A Cultural Comparison: Gun Violence In The US And Europe (Part 1)

by on January 8, 2013 · 24 comments

in Editor's Picks, Encore, Government, Politics

Editor’s note: Originally published on Jan. 8, the San Diego Free Press is republishing this three-part series in honor of the one year anniversary of the Newtown school shooting, which claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults.

By Frank Thomas and John Lawrence

Guns; robbery. A man points a handgun directly at the camera.While US gun crime and all crime levels are slowly but almost imperceptibly declining, they still remain relatively astronomically high compared with Europe. In this article, we compare US and European levels of gun violence and gun control to see if we can make any sense of the gun debate in the wake of the increasing frequency of mass murders as well as the almost mundane everyday killings in urban areas like Chicago and Detroit. Frank is an ex-pat who has lived in Europe for over 30 years. John has lived in San Diego for over 40 years.

It’s time to get serious on prohibiting gun acquisition or possession by people with a history of mental illness and by high risk groups such as felons, drug addicts or alcoholics. It’s time to get serious on limiting civilian gun sales to one shot at a time pistols and rifles with cartridge or chamber capacities of no more than six bullets. It’s time to get serious on conducting thorough criminal and mental health background checks and having waiting periods for high risk people and first-time buyers seeking gun permits. 

Complicating matters, in my (John’s) view, is that most mass murderers have no prior record of mental illness nor have they obtained their guns illegally. The main problem, we believe, is that so many legal and illegal guns are out there, particularly powerful high bullet capacity semi-automatic weapons and assault type pistols and rifles, that only an all-out effort to get them off the street and out of households is going to do any good. It’s the easy availability and sheer number of guns that creates our unique climate of gun violence.

Part 1 – The 2nd Amendment Right to Keep and Bear Arms           

biblegunsUnlike Europe, America’s 2nd Amendment has given constitutional support to a culture where the gun is designed, worshiped, and elevated to a sacred, very efficient killing status.

While our nation has had a somewhat constant, but international-wise very high, level of homicide violence, gun proliferation has enabled a greater portion of that violence to become deadly in sharp contrast to Europe. Pro-gun advocates like to say that violent crime rates are far higher in Europe as a result of restrictive gun controls. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Clearly, the original intent of the 2nd Amendment was to create a militia of citizens to protect the country from foreign invaders, especially the British who had just been beaten in the War of Independence and would have had another try at it in the War of 1812. The militia concept took the place of a standing army.

The English Bill of Rights of 1689, which predates our Bill of Rights by 100 years, codified an ancient self-protection right with the words, …  “subjects who are Protestants may have arms for their defense suitable to their conditions and as allowed by law.”  This gave birth to the English common law right to keep and bear arms for self-defense, but the vague wording is a far cry from the absolute wording of our 2nd Amendment: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

In the 18th century, the Swiss “citizens militia” model was cited in support of passage of the 2nd Amendment to our Constitution on the rights of citizens to keep and bear firearms. Since its founding in 1291, Switzerland has allowed and even required its citizens to arm as a defense against Europe’s despots. For centuries a well-armed Swiss populace has kept its independence by defeating the mighty armies of European monarchs. The Swiss learned early that tyrannical invading foreign forces kill more people than do criminals or the deranged. The Swiss militia took the place of a standing army as did American citizen militias in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Thomas Jefferson was the first to suggest we should not have a standing army and wrote a series of letters in 1787 urging James Madison and others to write this into the Constitution. The idea was that, instead of a standing army, every able-bodied man in the nation should be required to be a member of a local militia, under local control, with a gun in his house. If the nation were invaded, word would come down to the local level and every man in the country would take arms and constitute a de facto army (following the Swiss model).

Militias were clearly meant by the Founding Fathers to take the place of a standing army. However, a permanently standing US army was established in WWII. As such, it took the place of militias making them unnecessary and also to a certain extent making the basic intention of the 2nd Amendment superfluous.

In 1791, US Representative Andrew Jackson acknowledged the Swiss influence on the right to bear arms when he said: “The inhabitants of Switzerland emancipated themselves by the establishment of a militia which finally delivered them from the tyranny of the lords.” Similarly, the right to bear arms as part of a “well regulated militia”  formed the original basis for our 2nd Amendment. General Wingate, founder of the NRA, heaped praise on the Swiss militia model as being the ideal model for securing the country’s security.

