Tuesday, February 13, 2007

America and Gun Violence

CNN is reporting another depressing gun violence story this morning, about a teenager who opened fire on a crowd in Utah. Here we go again. Of course, the NRA and their Republican lackeys will tell you that the wide prevalence of guns had absolutely nothing to do with this. Let's look at some international gun violence statistics, from a 1998 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Gun-related deaths per 100,000 people:
U.S.A. 14.24
Brazil 12.95
Mexico 12.69
Argentina 8.93
Finland 6.46
Switzerland 5.31
France 5.15
Canada 4.31
Norway 3.82
Austria 3.70
Portugal 3.20
Israel 2.91
Belgium 2.90
Australia 2.65
Italy 2.44
New Zealand 2.38
Denmark 2.09
Sweden 1.92
Greece 1.29
Germany 1.24
Ireland 0.97
Spain 0.78
Netherlands 0.70
Scotland 0.54
England and Wales 0.41
Taiwan 0.37
Singapore 0.21
Hong Kong 0.14
South Korea 0.12
Japan 0.05

The United States leads the pack, by a long shot. And anybody who claims this has nothing to do with the prevalence of guns is simply not living in the "reality-based community". For there is a deeper problem, a glorification of militarism and violence that poisons the culture. Yes, many conservatives are right to talk about casual violence in movies, video games, and music. But they fail to see the same phenomenon in the glorification of the military, and the increasing militarization of everyday life. Criticism of the military is becoming more and more beyond the pale. Garry Wills recently decried the increasing use of the term "commander in chief" and a synonym for ''president".

Just look at popular culture. Children from the earliest ages become desensitized to gun deaths. The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has made a deal with the devil, coming down harshly on all realistic portrayals of sex, so that the industry can make money from violence marketed to teenage boys. And even the Superbowl portrays football players in militaristic terms. Sadly, until the United States comes to terms with the cult of violence, these deaths will not abate.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I suppose we should ban cars, since more people are killed in auto accidents than with guns...

SP said...

"...increasing militarization of everyday life...

Really? Like where?

...Criticism of the military is becoming more and more beyond the pale....

Leftist loons have been whining of that for years now. And yet a cursory skim through the regular media (much less the online world)continues to put a lie to that nonsense. There's plenty of criticism (even the most outrageous, ridiculous [in some cases even dishonest] criticism) to be found. One needn't even look far.

...even the Superbowl portrays football players in militaristic terms...

Apparently a stranger to the idea of "metaphors," aren't you? (When Shakespeare said that "all the world's a stage, was he stating a geographic fact?)

Morning's Minion said...

Anonymous-- that's about the most ridiculous argument I've ever heard. Congratulations! You qualify for a position in the Bush administration!

SP:

If you want a metaphor, why is the military metaphor the most appropriate one. It should not be.

Franklin Jennings said...

Actually, it is the best metaphor, for football.

Two organised ranks oppose one another on a field for geographic advantage. Their respective phalanxes come face to face after receiving orders from their command structures. The command to advance is given and the battle commences. Your problem should be with the sport of football itself, not with some metaphor.

And auto related deaths are FAR more prevalent than gun deaths. Ditto swimming pools. And your statistics only compared gun deaths, not violent deaths as a whole. I do not find it the least bit comforting that I am slightly more likely to be shot here, but MUCH less likely to be stabbed or cudgeled.

Sure we have a violent culture, absolutely. The presence of wood and steel tools does not make our culture violent.

Face it, your hoplophobia is just a specified form of xenophobia.

Thou shalt not kill said...

Many of these comments suggest that people steeped in a culture which is addicted to guns and violence cannot accept any criticism of the assumptions underpinning that culture.

They're all sidestepping the basic question: why are the people of the United States killing each other in such large numbers?

Pedro said...

Curious to know if these "gun related deaths" include suicides, deaths resulting from self-defense or by police activities, or accidental deaths? Are the parameters consistent from country to country?

Anonymous said...

the guy below me is an idiot....

blue cheez said...

sure we could say that the reason for violence is the music, tv shows, movies, and video games we have, but just to disagree, every other country has the same thing.

most of these video games originate in japan, yet they have such a low crime rate.

most movies that we make are put into other languages and shown in all other countries...

we really do not know why people want to kill so much. But i think it has to do more with our society and depression.

blue cheez said...

sure we could say that the reason for violence is the music, tv shows, movies, and video games we have, but just to disagree, every other country has the same thing.

most of these video games originate in japan, yet they have such a low crime rate.

most movies that we make are put into other languages and shown in all other countries...

we really do not know why people want to kill so much. But i think it has to do more with our society and depression.

Bart said...

I seesome remarkably knee jerk comments here. How about some facts?

I'll simply state this: I live in New Hampshire. We have virtually no gun laws. I paid $5.00 and wrote my name and address on a form to get a 5 year concealed carry permit from my police chief. Among my 60 guns are two full auto(aka:Class III) registered with the ATF on a Form 4. The State Police estimates over 70% of the adults in the state own a fire arm.

AND YET!!!....
New Hampshire has the 2nd lowest crime rate (includiing violent crime) in the nation. Go look it up.

It's not because we have guns that we are necessarily a safer state. That's NOT my premise, albeit,it could be a factor. My premise is that our state's demographics are much different than Flint Michigan,or Detroit,or washington DC, or NYC,or LA, or kansas City, or Texas, or Alabama, etc. etc.

Want to curb violence?? Look to the unemplyment level, poverty levels, educational infrastructure, cultural conflicts, drug use/dealing.

NH has the 2nd lowest unemployment rate, 3rd highest per capita income in the country. And yes, although I'm not proud of it, a very small minority presence, thus making the demographics more homogeneous than large cities andmost states.

If guns alone caused violence, NH wouldnt be the 2nd lowest..it would be among the highest. You dont gain safety by gving up a little freedom.

Look to the socio-economic issues,and stop trying to solve a problem by attacking a symptom instead of the root cause.

Anonymous said...

There are two sides to the gun debate. The first side says to have fewer guns such as in Australia (where it has worked beautifully) and the second side says lets have more guns. Americans mostly favour the second side. I think all Americans should be able to carry guns, even kids. It’s their right under the second amendment. I think a return to the old west days where everybody wears sidearms in full view is the way forward. The wild west days weren’t very violent so that should be a good solution.

Anonymous said...

No we shuldnt ban cars, cars arent built to kill ... .. unlike guns.

"People arent against guns, they are against guns in the wrong hands."