300,000,000 Guns And Counting

There are some disturbing events associated with the Tucson massacre that have nothing to do with free speech or incitement or inflammatory rhetoric.

A headline over an article on Bloomberg News reports the bad news:

That reminded me of a similar headline in November of 2008 from CNN:

As Bloomberg reported on Tuesday:

One-day sales of handguns in Arizona jumped 60 percent on Jan. 10 compared with the corresponding Monday a year ago, the second-biggest increase of any state in the country, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation data. From a year earlier, handgun sales ticked up yesterday 65 percent in Ohio, 16 percent in California, 38 percent in Illinois and 33 percent in New York, the FBI data show, and increased nationally about 5 percent.

And as CNN reported in 2008:

According to FBI figures for the week of November 3 to 9, the bureau received more than 374,000 requests for background checks on gun purchasers — a nearly 49 percent increase over the same period in 2007.

Sadly, there are estimates that civilians in the United States possess almost 300,000,000 guns, making us the gun capital of the world, even though only about one in four adults owns a gun.  

Does anyone honestly think there is the slightest chance that gun-hating liberals could design legislation that would not only pass constitutional muster with today’s conservative Supreme Court, but could even make a dent in the American gun supply?

An equally disturbing event associated with the Tucson massacre is a story on Slate by William Saletan, which is subheaded:

Gabrielle Giffords and the perils of guns: How an armed hero nearly shot the wrong man.

The story has to do with Joe Zamudio, who “was in a nearby drug store when the shooting began, and he was armed.”  Saletan continues:

He ran to the scene and helped subdue the killer. Television interviewers are celebrating his courage, and pro-gun blogs are touting his equipment. “Bystander Says Carrying Gun Prompted Him to Help,” says the headline in the Wall Street Journal.

But before we embrace Zamudio’s brave intervention as proof of the value of being armed, let’s hear the whole story. “I came out of that store, I clicked the safety off, and I was ready,” he explained on Fox and Friends. “I had my hand on my gun. I had it in my jacket pocket here. And I came around the corner like this.” Zamudio demonstrated how his shooting hand was wrapped around the weapon, poised to draw and fire. As he rounded the corner, he saw a man holding a gun. “And that’s who I at first thought was the shooter,” Zamudio recalled. “I told him to ‘Drop it, drop it!’ “

But the man with the gun wasn’t the shooter. He had wrested the gun away from the shooter. “Had you shot that guy, it would have been a big, fat mess,” the interviewer pointed out.

Zamudio agreed:

“I was very lucky. Honestly, it was a matter of seconds. Two, maybe three seconds between when I came through the doorway and when I was laying on top of [the real shooter], holding him down. So, I mean, in that short amount of time I made a lot of really big decisions really fast. … I was really lucky.”

Saletan points out that Zamudio had no formal training with guns, and in Arizona he doesn’t need any in order to carry one with him to the drug store, or nearly anywhere else.  Saletan summarizes what could have been an even greater tragedy than occurred:

Zamudio had released his safety and was poised to fire when he saw what he thought was the killer still holding his weapon. Zamudio had a split second to decide whether to shoot. He was sufficiently convinced of the killer’s identity to shove the man into a wall. But Zamudio didn’t use his gun. That’s how close he came to killing an innocent man.

I suppose those of us on the left have to accept the fact that associated with America—a nation born in violence against “government tyranny”—is a gun-loving culture, a culture no longer content with just owning guns for sport and pleasure, but now must have the right to brandish them on the streets.

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