2005-08-25 / This Week's Attitude

Why Can’t Americans Just Say ‘No’ — To Guns?

This Week
By Neil S. Friedman

The fall hunting season will soon be upon us. Thousands of bold, daring sportsmen — and sportswomen — will trek deep into the woods, set up camp, then try to bag a few harmless creatures (i.e. deer, rabbits and a variety of fowl) so they can show off their trophy kills and brag about their macho prowess.

What a sport! How hard can it be to shoot a sitting duck? (Hence the expression.)

Unfortunately, people hunting season never ends. Witness the sudden surge in shooting deaths over the weekend in New York City. Six died in unrelated shootings in The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. It was unusual because the city’s murder rate has drop-ped significantly in the last decade and that degree of violence has been rare in recent years.

Anybody want to wager that every gun used in those crimes was transported here from south of the Mason-Dixon line?

If I was some sort of conspiracy nut, I’d speculate the South was getting revenge for losing the Civil War by preserving lenient gun laws that keep the gun-buying pipeline accessible to criminally minded Northerners or, perhaps, to remain fully armed in case they decide to secede from the Union again.

Recent NYPD statistics revealed that while the number of murders in the city is down 10 percent, the number of shooting victims has increased more than eight percent from last year. However, shootings are down more than 50 percent in the last decade. (That was before last weekend’s bloody rampage.)

With nearly 200 million guns in private hands, firearms have an important impact on the quality of life in America. That’s about one gun for every adult! Seventy-four percent of gun owners possessed two or more, but only about one in five citizens actually owns a gun. And — surprise, surprise — the majority of handgun owners also own a rifle or shotgun.

The most common motivation for owning firearms, according to one survey, is recreation. Recreation is hunting or target shooting. For gang bangers, “Sopra-nos”- types and others of that ilk, recreation usually leads to bodies riddled with holes.

While gun ownership is predominantly a male fascination, there are women who undoubtedly enjoy having one close by for protection.

It amazes me why some people, who are otherwise law-abiding citizens with no criminal record other than a few parking or speeding violations, require the security of weapons possession.

Forty-six percent surveyed said they possess a gun for protection. Having a gun for security could lead to serious injury or worse, if the home invader or thief is also armed. And don’t forget stray bullets, which have been known to kill or maim innocent bystanders.

Across the country last year guns killed more than 12,000 Americans. That’s what I call an epidemic, but, sadly, there’s been little action to stem the spread of gun-related pandemonium.

Who’s ultimately most responsible for the continuing epidemic? That’s easy — the #@$%* NRA, which virtually has enough Congressional members in its pockets to continually stave off any consequential gun law reforms.

Like cowards, who run for cover when the going gets tough, the National Rifle Association gutlessly buries its head in the sand every time it cites and skews the meaning of the Second Amendment to benefit its cause.

Of all the fascinations Americans have, its passion for guns has got to end — sooner than later. And the sooner our Congressional representatives stop filling their campaign chests with NRA donations, enact substantive gun law reforms, including the licensing of all firearms and banning automatic weapons, the safer the American public will be.

As long as the NRA advocates weapons possession, I’ll remain opposed to it — until they take my computer keyboard from my cold dead hands!

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