Monday, December 31, 2012

Guns and Homicide

Every time a homicidal maniac goes on a spree of killing the incredibly powerful 'gun control lobby' jumps on the bandwagon with quite frankly a great deal of misinformation.

I am a hunter. My grandfather hunted. My father hunted. I got my first marksman awards at the age of 12. I've hunted and fished all my life and it's the reason I live where I do. Indeed if I didn't hunt I'd not be living here because I turned down offers of positions at Stanford, Berkeley, and Cambridge choosing a position at UBC, Vancouver Canada because it put me close to the wilderness where I could hunt and fish.

I've never mis used a fire arm. 99.9% of a gun owners don't mis use firearms. Less than 4% of gun crime is done by those with registered firearms. I've hunted with a bow successfully but prefer hunting with a rifle. My family has a tradition of raising it's own meat and gardening its own vegetables. My experience in the food industry and my family's experience in the food protection agencies has left us preferring to prepare our own food as much as possible. I've learned to be a butcher, a wild game chef and much more as part of the process of hunting.

The ignorance about hunting in our culture profoundly disturbs me. People in North American cities know as little about hunting as they do about science or the internal combustion motor that runs their vehicles. They know even less about energy management and electromagnetic forces. Yet they are very politically loud and easily mislead. That frightens me.

The average person thinks that the 'green' people, all those 'activists' are the cause of wildlife conservation when in fact hunters and fisherman account for 90% of the money that goes to habitat preservation and management of wildlife. We pay for this directly with our licenses and a variety of other tax revenue specific to outdoorsmen.

 The 'gun control lobby' is powerfully aligned to the idea of 'good government' and 'more government' and the belittling and criminalizing the individual versus the state. That's unfortunately why the National Riflearm Association came into being, as a defensive measure to protect rights of individuals from the intrusiveness and coercion and bullying by those people who indeed have the greatest number of weapons and amass more and more weapons, the State and all it's agencies. Governments kill more people always than individuals. The principal United Nations and Nato nations are the principal arms traders of the world making more money on arms trades than those same 'real politic' agencies once made on slave and drug trades. It's important to learn history and remember this is about the individual and the State. The state, even apparently democratic states, have been more lethal and more armed than individuals ever.

This 'process' of State and Individual, or Majority and Minority, is not only occurring with guns but with farms and any number of other areas where the private individual or the family are being disenfranchised by the 'big corporation' or 'big government'. In Canada we still have a large colony mindset and forget that the United States is a wholly different country from European nations.

All over the world it's important to remember that the rich and the powerful are all extremely well armed. The "anti gun lobby" is not about disarming the rich or the criminals but rather about disarming the citizen and specifically the middle class. Criminals are well armed all over the world despite gun laws. Terrorist functions extremely well despite all the laws and the trillions of dollars their disgusting behaviour costs. Guns laws have had a little effect on criminals having weapons as "drug laws" have had on stopping people accessing drugs. The 'war on guns' like the 'war on drugs' hurts alot of people while make a few people a great deal of money and not addressing the real problems at all.

Despite some of the toughest gun laws in the world I can get a hand gun in Canada most anywhere for under $500 the same as I can get heroin for $20  despite some of the toughest drug laws against heroin in the world. I won't even discuss guns and suicide because that's my speciality and I am ashamed to say the misinformation in this regard has been paramount. Comparison of suicide rates against gun laws shows that people kill themselves with a variety of means independent of guns. Guns laws don't change suicide rates for any length of time only the means which people use.  I worked where people jumped head first out of coconut trees to kill themselves so silly gun laws aren't going to affect suicidals and haven't to date.  The ingenuity of suicidal people speaks to the utter waste of human life that occurs with suicide and is all the more reason we shouldn't be distracted by self aggrandizing, powerful, rich, Government supported, anti gun lobbyists.  And don't believe their outright lies regarding suicide.

Guns are significant in terms of homicide around the world but knifes account for over half the homicides. Most homicides are indoors, in common pathways or in taverns. The use of a gun increases the lethality. Interestingly most homicides are a consequence of a single shot despite the potential clip capacity for multiple wounds whereas stabbing homicides are associated with  multiple stabbings. Et tu, Brute.

