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Newtown -- Who Here Changed His (or Her) Mind?
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Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Angry Americans on 01/25/2013 23:59:56 MST Print View

Miguel you seem to have had lots of horrible experiences in America and for that I'm truly sorry. But you do seem to have spent most of your time in the worst areas of America and in a tumultuous time in our history to boot. I don't doubt your experiences but America has changed a lot in 40 years.

Luke, I'll let others pitch in before I say too much more, but let me just assure you that most of what I wrote about things I've experienced and seen did not, if you look back at them, occur to me personally. Yes, I've seen a lot of, and experienced some, bad things. Most of what I've seen occurred to others: friends, family, strangers on the street. And I've lived in some very safe and relatively uneventful areas of the States, too, but my family comes from Brooklyn and the Bronx (others in Harlem), so yes, I've necessarily seen the worst of what the States has to offer. Another part is that I am not white... I look like a Chicano and was often stopped, and a few times roughly manhandled, by the police, because I look like a Chicano. That's the reality of not being white in America, especially during the 70's, 80's. and early 90's. You can be a stranger walking into a posh bar in La Jolla, California (which my brother and I did in 1983) and if you're white no one will give you a second glance, but if you're dark, and, heaven help you, black, the reaction will be totally different. My brother and I were clueless at the time as to what our entering that one place would entail, but if it weren't for this middle-aged guy quickly inviting us over for a drink and telling us to lay low, I don't know what would have happened to us. But that is what dark-complexioned men face everyday in America. And guns are often involved. A disproportionate number of blacks and latinos and Indians live in those areas that you call "the worst areas of America". They usually have little choice.

Have most of my experiences and encounters in the States been bad? No, not at all. Most of them were just like you describe above. But we're talking about the gun problem here, right? We're talking about what motivates Americans... the country as a whole... to do what they do and to need guns the way they do. So I made generalized observations about the worst things in the States, since that is what the need for a gun is based on, no?

As to comparing countries... well, I was asked to make the comparison, so I did. I don't see how you can make such comparisons without making big generalizations about one country and the next. The truth is other countries are on the whole much safer than the States, and feel that way, too. Of all the countries I've traveled and lived in (and I've been to a lot of countries), America feels the most dangerous and most prone to violence. That's just my observations, of course, but a lot of other non-Americans will tell you the same thing.

I also wanted to add that statistics don't influence the perception and attitude in a country. Even both of you, Luke and Tom, were shocked by what the statistics showed you. Using and advocating the need for guns for the most part grows out of people's perception of danger and wrongdoings. So if the statistics are true then the need for guns is based almost entirely on paranoia. I do not think paranoia is a proper basis for arguing for the advocacy of guns. In fact, I'd say that the statistics show that then that there is no need for guns. The Newtons still keep happening.

Edited by butuki on 01/26/2013 00:39:17 MST.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Angry Americans on 01/26/2013 00:45:12 MST Print View

Okay Miguel I need to go to bed but I appreciate the less combative tone, diverse opinions are good, I really don't feel like arguing though. And frankly I'm sick of talking guns, I haven't heard a new argument about guns in years. Countries and cultures though are more intellectually stimulating.

Couple things, not necessarily related to guns

1. What I have been arguing is America "feels" dangerous to a lot of people but the reality is its not that bad. We have some problems but they are relatively localized, avoidable and not all that likely to affect smart travelers.

2. I consider problems to be more based on location then race these days. Living in a bad neighborhood is risky for anyone. My non white friends report no problems but they are mostly college grads who are not living in the "hood."

Later I have some thoughts on how I think American culture is really and truly different from both Europe and Japan in a few key ways. I think its a mix of history, religion, political philosophy and the legal climate. But I can't do justice too it tonight so its off to bed for now.

Edited by Cameron on 01/26/2013 08:27:44 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re Re Angry Americans on 01/26/2013 08:15:00 MST Print View

"Okay Miguel I need to go to bed..."


Your second item is #3

You can't spell "do"

Maybe you can't do due justice?

I agree - America "feels" dangerous but it's not. I don't know of any gun crimes that have occurred in my neighborhood, but there are areas in Portland that do have gun crime.

One thing is TV networks need more people to watch to get more advertising revenue so they have lots of stories about crime - "if it bleeds, it leads". And video cameras are cheap.

Another thing is that there is a bigger difference between rich and poor - if you're in a poor district you're more likely to have crime.

