Assault Rifles: Less Chance than Being Struck by Lightning

By Randy Wakeman

It used to be a joke of sorts, to point up the ridiculously low odds of event: “The chances of that working is like being struck by lightning!” Yet, your chances of being struck by lightning are better than being murdered with a rifle, any rifle at all, including the rifle that Adolf Hitler personally coined as a propaganda term, the Sturmgewehr, the “Storm Rifle.” Of course, the civilian sporting version has been rebranded “Assault Rifle” for the same dramatic effect and the same reason Hitler liked the “Sturmgewehr”: an impressive name scares people and is a wonderful media term.

According to the National Weather Service, in 2011 with about 310 million people in the United States, there were 400 estimated lighting victims. According to the FBI in 2011, there were a grand total of 323 murders committed with any type of rifle. The top state for rifle murders is ironically California, with a total of 45 in 2011.

Yet California enacted the nation's first assault weapons ban in 1989 and has had one ever since. The reason California reacted was one individual who was an accomplice in an armed robbery at a service station, whose his mother called police after he vandalized her car for refusing to give him money for narcotics, who was arrested for firing a semi-automatic pistol at trees in the Eldorado National Forest, who attempted suicide twice, once by hanging himself with a rope made out of strips of his shirt and a second time by cutting his wrists with his fingernails. A psychiatric assessment found that he suffered from mild mental retardation and was a danger to himself and others. Yet, this maniac was set free and it all culminated in Stockton, California.

That seems to be the new national pastime: a government who scares people. There are perpetual cliffs we are about to jump off, there's aways a debt ceiling limit, there is a budget crisis even though we have no budget. The budget crisis with no budget sounds impossible to accomplish, but we have managed. Perhaps our government can convince us it is time to build bomb shelters all over again? Comic books used to cause brain disease and I suppose violence in the movies from William Holden (Wild Bunch) in 1969 and Dustin Hoffman (Straw Dogs) in 1971, both directed by Sam Peckinpah, has melted American brains for the last forty years or so? If we want a movie where only security personnel has guns, we can check out “Schinder's List.” If Americans aren't terrorized enough, there is always Joe and Jill Biden. I'm starting to worry about walking the dog, for it seems that casual dog-walking might be enough to let a couple of Biden shotgun blasts go from the balcony. Anybody reckless enough to suggest that people fire random shotgun blasts off a balcony shouldn't have a gun. Thank God he's only Vice-President.

You can pick any bad, evil, or undesirable thing in the world that you don't like. Anything. If I asked any rational human being if that bad thing was reduced in society by 50% over the last 20 years, the answer would be, "Great!"

That's anything. Let's say your taxes dropped by 50% over the last 20 years. Let's say air pollution was reduced by 50%. Your car used 50% less gas, your groceries cost 50% less. Or, 50% less abortions, 50% less people on food stamps, 50% fewer in poverty, 50% less homeless, 50% less unemployed, 50% less traffic deaths, or 50% less cancer deaths. Everyone, I mean everyone, would be thrilled with the improvement.

That is exactly the case with gun crime and violent crime in the U.S. Yet, the reaction is the opposite. Instead of being happy at the huge improvement in society, gun crime is now an epidemic that we have to do something about. Of course, we want continued improvement. A 50% reduction in gun crime over the last 20 years is no epidemic. Why the nauseating attack on gun misuse, when it is one of the precious few areas in our society that has seen enormous improvement?

There was a nasty hot air balloon tragedy in Luxor, Egypt. Now, all hot air balloons are grounded and some want bans on balloons. Not a component of the Bill of Rights. We still seem to want to legislate by emotion, horror, terror and perpetual emergency rather than applying education, reason and logic. Life,according to some media outlets, is perpetual emergencies of fiscal cliffs, sequestration and a whole bunch of things that are anything but new, or emergencies.

We can focus on drug-guns, gang-guns and the associated problems. If there is time left over, we can suggest that if you live next to the Biden family, it might be healthy to consider moving. At least, if you are friends with Joe and Jill Biden, try to keep them off the balcony.

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Copyright 2013 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.