Where there have been nations with guns laws there has been significant increase in violence against the citizens by the State as evidenced by all Communist nations who have introduced guns laws before beginning the outright slaughter of millions of their citizens. This was the action of Stalin and Mao tse Tung with Russia killing 50 million and Communist China killing 80 million of it's own people. Hitler brought in strict gun controls before instituting Auschwitz and killing his opponents, including first German people,  en mass.

In contrast every citizen of Switzerland must own a gun and their homicide rate is one of the lowest in the world. Israelis must all own rifles and their killing of other Jews isn't a major problem. Indeed, the majority of homicides are predominantly between family members and close friends or associates and these people are outsiders in general relative to the greater culture. It's unlikely for most of us that it will be our wives, husbands, family or neighbours who are killing. Criminals are the principal killers who kill themselves and each other. Homicidal maniacs are rare and yet they have always been commonly 'used' by the incredibly powerful and well financed State subsidized 'anti gun lobby".

It was following a rampage similar to the recent US one that Britain already with the greatest gun laws of all time literally banned guns for private citizens. Note that they had a rampage with the least armed populations and least guns and strictest gun laws and now despite an utter ban on guns homicide by guns persists little effected by the laws. The same occurred in Australia.

Now what has reduced homicide by guns is doctors and trauma facilities and trained paramedics. In America people continue to shoot each other but half of the deaths have been stopped by better medical care, using techniques learned in Iraq and Afghanistan. Canadian doctor Norman Bethune reduced the mortality rate of the Spanish War simply by battlefield transfusion following in the wake of Florence Nightingale who reduced the mortality rate in the Crimea by over half simply with cleanliness.

Note that by focussing on 'the anti gun control lobby' and their personally self aggrandizing financial investment, we don't hear about the profoundly important effects of emergency medicine. In all the recent killings the individuals have been insane. Yet as a psychiatrist I'm the least paid of medical specialists and our speciality is the least funded. Alcoholism and drug addiction are a primary cause and closely associated with the majority of homicides. Heroin and cocaine addiction is one of the principals fuels for crime in the city. Commonly people get killed in crimes gone wrong. There are now well established successful treatments for drug and alcohol addiction but people are ill informed about these and can't simply see how few people are smoking as a result of the medical and social interventions into nicotine use, one of the most difficult and lethal of the addictions. I try to remind people that every hall of the university was smoke filled by the the end of the day as were the hospital wards and now we know who smokes in buildings by the few remaining who stand outside in the rain.

Lawyers and politicians want people to put more money in their hands so they can write more laws against guns just as they wanted more money for laws against drugs. The overwhelming evidence is that this is not where the solution lies but rather it lies in putting more money in the hands of education and health care. That's what offends me about the debate about 'gun laws' because the evidence is that it's very ineffective. The 'war on drugs' resulted in a massive armament of the states coast guard and various other government arms. The US overnight became a war zone with DEA and FBI causing more deaths in many major botched home invasions, Chicago suburbs and Waco not being the only ones by far, all of which were justified, but none of which substantially affected the actual drug problem in the US. Overwhelming data now shows that all the efforts to keep drugs out of america and all the efforts to destroy drugs in drug producing countries was for naught.It's main success was diverting funding from education and medicine into giving machine guns and tanks to sheriffs, marshalls  and such. The one figure that is not possible to find because it is so damming is the number of those hurt or killed by 'friendly fire'. It's well known that more than half the deaths in military engagements are caused by 'friendly fire', is it unreasonable to consider the same is likely true off the battlefield and in the neighbourhood.