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
An outsider on 01/26/2013 08:29:32 MST Print View

On one of my visits to family in NY State, i noticed a hole in the car of a friend of my cousin. "Someone took a shot at me as i was driving down the motorway", he said with a shrug.
Here, that would be on national TV. Maybe US folk have become desensitivised to gun crime, and don't realise how strange their relationship to guns appears to the rest of the world?

All countries have gangs. Usually they just beat up other gang members. They don't kill them.

Edited by MikefaeDundee on 01/26/2013 08:31:49 MST.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Re Re Re Angry Americans on 01/26/2013 08:37:17 MST Print View

Spelling mistakes Jerry? Look again, it must have been your imagination LOL.

Agreed that economics are a problem. That's another reason why I see limited value in comparisons. In Dallas our murder rate is lower then Chicago. Is it culture, economics, police, or something in the water? I don't know that you can definitively prove one way or the other, which means we'll be discussing such things for many years to come.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re Re Re Re Angry Americans on 01/26/2013 08:43:33 MST Print View

Ooops - I must have imagined spelling mistakes - I should have got more sleep : )

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Angry Americans on 01/26/2013 08:45:18 MST Print View

Luke, well, I wasn't really being combative in my earlier posts. I was merely being direct about things that I find Americans don't want to face or talk about. Those things sound combative to many Americans because they are not comfortable. But I very rarely lose my temper and I, personally, aside from the safety of my family in the States, have just about nothing invested in what Americans decide to do within America. I don't live there. So I have very little reason to get as worked up about it all as people who live there so often do. I see the gun massacre issue as a solvable problem. I'm voicing what I see as the solution, and why. It's one opinion. As are so many other people's here. That's no reason to feel that I dislike or hate America. But I do have a different perspective, and in spite of how much people mouth their belief in diversity and freedom of speech, too often anyone who actually does say something different or contrary are relegated to simply "hating America and Americans."

Kind of difficult to do... I'd have to hate my entire family.

Japan and Germany are different from the U.S? No argument there. Of course they're different! But guns themselves and people getting mass murdered go far beyond the idiosyncrasies of culture. The massacres need to stop. Period. Guns are always involved. Period. Do something about the guns. Period.

Sick of talking guns. Well, probably a lot of people are. I know I am. I'm sick of hearing about them all the time from Americans, too, as if they are something truly important in our lives. And to me it is the lives that are the most important; I couldn't care less about guns. I personally feel that all the guns in America being eliminated totally wouldn't begin to compensate for the lives of all those people lost to them. That is what I get angry about... that guns are considered more important and more discussion worthy than the lives of people. Of children! What exactly does it take to get through to everyone? A bigger, more horrific massacre?

But, as I knew it would, once again it just returns to endless debates about guns and social aberrations, completely losing sight of what is most important: to stop the massacres. That's why I wrote my earlier post to Lynn about giving up talking about it with Americans, because they don't really want to do anything, and, pardon the slam, getting "sick about talking about guns." Then stop talking about them and do something real and concrete! How else is the problem going to be solved?

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Angry Americans on 01/26/2013 08:50:31 MST Print View

Quit talking about massacres - nutty people might do a massacre just for the fame

Quit talking about gun control - either for gun control or shouting "Obama's going to take your guns away" - nutty people might get caught up in the hysteria and massacre a bunch of people

Brad Fisher

Locale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
Re: Re: Angry Americans on 01/26/2013 11:31:00 MST Print View

"I'm sick of hearing about them all the time from Americans, too, as if they are something truly important in our lives."

Since when do you get to decide what is important to people. Many, many people have guns in the U.S. because they love to hunt or sport shot. What's wrong with that? Sure it's not important to you, but it is to others. How about if they said we are going to ban backpacking because it is too dangerous to send in SARS to rescue a few people a year. To many people they think backpacking is nonsense and wouldn't have any problem with the banning it. You don't make decision because a very, very small fraction of people are irresponsible. It's estimated that 52 millions U.S citizens own guns and we have around 15,000 homicides a year. The vast majority of those are committed by criminals that no gun laws will keep guns our of their hands. So we ban all guns because .00288% use them to kill.

"And to me it is the lives that are the most important; I couldn't care less about guns. I personally feel that all the guns in America being eliminated totally wouldn't begin to compensate for the lives of all those people lost to them"

Right you could care less, so no big deal for you to give up. Makes taking your position easy. Taking your approach we should ban cars because some people drive them drunk and kill other. Probably should also ban cell phones because more and more people are dying in car accidents because they are distracted (ie texting, etc)

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Location, location, location on 01/26/2013 18:10:28 MST Print View

I just googled a few stats, as I was curious about crime as it related to my little town and bigger places in the Nation.