First came a legal challenge in Aymette v. State (1840) where the court held that, “citizens have an unqualified right to keep and bear arms.” The court held this right is not just for those individuals who are members of the militia.

Then came the vague, poorly arrived at and seeming contradictory decision in U.S. v. Miller (1939) where the court held that the 2nd Amendment “protects the right to bear arms only if the arms in question are those that would be useful as part of a civilian militia.”

Finally, Justice Scalia in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) held that the 2nd Amendment “protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in the militia.”

Then came a landmark case McDonald v. Chicago (2010) where the Supreme Court held the right to “keep and bear arms” under the 2nd Amendment applies also to the states. The District of Columbia v. Heller ruling was vague on the scope of gun rights in regard to states.

However, under the banner of linking “freedom” to personal armed “readiness,” the NRA has long adopted the position that efforts to restrict gun sales – whether semi-automatics, AR-15s, AK-47s, machine guns, or hunting rifles – are an “assault” on our constitutional rights under the 2nd Amendment. In truth, the 2nd Amendment does NOT sanction the individual right to semi-automatic and automatic firearms.

Further, the NRA propagandizes that inadequate gun control laws have nothing to do with the epidemic of gun-related killings. “People kill, not guns”´  is the NRA’s motto … rather than “People kill with guns.” According to the NRA, the way to make people safer is MORE semi-automatic guns and better background checks on society´s psychiatrically disabled.

GunPolicy.org

GunPolicy.org

In Europe today, there is no absolute right to own a gun. The British strictly control the possession of most types of arms for the common good. Criminals, children, and the mentally ill are not allowed to be armed. The UK Firearm Acts of 1968 and 1998 setrigid requirements for a firearms certificate. Firearms such as rifles and shotguns as well as ammunition must be stored and locked securely – preferably in specially manufactured firearms cabinets. This is to prevent to the extent possible any “unauthorized” person from taking or using them. An “unauthorized” person is someone who does not have a firearm or shotgun certificate.

Ad hoc inspections control this regulation, including regulations regarding carrying a gun on the street. Violations result in serious fines plus up to six months in prison (and possible loss of firearm certification). Center-fire, self-loading, and pump action rifles are banned as well as automatic weapons. Gun rights and strict rules have culturally evolved to a point where today Britain has one of the lowest gun ownership levels and gun homicide rates in the world. Further, this has not resulted in high non-gun homicides or a high violent crime culture as purist anti-gun control believers like to say.

Switzerland also has no constitutional guarantee of an individual´s right to bear arms. The national legislature could ban gun ownership anytime if it wished. But today Switzerland is a heavily armed nation (but at half the rate of gun ownership as the US). This reflects a centuries old Swiss culture of having arms to resist possible invaders or despotic tyrants, for example, Hitler in WWII.

The country’s high gun ownership level comes with a very low gun homicide rate compared to the US. All males at 18 must join the military and can take their military assault weapon home with them when they leave the army. Thus, up to 500,000 military assault weapons (or approximately 6 guns per 100 population) are estimated to be in Swiss households today. These weapons must be locked up and ammunition is kept in central arsenals. However, there is a movement afoot to relocate these military weapons out of the home and into depots.

The government supplies bullets for shooting festivals. Canton police may issue special permits for civilians to own assault rifles – typically as licensed collectors – and such weapons may not be fired in full automatic mode. While gun ownership laws have tightened on handguns and non-military weapons, it is still relatively easy to get a hand gun. But, it is illegal to carry guns in public.

Switzerland has many guns but few murders … thanks to strict gun control laws and a popular recreational shooting culture. The country hosts some of the largest rifle shooting events in the world. Swiss households use firearms mainly as a peaceful, sport-shooting family occupation at contest festivals where eating, drinking, socializing abound. Shooting-range festivals have come to be recognized as a wholesome community activity. Well-enforced rules apply to permits, safety training, and gun/ammunition handling. Ammunition sold at ranges must be used there. Males 20 to 42 must keep their rifles and pistols at home. This culture fosters gun safety. Over time, these social attitudes have helped to keep Swiss total gun and non-gun homicide rates far below those of the U.S.!

Continued in Part 2: Some Factual Gun Statistics (Tomorrow)

 

JEC January 8, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Emphasis on the 2nd amendment ignores the first half of the one sentence – “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Switzerland in a way is arming a well regulated militia. The USA does not. It seems the intent of the 2nd amendment was not just to put arms in the hands of the people but to put the people with those arms in a well regulated militia. My read of the complete sentence tells me that ownership of weapons, especially military type, requires membership in a well regulated militia – a state militia. Do you think Alex Jones would be accepted as a member of a state run militia?

