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For the past few months, gun control has taken a large place in the national discourse. Pundits, talking heads, columnists, and average Americans have spoken passionately about banning particularly dangerous firearms. I believe we need to take a strong stand, but in order to succeed, we have to take into account the latent violence that exists within each of us. Guns have played a role in shaping the development of many American lives, even those of proud liberals.

The war we wage is not against guns as a whole, but rather the offenders who use them to kill innocent people. As a pacifist, I often find myself taking a position on this issue far outside the statistical norm. I oppose wars and armed conflict on any sort, but I know I must also keep an open mind whenever possible. Orthodoxy of any form is distasteful to me and often to blame for the overheated, noxious atmosphere that materializes whenever the issue of gun control is raised.  

An obsession with guns might be harmless enough, if kept in its proper context. More of us that might care to admit have a history with firearms, even if we don't want to confront it. We often rationalize our conduct earlier in life, though examining our upbringing in this forum might be a worthwhile endeavor.  

My mother is fond of telling a story. Prior to having me, her first child, she was convinced that she would raise me very differently. This was the ambition of many hippie parents, both then and now. The ethos is the same today. Her attitude towards motherhood, in the beginning, was super serious, unsmiling and adamant. One might say she was driven to be the best parent in the history of recorded time.

No child of hers would ever play with toy guns. This was a point upon which she was especially forceful and emphatic. She would never compromise, nor back down. Denied access to plastic toy guns, I began to improvise. I grabbed bits and pieces of the upright vacuum cleaner, and held them against my shoulder blade like a shotgun. Kow! Kow!

My grandmother was aghast. In a great show of uncomprehending disgust, she took me to K-Mart and purchased four brand new toy guns for my personal usage. After our return from the store, I played happily, running around outside, formulating a thousand imaginary war games of my own creation. My mother learned her lesson and never stood in my way again.

A little later in life, my father took me out into the country several times for target practice. I found the experience fun and enjoyable. There's something oddly thrilling about the loud boom of a shotgun blast. Dad's 12 gauge kicked back hard against my shoulder with an unforgiving ferocity. Until I adjusted properly, the experience was painful and a little scary. One had to respect a weapon that announced its presence so definitively and with such dramatic emphasis.

In time, I outgrew my interest in weaponry, though I have retained an interest in military history that now sits uneasily with me from time to time. As we age, our focus often changes substantially, but is, upon further analysis, merely a variation upon a theme. No one is suggesting that all guns be outlawed, of course. Even if they were, a substantial void would be left behind. We can't airbrush history, nor can we remove the cultural context. But this shouldn't be an impediment to reform.

If we removed guns from our societal framework, what would appear in its place? I can't help but think that some new form of weaponry would be created. Over the past several centuries, we have become a more empathetic, compassionate world in many ways. We no longer burn witches at the stake. Several U.S. states have abolished the death penalty, as have several countries. But every so often, an act of ultra-violence occurs, reminding us that we have a long way to go.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    I would not lead you into the promised land if I could, because if I lead you in, some one else would lead you out. - Eugene Debs.

    by cabaretic on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 07:54:37 AM PST

  •  You think that shotgun kicked? (6+ / 0-)

    I was about 12 when I first fired my dad's civil war era muzzle loader. He had to stand behind me to catch me!

    I'm certainly no gun hobbyist, but I was (growing up in the country) taught how to handle and to respect a gun. I used to be a pretty good shot with a .22 rifle.

    Today, I have no real desire to shoot a gun. I have other things which occupy my time.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:05:50 AM PST

  •  I started shooting when I was single digit (8+ / 0-)

    years old. I had my first firearm when I was 12, carry permit when I was 23, became a firearm instructor a year after that.

    My parents had a similar idea when it come to firearms. We didn't have toy guns. Firearms are never toys. My parents grew up around guns so I wasn't going to.

    Except I found them fascinating. It wasn't because it was power or because I could kill something. It was the machinery, the design, the intricacies of shooting, and the practice of shooting firearms safely.

    So my grandpa taught me firearm safety and I grew up looking forward to visiting my grandparents even more so than normal since there would be no guns in my parents' house and I enjoyed shooting.

    It's 17 years since I started my firearm collection and shooting is still one of my favorite past times (though it does rank behind my motorcycle).

    I also have an interest in military history, though it's mostly the WWII era and naval warfare. Do you focus on any one area specifically or are you more of a generalist?

    Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

    by KVoimakas on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:17:24 AM PST

  •  Guns and cigarettes (4+ / 0-)

    Like guns, cigarettes are dangerous.  Like guns, cigarettes used to be very popular in America: in the mid 20th century more than 40% of Americans regularly used cigarettes.

    Today, around 20% of Americans regularly use cigarettes.  What happened with this popular pastime?

    First, there was growing public awareness that cigarette use was harmful.  States and the federal government initiated a public relation campiagn to let the public know about the dangers of cigarettes.  The government reduced extensive subsidies for tobacco growers and cigarette manufacturers.  A series of trials revealed to the public the extent of lies and cover-ups made by the cigarette industry.  The cigarette industry was asked to pay the government to compensate for the costs of the PR campaign and medical costs assoicated with regular cigarette use.

    Through these mechanisms, the public enjoyment of cigarettes waned.  This despite the physically addictive nature of regular tobacco use.

    I think a similar pathway should be followed with regards to gun injuries.  teach the public about the dangers of gun use; ask the gun industry to re-imburse the government for the health care costs of gun injuries and to kick in for public messages about gun safety; stop the gun industry from making false and misleading claims about guns.

    We have waged a successful campaign to make smoking unattractive to Americans.  We could do the same where guns are concerned

    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:26:47 AM PST

    •  Guns are only dangerous if used criminally (10+ / 0-)

      or negligently.

      I am for removing firearms from criminal hands, whether that's through closing down dealers dealing illicitly or something like Project Exile (or something else that doesn't infringe upon law abiding gun owners), I'm for it.

      I am also for cutting down on negligent firearm discharges by training for those who own firearms and incentives to own firearm vaults/safes.

      Thirdly, while I support your right to suicide, I would propose better mental health care, hopefully as part of single payer.

      Firearms are only dangerous if used in an unsafe manner. Out of my roughly 20 firearms, I've not caused property damage nor maimed/killed anyone.

      Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

      by KVoimakas on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:33:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sadly - factually wrong (5+ / 0-)

        What many fail to realize is that guns are dangerous to the owner (death by self-inflicted gunshot wound is the number one cause of death for those who have bought a handgun in the previous 12 months), BUT, like the second-hand smoke of cigarettes, guns are also dangerous for those others around the gun owner (the risk of death for those who live in a home where a gun is owned is two times greater than the risk of death for those living in a home where there is no gun - and that risk is inceased further for females who live in a home where a gun is owned.).

        Sadly, it is factually wrong to claim that guns are only dangerous is misused.  This has been demonstrated repeatedly through empiric study.

        And while you KVoimakas have never suffered an injury nor been the cause of injury to others, you are nonetheless at increased risk of injury to yourself and those around you.  I used to smoke cigarettes regularly, but even though I have not got cancer, I never was so simple-minded to claim that my lack of cancer was proof of the safety of cigarettes.  (And I am happy to say I have have since freed myself from the desire to engage in self-destructive activities to satisfy the needs of an industry that profits from selling sickness and injury.)

        "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

        by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 08:57:49 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sounds like the owner was dangerous (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          theatre goon, Joy of Fishes, maxomai

          to the owner. I'm going to assume (since I've seen the firearm related death numbers) that the vast majority of those who are killed using their own firearm are suicides. I already addressed that.

          I'd love the see the stats on that by the way. Are you using Kellerman? He's not very reliable.

          I said firearms are dangerous if used negligently ('accidents') or criminally.

          And while you KVoimakas have never suffered an injury nor been the cause of injury to others, you are nonetheless at increased risk of injury to yourself and those around you.
          I'm also at a higher risk of using a firearm to defend myself and using a firearm productively. Because, you know, I own several.

          Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

          by KVoimakas on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:06:38 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  100,000+ gun injuries every year (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ratcityreprobate

            In America, there are over 100,000 gunshot injuries every year.  Only a very small fraction of those are intentionally self-inflicted.  While you have addressed suicide (in the regretable manner similar to those who yell "jump" to the person standing on a high ledge), you do not address the 85% or so of those injuries that are not self-inflicted.

            Except perhaps to say every one of those yearly 100,000 gunshot injuries are the result of criminal or negligent behavior (outside of the very rare instance where police shoot a criminal in the act of commiting a verified crime).  

            There are no empiric studies that demonstrate objectively that you and other gun owners are more likely to "defend yourself" (however that nebulous term may be defined).  Yet, every single one of the 100,000+ yearly criminal or negligent gun shooting that results in injury is documented by police or hospital records.

