woman and child owning a gun.
- “As your President, I will never, ever infringe on the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Never ever. Freedom is not a gift from government. Freedom is a gift from God.” So, God wants us all to own guns and go around killing one another? That was not what I had been led to believe in the past.
- “These are horrible times for certain obvious reasons. But we’re going to make them great times again. Every day, we are up against those who would take away our freedoms, restrict our liberties, and even those who want to abolish the Second Amendment. We must be vigilant.” What obvious reasons? People with common sense? People who expect humanitarian leadership? People who are not bigots and racists? Or people who are not worshippers of the 2nd Amendment? To my ears, these words have a dictatorial tone.
- “And to the NRA, I can proudly say I will never, ever let you down.” Maybe not, but he damn sure has no problem letting down the people who are paying his salary and who expect better of their so-called leader. For Trump’s information, the NRA is NOT synonymous with We The People.
Those, friends, are the words of the man we elected to represent We The People, but apparently he only represents those of us who support completely unregulated gun ownership and proliferation, or his ‘friends’ in the NRA. Therefore, he does not represent me. Here is a link to the full transcript of his speech.
On to the second thing that triggered this post. On Thursday night, Kenneth Williams was executed in the state of Arkansas. Williams was convicted of causing the deaths of four people, three with a firearm.
Firearms are much more tightly controlled in the rest of the western/industrialized world:
- In the United Kingdom, access by the general public to firearms is tightly controlled by law. The country has one of the lowest rates of gun homicides in the world.
- Individuals in Canada who wish to acquire firearms are required to obtain a firearms acquisition certificate (FAC) from their local police agency. All firearms owners are required to possess a firearms license and all firearms are required to be registered.
- In France, the weapons law begins by stating “No one shall possess a firearm or firearms or a sword or swords”, and very few exceptions are allowed. However, citizens are permitted to possess firearms for hunting and sport shooting, but only after submitting to a lengthy licensing procedure.
- Germany has some of the strictest gun laws in Europe. Germans do not have fundamental rights to bear arms, unlike Americans do under the Second Amendment, and the country’s violent past including the Nazi era has certainly helped to shape the current strict regulations.
- Dutch gun laws are actually quite strict. Gun ownership is seen not as a right, but a privilege, with hunting and target shooting the only two legitimate reasons for owning a gun. Self defence is not regarded as a valid argument for owning a gun, and only the police are allowed to carry a weapon.
Every other western nation has a gun homicide rate of under 0.5 per 100,000. The U.S. homicide rate per 100,000 is 3.8. Tell you something?
“Overall, our results show that the U.S., which has the most firearms per capita in the world, suffers disproportionately from firearms compared with other high-income countries,” said study author Erin Grinshteyn, an assistant professor at the School of Community Health Science at the University of Nevada-Reno. “These results are consistent with the hypothesis that our firearms are killing us rather than protecting us,” she said in a journal news release.
I am thoroughly against capital punishment, and I am equally against the right of every citizen to own a gun, as anybody who has read this blog over time is aware. But today I pose these two questions: Would there be far fewer people on death row if we did not provide easy, nearly unlimited access to guns by any citizen? Does anybody still want to make the case for unregulated gun proliferation?