Mike January 8, 2013 at 5:24 pm

In the last paragraph you state; “Switzerland has many guns but few murders … thanks to strict gun control laws and a popular recreational shooting culture.” That statement is false – Any correlation between rates of gun ownership and murders has been proven to be spurious (nonexistent). (See WOULD BANNING FIREARMS REDUCE MURDER AND SUICIDE? A REVIEW OF INTERNATIONAL AND SOME DOMESTIC EVIDENCE ~ DON B. KATES AND GARY MAUSER. Example: In 2002/2003, the Swiss rate of gun ownership was 4 times that of Russia while Russia’s murder rate was 20 times that of Switzerland’s. In Germany, Norway and Austria, the discrepancy was even greater. Please do a little basic research before printing blatant and biased untruths.

Doug Porter January 8, 2013 at 7:56 pm

Oh, the Don Gates who’s with the Pacific Institute (the right wing ‘think’ tank) and Gary Mauser (with Canada’s equivalent of the NRA). Yeah, they’re REAL unbiased.

JEC January 8, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Japan has few guns – 2011 they reported 9 deaths by gun. Yes – 9. We are not Switzerland – but we’ve known for a long time – our differences fuel tempers and guns make it easy to act – get rid of the guns; fewer deaths by fists. The gun brute hero Alex Jones imagines some insurgency – a 21st century violent revolution to blow up America. That his justification for building an arsenal. A good neighbor policy – right?

bob dorn January 9, 2013 at 8:52 am

In their zeal, gun people will say over and over again, Guns don’t kill, people kill. Guns are designed to kill. So far, guns have been doing it more efficiently than any other weapon. If gun people can seriously believe that guns aren’t the problem it’s because they haven’t realized that they are advocating putting killing devices in the hands of every human being; they’re arming people, who then go out and kill.

Frank Thomas January 9, 2013 at 10:39 am

Mike,

By European practices, both Switzerland and Norway are relatively highly armed
(although much less so than the US) under very STRICT gun control conditions, yet they have low non-gun and gun-related homicides as do other EU countries. This does not mean a maniac can not do massive harm as happened in Norway recently. Social attitudes towards guns for Switzerland, Norway and for all other EU nations are entirely different from those that have evolved in the US. These European cultural attitudes play a major role in the relatively low gun homicide rates and all other homicides by other means. There’s no general EU culture feeling it’s necessary to have a gun in one’s home for protection against criminals. I have observed this directly having lived and worked for over 30 years in different parts of Europe. Our Part 1 writing has already already noted some key societal differences towards guns in the case of Switzerland and the UK. And we will go much deeper into these societal factors in Parts 2 and 3.

Why is it so surprising that Russia has more homicides than Switzerland even assuming your more than highly questionable assumption is correct that Russia has fewer guns than Norway! For decades since Lenin, Russia has had a deep, ruthlessly criminal mafia establishment that is very well armed with unregistered guns of all types as well as many other lethal means and ways to eliminate people. In terms of stable, democratic, law-abiding, societal development, you are comparing oranges and apples when you try to make vi0lent crime correlations between Russia and Switzerland.

Britain has extremely low gun possession levels and gun murders are also extremely low. So the correlation between very low gun ownership levels and low homicides of all types applies here as it does for ALL EU-17 nations with exception of Switzerland and Norway! And the standard fanatic anti-gun control argument that the UK (and the rest of Europe for that matter) compensates for its almost zero gun homicides each year with much higher deaths and crimes rates by other means relative to the US — e.g., clubs, knives, strangulation, poisoning, etc. — is pure FANTASY by any reliable international statistical measurement!

Our statistics are taken from the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime as well as publications by the FBI. The UNODC uses standard definitions for Intentional Homicides ( by guns and non-guns) and gun homicides. Suggest you wait and read our entire report before hyping the obvious one-liner cliches amd mistruths about European vs. US violent crime levels with and without guns.

John Lawrence January 9, 2013 at 11:42 am

News Flash: Vice President Joe Biden just announced that the Obama administration is considering executive action on gun control. I hope they go ahead on this and do as much as they can because Congress will never cooperate to pass any laws regulating guns or anything else. They will obstruct and hinder anything President Obama wants to do just as they have for the past two years. I hope the American people wake up and vote those Tea Party Yahoos out of office in 2014.