            The fact that so many criminal or negligent gun shootings occur every year in the USA is one of the reasons that I and others think it is high tome to limit and restrict gun sales and use.  
             

            "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

            by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:48:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Except, I did cover that other 85%. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ER Doc, andalusi

              Why do you keep overlooking the criminal usage that I pointed out and gave examples on how to curb?

              There are no empiric studies that demonstrate objectively that you and other gun owners are more likely to "defend yourself" (however that nebulous term may be defined).  Yet, every single one of the 100,000+ yearly criminal or negligent gun shooting that results in injury is documented by police or hospital records.
              There have been many studies over the years. The lowest of the low (sponsored by a government entity) was 108k.

              108k > 100k

              The fact that so many criminal or negligent gun shootings occur every year in the USA is one of the reasons that I and others think it is high tome to limit and restrict gun sales and use.  
               
              And yet, we have more sales of firearms and especially those 'scary ones' now, yet the homicide rate is dropping...strange that.

              Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

              by KVoimakas on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:54:32 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Fun with numbers and statistics (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ratcityreprobate

                As I pointed out above, every single instance of the over 100,000 yearly gunshot injuries that occur in the USA every year is documented by police or hospital records.  There is no similar objective documentation that backs the claims of the gun industry of the great number of defensive gun uses.

                While incidence of violent crime is decreasing in recent years, the incidence of gunshot injuries and gunshot deaths is increasing; indeed gun sales and gunshot injuries and deaths are positively (and highly) correlated.

                Which is another reason that I and others think it is high time to limit and restrict gun sales and use.

                "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

                by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 10:28:50 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Firearm homicides are decreasing. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ER Doc, andalusi

                  Strange eh?

                  I know you think it's time to limit and restrict. I don't. Not when it comes to law abiding gun owners. Criminals, sure.

                  Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

                  by KVoimakas on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 10:43:26 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Firearm homicides are a minority (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    ratcityreprobate

                    Firearm homicides are only a minor part of the overall gun problem.  While homicides committed with a gun are decreasing, the total number of both injuries and deaths caused by guns are increasing.

                    Nor can gun enthusiast claim that gunshot deaths shouldn't be counted because of the number of suicides: non-fatal gunshot injuries are also increasing, and intentional self-inflicted non-fatal gunshot injuries are vanishingly rare.

                    And now we close the circle: as I said earlier, gun owners represent an increased risk of injury or death to themselves and to others around them.  Limiting guns sales and gun use will be accompanied by a reduction in the incidence of gun injuries.

                    "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

                    by Hugh Jim Bissell on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 11:06:33 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Do you have the statistics for this? (0+ / 0-)

                      I'd love to see them.

                      Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

                      by KVoimakas on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 12:14:11 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  I see the table in your diary. (0+ / 0-)

                      I'm curious, do you know if the breakdown on firearm related injuries INRE accident/negligent vs criminal?

                      Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

                      by KVoimakas on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 07:20:19 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Intentional vs. Accidental (0+ / 0-)

                        If I recall correctly, the CDC further sub-classifies non-fatal gunshot injuries into the categories "intentional" and "accidental".

                        It seems to me (off the top of my head) that the terms "criminal" or "negligent"  are legal definitions, and to accurately call something a "criminal" or "negligent" act requires the findings of a court of law.  Such a finding from a court of law might not be available when the CDC goes to publish their yearly data on gunshot injuries.

                        "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

                        by Hugh Jim Bissell on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 07:36:39 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  OK, so are both types of injuries going up? (0+ / 0-)

                          Out of the rise, is it split evenly or is one more than the other?

                          Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

                          by KVoimakas on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 09:32:41 AM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I don't know (0+ / 0-)

                            I did not examine differences between accidental and intentional non-fatal gunshot injuries, only the sum total of all types of non-fatal gunshot injuries.  So I don't know the answer to your question.

                            I am thinking that your emphasis on "criminal" or "negligent" shootings is a red herring.  By definition, any gunfire that wounds a human is criminal or negligent, unless carried out by police in the line of duty or non-police acting under "stand your ground" laws.  These very narrow set of circumstances account for a only a minute number of gun discharges, and a vanishingly small number of gun owners.

                            It seems to me tautological to suggest that gun use should be free and legal, unless someone gets injuried, in which case the gun use was illegal, and after the fact, the owner should not have been allowed to have a gun.

