Will Gun Mayhem Ever End?



Photograph: Bob Capazzo

With the still vivid memory of the bloody and senseless massacre in the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater that took twelve lives and left fifty-nine wounded, wouldn’t you think there would be a spontaneous response from lawmakers and our political leaders to create tougher gun laws to protect the public? Incredibly, neither presidential candidate has spoken in favor of greater gun control, nor has Congress moved any closer to adopting effective gun-control legislation.

Sadly, Colorado was not the latest mass murder. Only sixteen days later a hate-filled gunman in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, shot and killed six Indian Sikhs at worship in their temple. The record of gun massacres in the past six years is a grisly one, starting with Virginia Tech, the deadliest in U.S. history, where thirty-two students were killed and nineteen injured. This was followed by Samson, Alabama, where ten died; Binghampton, New York, where assault rifles took the lives of thirteen; Fort Hood, Texas, another thirteen; and most recently Tuscon, Arizona, with six dead and where United States representative Gabrielle Gifford was shot in the head. While miraculously recovering, this brave lady will probably never be the same.

Wouldn’t you think this would be a wake-up call?

These are the mass gun killings that have grabbed headlines and shocked the nation. Less visible, but much more devastating and disruptive to our civil society is the sheer number of those killed and wounded by almost daily attacks in nearly every state and major city by assailants armed with assault rifles and handguns. Any doubts about how pervasive and uncontrolled these assaults and murders have become will be dispelled by a look at the statistics of police and newspaper reports compiled by the Brady Campaign and available on its website. A brief summary of each incident over the past six years includes a description of the assailant and the victims, the number dead and injured, and motives if known. The AK47 and SKS assault rifles are the most common weapons mentioned, followed by pistols, in many cases fitted with large-capacity clips. Some murders are obviously gang and drug  related; others, especially drive-bys, are often revenge and anger motivated. A significant number of the most irrational and tragic are those committed by people who are mentally and emotionally disturbed.

A few facts bring home the seriousness of the problem we face across the country:

• Almost 100,000 people a year are shot in murders, assaults, suicides, accidents or police intervention.

• Of these, a third will die from gun violence, 18,000 by suicide, 12,000 by murder and 600 by accident.

• Two-thirds will survive gun injuries. Of these, 44,500 have been injured in an assault, 18,600 shot accidentally and 3,000 have survived a suicide attempt.

• Tragically, nearly 3,000 kids were killed and 14,000 injured.

No question, our problem is of our own making. Our homicide rates are seven times higher than other high-income and well-populated countries in the civilized world, and homicides by firearms are over nineteen times higher.

Fortunately, in spite of the importance of weapons manufacturing to the Connecticut economy, we live in a state that ranks fifth among all states in the strength of its gun- control laws. We have the fifth lowest percent of households owning guns, and the fifth lowest rate per thousand of gun deaths.

There is a direct correlation between strength of gun laws and deaths by guns. Colorado, for example, ranks 39th in gun law strength, and 19th in gun deaths—before the Aurora massacre, that is. A close correlation exists for other weak-gun-law states as well.

In Connecticut, permits and background checks are required for the purchase of handguns kept at home or in the office, and a special permit is required to carry them abroad. Assault rifles, including the popular AK47 and the ARS15, are banned, along with other brands designed or modified for automatic or semi-automatic fire.  However, when these laws were passed, large-capacity ammunition magazines were not included in the ban. These magazines can accommodate as many as thirty-three rounds and can be fitted to either pistols or assault rifles. » They are what make these guns such efficient killers of people. As Peggy Noonan, Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter, famously said, “What civilian needs a pistol with a magazine that loads thirty-three rounds and allows you to kill that many people without stopping to reload?  No one but people with bad intent!”

Those who insist on a literal application of the Second Amendment should be reminded that when our founders introduced this amendment, the most advanced weapon was a muzzle-loading musket with a range of no more than 100 yards — and it took up to three minutes to reload each round.

Connecticut is the only one of seven states with strict gun laws that hasn’t banned high- capacity magazines. No one seems to know how this got left out, but continued efforts to pass legislation outlawing high-capacity magazines since then have been stalled in the state house. Spokesmen for the gun manufacturers association even referred to assault weapons as “modern sporting rifles”! What kind of sport requires rapid firing rifles with a clip of thirty-three rounds?  

Living in Connecticut does not guarantee safety from firearms. In most other states guns and ammunition are readily available from retailers, at gun shows and even online, often with little or no background checks—and they are easily transportable. The Colorado killer, for example, ordered and received 6,000 rounds of ammunition from a leading mail-order house that also contributes a portion of each sale to the NRA.