One of the possibilities is the creation of a National Gun Ownership Database.

Walmart has decided to participate in the White House debate over guns tomorrow by sending a LOBBYIST to represent them. Nice move, Walmart!

Also Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly are setting up a PAC to lobby for gun control. May it rise to be more powerful than the NRA!

Alex January 9, 2013 at 10:03 pm

Let’s be honest here, vehicles kill more Americans than do guns. I agree that there should be a registry, there is nothing wrong with that concept. However, limiting and controlling what type of gun a citizen can own is limiting their ability to rise effectively against a tyrannical government. Which, mind you, was the whole purpose for the 2nd Amendment; this wasn’t aimed solely at the Brits either, but also at our own government body should the need ever arise. Gun “control” is a joke in and of itself, if our government could control them so well, operation “Fast and Furious” would have been a bigger success, as opposed to the massive failure that it was. Side note: article did nice job of giving a graph that shows us the comparison of gun ownership across countries but not the gun related crimes…

John Lawrence January 10, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Yes, auto accidents are the leading cause of accidental deaths, But guns are the second leading cause. More than 30,000 deaths per year. More suicides than homicides.

With the sophisticated defense establishment that we have, the idea that the citizenry could rise up and take over the country with guns is indeed a joke. “Fast and Furious” was indeed a debacle. It had nothing to do with gun control.

Frank Thomas January 10, 2013 at 4:19 am

Dear Readers:

For clarity sake, here is statstical BIG PICTURE of US and European gun and non-gun homicides in 2010:

TABLE 1: …..(1) % of Homicides by Guns; …..(2) Gun Homicide Rate Per 100,000 People; …..(3) Guns Per 100 People

United States………..67.5%…….3.2…….89
Canada………………..31.0%…….0.5…….31
England………………..9.0%…….0.1………6
Switzerland………….31.0%…….0.2…….46
Norway…………………7.0%…….0.1…….31

EU-17 Average……..28.0%……0.3…….26

TABLE 2: …..Number of Intentional Homicides; Number of gun Homicides; Intentional Homicides Per 100,000 People

United States……….12,996……..9,960……..4.2
Canada……………………554………..173………1.6
England…………………..638………….58………1.0
Switzerland……………….52…………..16……..0.7
Norway…………………….29……………2……..0.6

Total EU-17…………..3,528…….1,164
EU-17 Equivalent……2,702………884 = Adjusted for Population Differences

Times US Higher…. 4.8 Times…11 Times

EU-17 Average………..208……….68 = Unadjusted for Population Differences

Sources: UNODC, Small Arms Survey, FBI Data on Wikipedia

NOTE: 2011 and 2012 data show relatively very similar results that gun and non-gun violence (as well as overall violent crime rates and incarceration rates per 100,000 people) are far higher in the US vs. Europe.

John Lawrence January 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Please see Frank’s article Gun & Non-Gun Homicides in US and Europe for a more detailed explanation of homicide rates. Both gun and non-gun homicide rates are lower in Europe giving the lie to the claim that non-gun homicide rates in Europe went up as gun homicide rates went down.

Alex January 10, 2013 at 3:48 pm

I appreciate the followup with the hard data, however the fact about US vs Europe gun and non-gun homocides was part of my rebuke. And as stated earlier, there are many options to bring to the table than the narrowminded concepts that are being overly publisized. Total erradication of what is loosely being referred to as “assault weapons”, especially by executive power, will not solve the issues that you have written about. Case in point, many criminals that are locked up can not get any form of fire arm, however some of them still “shank” other inmates. Besides that, where would it end? You take the weapons as originally slotted and criminals start using revolvers, which news flash, can still kill. Limit too far and then you will get a whole new underground market of fire arms and home manufactured weaponry that has not been tagged or inspected by anyone. Better bet is to 1) Create the nation wide gun registry, this should not be an issue to those that actually are willing to meet in the middle 2) create a tax, like California’s “sin tax” on all weapons and merchandise that is associated with “assault weapons”-the actual definition as it is by the ATF-give that tax money to orginizations that can help get the illegally used crap off our streets and 3) conduct more thorough background checks. End state is, given that over the last decade that vehicle deaths in the nation have been far higher than that of fire arms (United States Census Bureau compared against UNDOC and FBI on Wikipedia) with no real increase in attempting to diminish those numbers and no outcry for taking away sports cars and such, the whole concept of an absolute ban against guns is ludacris.

yoyo January 16, 2013 at 9:31 am

You say inmates shank each other. Why not just give them assault rifles? Make it easy for murderers to obtain very lethal weapons. That will solve the issue. Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. That’s why it’s a good idea for Iran to have nukes, because nukes aren’t going to kill us, the Iranians are. I’m not against gun ownership, but am baffled by stubborn insisting of making it easy for murderers to obtain guns.