                            It seems to me that if gun use results in regular episodes of criminal and negligent behaviors (i.e. gunshot injuries), this is exactly why gun sales and ownership should be tightly controlled.

                            Unless, of course, you find some benefit to having 100,000+ of your countrymen and women shot every year.   And sad to say, such a benefit does indeed exist for the gun industry: every person shot represents at least one gun and one bullet sold, with proceeds from those sales ultimately going to the profits of the gun industry.

                            "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

                            by Hugh Jim Bissell on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 10:43:54 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  See, and I'm for punishing people (0+ / 0-)

                            after they commit a crime.

                            Not infringing upon a bunch of people because a small % of gun owners do something criminal or negligent.

                            Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

                            by KVoimakas on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 11:11:27 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  A worthy goal (0+ / 0-)

                            I think punishing people after they commit a crim is a worthy goal.

                            May I also suggest preventing an avoidable injury is also a worthy goal?  

                            Here's a study I would love to see done.  If there are 100,000 gunshot injuries every year - injuries you say are the result of criminal or negligent behaviors - it would be really interesting to find out what percentage of the gun owners or those doing the shootings actually face a legal consequence, or better still, are denied further access to guns.

                            Some of those shootings would be suicides: they would be dead and no further consequence would be applied.  Some of those shootings would be people involved in an overt crime (holding up a gas station, say), and if convicted, would presumably never be allowed access to a gun again.  And then there would be all the other cases: curious little Johnny shooting his friend, Dad shooting himself while cleaning a gun, the domestic dispute that gets ugly (the gun industry has lobbied that those accused of domestic violence should not be denied their guns).

                            I am very curious to see how many people who discharge a gun and hurt someone - what you are calling criminal or negligent use - actually face any sort of legal consequence.  I'm guessing it is very few.

                            "The fool doth think he is wise: the wise man knows himself to be a fool" - W. Shakespeare

                            by Hugh Jim Bissell on Tue Feb 26, 2013 at 11:28:26 AM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Moving the goalposts (0+ / 0-)

                            I notice that you speak of "Stand Your Ground Laws" most of which are poorly written and badly executed, AFAK.  However there has always been a defense to assault/murder of self defense and it is an affirmative defense.  Here is an overview (http://en.wikipedia.org/...).  It originated in the Rome and is part of the common law.  

            •  As the diarist asked, (0+ / 0-)

              if we eliminate guns, what will take their place?  I'm not naive enough to think that eliminating guns will make our society safe.  People with criminal intent will always find a tool with which to carry out that intent, even if that tool is their own hands and feet.  As for negligent shootings, do you propose to eliminate all other mechanisms by which negligent injuries happen?  If so, how?

        •  Interesting stat. (0+ / 0-)

          Where did it come from?

          Your hate-mail will be graded.

          by PavePusher on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 06:58:11 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Until Newtown, none of Mrs Lanza's guns had (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joy of Fishes, ratcityreprobate
        caused property damage nor maimed/killed anyone.
        so that is hardly an argument of any weight.

        As for your other points, in order to ensure the training of those to avoid negligent discharges, some kind of registration would be required. Obviously those who are mostlikely to keep and bear their arms unsafely are the most unlikely to go voluntarily for training.

        I assume you would be in favor of universal back ground checks to avoid guns falling into criminal and unsafe hands.

        And finally, even the so called instructors are not immune from gun fails

        •  No, mandatory training for everyone. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Joy of Fishes, PavePusher

          You get safety training for everyone, since it's not just gun owners who need the training.

          so that is hardly an argument of any weight.
          Yep. She was negligent in the sense that her firearms were accessible by someone who shouldn't have been authorized to have access. I am not.

          You're absolutely right; no one is immune to making mistakes. This is why handling a firearm is a lot like riding a motorcycle. You keep alert and follow the rules so you aren't negligent and kill/maim yourself or others.

          I assume you would be in favor of universal back ground checks to avoid guns falling into criminal and unsafe hands.
          Meh. I could care less. I don't think that it will have a huge impact but as long as the NICS records are destroyed so it doesn't create a de facto registry, I'm good.

          Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

          by KVoimakas on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:13:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  So you would force people that want nothing to do (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            peterfallow, ratcityreprobate

            with guns to take firearms training?
            And you complain that universal gun registration is too intrusive?
            One impacts 100% whether they have any involvement with guns or not, the other effects only the 45% of the pop that want/own guns.
            And I suppose that the training would be free right? Or would those non-gun owners have to pay for training they don't want or need?
            Just so you can indulge your hobby without any inconvenience.

