Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Putting Virginia Tech. into context.

Thirty-two victims and their killer die in one day at Virginia Tech., a horrifying tragedy.

America and much of the world is swamped with days of news coverage, pundits are wheeled out on TV and radio to disect the whole thing.

But. I always have a but.

Put it into context.

That many Americans are shot to death every ten hours. Of every day. Year in and year out.

An average of eight-five Americans die by gunshot every day.

The same number as were killed on 9/11 are killed every five weeks.

Thirty thousand are killed every year.

Go back over the last four paragraphs , read them slowly and think about them.

This is not just armed criminal street gangs, as is often suggested. It's estimated that there are about 250 million guns, from handguns to fully automatic army weapons, throughout American society. That's almost one for every man, woman and child in the country.

Americans For Gun Safety website gives figures for 1998, the latest quoted. In Virginia that year there were 295 homicides, 531 suicides, 33 fatal gun accidents and 13 'other gun deaths', a total of 872. At 12.29 per 100,000 population that's almost as bad as Dubai's road deaths that we complain so much about. That year, 30,708 died by gunshot nationally, a rate of 11.32 per 100,000.

The battle lines are drawn of course - gun control and no gun control spokespeople are out in force.

I was particularly taken with this quote from the Gun Owners of America, who call the school "a victim disarmament zone":

"The latest school shooting demands an immediate end to the gun-free zone law which leaves the nation's schools at the mercy of madmen. It is irresponsibly dangerous to tell citizens that they may not have guns at schools."

Pretty well sums up the thinking in what appears to be the majority of America, or at least by the only people who matter, the ones with power and influence.

And I can't see that the situation will get anything but worse. It's very difficult to change something that's been a part of a culture from its very beginning. It's not impossible, it's happened in other cultures through the millenia, but the people have to want the change.

America is a violent country, created by violence & the gun and it's all ingrained in the phsyche. So in the next decade over 300,000 Americans are going to die at the barrel of a gun.

Astonishingly, they're going to accept it.

Some reading:
Gun deaths per year.

Gun Deaths By State.

Gun Owners of America.

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