John Lawrence January 11, 2013 at 9:42 am

Point of fact: Ludacris is an American rapper. Ludicrous is an English word. I don’t think the same logic that ended Prohibition applies to guns. I don’t think people will be making homemade guns they way they made moonshine and bathtub gin.

Almost everyone agrees with the concept of universal background checks. That would be a good start as well as a national database of gun owners. Since most mass murderers obtained their high capacity assault rifles legally, making them illegal would logically prevent at least some mass murders. Better a deranged person entered a classroom with a single shot revolver than with an assault rifle with a 100 round clip.

Alex January 11, 2013 at 12:36 pm

What is sad is that you are as equally closed minded as the extreme nut jobs who are probably one step away from starting their own militia, gun club or what not. You see this in one light and refuse to look at, as you said “The big picture” for this I refer you to the backlash that Australia is reeling from. IF you are as big an advocate for change as you have decidedly chosen to broadcast, you should also choose to be realistic. You ban the sale of such weapons and it will only apply to those who choose to abide by the law, cirminals however, being criminals for a reason, do not live inside your “white palace walls” and move these weapons to and from one hand to the other. Case in point, some of the weapons from the “Fast and Furious” operation in which you said had nothing to do with gun control, not only made their way back into the states (which tracking those routes was also part of the scheme of the operation), but were used to gun down a border patrolman along the Mexican border. Many more crimes than just this one have been linked to fire arms from “Fast and Furious” as reported on by multiple news agencies (ABCNews, FoxNews(traditionally biased), LATimes etc…). One of the scenarios included an entire cache of the weapons in AZ; so please enlighten me on how this is NOT related, as you put it, to gun control issues. Your site talks of the use of facts and yet your articles are as equally rife with opinion and propaganda as articles and reports bought and paid for by the NRA. As a side note, I appreciate the correction to my poorly used language in my last pasting.

John Lawrence January 13, 2013 at 9:12 pm

Fast and Furious was definitely a huge misguided mistake. It never should have happened. As it relates to gun control, I would hope that in the future the government would never launch a program which results in the proliferation of guns for any purpose, and I would hope that the government takes measures to crack down on the proliferation of guns in the general pub;lic. I’m for gun control at all levels.

John Lawrence January 11, 2013 at 4:33 pm

An additional point about the 2nd amendment: Thom Hartmann maintains that, after perusing the literature and letters surrounding the writing of the 2nd amendment, what was really going on was that the 2nd amendment was put into the Constitution to placate the southern states which had “well regulated militas” at the time of the writing of the Constitution. The purpose of these state militias was to keep the slaves in line and to track down runaways. The South didn’t want to lose its right to have guns in the context of its state militias. The wording “necessary for the security of a free state” was euphemistic for “we want to keep our state militias in order to keep our slaves in line.” If that is the meaning and the history of the 2nd amendment, then it has little relevance to the US today since there is no more slavery.

John Lawrence January 12, 2013 at 2:07 pm

This is from Thom Hartmann’s website:

The Words of the Second Amendment Should Be Clarified: “A well regulated SLAVERY-ENFORCING Militia being necessary to the security of the” slaveholding states…

Thom’s discussion yesterday of Prof. Carl Bogus’s insights about the reason for the Second Amendment was truly amazing. That is, the “militia” referred to in the Second Amendment is actually referring to slave-owning enforcement groups, who call themselves “the militia.” It was the southern slavery-enforcing groups that the Second Amendment was referring to. The militia were required to administer punishment to slaves violating the rules, and the slave-owners were forced to agree to allow the militia personnel to do their terrible work.

Therefore, every time someone says “a well regulated militia” to defend the Second Amendment, we should make sure that we clarify and say, “A well regulated slavery-enforcing militia” to put those words and proper context.

For background on this, please see: http://www.vpc.org/fact_sht/hidhist.htm

According to Professor Bogus: “James Madison wrote the Second Amendment to assure the southern states that Congress would not undermine the slave system by disarming the militia, which were then the principal instruments of slave control throughout the South.” These militia groups were used by slave owners to suppress blacks and enforce ongoing slavery in the South. These certainly are not the kind of groups that we think of when we think of militia groups united against English soldiers, etc.

