Friday, August 8, 2008

More Guns More Violence

By : Reza Jitno

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At Virginia Tech around 9:30am, April 16 2007, Emily Hilscher walked content into her German Class. Little did she know it was going to be the last thing she did in her life—as she became the first victim of Cho-Seung-Hui—a crazed madman who used two handguns bought from a nearby firearms store, Roanoke Firearms, under Virginia law, to brutally and without conviction end the lives of 32 innocent people. I watched this on the news, thinking, not only that America had unsuitable gun laws, but that Australia’s Gun Law Reforms had a mass impact in Australian societies—but heck, why didn’t America follow suit??
Guns have caused much bloodshed.

America’s culture was where guns and violence increasingly have become a part of life. Did this kind of culture not have a profound effect on Cho-Seung-Hui? According to Jeffrey A. Roth’s Firearm and Violence, guns make violence easier to commit, as they make it simple to kill or injure a person. Cho had problems— he would become more depressed and his life would become twisted—inside he started changing into an atrocious, cruel monster. He started despising everyone—Cho became ‘delusional’, and when he bought a semi-auto 0.9mm Glock and a Walther P22, his transformation was complete and he became the madman every American knows today.

In America, the only thing stopping you from getting a gun is if you committed a felony. Other than that, buy a gun and 80 rounds of bullets and no-one asks a question. Do these people know that 60% of all murder victims in the US, about 12000 people in 1989 (latest year for data from Dr. Roth’s study) were killed with firearms and that firearms attack injure, leaving some permanently disabled, a good 70000 more victims? Well, evidently America didn’t know or want strict gun laws, because they didn’t change the slightest on any of their current gun “laws”.

Many American’s don’t want gun laws because of their “freedom”. Obviously, typical gun-pro ideas of “freedom” were much more valuable than the lives of gun victims. What is freedom, anyway? Just because people have guns, people have freedom? Not everyone has the same values for freedom, but America’s typical, ideal ‘freedom’ is to have the ability to protect yourself with a gun—a weapon with an incredibly high fatality rate.

Unlike one of Australia’s biggest mass shootings, where at Port Arthur Martin Bryant killed 35 innocents and seriously injured 18 by a gun openly advertised and sold by law abiding fire-arm dealers as an “assault weapon”, America did not have a gun reform. Before Australia’s gun reforms and a decade up to and including Port Arthur, Australia experienced 11 mass shootings where 100 died and 52 were wounded. After 10 years of the gun reforms, not even one mass shooting has occurred. For this reason, Australia is a safer place—as finally, in 2002-2003, Australia’s rate of 0.17 gun-related homicides was one-fifteenth that of the US—an incredible difference.

American Gun Lobby leaders want us to believe that psychiatrically disturbed people are the main cause of the problems. In a book by Crook and Harding: “Gun Massacres in Australia”, there are 32 random killings examined in the book—and the evidence in the book indicates how inaccurate the information upheld by the Gun Lobby leaders are. The evidence states that only 4 of the 32 killers had a criminal conviction, and there were only three who had recognised psychiatric problems!

Before the gun reforms and in the eleven years between January 1987 and January 1998, Australia experienced about three horrible gun massacres per year, and on average, four people died in each of those massacres. There is only one other western nation to experience such a massacre rate—take a guess—it’s America!
Then why do American Gun Lobby leaders want American gun availability replicated in Australia? What stops an irrational, fury-filled person who bears an astronomical grudge on someone, blowing their victims heads off with a gun? The typical answer of gun pro Americans: another gun to defend yourself with. What would happen if both parties had no guns?? Michael Moore, “Bowling for Columbine” says, “Why don’t you use Gandhi’s way? He didn’t have a gun, and he defeated the British Empire.”

In the end, even though guns make it easy to defend yourselves—at a bitterly high price of even more innocent lives—they make it a cinch for an irrational person to kill, injure or threaten. It makes me think, if the statistics confirm that guns are causing more bad than good, why doesn’t the United States follow suit in Australia’s gun reforms? Or are the Lobby Leaders just in complete denial? All America’s doing is inevitably walking on the road that will cause, sooner or later, the devastating effects of another mass shooting.