In Washington State an adult can get a permit to carry a concealed handgun as long as they don't have a criminal or mental health record. It costs $60 and you get it from the local law enforcement. Good for 5 years.

In the county I live in, 1 IN 10 adults have a Concealed Pistol license. In other parts of the US they are nearly impossible to get
unless you are a judge, or retired law enforcement.

Here are the crime stats I found. The little town I live in is Colville, The nearest big city is Spokane.

Spokane murder rate per 100,000 people .02
Colville murder rate per 100,000 people .00
National murder rate per 100,00 people .05
Chicago? .16 Detroit? .49!
Spokane rape rate per 100,000 people .40
Colville rape rate per 100,000 people .21
National rape rate per 100,00 people .27
Spokane assault rate per 100,000 people 3.48
Colville assault rate per 100,000 people 1.29
National assault rate per 100,00 people 2.41
You have a 1 in 161 chance of being a victim in Spokane,
but only a 1 in 467 chance in Colville.
Chicago? 1 in 97. Detroit? 1 in 46.

You would think with everyone being armed, there would be blood in the streets around here.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Angry Americans on 01/26/2013 18:31:49 MST Print View

"Even both of you, Luke and Tom, were shocked by what the statistics showed you."

My shock was not at the statistics, Miguel, but at Luke's original citation of UN statistics. I lived for 5 years in Chicago just after I returned from the Middle East in 1967, 3 of them in mixed neighborhoods on the edge of very rough neighborhoods, and saw my share of violence, including an incident that very nearly ended my life. I don't want to relive some of my experiences here, so suffice it to say I came close myself, and saw another person die seconds after she was shot in the lobby of a downtown building where I worked. What tends to shock me is the denial of a phenomenon that seems to be worsening year by year against a background of violent themes that permeate our entire culture, from the media and video games, to sports, to how we tend to settle our personal disputes, to our foreign policy, and how the NRA types would have us solve our gun violence problems with, what else, more guns. Like yourself, I haved lived and traveled in enough countries spanning a wide range of cultural traditions to know it doesn't have to be this way. It is the antithesis of what I feel a civilized society should strive for, and it troubles me deeply as one who was born here, raised here, feels a deep sense of place here, and who hopes to die here. Peacefully. We can do so much better.

Edited by ouzel on 01/26/2013 18:33:07 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Angry Americans on 01/26/2013 19:14:19 MST Print View

"And 99% of this madness won't make it into our collective consciousness or receive a single public mention unless the violence travels UP the socioeconomic ladder or spills across color lines."

I think this is already happening, just not with guns quite yet. Give it another 10-15 years for our toxic stew of violent cultural memes to thoroughly take root in the current youngest generation, combined with decreasing economic opportunities, and things are likely to get downright ugly, IMO.

Kathy A Handyside
(earlymusicus) - M

Locale: Southeastern Michigan
Re: Newtown-Who Here Changed His (or Her) Mind? on 01/26/2013 20:25:59 MST Print View

I haven't changed my mind - the public does not need weapons that fire multiple rounds with one pull of the trigger. I think the root of the whole gun violence thing is we have been fed a bill of goods of fear in order to keep people buying more and more guns, thus increasing the profit of the gun manufacturers and distributors and increasing the donations to the NRA. Corporate greed, as I see it.

Our entire marketing system is based on fear. Fear of not being beautiful enough? Get Botox injections, or buy this makeup, or try that cream or ointment. Fear of not looking macho enough? Buy a huge truck and be sure to stick those naked woman silhouettes on it and hang the metal testicles from the bumper. Fear of being unsafe? Buy that macho weapon. Fear of being fat? Buy this quick weight-loss pill or that fat-free food. Fear of not looking cool enough? Buy those designer clothes, or that newest electronic gadget. It's all fear - fear being pushed on us in order to increase corporate profits. I now understand what Franklin Delano Roosevelt meant when he said that the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself. And that so holds true for the gun situation, in which we have been told that there's an enemy hiding behind every bush and around every corner, so you'd better be packin' and the more heat, the better. (And this translates to bigger profits for the gun companies.) Some people have said they need their guns in case to protect themselves if the government becomes tyrannical. But how feasible is that? Our government is in charge of the most powerful military in the world. Do you really think your arsenal can beat that? It's a ridiculous argument.

My father had a deer-hunting rifle. He showed it my brother and me when we were little, he explained what it could do, he let us look at it and hold it and that satisfied our curiosity, and we couldn't care less about it after that. It stood in the front closet and we never went near it or touched or wanted too. Of course, it wasn't loaded either. All the dads in our neighborhood had such rifles. We didn't have the carnage we have now in our society. Why? We weren't being fed fear then.