            If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

            by CwV on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:46:11 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I would do it in primary and secondary ed. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              PavePusher

              Having only gun owners take the course only partially fixes the problem.

              So yes, I would force people who want nothing to do with guns to take the course. Similarly, I'd also be a big fan of forcing everyone to take comprehensive sex ed courses.

              Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

              by KVoimakas on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:55:42 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Forcibly getting trained for something the (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ratcityreprobate

                great majority of people will never use or need?  Sex is an almost universal human behavior/experience with enormous social and public health consequences.   Gun owning is far from universal; and, undoubtedly, many parents would protest mandatory gun training, which, frankly, sounds more than a little remiscent of militarist states like Nazi Germany or medieval England, which at times had mandatory archery training so that an imperialist like Henry V could have enough bowmen to try to take France from the French.  Despite what the NRA would like us to believe, we're not living on a frontier any more or likely to be fighting a foreign or domestic tyranny with personal weapons any time soon.  So there is absolutely no rationale for universal gun training.  

                •  Sure there is. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  PavePusher

                  I'd also like to point out that firearm safety training and 'gun training' are two different things.

                  There are well over 300 million firearms in this country. The chances of you running into a firearm owner and/or firearm is pretty damn close to 100% here in the US. So yeah, on the off chance that you come across a firearm, I'd prefer you know what to do and not do.

                  Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

                  by KVoimakas on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 12:36:11 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Firearms safety training... (0+ / 0-)

                  doesn't have to include actually handling guns.

                  But you knew that and are simply trying to start an argument.

                  By the way, you sound like a Republican.

                  sounds more than a little remiscent of militarist states like Nazi Germany

                  Classic Limbaugh.

                  Your hate-mail will be graded.

                  by PavePusher on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 07:06:07 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Schools teach many things that the (0+ / 0-)

                  majority of people will neither use nor need.  Do you need to be able to deconstruct a Shakespeare sonnet, set forth a geometric proof, or explain the causes of World War I to do your job?  (assuming your job is neither an English teacher, mathematician, nor historian)  Schools teach these things to help students learn thinking skills and become well-rounded individuals, not because people really "need" to be able to do these things.

                  As for your assertion that "many parents would protest mandatory gun training," well, many parents protest against their kids receiving sex ed or being taught evolution and the Big Bang theory.  Are the protestations of parents a good reason not to teach a subject?  Do you stand with parents who don't want their kids to learn science or comprehensive sex ed?

                  As an aside, your mention of mandatory archery training made me think back to 6th grade PE at the school I attended, in which archery was one of the units.  Best. Unit. EVAR.

          •  tipped for civility (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            KVoimakas, ER Doc, PavePusher

            KV, I expect I will probably never agree with you on a lot, if not most, of this stuff, but I appreciated this exchange.  

            Dwell on the beauty of life. ~ Marcus Aurelius

            by Joy of Fishes on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 10:02:32 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I disagree (0+ / 0-)

            Meh. I could care less. I don't think that it will have a huge impact but as long as the NICS records are destroyed so it doesn't create a de facto registry, I'm good.

            I think that UBCs give law enforcement a better hammer to use against gun traffickers. If we can strike a balance between that and preserving the 2nd and 4th Amendment rights of gun owners, then it's imperative that we do so.

            ‎"Masculinity is not something given to you, but something you gain. And you gain it by winning small battles with honor." - Norman Mailer
            My Blog
            My wife's woodblock prints

            by maxomai on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 02:53:16 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  That man was not an instructor..... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          andalusi, KVoimakas

          he was a DEA agent essentially playing "show and tell" in front of a bunch of kids in a school.

          If he had any actual instructor credentials, he'd know that you don't handle loaded firearms on front of an audience like that.  

          But i guess he knows now....

          Your hate-mail will be graded.

          by PavePusher on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 07:01:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Suicide by gun is a tricky thing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy of Fishes

    I agree that it is often a tragic whim, when in the (probably) reversible state of extreme despair.

    But surely a measurable portion of the suicides by gun are done by people who are terminally ill from a physical, not mental, illnessand see no other way to hasten their own deliverance from what they see as untenable suffering.

    It is an extra measure of  horror that some intensely suffering people nearing the end of their lives seem to believe that ending their lives with a gun is the best course, for either expedient or desperate reasons.

