Why Are Semi-Automatic Guns Available At All?

There are two causes of the latest mass shooting tragedy in Buffalo:

  1. The very active white supremacy movement in this country, and…
  2. The failure of gun control and the shocking proliferation of guns.

The first cause, white supremacy, is a complex issue, and the solution to the problem isn’t clear, at least to me.

I want to talk about the second cause of the Buffalo massacre, which seems simpler and has a much clearer solution. Let’s talk about guns and gun control.

Here re a few statistics:

According to a recent article in the New York Times, we live in a country that has more guns than people — 329 million humans vs. 400 million guns. I typed that statistic and then thought I must have gotten it wrong because it’s so shocking, so bizarre, so nonsensical. So I checked and that is the number of guns in the U.S., according to the NY Times. Please read the whole article if you can. I think it’s important to know these statistics, because the situation is so much more dire than imagined, at least by me.

The information in the Times and in this blog comes from a report released by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. It was culled from industry, academic, and government experts. More statistics:

  • Domestic gun production increased from 3.9 million per year in 2000 to 11.3 million per year in 2020.
  • Starting in 2009, Glock-type semiautomatic handguns began to outsell rifles, which have been typically used in hunting.

Until 2004, we had a ban on semiautomatic weapons. That was Senator Feinstein’s signature achievement. But it expired that year and was not renewed. But we must remember that we did have a time when we had limits on the kind of gun that was used to kill ten people in the Tops Market last Saturday. We can do that again; and more.

Any statistics are good news when it comes to guns. Ironically the report that contains those horrific statistics above is good news to gun control advocates. Why? Because the gun lobby and Republican politicians have blocked any information from becoming public for years. Can you believe that? It is only because …

A year ago, President Biden ordered the A.T.F., an underized agency with the oversized task of enforcing the nation’s gun laws, to collect and analyze 20 years of gun data after a series of mass shootings around the country.

… So, thank you, President Biden, for ordering this report.

I’ve got a few more questions that I want answered by the A.T.F. in their next report about guns:

  • How many times do people actually succeed in protecting themselves with a gun they own? (I’m betting very few.)
  • How many times do children discover unlocked guns and inadvertently do violence to themselves or others?

I’m betting a lot more than the number of adults who succeed in protecting themselves.

  • How many people commit suicide with guns?
  • How many times are people killed with guns, not by criminals, but by someone they know, in a domestic dispute?

Many years ago, my friend’s husband was leaving her for her best friend. She told me that the most painful scene took place late one night in the kitchen. She was feeling uncontrolled rage at that moment, and she opened the knife drawer to get out a knife to stab her husband. But she could not imagine walking across the room and sticking the knife into him. It seemed too personal, too intimate, too real. She knew that, if there had been a gun in the house, she would have used it.

That made a huge impression on me. My friend is one of the least volatile people I’ve ever known. If she could be driven to contemplate shooting someone she had loved, so could anyone! If there had been a gun in that house, two lives would have been ruined. My friend’s husband might have been killed. And my friend would certainly have gone to prison. When I talked to her yesterday about this, she said, “To shoot a gun wouldn’t have felt like doing anything at all.”

Guns are just too damn easy to use. All you have to do is move your finger just a little to kill someone.

Guns do not increase public safety; they obliterate it.

Thank goodness there was no gun in my friend’s house. Amazingly, she and her ex-husband are good friends today. That’s another reason why it’s a bad idea to use a gun. Nobody knows the future. The person you want to annihilate today could end up being your friend tomorrow. Well, maybe not tomorrow but …. eventually.

More from President Biden on Gun Control:

Before boarding Air Force One, Mr. Biden told reporters that he would redouble his efforts “to convince Congress” to enact gun control measures but conceded that it would be difficult without a major shift in sentiment from lawmakers.”

Now, this is what drives me crazy about Biden. What is the point of collecting the info that outlines the enormity of the problem, vowing to fight, and then conceding defeat before you’ve even begun? Goddamit, Joe, the majority of Americans want gun control. Why aren’t you figuring out how to turn Congress around, rather than hinting that you know you’re going to lose? Congresswoman Barbara Lee submitted her anti-war resolution 20 times in 20 years, and it finally passed. Take heart from her example instead of resigning yourself to defeat.

This current report on guns from the A.T.F. paints to a picture of a country that is drowning in guns! Please write President Biden and your Congressperson to hold their feet to the fire. Biden asked for this information on guns, and he sees the problem. We need him to fight hard for gun control laws. And if he does lose the battle this time around, let’s keep track of how every congressperson voted and hold them responsible in the next election. That’s what democracy is about.

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Terry Baum is an actress, director, teacher, filmmaker, political activist, and award-winning lesbian playwright. Her blog BAUMBLOG is a “Top 100 LGBTQ Blog.”

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Terry Baum

Terry Baum

Terry Baum is an actress, director, teacher, filmmaker, political activist, and award-winning lesbian playwright. Her blog BAUMBLOG is a “Top 100 LGBTQ Blog.”

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