The murders by a high school student in Oxford, Michigan, who was given a gun by his parents even though he was making death threats and the school called them to conferences out of concern, have shaken the state and become national news. That is because the parents are being charged with criminal negligence in the deaths of those young people, as well. The gun used was a Glock semi-automatic of a sort developed by Austria for its army but which is freely available to civilians in the US because gun manufacturers have bought Congress.
Coinciding with this tragedy, Kentucky congressman Thomas Massie tweeted out this Christmas family picture:
Merry Christmas! 🎄
ps. Santa, please bring ammo. 🎁 pic.twitter.com/NVawULhCNr
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) December 4, 2021
It wasn’t well received by most Michiganders, given that we are in mourning over the deaths of Tate Myre, Hana St. Juliana, Madisyn Baldwin and Justin Shilling and the wounding of six other students and a teacher by senseless gun violence.
The US policy of constantly endangering our children is enacted by a bought-and-paid-for Congress on behalf of 10 major gun manufacturers with an $8 billion industry. Most Americans don’t have or want a gun, and 50% of all guns in the US are owned by 3% of Americans, i.e. some 6 million people out of 330 million. That three percent would be just fine if they were subjected to better security checks and a ban on assault weapons.
In 2019 (i.e. before the distorting pandemic) there were 413 mass shootings in the US.
You’ll note you don’t hear about many mass shootings in Australia, Japan or for the most part the United Kingdom, or other civilized countries whose politicians have not been bought by 10 major gun manufacturers.
In fact, when a mass shooting was carried out, by a white nationalist terrorist at a mosque in New Zealand in March, 2019, the New Zealand government promptly banned semi-automatic assault weapons. It just took one (admittedly horrific) incident. In the US, hundreds of mass shootings a year don’t soften the hearts of our bought-and-paid-for legislators even a little bit.
Personal checks should be made out to Juan Cole and sent to me at:
P. O. Box 4218,
Ann Arbor, MI 48104-2548
(Remember, make the checks out to “Juan Cole” or they can’t be cashed)
The United States continues to be peculiar in handing out powerful magazine-fed semi-automatic firearms to almost anyone who wants one and not requiring background checks on private purchases even if these are made at gun shows or by persons with a history of mental illness. 80% of civilian-owned firearms world-wide are in the US, and only Yemen vaguely competes with us for rates of firearm ownership; Yemen is a violent mess with a Saudi-UAE-led war, a Shiite insurgency, north-south civil war, al-Qaeda taking over cities from time to time, tribal feuding, southern separatism and US drone strikes. And even it has fewer guns per person than the USA.
It has gotten to the point where the increasing epidemic of mass shootings now threatens law enforcement.
The US is downright weird compared to civilized Western Europe or Australia (which enacted gun control after a mass shooting in 1996 and there have been almost no further such incidents).
In the year ending March, 2021, there were 30 fatalities from gun-related crimes in England and Wales. That is the equivalent to about 167 in the US, given the disparity in the size of the two populations
Police in the UK fired their guns 4 times in the year ending March, 2021.
That is right. English and Welsh police, responsible for 59 million people, fired their guns 4 times last year.
Number of Murders by Firearms, US, 2020: 13,620
Number of Murders in the US in 2020: 17,754
Percentage of all Murders that were committed by firearms in 2020 in US: 76%
Suicides in US 2020: 46,000
Gun Suicides in US, 2019: 24,090
Percentage of suicide victims who used a firearm: 52.3%.
Academic research shows that more guns equal more suicides.
Number of suicides in England and Wales, 2020: 5,224 (equivalent to about 28,732 in US, much lower.)
In the UK, less than 100 suicides annually are committed by firearm. The proportion, and number, is so low that they categorize it as “other” among methods of suicide and usually don’t bother to mention it.
For more on murder by firearms in Britain, see the BBC.
The US has the highest gun ownership in the world and the highest murder rate in the developed world.
It seems pretty clear, as well, that many US suicides would not occur if firearms were not omnipresent.
There is some correlation between high rates of gun ownership and high rates of violent crime in general, globally (and also if you compare state by state inside the US):
In the case of Britain, firearms murders are 53 times fewer than in the US per capita. [Don’t bother with flawed citations of Switzerland or Israel, where most citizens are the equivalent of military reservists.]
Do hunters really need semi-automatic AR-15 assault weapons? Is that how they roll in deer season? The US public doesn’t think so.
PS this is a revised version of an older column; if they keep refusing to legislate rationally and go on causing these massacres, I can keep writing a similar column.
Related video added by Informed Comment:
For a dramatic short film exploring toxic masculinity and gun culture in Michigan, which has over five million views, see Arman Cole’s Small Arms.
A college student seeks out shooting lessons with an ex-militia member. | Small Arms