I don't know - it's just one of the things I see.

Kathy A Handyside
(earlymusicus) - M

Locale: Southeastern Michigan
Re: Newtown on 01/26/2013 20:41:41 MST Print View

Another thing is that we seem to have been fed the idea that every one of Life's sticky problems can be solved with a gun. We want instant solutions to our problems and some people think that using a gun is the instant solution they've been searching for. Violence seems to be the accepted solution to all problems, in the minds of some people. Look at reality shows on tv: people throwing temper tantrums, throwing things around, fighting, screaming. That behavior is played out every Black Friday.

I'm becoming more and more frightened of our society.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Newtown -- Who Here Changed His (or Her) Mind?" on 01/26/2013 20:42:57 MST Print View

Sorry Brad but I have to say that your comparisons are specious. Backpacking=Newtown etc.? I don't think so. But don't worry: sensible gun regulations aren't the beginning of a secret plot to take away all of our rights, including the right to backpack. I know that you're not one of the paranoids, but I had to throw that out. And of course
no one is talking about taking away hunting rifles or guns for self defense.

As for drunk driving, it IS illegal. Dunk driving laws make the point of gun regulation: the laws don't stop drunk driving entirely but they greatly help and moreover send a social/symbolic message that this behavior is unacceptable to society. Moreover, it's been shown that talking and especially texting on a cellphone while driving impairs drivers' abilities as much as being drunk. We don't ban drunk driving because of authoritarian impulses or moral outrage; we ban it because people other than the drunk driver are killed in great numbers each year. It's a legal decision the public has made for the common good. So yeah, if people in great numbers are killed by people using cell phones while driving, you gotta outlaw cell phone driving.

This doesn't mean that the government is coming to take away your cell phone and enslave you. Drunk driving laws never meant that the government was coming to take away your whiskey.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: "Newtown -- Who Here Changed His (or Her) Mind?" on 01/26/2013 21:03:06 MST Print View

"Drunk driving laws never meant that the government was coming to take away your whiskey."

However, the 18th Amendment really caused them to wonder about the whisky.


Eric Johnson
(unimog) - MLife

Locale: Utah
Newtown -- Who Here Changed His (or Her) Mind? on 01/26/2013 21:13:27 MST Print View

Kathy wrote:
"I haven't changed my mind - the public does not need weapons that fire multiple rounds with one pull of the trigger."

FYI. This is a common misunderstanding of gun control advocates. These types of guns have been illegal to own since 1934 without special permission from the government and private ownership of new manufactured automatic guns has been banned since 1986.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"Newtown -- Who Here Changed His (or Her) Mind?" on 01/26/2013 21:14:37 MST Print View

Bob: true, but nobody's talking about outlawing guns in the same way that the 18th amendment outlawed all alcohol. My point is that gun regulations are not about outlawing guns, they're about reasonable restrictions on guns, just as drunk driving laws are about reasonable restrictions concerning what you can do when you drink.

Surely this topic always makes me too earnest. And don't call me shirley or earnest!

Edited by book on 01/26/2013 21:20:05 MST.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
What is "reasonable" on 01/26/2013 22:21:49 MST Print View

"My point is that gun regulations are not about outlawing guns, they're about reasonable restrictions on guns, just as drunk driving laws are about reasonable restrictions concerning what you can do when you drink."

How can we be sure laws will be "reasonable" if the people proposing them don't even know how guns work (trust me they don't)? Why should gun owners and the NRA trust people who have said they'd prefer outright confiscation? Why compromise if the other side will just demand more in the feature?

Right now there isn't the trust we need for really big changes to be made.

Edited by Cameron on 01/26/2013 22:23:13 MST.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
most common guns used on 01/26/2013 22:36:20 MST Print View


It is arriving at what "reasonable" is. Right now the focus is on the mid- powered modern sport rifles/ military style weapons.

While used in a few nauseatingly horrible crimes, removing these rifles would do little to hinder overall gun crime. As President Obama says, the vast majority of gun violence involves inexpensive handguns. The 38 special revolver is the type of gun most used. So if we are really going down the road of outlawing guns used in crime, reasonable laws would outlaw those first. None of the proposed legislation talks about revolvers that I know of.

But the 38 is often seen as the choice for a defensive gun. Reliable, cheap, Even Mexico allows it citizens to have a 38.

Background checks for all seem a better place to start. i think you'll find most people will back that, especially if data bases aren't compiled of the transfers. The main objections most have to background checks is the data being collected and later misused.