Despite the fact that people think of America as the murder capitol of the world, the facts do not bear this out. The good ole’ USA is not even in the top ten when it comes to per capita homicides (# of homicides per 100,000 people). In fact, we are not even in the top 100. We come in at #111.
If one removes cities like Detroit, New Orleans, Baltimore, St. Louis and Chicago from the equation– all cities with the toughest gun restriction laws in the nation– the USA falls to #211 in terms of per capita homicides.
The American city with the fewest per capita homicides?
Plano, Texas. The very heart of “gun nut country”.
The term ‘gun nut’ is a terrible insult to law abiding citizens who behave responsibly when it comes to firearms. It’s like saying everyone who drinks is an alcoholic.
But, what happens when an irresponsible person has a gun?
I’m not talking about a mentally ill person on a shooting spree, but an otherwise “normal” person who has received a concealed carry permit for a gun, yet clearly doesn’t respect that right and worse, has little or no training in the safe and responsible use of that weapon.
We saw just such an example of what can happen this week when a 46 year old woman decided to play vigilante at a Home Depot in Michigan.
A man was seen leaving the store with a shopping cart full of power tools, worth around $1000. He was pursued by the store security officer, but made it to a waiting SUV, unloaded the cart and jumped in to make his getaway.
It was at this point that the woman–herself an innocent bystander– decided to draw her weapon and open fire on the departing SUV.
Let’s be clear about this. The thief did not make any threatening gestures and was not armed– no lives were in danger at all. Yet this woman, completely of her own volition, simply decided to play cop, drew her weapon and opened fire in a crowded parking lot with absolutely no regard for the lives of innocent bystanders.
All over shoplifting.
No police officer worth their badge would do that.
We’re talking about a misdemeanor crime, yet this woman apparently felt that Home Depot should have the right to summarily execute shoplifters.
This is hardly a ‘well regulated’ situation.
Licensed gun safety instructors have been unanimous in their response. This woman clearly lacks any training, or if she had training, completely ignored it and the very first rule of drawing a weapon: Lives are threatened.
This has long been the position of the NRA (National Rifle Association). Proper safety training for gun owners. It’s a sound position, akin to getting a drivers license.
An automobile can certainly be used as a ‘deadly weapon’. It’s several thousand pounds of steel hurtling down the road. Even if it’s unintentional, an automobile in the wrong hands can be a death sentence for an innocent bystander. This is why, in order to operate an automobile, one must obtain a license. In that process, physical/mental health, along with proper training, are two of the key components in determining whether or not someone is capable of driving responsibly.
If the NRA truly believes in their own stated positions regarding gun safety and proper training, they should be the very first group in line condemning this woman’s actions as being totally irresponsible. What she did completely goes against everything the NRA stands for.
I do a lot of driving in my work, going from county to county, and I really like to think the state of Pennsylvania is not handing out drivers licenses willy nilly to just anyone who thinks driving is their right. The fact is, you have the right to buy as many cars as you wish, but you must be licensed and trained to properly operate a car before you’re allowed to drive.
The same should be true of guns. It’s not about how many or what kind, it’s about responsible gun ownership. The NRA does considerable damage to their cause by not publicly embracing their own position on the subject.
The Second Amendment includes the words, “Well regulated”, and I believe that means, in modern parlance, properly trained and licensed in the use of fire arms.
As for the woman in Michigan, she has yet (at the time of this writing) to be charged with a crime, even though discharging a weapon in public recklessly and endangering innocent lives is in fact a crime, regardless of why she thought it was okay. She should be charged and held up by both sides in the gun debate as an example of why proper training and safety courses should be mandatory in gun ownership.
It’s time we start talking about this– not yelling at each other– in order to truly have a meaningful and realistic conversation about responsible gun ownership.
Opening fire in a crowded store parking lot over a misdemeanor shoplifting charge hardly qualifies as as “well regulated”.