Guns Do Kill People


Americans shouldn’t feel too lucky

U.S. Cops Have Already Killed More People since Christmas than UK Cops Have Killed in Five Years

Peter Van Buren

I love my readers, and want you all to have a safe 2016. So here’s some advice, assuming you don’t want to be murdered by your police: move to the UK. Or China. Or Australia. Or pretty much anywhere else.

In all of 2011, British police killed two people. In 2012, one. In 2013, a total of three shots were fired by British police, and no one was killed. In the last two years, a total of three people lost their lives because of British cops, bringing the total number of citizens killed in the UK to all of seven in the last five years.

Look at it another way. Since December 14, police in America have killed 60 citizens. It took English cops 25 years to do what American cops have done in the last two weeks of December.

Or another way. On average, British police kill around two citizens a year. American cops kill more than that every day.

Or another way. Since Christmas, police in our Homeland have killed 14 people. In the week since Christmas, American cops have killed twice as many people as the British police have killed altogether since 2011.

Or another way. Since 1990, police officers in the United Kingdom have killed exactly 58 people.

Yes, yes, some killed were truly threatening a life. But it seems even factoring that in, the U.S. numbers are wildly out of proportion for two societies so similar in terms of socioeconomics, rights, judicial processes and so forth.

But we know the truth, don’t we — it’s all about guns. British police for the most part are not even armed, in large part because their entire population is not packing as if World War III is about to erupt in Podunk, Texas.

It is us, and the way we choose to live. And more and more the way we choose to live is dictating the way we will die. So if that’s exactly what you want, please vote not to change anything in 2016.

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Peter Van Buren is a retired 24-year veteran of the U.S. Department of State, including service in Iraq. He is the author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. His latest book is Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the 99 Percent.

8 thoughts on “Guns Do Kill People

  1. In the end is not about the guns it is about society, culture, attitudes, upbringing and ethics. Our society has wide economic disparities and even cultural disparities and differences. Americans have spectator sports in common, ironically, because so much of their costs for stadiums, equipment and training are socialized from high school to college by society enabling enormous profits for private entities.

    We have in many ways a chaotic society promoted by endless violence in movies. This is not to say that movies should avoid all violence, but the violence and mayhem has become overwhelming in entertainment. What kind of society promotes endless gratuitous violence for fun in movies for profit?

    The fact is the Secondment Amendment is part of the Constitution and removing it requires convincing the majority that it is more harmful than beneficial. Right now, that case has not been made. Has government proven itself to be so reliable that the Second Amendment can be discarded? Often criminals acquire guns on the street at low cost. Does that mean that everyone needs to be disarmed? Do we have more criminal/justice system and cultural problems than a Second Amendment problem?

    Far more damaging to the nation are our wars and a foreign policy that has been harmful to the nation. When profits and favoritism are masked as national interest the so called elite class comprised of elected officials, corporate leaders and influential groups, have deceived (or convinced) the nation at great cost. It is an age old problem stemming from the Roman Empire and undoubtedly all empires that leaders become corrupt for riches leading the way to collapse by neglecting the needs of the people and society. Social Security and Medicare, created for the people, are near insolvency. Congress votes trillions for war but neglects it own people.

    New legislation passed in the House of Representatives recently proposes to remove country of origin labeling for meat. The message is clear to Americans: it is none of your business where your food comes from. In fact, it seems more of what government does on behalf of Americans in legislation the same can be said: it is none of your business.

    • Mr. Pelifian, I have to “call you out” on your view of the Second Amendment to US Constitution. Thomas Jefferson believed the people would revise the Constitution with each passing generation. It was not intended to be encased in glass in Philadelphia while the Supreme Court cogitates over the decades on what the original framers really meant. The very incorporation of the language on militias in the Second Amendment is the giveaway that this section should have been revised ages ago!! (There’s a lovely irony, of course, in the description of the Gun Freaks/The Federal Government Must Go, Especially With A Black Man in the White House crew occupying Federal property in Oregon as members of “militias.” Couldn’t resist pointing that out.) The latest statistics suggest that the gun-possessing households in this nation have 5 weapons, on average. (I admit to owning three, none of which I trust to be in actual working order!) Now, ponder this: for every household that merely has one squirrel-hunting rifle, there must be one that features nine weapons! Nine plus one equals ten, divided by two yields five, get it?

      We have a standing military that remains vast (let the wingnuts scream until they’re hoarse that “Obama and Hillary are weak on defense!”), sucking up a huge chunk of societal resources (and the related “national security” bureaucracy whose real budget is classified); we have the National Guard and Reserves; we have police departments that are armed to the teeth with military type gear. So, where exactly does “a well-regulated militia” fit into this scheme of organization, pray tell??? If it was up to me, I would impeach the majority of the current members of SCOTUS for their recent rulings on the Second Amendment and “Citizens United.” We have a President (for about another year, at least) with whom I disagree vehemently on many, many matters. But he is absolutely “on the side of the angels” when he points to rampant gun violence and says “America, we have a big, big problem here.” Yet the very system over which he presides is rigged to prevent him taking any meaningful action to slow the killing. Therein must reside the real crux of the problem in this country.

      Of course, there’s another aspect to the quarrel over the Second Amendment. I accept the argument that at least some of the framers of the Constitution believed the citizenry should be armed to resist excessive powers the Federal authority might claim for itself. This has been expressed as “Government should fear the people, the people shouldn’t fear government.” However, if we were to examine the general belief system of the armed occupiers in Oregon presently in the news, I am supremely confident I would find them absolutely repellent. Those folks absolutely do not represent me. They appear to be seeking a martyrdom (thus far frustrated by authorities) that will just reinforce the conviction of their followers that the Feds are not much different than the Anti-Christ! Though I agree Federal regulation is excessive in numerous areas of society (while failing miserably–and conveniently, for corporate interests–to protect our environment), given a choice between the established regime and the yahoos in Oregon, I would be forced to opt for the former.

      To conclude, I must argue that the statistics on gun violence in USA absolutely DO argue that the present interpretation of the Second Amendment IS harmful, not beneficial.

      • This appears to be an endless debate on the Second Amendment. The fact is the gun is an inanimate object that can do much harm in criminal and insane hands. So eliminating the gun is your answer. To some that might appear arrogant that it is only government that has the right to guns. The fact that so many people misuse firearms speaks more about those people than it does to the Second Amendment. It is arbitrarily to say that some statistics show guns are harmful to the nation. Why don’t go further and try to eliminate entire armies with statistics on the harm that wars commit? Why are you limiting it? Be bolder and say all nations with armies are danger to humanity and therefore all nations need to disarm.

      • Well, it would obviously be the greatest boon to humankind for all nations to disarm and cease their acts of aggression. Not gonna hold my breath awaiting such a development, though. The more immediate point is that no matter how mild are Obama’s proposals to make it less easy to obtain firearms, the Gun Lobby screams “bloody murder” (ironic language intentional) and vows to find the means to overturn any new regulation he may impose via executive action. And that speaks to your own observations about the violence-obsessed society our country has degenerated into. This is, indeed, a societal problem with no “easy” fixes. But voices still need to be raised in opposition to the pathetic situation in which we now wallow. “American Exceptionalism” indeed!!

  2. Oughtn’t then North Korea and Syria and Iran have the right to well organized militias bearing arms? I mean, if it’s enshrined as a rock-solid belief around which all properly white Christian societies should structure themselves and their mortuaries, then every other culture should have this splendid Democratic freedom available to them. Bear arms and prosper, as those wacky Vulcans say!

    • I think you’ll find the Second Amendment supports a “well-regulated,” not “-organized,” militia. As for Syria, their whole crisis right now resides in hosting a plethora of militias, so many I’ve given up trying to tell bad guys from good guys…if there even ARE any good guys!!

  3. I am wary of strict construction Constitution advocates in many instances, except when it comes to 2nd Amendment interpretation: citizens should not be impeded from ownership of firearms purchased and legally employed for the purpose of hunting for food, nor for owning black powder muzzle loaded muskets and pistols provided those owners are enrolled in state militias organized by state governments answerable to the President of the United States. More modern weaponry is not authorized to such well organized militia’s under this amendment.

    I beg to differ about a preceding claim regarding the solvency of Social Security and Medicare. Estimates I am familiar with concerning the first year that the present SS fund is likely to be unable to meet complete annual benefit obligations varies from ’33 to ’39 (assuming no Congressional change to the funding formula is enacted prior to that time), and even unchanged the fund will be nowhere near depleted at that time — and benefit reductions, should America make the unthinkable mistake of permitting this program to begin to expire, would only be necessary to reduce a relatively small amount for some years before truly devastating monthly reductions become necessary.

    I’m familiar with Medicare abuse issues due to system gaming by insurance/pharma/physicians/HMO/etc. which stringent oversight & appropriate regulatory regime (laws) can, without undue effort, overcome ( see Europe/UK among others for ready-to-hand examples of how this is accomplished). I am unaware of any real threat to imminent sustainability of this program.

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