According to the Center for Disease Control, the rate of firearms deaths for kids under the age of 15 is 12 times higher in the United States than in 25 other industrialized nations combined. In one year, more children and teenagers die from gunfire than from cancer, pneumonia, influenza, asthma and HIV/AIDS combined. It seems an American kid is 16 times more likely to die from a firearm-related accident than a kid in any other western industrialized nation. A gun is the No. 1 choice for male adolescents in attempting (and completing) suicide. Approximately 3,500 students are expelled every year for bringing firearms to school.
According to the National School Boards Association, 135,000 guns are brought into U.S. schools every day, and nearly 8 percent of adolescents in urban areas miss at least one day of school each month, because they are afraid to attend.
According to FBI statistics, 1.7 million guns have been reported stolen--mostly from homes and cars--in the past 10 years. Only 40 percent of them have ever been recovered. What this means is that they are or have been in the hands of crooks.
Guns do too kill people; and they do it more efficiently than a sword, a knife, a baseball bat, a disease or anything short of a bomb. An assault weapon is to a switchblade, or any other weapon of youth past, as the bubonic plague is to a head cold.
For the most part, the people victimized by this insanity are too young to vote or be real players in our economy. Children in our culture don't actually count. That's what the numbers say and numbers don't lie. They don't even hedge.
So I should have been elated recently when I read in the Arizona Daily Star that a firearms bill had been killed. Seems a Phoenix Republican by the name of Doug Quelland failed to push House Bill 2666 through the state House. This bill would have allowed people to carry concealed weapons into schools.
The fact that any Arizona legislator would come up with an idea like this (he says he was unaware the bill was so far-reaching) tells me that he is certifiably insane and should be locked up in a rubber room, or that he and his constituency are of a dangerous criminal mentality. Not only shouldn't such people be legislators; they shouldn't be allowed to walk around loose.
But of course, nor should armed drunks. Yet the Legislature is gearing up this very minute to debate SB 1363. This bill will allow customers to carry firearms into bars. To call this Ali G. reasoning would be to insult Ali G. Drunks and guns might be funny in the movies, but in real life, a bullet through the brain pan tends to take nearly all the fun out of a rollicking evening out.
I've got a bumper sticker that says, "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will shoot their kids accidentally." This is what logicians call an "if-then" statement. It doesn't assert anything. It only says that if something were to happen, then something else would also happen. If I drop a drinking glass, it will break, does not mean I ought to or am going to drop the drinking glass. The truth is, on purely moral grounds, I don't think all guns should be outlawed. I don't like the idea of hunting animals, but understand that some decent people feel differently.
Some people who pulled up next to me on Tanque Verde Road just the other day were neither as tolerant nor logical. Maybe they were on crack. Maybe they were just ardent supporters of this Quelland fellow. But they started shouting, thumping around, flipping my friends and me the bird. As the light changed, their parting words were that they should come back and shoot our motherfucking asses.
This, alas, is the crux of the problem. In a democracy, when one side of an issue is armed and the other is not, you've got big problems.
If I know both my state and my country--and I do--Little Johnny had better start packing his flak jacket before he heads off to school. And soon. People like Mr. Quelland may pick up their marbles, but they never go home.