The only way effective controls and a degree of sanity will be brought to bear on the epidemic of deaths by gunfire is the enactment of universal Federal laws—not currently a political likelihood. It is a sad commentary on the degree of political cowardice, or at the very least self-interest among our elected officials, that so few will stand up against the NRA and advocate sensible and reasonable gun control laws. Will more mass murders make a difference? Will politicians ever have the courage to defy the NRA with its threats and intimidation? Or will everyday murders and assaults with guns simply be accepted as a social norm? We doubt that our nation’s founders intended, or ever dreamed, that the Second Amendment would be used as an instrument to promote murder and mayhem. The right to bear arms must be tempered by restrictions that will protect the lives and well-being of innocent citizens.

 

Greenwich Agenda

  • Nigh Season: New Paintings By David Konigsberg

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM  Public Invited   NIGH...

  • Undulate: Paintings By Julie Gross and Margaret Neill

    2014.09.13
     @ Kenise Barnes Fine Art

    GALLERY II Dates: September 13 – October 31, 2014 Opening Reception: September 13, 6 – 8:30 PM Public Invited...

  • Isaia Fall Trunk Show

    2014.09.19
     @ Richards

  • Parties at the JCC Center

    2014.09.02
     @ Stamford JCC

    A place to celebrate birthdays and special occasions. Be a guest at your own party! The JCC offers a wonderful space for you and your guests to...

  • The Many Faces of Multi Media

    2014.09.20
     @ Meli-Melo of Greenwich

    Dr. Julia Trebing, Director Creative Therapies in Stamford, CT exhibits her paintings at Meli-Melo Creperie & Juice Bar  during Sept...

  • SoulCycle GWCH for Make-A-Wish CT

    2014.09.20
     @ SoulCycle

    Make-A-Wish Connecticut is thrilled to be partnering with SoulCycle's Greenwich location for a charity ride on Saturday, September 20th!...

  • Wall Street Tennis Challenge

    2014.09.20
     @ Greenwich Country Club

    The goal of The Wall Street Tennis Challenge is to support the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation’s efforts while spreading awareness...

  • Nam Cho Trunk Show

    2014.09.20
     @ Richards

  • Arts & Crafts on Bedford

    2014.09.20
     @ Bedford Street

    Shop at over 100 craft and artisan boutiques on Bedford Street, which will be closed to traffic for the weekend. Dine in our extended sidewalk...

  • Puttin’ On The Dog Festival

    2014.09.21
     @ Roger Sherman Baldwin Park

    Puttin’ On The Dog Festival Greenwich, Connecticut the place to be on September 21st for dogs and their owners...

  • Candy Fairies Book Reading

    2014.09.21
     @ Imagine Candy

    SCARSDALE, NY, Imagine Candy brings the acclaimed children's author Helen Perelman, the writer of the wickedly sweet Candy Fairies book...

  • Chizi's Tale Book Launch Party

    2014.09.21
     @ Tudor Investment Campus

    You and your family are invited to join Diane's Books of Greenwich and TUSK USA to celebrate the launch of Chizi's Tale: The True Story...

  • Chizi's Tale Book Launch Party

    2014.09.21
     @ Tudor Investment Campus

    You and your family are invited to join Diane's Books of Greenwich and TUSK USA to celebrate the launch of Chizi's Tale: The True Story...

  • SM&NC Farm Market

    2014.06.15
     @ Stamford Museum & Nature Center

    Sundays, June 15 – October 5, 10am – 2pm We're thrilled to bring back the SM&NC Farm Market — now on Sundays!...

  • "Israel and the U.S."

    2014.09.22
     @ New Canaan Library

    The public is invited to attend a World Affairs Forum Great Decisions event featuring Seth Anziska, Columbia University. Mr. Anziska will speak...

  • Holistic Health Practitioner Kevin W. Reese

    2014.09.24
     @ Meli-Melo

    Meet Holistic Health Practitioner Kevin W. Reese & Take Home a Signed Copy of His New Book! Kevin is a holistic health practitioner,...

  • Annual State of the Town Address and Luncheon | Greenwich, CT

    2014.09.25
     @ Milbrook Club

    Greenwich Chamber of Commerce Annual State of the Town Address and Luncheon will be held at Milbrook Club. Registration 11:30am; start at...

  • Greenwich Harbor Sunset Wine Cruise | Greenwich, CT

    2014.06.05
     @ Delamar Hotel Dock

    The boat "Prudence" departs from the Delamar Hotel Dock on 500 Steamboat Rd. All the wine is sponsored through VALS with food...

  • Aaron Henry Trunk Show & Personal Appearance

    2014.09.26
     @ Richards


Show More...

Most Popular Articles

  1. American Red Cross: Red and White Ball 2014
    NetJets Hangar at Westchester County Airport
  2. Fashion Day Out
    September 13, 11am to 6pm
  3. Stars of Greenwich
    Meet the founders of the Greenwich International Film Festival
  4. 5 Key Pieces To Buy Now
    Buy now and wear all season
  5. Moroccan Nights
    Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich