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Rabbitbrush Rambler: Guns and violence

Posted: Wednesday, Dec 26th, 2012

The star on Christmas Eve symbolized light shining in darkness around the world. Sadly, we also have seen the darkest side of the society in which we live.

Today we have no need of a mythological Beelzebub, roaming the earth to destroy souls. We have a culture of guns and violence with fanatics, madmen, gangs, cults, and militias capable of doing great harm to themselves and to others.

December 14 saw the heartbreaking tragedy of the murder of 20 innocent children and seven adults in Connecticut. On that same day, an average sort of day in America, a man shot his wife to death before killing himself in a hotel lobby in Las Vegas, Arizona; an armed intruder opened fire before being shot to death in a hospital in Birmingham, Alabama; and a high school student’s plot to massacre the student body was foiled in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

The widespread availability and proliferation of guns in America has earned and deserves the ridicule and dismay of other countries. Here are a few statistics comparing us to others:

The U.S. ranks number one in the world in gun ownership. The ownership in places like Yemen and Serbia is about half as high, and others have fewer, down to nearly none.

In 2009 alone, in the most recent figures I have, 14 million gun purchases took place in this country, and Colorado at that time ranked 14nth in the number of background checks, with 15,086 per 100,000 residents. The figure has surged astronomically in the past few days.

During the recent election, most candidates were utterly silent about this national crisis. Now, at last, President Obama has placed it high on his list of priorities, and Vice President Joe Biden has been tasked with spearheading the development of new policy and legislation.

Recently, Colorado’s Gov. John Hickenlooper and New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg had spoken out about this issue. All mayors, city councils, commissioners, state legislators and officials, and U.S. senators and congressmen should be doing the same, although Colorado’s delegation was still cowering under the covers the last I heard.

We need to know and to discuss real facts about who is manufacturing, distributing, selling, and profiting from this build-up of arms. We also need to know what is taking place on both sides of our porous border, as the U.S. is a source of much of this traffic.

At the very least, guns should be removed from stores like Walmart, homes, and other places where law-breakers, mentally unstable people, and minors might gain access to them.

We need to take our own responsibilities as citizens and voters seriously, not just during the frenzy of political campaigns. By September, I already knew the candidates for whom I was going to vote in November, but, to my regret now, I did not inquire about where they stood on gun control.

Very few candidates felt any need to even mention this issue during the campaign, and none discussed it in a meaningful way. If in the future a candidate opts not to address it clearly, I will assume that he or she is a wiggler or a panderer who does not deserve my vote.

The gun lobby and many gun owners will howl, but the safety of communities is more important and valid than the right to possess private arsenals of guns, assault rifles, and ammunition.

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