News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Opinion

December 31, 2012

READERS’ FORUM: Dec. 31, 2012

A sad day if GOP caves in

I see on the news that the Republican Party is considering caving to Obama on all he wants. Higher taxes, raise the debt limit, and Obamacare. This is indeed a sad day for America.

If the Republicans do cave, then why do we need two parties? It looks as though we will become another third-world dictatorship with Obama as head dictator. You reap what you sow.

Get ready for the harvest, it is all sand and tumbleweed from this point forward. But it is very, very expensive sand.

— Joe DeLorme

Clay City

Problem is with culture, not guns

Watching the Sunday news shows discuss the tragic events in Newtown, Conn., the narrative advanced ad nauseam was that America needs stricter gun laws and stiffer sentences for violators.

Does anyone believe that stiffer sentencing would deter the mind of a person so ill or depraved that he is capable of the atrocity perpetrated at Newtown? Or Aurora? Or Columbine? With over 200 million guns circulating in the U.S., a “War on Guns” would be as impotent as our “War on Drugs.”

Referring to the 1994 assault weapons ban, columnist George Will noted, “When we put the ban in place these instances (mass shootings) did not really decline in a measurable way and when we took it off they didn’t increase in a measurable way.”

Switzerland is one of the few nations in which guns have permeated the society to the same extent as America. It contains less than 8 million people and over 2 million guns (including 450,000 assault weapons). Shortly after winning its independence, the Swiss government mandated that its citizens keep and bear arms.

Swiss gun laws make it easy to acquire assault weapons. (One need only purchase a $150 permit.) Yet Switzerland is an odd country in that no one gets shot; a 2007 survey found its firearm homicide rate to be less than 1 per 250,000. Despite all the guns permeating Swiss society, the murder rate is less than the rate in Canada, which strictly controls guns.

The BBC reports that Switzerland “requires every man to undergo some form of military training for a few weeks a year throughout most of their lives. Between the ages of 21 and 32, men serve as frontline troops. They are given an M-57 assault rifle and ammunition which they are required to keep at home.

“In addition to the government-provided arms, there are few restrictions on buying weapons. The government even sells off surplus weaponry (including machine guns) to the general public when new equipment is introduced.

“But despite the wide ownership and availability of guns, violent crime is extremely rare. There are only minimal controls at public buildings and politicians rarely have police protection.”

All of which suggests that America’s rampant gun violence is a (cultural), not a political problem, and will not lend itself to political solutions. More important than the number of guns is their cultural context. Switzerland puts the lie to the “more guns, more gun crime” nonsense.

But the notion that our heterogeneous society — burdened by the myriad pathologies associated with such societies — has devolved to the point that it’s no longer sufficiently civilized to accommodate the current proliferation of guns, is a notion that our politically correct media refuse to acknowledge. Thus guns are demonized while hoi polloi is ignored.

A young man walks into an Oregon mall, murders two people, and it’s national news. Meanwhile in Chicago (where assault rifles are banned) gang violence is so rampant that gun-related homicides average eight per week, as young black males murder each other with appalling regularity. But this weekly tragedy is largely ignored by the national media.

Beginning with the Columbine tragedy in 1999, and culminating with the carnage at Newtown, 242 individuals have been murdered during the past 13 years, in what the FBI describes as “mass shootings.” But last year alone there were over 8,500 gun related homicides in the U.S. (98 percent of which did not involve assault rifles).

So, what can we learn from Switzerland? Perhaps that cultural conditions, not gun laws, are the most important factors in a nation’s crime rate. Early on, Swiss citizens are taught to associate weaponry with being called to defend their country — not their gang turf. Despite the lack of strict gun laws, firearms are associated with a sense of shared responsibility.

“Young adults in Chicago are subject to strict gun control, but little social control, and they commit a staggering amount of armed crime. Young adults in Zurich are subject to minimal gun control, but strict social control, and they commit almost no crime,” writes David Kopel of the Cato Institute.

Some may attribute Chicago’s violence to the 80 percent illegitimacy rate in its black community, but that merely reinforces the point that our so-called gun problem is at root a cultural problem. Unfortunately, our mainstream media think it ill-mannered to focus on such obvious truths.

— Reggie McConnell

Terre Haute

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