Saturday, September 21, 2013

The United States of Guns                                                      Tuesday, September 17, 2013
[One Nation under guns with thirty-round clips and ammunition for all.]

Our culture, as a Nation, was born two hundred and thirty seven years ago by way of armed revolution. The framers of our Constitution went out of their way to ensure the right of every citizen to keep and bear arms. Apparently this was important to them as they allotted the right to own guns in the 2nd of twenty-seven Amendments to the Constitution. Following the American Revolution, the United States faced military conflict on the high seas as well as on the western frontier. The United States was a minor military power during this time, having only a modest Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. A traditional distrust of standing armies, combined with faith in the abilities of local militia, precluded the development of well-trained units and a large professional defense corps. Adherents to Jeffersonian theory preferred a small Army and Navy.  They were concerned that a large military would involve the United States in excessive foreign wars, and potentially allow a domestic tyrant to seize power. So, how’s that been working out? Well, quite honestly, it hasn’t been going so smoothly. We seem to be getting more “war-y” and more “tyrant-y” as time passes.

So, just how bellicose is the United States of Guns? Let’s have the short look at our no-so-peaceful past.

Revolutionary War, 1775-1783, vs. Great Britain       
Northwest Indian War, 1783–1812, vs.  Shawnee, Cherokee, Choctaw Native Americans
Wabash, 1791, vs.  Shawnee, Cherokee, Choctaw Native Americans
Battle of Fallen Timbers, 1794, vs.  Shawnee, Cherokee, Choctaw Native Americans
Quasi War, 1798-1800, vs. the French
First Barbary War, 1803, vs. the Berbers, Libya
War of 1812, 1812-1814, vs. Great Britain, Canada
Creek War, 1813-1814, Creek, Cherokee, Red Sticks
Second Barbary War, 1815, vs. the Berbers, Libya
Texas Revolution, 1835–1836, vs. Mexico
Mexican-American War, 1846–1848, vs. Mexico
American Civil War, 1861–1865, vs. [ourselves]
Indian Wars, 1865–1891, vs. Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, Arapaho
Spanish-American War, 1898, vs. Spain, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, Philippines
Banana Wars, 1898–1935, Cuba, Panama, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua
Moro Rebellion, 1899–1913, Muslim Filipino tribes
Mexican Revolution, 1910–1919, Pancho Villa
World War I, 1917–1918, Germany
Russian Revolution, 1918 -1919, Bolsheviks
World War II, 1941–1945, Japan, Germany
Korean War, 1950–1953, China
Lebanon, 1958, Russia, Muslims
Vietnam War, 1956–1975, North Vietnam, China
Dominican Republic, 1965
Grenada, 1983, coup d’├ętat, Russia, Cuba
Beirut, 1982-1984, Hamas
Libya, 1986, Gadhafi
Panama, 1989-1990, Noriega
Persian Gulf War, 1990–1991, Iraq
Somalia, 1992-1993, Al Qaeda
Haiti, 1994-1995, coup d’├ętat
Yugoslavia, 1999, Serbia, Bosnia, Herzegovina
Afghanistan, 2001-present, Al Qaeda, Taliban, Afghanistan
Philippines, 2003, Al Qaeda
Iraq, 2003–11, Hussein, Al Qaeda, Shite, Sunni
Libyan Revolution, 2011, Gadhafi

This Nation seems to be in everybody else’s business, without any concern about the domestic side of things. Why, then, is it any wonder, that in the year 2013, we find ourselves mired in controversy over the proliferation of guns across the entire breadth and width of this Country? An interesting, and very disturbing, trend is emerging with each mass shooting spree we encounter. Back in the “good old” days, a mass shooting might yield six to eight people killed and, say, twenty to thirty people wounded. It seems that now the numbers are reversing themselves. Ever since the Columbine High School shooting, there have been many more people killed than injured/wounded. This statistic, alone, should make everyone sit up and take notice.

Are the bad guys becoming better shots? I don’t think so. I’ve witnessed professionals who can’t hit the broad side of a barn, with any type of firearm. It has to be that the bad guys simply have more fire-power today than they did in the past. The availability of semi-automatic assault style weapons with large capacity clips is a glaring example of what should not be allowed in the public sector. Thirty-round clips have been around for quite some time. Now, the bad guys have figured out that they can’t hit the broad side of a barn, either, so more bullets equal’s better outcomes. I have had the necessity of using this type of firearm, so I can speak from experience that the ultimate function of an AR-15, or an AK-47, is to kill as many people in the shortest period of time as possible. There is absolutely no other reason to use such a weapon. The same holds true for hand guns, like the Glock 9-mm, with similar ammunition capacity and firing frequency. It’s not just in the movies anymore; these deadly weapons are also showing up in public with laser guided sights. These are military firearms, and should remain the sole possession of our Armed Forces. You certainly have your pick of many other types of firearms more suited to individual ownership. If it’s personal protection that’s in question, then might not a simple shot-gun suffice? I can tell you, again from experience, that a basic shot-gun has a superior “kill radius” with a single pull of the trigger. It’s easier to handle, easier to aim, easier to keep clean, and a whole lot cheaper than the military style alternatives.

Then there are folks under the impression that the one major problem here is Mental Health. You must keep the “crazies” off the streets. Well, we’ve had a remarkably large community of people suffering from various Mental Health problems for hundreds of years. They are not the reason for the spike in gun violence since 1999, and the shooting in Columbine High School. Perhaps another rock to look under is that of the drug culture in this Country; both legal and illegal. It’s our dirty little secret that Mommy and Daddy don’t like to talk about. The fact of matter is that very high quality opiates are on the market, and their proliferation has driven the price down dramatically. Whether in powder form, or pill form, prescription, or street bought, we are raising a generation of “junkies”. What could possibly go wrong when you mix guns and drugs? I hate to harp on my own experiences, but I’ve witnessed, “up close and personal”, what a good dose of opiates does to a normally functioning human being. It’s not a pretty sight.

It’s time to stop this gun phenomena, come to our senses, and come up with some answers. The start of any solution to this problem begins with setting national priorities. Perhaps one of the first priorities should include the cessation of hostilities beyond our borders, and the trillions of dollars we are flushing down the toilet. While our Nation’s Military is off bombing the rest of the planet, the home front is crumbling and dying with bullets in the brain and/or needles in the arm. With our ammunition stored safely in bunkers, maybe we will have the intestinal fortitude to seriously tackle the problems of guns and drugs in our culture. Until such time, there will be more mass-casualty shootings and bombings, and the body counts will rise accordingly on a more frequent basis.

Hutch Dubosque is a Vietnam Combat Veteran, a retired manufacturing Engineer, and, currently, Vice President of the PTSD Veterans Association of Northport, Inc. (a 501(c)(3) non-profit service organization). He has degrees in both Communications and Energy Technology, and has written on a number of his “blog” sites over the past six years; concentrating mostly on Foreign Affairs and the Military.