Locally the police were in favour of gun control until they were informed that they would not be able to keep their guns when they left the force. The rich and the powerful are all armed. The issue is not about whether they are armed it's about whether the weak and powerless are allowed to have weapons. Now the gun licensing in Canada removed billions of dollars, note 'billions', from use in health care and education and put it in the pockets of odd individuals and a potentially corrupt bureaucracy. In the end it was scrapped but it's damage to the country in aloenating the rural from the urban was profound. Overnight my observation as a physician and psychiatrist working in the country towns was that once loyal and profoundly devoted citizens, military and police recruitment has been often greatest in the country, overnight felt alienated and demonized because a rifle or shotgun, part of the normal 'tool's' of farming, ranching, and the hunting and guiding community, made these individuals demonized and seeming outlaws.  I left the Liberal Party because of the insanity of this law which served no purpose but to be a money grab and appeal to hairdressers and dope smoking left wing intellectuals.

The first female prime minister Campbell had already made Canadian gun laws some of the toughest in the world adding to already existing legislation that made them safe by any means. In contrast, what has been disheartening is the way the courts have been 'easy' on those who have done crime with 'illegal' guns. Indeed there seems little distinction between committing crimes with illegal guns. Personally I think that should 'double the sentence'. Instead law abiding citizens with single shot rifles for hunting have been royally penalized and punished.

I point out to my golfing buddies that if the State's "Borglike" insanity isn't stopped by private organizations like the NRA they will have their golf clubs fined and then seized because there have been many homicides caused by golf clubs especially among Scots.  Talking to old people today who grew up in a Canada where every kid had a bb rifle or 22 and all our forefathers hunted as did the First Nations people, as did our pre Troudeau prime ministers, and Queen Elizabeth, to consider hunters to be outlaws is no more far fetched than to consider golfers the next group to be demonized with their violent tendencies and hatred for the poor little victim golf balls.

In prison only blunt knives are allowed and given that knives are the the second most lethal weapon and so common, outlawing sharp knives is really a wise thing to do now because where there are no guns the homicide by knives rate doubles as does the homicide by clubs.  Clubbing people to death with the scapula and mass graves of people killed this way goes back a hundred thousand years. Guns didn't invent killing.

Now there's a whole separate issue about military guns and hand guns. As I listened to a woman interviewer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation I was astounded that a supposedly educated journalist could be so utterly ignorant of her subject matter. The industry representative being questioned was a literal saint in the kindness of their responses. It's no different from the vegetarian who insisted that people shouldn't hunt but eat the hamburger at the supermarket and in Macdonald's as no animals are harmed in preparing that food. Golf clubs are military weapons as are pitchforks so what makes a 'better' military weapon than a 'hunting weapon' isn't as black and white as the talking head sound bite folk would make out. Further, it's been very clear that the media, especially Hollywood, have been keen to join the 'gun control lobby' because they certainly don't want to take any responsibility for the increased homicide that the reporting and profitting that media and hollywood get out of these killings. These killings are acts of 'social terrorism' and one of the first successful measures to limit 'terrorism' was to stop media reporting the events and demands.  It's long been shown that irresponsible and self serving profit driven media interests have more effect on homicides than 'gun control'.  It's never discussed that Europe has major censorship of violence whereas it's censorship free regarding sex. In contrast American media censors love and promotes violence then all silly girl like goes on ad infinitum about gun laws so no one looks at what media and Hollywood are doing to promote violence especially the random violence of the 'social terrorist' who attacks the local school.

I can make a gun more easily than I can make bath tub speed or build a still to make liquor. I can also kill with an air gun and as the vast majority of homicides are that close up the oldest and most basic of guns is as effective as more advanced weapons. The larger the caliber of bullet the more lethal potential it is. Hence a .22 caliber or .223 caliber is less deadly per se than a 50 mm. Add to this the type of bullet, i.e. hollow point which splits and fragments on impact causing more damage or armour piercing which can be used against vehicles and flak vests. The delivery system can be for instance, single shot, bolt action, and lever action. My friend loads a single shot rifle faster than a semi automatic and I have shot bolt action faster than I could have shot semi automatic when I was being charged by a moose. There are advantages to semi automatic in small game hunting, like birds and rabbits specifically.