    One of the useful outcomes of a thorough study of gun deaths might clarify this more but that seems to have been forestalled by the NRA-sponsored laws prohibiting tracking.

    Araguato

    •  Not sure that's especially relevant. (0+ / 0-)

      It seems likely to me that the methods of those suicides would be along the same proportions as other suicides.

      Actually, I would expect suicides from terminal/chronic illness to be more likely to be attempted via overdose, since in many instances that would be the method most readily available and would produce a (slightly) lower amount of additional stress for survivors.

      Off-topic: I would encourage you in any case to join me in contributing to Compassion & Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society). They do good work ensuring that people facing end-of-life situations retain some measure of control over their own destinies.

      "Speaking for myself only" - Armando

      by JR on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 10:42:12 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The by far most common method of suicide (0+ / 0-)

        among males is by gun.  Off the top of my head I can think of several male clients of mine (I'm a retired therapist) who  at more than one point in their lives very well might have attempted suicide if they had had access to a gun.  And, of course, using a gun raises the actual chance of a fatality astronomically -- e.g., it's extremely tough to kill yourself with the most common pschiatric meds,  the SSRIs and the benzadiazepines.  Of course, having a gun in the house also greatly increases the likelihood of impulsive murders.  

        •  No, of course I understand that. (0+ / 0-)

          I'm just not sure the proportions of terminally ill persons choosing guns for suicide would be any higher than the general population, and I think there's reason to believe the proportion would actually be lower among a group that's more likely to be in possession of seriously potent medications.

          "Speaking for myself only" - Armando

          by JR on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 05:00:45 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Your "likely" probably isn't. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KVoimakas

        A close friend of my family recently commited suicide with a gun.  It was well planned and executed.  The method was chosen for it's certainty and effectiveness and speed.
             The friend was terminally ill and could not obtain sufficient pain relief from official (or non-official) medication to alleviate the symptoms without being rendered essentially comatose.  The docs would not prescribe that level anyway, as they knew what he would do with it.  Which, of course, simply made the problems worse.
             My parents were working overseas, so our friend used the time until they returned to put all his affairs in order, and make out a detailed, complete and rock-solid will.  Once they were back in town, he discussed the situation with them, but not his final intent or method.  My parents pretty much knew what he was planning, but as there was nothing they could do for him medically, and as they believe in the concept of free will and the right to chose the time/place/manner of one's passing, co-operated as well as they could.  
             My father found him at his house a few weeks later, will and farewell note placed on the kitchen counter, our friend in his bed, made as comfortable as possible, and with rather determined efforts made to minimise any mess and horror.  
             The only thing that enrages me about the whole situation is the incredibly psychotic view of end-of-life planning that most of Western society seems to have, that make such contortions neccesary for so many people.  I'm glad you mention an alternative, but sadly, it's still not available to many people.

        My apologies for the rambling, just thought the issue needed addressing.  

        Your hate-mail will be graded.

        by PavePusher on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 07:26:28 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Yeah, no. Guns really do kill people. (0+ / 0-)

    And restricting access of angry, crazy, or irresponsible people to military grade semi-automatic weapons is absolutely sane policy, not to mention quite popular.

    If taking away someone's Bushmaster and 100 round magazine means instead they'll take up collecting vintage salt shakers, I'm okay with that. If it means they'll start collecting RPG's/bazookas, I think it's safe to say that we should regulate that just a little bit.

    •  Military grade semi-auto? Seriously? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wishbone, ER Doc, PavePusher

      So you'd ban an AR15 but not a Mini-14? What's the criteria here?

      Not to mention that the number of RIFLES (all rifles, not just those covered by the AWB) used to commit homicides is smaller than 'blunt objects' on the FBI's website....

      Republicans cause more damage than guns ever will. Share Our Wealth

      by KVoimakas on Mon Feb 25, 2013 at 09:57:22 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'd gladly restrict access to a Ruger Mini-14. (0+ / 0-)

        As you surely know, the sensible criteria for what some might call 'assault weapons' would be those firing a reduced caliber round (like .223/5.56 mm or short 7.62/7.92 mm) with semi-automatic action and potential for large capacity magazines. Stocks/grips/bayonet lugs etc. are largely beside the point. Personally I would gladly restrict access to pistol-caliber carbines and high capacity semi-automatic handguns as well.

        You and I will never agree on this subject. But do me the courtesy of skipping the evasions and hair-splitting when we all know what we are talking about.

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