12,000 Gun Murders in the US; in Japan, 11


James Holmes murdered more people in that movie theater in Colorado than were murdered by gunfire in Japan in the entire year 2008. (That Japanese number is 11, as opposed to some 12,000 in the US).

Even so, a big chunk of the US population doesn’t want to consider having a conversation about keeping assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips out of the hands of civilians. Citizens and commentators are blasting people like New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg for “politicizing” the murders.

The same is true for nearly the entire political class, in thrall to the NRA. “This is not a time to be bringing out all those old gun-control bills,” said Republican Senator Jon Kyl. We “have to wait and see how this plays out,” said courageous Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “[Nothing at all],” said President Obama.

The biggest weapon in Gun Nation’s argument is the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Reading “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed,” it enables gun fans to position the issue as a matter of constitutional rights.

That’s nothing but a big pile of horse baloney. Used this way, the Constitution is just a stand-in for something else. Most people, regardless of their political views, don’t actually know much about the Constitution or give much of a crap about it. They couldn’t tell you what the body of the document says, or what most of the other amendments are. It’s only the presence of this particular arms-related bit that even brings the Constitution to mind for a lot of people.

So what’s the Constitution standing in for here? I’ll tell you. The savage side of human nature. People want to own deadly weapons so that they always have the option of dominating, threatening, and murdering people – whole crowds of people, if necessary – who annoy them. Of course, only the occasional out-of-control sociopath/psychopath ever acts on this notion. But it’s the quotidian acceptance of guns as a fundamental part of the culture that makes it easy for those disturbed outliers to get the weapons and ammo they need to commit their acts of mayhem.

As to the argument that state-by-state comparisons show that gun laws don’t help reduce crime, it’s irrelevant. Tightening our gun laws would be just the first step in a gradual cultural change. The Japanese may have a different culture, but they are of the same species.