There is no need for 'fully automatic' which historically was called a 'machine gun' or 'gatling gun' in the area of hunting. There could be some 'advantage' but I've never felt the need for this. In Canada automatic weapons have long been outlawed though police and military all have them. In WWII bolt action was the principal weapon. The greatest gun of all time, especially popular with terrorists and criminals , the AK 47 is not semi automatic or automatic. It's charm is it's simplicity and reliability. I could have all semi automatic rifles but have only one for partridge because most semi automatics have a tendency to jam. I shoot partridge in the head at a hundred yards or so. It's a small target and by only having to depress the trigger I can maintain my site and make very fine adjustments with my 22 rifle. The 22 rifle is a popular 'pit lamping' rifle for illegal big game night hunting. It's a very common 'hit man' pistol for close range killing in dance halls. The Israeli Mossad preferred the .22 rifle for it's wet work because it's quiet, deadly in trained hands and light and reliable. Most boys begin with a .22 rifle. It's like a bb gun on steroids. The most powerful air guns are equivalent to the .22 short shell rifle or hand gun.

The issue of 'clip' is highly significant. Most military applications involve a larger clip, in the range of 20 or 30 shell capacity compared to the 10 or in some case 5 and under for the hunter. People carry spare clips. It takes time to load clips. I have a 25 clip for target practice. At the range there is a limited amount of time to 'fire' so one tries to avoid 'loading' during this window and the larger clips allow people to use that time for firing practice. In the wild hunting there's little advantage for larger clips. I've never 'needed' more than 5 to 10 clips and the very vast majority of shots I've taken have killed with the first shot, the second guaranteeing the kill, in the traditional 'two tap' approach used by hunters and military alike.

Long range rifles have great importance in hunting especially with goat and sheep hunting but rarely are homicides committed from afar though the sniper is of critical importance in the military. It's usually a 'two man' or 'two women' team and the descriptions in the media of the maniacal 'sniper' have been hyperbole. I shoot moose at 300 yards with a normal rifle whereas 'snipers' shoot over 1000 yards and sometimes up to miles. I heard a media person describe a hundred yard shot as a 'long range sniper kill'. When I saw the clip on the news the distance was more like 25 to 50 yards and no one who knows anything about guns would describe it as a 'long range sniper shot'.  We would spend our money more wisely if we had laws against media misinformation about guns and gun laws.

Thats' the silliness and stupidity that goes for 'information' and 'news' on the media in this area with the majority of the misinformation predominantly coming out of the State Sponsored, anti individual, pro State and military guns,anti health and medical care, 'anti gun lobby'. Having said all this, if I were involved in making any laws I'd have life sentences for possession of illegal guns and double life sentences for use of illegal guns. I'd imprison judges who were not tough on people doing crime with 'illegal guns' and I'd invest a great deal of money in putting out of business those people selling illegal guns. I wouldn't change the actual gun laws at all, not in Canada.

As for the states I've not been subject to all the interference by over gunned state officials with sheriff departments having tanks and attack helicopters. I'm not American. The majority of people who are in the NRA are military veterans whose knowledge of guns, and the State are beyond what most Europeans and Canadians know. Right now United States is the principal Empire and has been personally fighting tyranny for years at high cost personally and collectively. I'd rather have Americans making decisions for themselves about their guns than Russian, Chinese or French or any of the African countries. I think Clinton, Bush and Obama have hard jobs but I think they should spend their money on health care, education and mental health rather than more probably useless laws against guns.

Indeed if you look at the homicide statistics and you want to outlaw something, outlaw marriage. With or without guns domestic violence is the principal cause of homicide male and female. Next outlaw family and friends, because the criminal element, the killing of strangers by strangers accounts for only 10 to 20% of homicides, despite the number of newspapers and magazines the fear mongering of this, sells. I would also hazard a guess that outlawing 'yahoos' and 'stupid people' would do far more than 'outlawing guns' since rarely do 'normal people' die by homicide.

Death by gun is not even in the 12 top causes of death yet the 'anti gun lobby' wants us to put billions of dollars into more ineffective laws which will not benefit society as much as focussing our time and revenue on such simple things as better driver education especially young people. We need more education and more health care more than we need more laws.

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