- Posted January 8, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Gun control debate: Background checks
ARE WE SAFER TODAY THAN IN 1963?
Like many Americans, it has been difficult to focus on the day to day. After December 14, not a day goes by where I am not thinking about the victims and their families whose lives have changed forever because of Mass Shootings. I am unable to shake the most recent events from my mind. My tears are no longer enough.
Perhaps you asked the same: What can a parent do? Are mass shootings an epidemic? Is our constitution still working? So I did what I always do with complex issues, read (about the constitution, gun history), collected data (on any publicly known mass shootings), and looked for trends. I put my BA in Psychology and MS in Epidemiology to use. Data reveal trends more alarming than past reports. I was enlightened by what I found. The greatest realization was that we are not hopeless at all.
To say that we are safer by arming all citizens with semi-automatics is a MYTH. There were 21 times more mass shootings this year, than when ‘Gun Control Act of 1968’ was fully in place (see Table in Appendix). From 1968 to 1986, the prevalence rate of Mass Shootings was less than 1 per year. Since 1986 there have been at least 106 Mass Shootings published. In 2012 alone, there were 21 publicly known Mass Shootings.
The 1968 Act seems to have been fairly effective. After 1986, numbers quadrupled. The scariest part of this table is 2013 data is not included yet. If we do nothing and predict that the number of shootings is exactly the same from 2013 as it was in 2012, the 2004-2013 number of Mass Shooting will be closer to 77 and the Deadliest to be closer to 48. We MUST act NOW.
2004-2013 : 56
1994-2003 : 32
1984-1993 : 22
1974-1983 : 8
1964-1973 : 5
1954-1963 : 1
The Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994-2004 has been in the spotlight. But there was other legislation which impacted Mass Shooting data. The ‘Gun Control Act of 1968’ was signed by President Johnson after President Kennedy was assassinated. It regulated the firearms industry and firearm owners. The ‘Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986’, supported by the NRA, loosened the 1968 restrictions.
MANUFACTURING AND SALES
What did we do as a society to reinforce such HORRIFIC numbers? What happened after 1963? So I started to search for manufacturing and sales information. You may be surprised by what I found:
In 1963, semi automatic rifles became available. In 1986, Gun Control Act of 1968 was loosened by lobbyists. In the mid 1990s, weapons of war were available online. In 2008, Supreme Court decided to ignore Regulated Militia from the amendment. Lobbyists have used this decision, to overturn bans making it easier to buy guns.
Google for what you can get online. You will be horrified to find what your sons or daughters can buy. The amount of arsenal is sickening. Background Checks are NOT a good measure of Mental Health. Yet, some of companies do not even require a Background Check. Many shooters were 1st time offenders.
We are NOT safer today than we were prior to 1963. For our military to carry weapons of mass destruction, our soldiers go through rigorous assessments as well as training prior to arming them. Yet we allow these weapons to civilians to be freely purchased like candy. When an organization becomes so strong that it influences and brainwashes the way we think and act, we must question the very fabric of our culture.
Each time we make it easier for civilians to possess weapons of mass destruction there is an increase in Mass Shootings.
From 1937-1962, semi-automatics were only in the hands of our Regulated Militia. During this period, there was on average 1 Mass Shooting every 5 years. This is essentially the same prior to semi-automatic weapons being created. From 1928-1937, there was on average 1 Mass Shooting every 5 years.
From 2008-2012, there were 41 Mass Shootings publicly known (excluding gang data). During the latest 5 year period, there were 41 times more mass shootings than any half decade in 1937-1962. We were SAFEST prior to 1963 before semi-automatic weapons were on our streets.
The more we pack, the more we die as a nation.
IMPORTANT RIGHTS IN THE CONSTITUTION AND DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE
Per CDC statistics, over a million victims have died by gun violence in the past 50 years. Remember that this database contains a small subset of gun violence (public data involving mass shootings). The very foundation of our country is being questioned today. Below is what is being sacrificed by every victim of gun violence:
1) ‘We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America’.
2) ‘Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness’ as unalienable rights per the Declaration of Independence.
I believe that the above are MORE IMPORTANT to our nation, than the right for just anyone to bear arms. Per the original Bill of Rights the second amendment right to bear arms was exclusive to a Well Regulated Militia. When discussing the second amendment, please do not drop this very important preface. Aside from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, Coast Guard, National Guard, Sheriffs, Police, FBI, CIA, Border Patrol, who do we consider to be WELL REGULATED MILITIA? This preface makes all the difference, because contained within these words were processes in place which kept us safer.
ARMING REGULATED MILITIA VERSUS CIVILIANS
Let’s compare the processes prior to arming CIVILIANS vs REGULATED MILITIA:
Background Check: Yes
Psychological Test: Yes
Medical Test: Yes
Physical Test: Yes
Months of Training: Yes
Pass Basic Training: Yes
Check of Arms: Yes
Periodic Tests: Sometimes
Background Check: Sometimes
Psychological Test: No
Medical Test: No
Physical Test: No
Months of Training: No
Pass Basic Training: No
Check of Arms: No
Periodic Tests: No
Why have we made it so easy for regular civilians to possess weapons of mass destruction? We must revisit the definition of firearm used for lawful purposes per Supreme Court decisions. It is not the Second Amendment Bill of Rights but the way it was translated (2008 and 2010) into rights to bear arms to individuals by the Supreme Court that may have had the greatest impact on Mass Shootings. It was not the intention of our founding fathers to arm every man, woman, or child. Allowing the Well Regulated Militia to be ignored from the second amendment is destroying our DOMESTIC TRANQUILITY. It creates an incredible disconnect with many loopholes on how civilians should be regulated on bearing of arms and which arms they are allowed to bear.
What I learned about the Constitution and Bill of Rights was that our founding fathers were very careful about those who should bear arms. I believe in what they originally wrote because they closed loopholes they could foresee. Even back then they understood the power of firearms. Not only did they say militia but a WELL REGULATED one. They went even further to designate the president as commander in chief of those who bear arms. ONLY he has the sole power to say we must lay down our arms and when to raise them.
WHAT CAN WE DO (MORE IN NEXT ARTICLE)
It is not one factor but a combination of factors producing this very volatile cocktail in our society. We must attack this epidemic on several fronts. Weapons of war belong at war. If we want to be as safe as 1963, we need to get all weapons of mass destruction off of our streets.