Ensuring that these violent and heartless paramilitary militia personnel in the South would always have firearms, and the slaves would not, helped ensure the long continuation of slavery, a truly evil activity.

For Professor Bogus’s full paper, please go to: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1465114

John Lawrence January 12, 2013 at 2:11 pm

“The Second Amendment takes on an entirely different complexion when instead of being symbolized by a musket in the hands of the minutemen, it is associated with a musket in the hands of the slave holder.”

Anna Daniels January 12, 2013 at 6:48 pm

To add a deeper level of irony, armed Black Panthers in the 1960’s were so scary that the NRA supported gun control, and the right wing saint Ronald Reagan who was governor at the time signed the Mulford Act, which essentially made it illegal to carry guns in public, illegal to carry guns in a car. It is impossible to talk about guns without talking about race.

Frank Thomas January 12, 2013 at 5:27 pm

The point made that the US “extreme (gun) nut jobs … may be one step away from starting their own militia” is a thought that also haunts me. This cannot be dismissed out-of-hand if a big collective of the NRA’s +4 million membership were “nut jobs” like Alex Jones. What a tragic development that would be … to have the extreme gun people who have long been promoting the 2nd Amendment’s right to bear arms as an effective safeguard against federal opppression turn out themselves to be the oppressors! Of course, this is highly unlikely for many reasons including fact the US Supreme Court has never endorsed a state government’s right to have an organized militia or armed undisciplned citizen force to militarily resist the US government. And the 2nd Amendment obviously and irrefutably does not grant this right.

Also, given the huge advances in military technology and technique, even an automatic-gun armed citizenry would lose in any attempt to resist our government. On the other hand, I do believe a sensibly controlled armed citizenry can help deter criminal violence — made worse by our unique situation of being extremely saturated with legal and rampantly illegal purchases /possession (in trade shows and underground) of semi-automatic rifles and pistols. This and related high violent crime rates have made it all but impossible for our police forces to eliminate the legitimate necessity of being able to defend oneself and one’s family with a weapon.

Unfortunately, despite firearm restrictions and citizen-armed deterrence, most criminal predators with the element of surprise and initiative are determined to stay fully automatically armed in their violent actions with others (e.g., in the drug trade),
with the police, with law-abiding and vulnerable citizens.

This is not to say, however, that more guns is the panacea to our exceptional climate of deadly murder and violence with semi-automatic weapons firing up to 30-60-100 military-power bullets in seconds.

government

Paul Keleher January 14, 2013 at 7:30 pm

I appreciate John’s explanation of how the NRA has distorted the original intent of the second amendment to promote the business interests of the gun lobby it supports. So, why doesn’t someone propose an amendment to the Second Amendment clarifying its intent vis-a-vis an armed militia INSTEAD OF a standing army, of which we now have by far the world’s largest!

Frank Thomas January 16, 2013 at 11:24 am

John,

We are witnesssing some promising sensible gun control initiatives from Bloomberg of NY and from VP Biden and President Obama in his executive order program today. As an immediate reaction, I was disappointed that Obama gave in to a magazine capacity of 10 bullets for civilian weapons while Bloomberg more sensibly is recommending 7 bullets. I assume both magazine limits apply to rifles AND pistols. If not, that’s a serious omission.

It appears banning military style assault weapons for citizen use will pass in NY but has to go through the dysfunctional US Congressional gambit where Tea Party people, anti-gun control extremists (e.g., the Alex Joneses) and the Southern states — die-hard consummate pre-progammed crusade robots for unlimited gun possession of all types to defend against a potential tyrannical US government!

In justifying this radical high power gun possession paranoia, the same people constantly point to Switzerland’s culture of permitting retired soldiers to take their assault rifles home … conveniently forgetting there are very strict Swiss controls on purchasing, using, locking up army rifles, acquiring ammunition, and holding ammunition in separate depots … conveniently forgetting the centuries´ motivation for Switzerland´s tightly controlled assault weapon freedom is for defense against an Outside Invader, NOT against a tyrannical Swiss government! In America, we obviously have an effective military establishment to defend against an Outside Invader as well as an Inside Invader!

The same military would crush any myopic, maniac attempts of an armed civilian group — no matter how well-armed — to attack with assault guns blazing the US government establishment or any state government institution in latters´ role of protecting the common rights of Americans from a haphazard deadly gun proliferation.

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