This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (

Friday, December 14, 2012

Guns May Not Kill People, But People WITH Guns Certainly Do!

In a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school this morning, 27 26 innocent people, 18 20 of them children, were shot and killed.  An unknown number were wounded.  Apparently there were two adult shooters, one of which is dead and a manhunt is on for a second shooter.

This was a most horrible and cowardly act.  It was not the first mass murder of school children nor was it the worst to have happened in the history of this country.   There have actually been 128 school shootings/bombings recorded in the past 150 years.  

On May 18, 1927 in Bath Township, Michigan a disgruntled school board treasurer set off 3 bombs in the Bath Elementary School.  There were 45 people killed, including the bomber himself.  At least 58 people were injured and 38 of the dead were elementary school children.  This was the deadliest mass murder in a school in U.S. history.

The Virginia Tech massacre on April 16, 2007, was the second largest school shooting with 32 killed and 17 wounded.  It is the deadliest shooting incident by a SINGLE shooter in U.S. history.  The Columbine High School massacre of April 20, 1999, in Littleton, Colorado involved 2 shooters who killed 12 students and 1 teacher.  An additional 21 students were wounded.

The best records of school-involved killings worldwide show that 77 such incidents have taken place since the year 1966.  Of these 77 school murders, three-quarters (58) of them have taken place in the U.S.  The weapons of choice most often (approximately 75% of the time) have been semi-automatic handguns and assault weapons.  Revolvers and shotguns makeup the remaining approximately 25%.

The killings are not limited to our schools.  But, hopefully, today’s tragedy will give one pause to think about how the US has become such a shooting gallery.  Why are Americans so quick to pull the trigger on fellow Americans?  If this question could be answered, perhaps a solution could be found.

The United States does not have the worst homicide rate in the world, far from it actually.  However, if one only considers the “first world” countries, which we tend to regard as modern and civilized, the US homicide rate is 3 to 4 times that of the other “first world" countries.  Here are some examples as reported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC):

Homicides per 100,000 population from 1960 to present:

US                  4.2
Canada           1.6
UK                 1.2
France             1.1
Australia         1.0
China              1.0
Italy                 0.9
Germany         0.8
Spain               0.8
Switzerland     0.7
Austria            0.6
Japan              0.3

It is impossible not to bring up the topic of Gun Control in this discussion.   There is actually less gun control now than in the past.  In the past four years, across 37 states, 99 laws have been placed on the books making guns actually easier to own, carry in public, and harder for the government to track.  These laws have caused dramatic changes.  Here are some examples:

Concealed carry is now permitted in 49 of the 50 states.  That in it self is not so terribly bad.  It’s the conditions under which one may or may not carry a weapon which seem to have gone too far.

Although 21 states have an outright ban on concealed weapons on campuses, there are 7 states that allow concealed weapons on college campuses.  These states are Colorado, Mississippi, Oregon, Utah, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Virginia.

The other 21 states have taken the easy way out by leaving the question of concealed carry on campus up to the individual universities and colleges to decide.

In addition to college campuses, some states even allow concealed carry in bars and restaurants serving alcohol. 

In Missouri, a “law-abiding” citizen can even carry a gun while intoxicated and can even fire it if “acting in self-defense”.

In Kansas, permit holders can carry concealed weapons inside K-12 schools and at school-sponsored functions.

In Utah, a person under felony indictment can buy a gun, and a person charged with a violent crime may be allowed to retain his concealed weapon permit.

In Louisiana and 19 other states, permit holders are allowed to carry concealed weapons inside houses of worship.

Virginia law states that weapons are allowed in churches unless a service is taking place, in which case they are only allowed if there is “good and sufficient reason.” The law does not go on to list possible reasons a gun might be needed during a church service.

Virginia has also repealed a law that required handgun vendors to submit sales records.  In addition, the state also ordered the destruction of all such previous records.

More than a dozen states now allow people to bring their guns to work, however, usually on the condition that they remain stored in their vehicle.  The Governor of Indiana signed a law that bans employers from telling their employees they can’t have guns in their cars on the job only two weeks after an Indiana employee was given fifteen years in prison for attempting (and failing) to shoot his boss after a meeting concerning his subpar performance.

There are nearly 300,000,000 (300 MILLION) firearms in the US.  At 88.8 firearms per 100 people, the US has the highest rate of gun ownership by civilians than any other country in the world.  Second place is held by Yemen, with 54.8 per 100 people.  Then there is Switzerland with 45.7 and Finland with 45.3.  No other country has a rate above 40 firearms per 100 people.

We love our guns.  We enjoy shooting our guns.  But should we have so many?  Especially the semi-automatics and assault weapons?  How do we keep Americans from shooting and killing other Americans in such alarming numbers?  I think these questions must be seriously considered by civilized people if we are to remain a civilized people.


Bill said...

Very cogent and well stated.

Croft Randle said...

Excellent thought provoking post Robert. I wish more Americans had the same clarity of thought as you.

Peter and Shelagh said...

I have always hated the saying guns don't kill people, people kill people. Talk about splitting hairs. What more does the us need before they realize they need to wake up and have a good think about their right to bear arms. I am a croft blog reader and just visited your post from a link.
Good morning to you.

Robert & Carol Ann Martin said...

I received your comments via email and replied to them but they don't show up on the blog page with your comments like they used to. I'm checking settings but can't seem to find a way to make them show up. Anyone know what I can do?

Robert & Carol Ann Martin said...

Thanks for reading a fairly long and very opinionated posting.

Robert & Carol Ann Martin said...

In case any of you don't read Mario Piperni's blog "Political Issues & Not", you may wish to start. Go to to read his current post.

Peter + Beatrix said...

Seems we went to the same website for info. Good posting on a very serious topic.