I was a little iffy to post this in the forums, so I decided to post it here in my blog.
A conversation I had today with a friend of mine who immigrated from the UK to the United States, so as to get a little bit of a European output on the Second Amendment, on Gun Control, and gun violence and whatnot. For privacy reasons, I'll refer to him as "Euro" in this post.
C.Odin: Hey, [Euro] , got a question for you.
C.Odin: Do you feel safe living in the United States?
Euro: Here in Castro Valley? Yeah. California in general... mostly. Some parts of the US, not so much.
C.Odin: How so? On all parts of your question.
Euro: When we lived in Oakland, I used to walk to/from BART which meant going thru a somewhat sketchy part of the city but even that wasn't bad.
Well, Castro Valley is a low crime area and it's nice and suburban.
Most parts of California - outside certain inner city areas and some gang hotspot towns - is pretty safe (both physically and politically).
C.Odin: Gun control debates have brought about some comments from foreigners stating that because America doesn't ban guns, it's too dangerous of a country to live in.
Euro: Yeah, I see a lot of that from my European friends...
C.Odin: Or even visit.
Euro: Since Californians in general don't carry guns, I feel pretty safe here. But there are parts of the US where gun ownership is way high and that does scare me a bit.
My first exposure to the US was Texas...
My host even took me to a shooting gallery and taught me to handle guns. Quite a shock for me!
It was also a shock seeing folks openly carrying just walking around town (esp. in Fort Worth, near the stockades area of downtown!).
C.Odin: Do you think we should get rid of the Second Amendment or keep it?
Euro: I think the Second Amendment itself is fine. I think we need more background checks and better mental health checks on gun owners. Right now, you can skip the background checks by buying from a gun show or private dealer - that should not be the case.
C.Odin: Oh, and something to ponder. In 2011, California had slightly higher gun violence than Texas. And it was rate per 100,000 not just amount. And D.C. has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, yet it had the highest murder rate.
Euro: Well, be careful how you classify "gun violence"... take the illegally owned guns out of the equation.
Gun control is about _legally_ owned guns only. You can't stop criminals from buying / carrying guns...And most (nearly all) spree killings have been done with _legally_ owned weapons
Or where the perp had direct access to legally owned weapons (e.g., their parents).
Repealing the second amendment won't do anything about illegally owned guns, which the pro-gun side like to lump into the statistics. And, yes, despite high profile cases like Colombine and Newtown etc, the actual number of deaths from legally owned weapons is very small compared to those from illegally owned weapons.
C.Odin: But people believe banning guns will reduce gun violence. Problem is, you take away guns from sane, law-abiding civilians, which means you're oppressing a group of people for the actions of a few.
Euro: But the issue is that spree killings are usually done with high capacity weapons - which really no one needs to own legally
C.Odin: Handguns are responsible for most gun violence.
Euro: Some people believe banning guns will reduce gun violence. Again, it's illegally owned handguns that are responsible for most gun violence...
C.Odin: Sometimes, it seems the entire country has gone mad. There have even been talks of civil war.
Euro: I don't believe banning guns is the solution. But I believe in gun control. They're not the same thing. Unfortunately the pro gun side conflate the two because then they can scream "constitutional rights!" The pro gun side is generally right wing and they are usually the most reactive. Liberals rarely own guns
C.Odin: Problem is, what about escalation? I believe they fear that control will lead to more control until it leads to outright banning.
Euro: Yes, they do fear that - and it actually serves their cause to promote that fear. But it's really unfounded. No one is going to repeal the Second. Just ain't gonna happen. Reinstating the assault weapons ban - that's entirely possible. I don't know why they let the assault weapons ban expire in the first place!
C.Odin: Thing is, despite the expiration of the federal assault weapons ban in 2004, though it increased slight for a time, the violent crime and murder rate in America continued to decrease.
Euro: Yes, and that's one of the interesting trends: gun crime in general is actually _decreasing_ in America, whilst spree killing - with legally owned weapons - is on the increase.
C.Odin: That's rather interesting. Seems as though availability of guns is not the only factor in this.
Something else seems to factor into the increase in spree killing, but I'm unsure as to what.
Euro: It's a complex issue. But that's hard to discuss "in public" so folks resort to soundbite politics
I think we have increased stress levels in the population in general - for a number of factors.
C.Odin: Poverty has also been listed as a factor for gun violence, but I'm don't know if that applies to the spree killing increase.
Euro: We put much more pressure on kids at school and college, economic pressure affects everyone (so you're right there about poverty).
C.Odin: Something else is also bothering me and you'll have to forgive me, but I'm sort of paranoid of increased government control. I'm sort of libertarian that way. I can't seem to take the Obama administration's move for increased gun control seriously because of the drone strikes that it's ordered overseas.
Euro: Yeah, I see your FB posts about that...And I don't like "big government" either. But if you look at the numbers, it's actually the Reps who increase govt spending and the "reach" of govt by trying to legislate behavior and morality, a lot of the time. At least at the Federal level. Not so much on the local level.It's why we often support Republicans locally but Democrats nationally.
(much like my voting policy in the UK!). I voted Labour nationally, Lib Dem locally and Green Party in European elections .
C.Odin: It just strikes me as hyopcritical how people flock to the same government for more gun control that has ordered strikes like this overseas. How an insane psychopath kills 20 children in our own country and is branded a monster (which he should be) yet a person orders drone strikes that have killed more than 150 children overseas and he's named Time Magazine's Person of the Year.
Euro: People seem to have a different standard for "war"... which is why the "war on terror" and "war on drugs" have been so ridiculous, expensive, and ineffectual...And, FWIW, I don't like the fact we're still actively running drone strikes in the Middle East.
C.Odin: Neither do I
Euro: I wish we'd disengage completely from the Middle East (and stop supporting those aggressive Israelis!)
C.Odin: It might be getting there, what with the U.N. declaring Palestine a state recently.
Euro: We can hope...The worst thing to happen to the Middle East, frankly, was to declare Israel a nation back in the 40's / 50's whenever it happened... bad idea by the UK!
C.Odin: I'm sure at this point, everyone involved would like to see an end to the war, even the terrorist groups.
Euro: If the US stopped investing in Israeli military operations, a lot of the terror groups in the Middle East would have a lot less cause to exist...
C. Odin: Funny how the same government that funds war is being called upon to end gun violence.
It's provided some interesting outlook on my part. Don't know about you, though.