Gunned Down

Former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, 67, was fatally shot while giving a campaign speech on Friday. It was stunning in that it happened in a country where firearms are strictly regulated and political violence is extremely rare.

Japan has some of the most stringent laws on buying and owning firearms. Japan’s gun-ownership restrictions do not allow private citizens to have handguns, and licensed hunters may own only rifles. Gun owners must attend classes, pass a written test, and undergo a mental health evaluation and a background check.

Interestingly, the shooter used a homemade firearm to assassinate Abe. Police raided his home and seized multiple weapons that also appeared to be homemade. The gun used to kill Abe consisted of two metal barrels attached to a wooden board and was more than a foot long.

Any form of violence is unusual in Japan, but gun violence is almost unheard of. There were only ten shootings in Japan in 2021, and, remarkably only one firearm-related death in the whole year. Since 2017, there have been 14 gun-related deaths in Japan, a country of 125 million people.

Compare that — 14 gun-related deaths in four years — to the U.S., which had, according to a recent report from the Center for Gun Violence Solutions, an average of 124 deaths from gun violence every day in 2020. That’s 110 mote deaths per day in the U.S. than in four years in Japan.

Hmm. I wonder why that is. Anyone care to hazard a guess?

Just What America Needs

The Supreme Court today struck down a New York law that placed strict limits on carrying guns outside the home, saying it was at odds with the Second Amendment. Despite a spate of mass shootings in America, the court’s conservative justices prevailed in a 6 to 3 decision (strictly along party lines) that struck down a New York law requiring a special need for carrying a weapon and puts at risk similar laws in Maryland, California, New Jersey, Hawaii and Massachusetts. The ruling is likely to make it easier to carry guns in some of the nation’s biggest cities.

Enacted more than a century ago, New York’s law requires those who want to carry a concealed weapon for self-defense to show a specific need for doing so.

The court’s dissenting liberals said the majority had distorted history and ignored the court’s precedents. President Biden and Democratic officials called the ruling tone-deaf and ill-timed in the wake of recent mass killings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Tex.

Of course, the National Rifle Association, which helped challenge the New York law and has longed for such a decision clarifying the constitutional right to “bear arms,” called the decision a “watershed win.”

“New Yorkers will soon be able to defend themselves outside of their homes without first having to prove that they have a sufficient ‘need’ to exercise their fundamental rights,” Jason Ouimet, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement. The ruling, he said, “opens the door to rightly change the law” in the half dozen other states “that still don’t recognize the right to carry a firearm for personal protection.”

Great. Just what America needs, more guns on the streets.

Truthful Tuesday — Thoughts and Prayers

Melanie, of Sparks from a Combustible Mind, is still filling in for Frank, aka PCGuy, who is taking a temporary hiatus from his Truthful Tuesday prompt. This week Melanie wants to know about thoughts and prayers.

Do you think the thoughts and prayers sent to victims of disasters or mayhem are worth the effort? If not, please give your reasoning. If so, give your reasoning, too.

Worth the effort? What effort? How much effort does it take to say that you’re going to send someone your thoughts and prayers? For most people, it’s an almost meaningless, mechanical, rote response.

Many of us can do little to help the victims and the families of loved ones whose lives have been senselessly taken by some asshole with a semiautomatic assault rifle. So “sending out thoughts and prayers” may help us feel better, but it serves no good purpose for those directly affected.

But nothing sickens me more than when those who are in a position to actually do something about gun violence in America — our elected representatives — offer their thoughts and prayers each time another mass shooting occurs. These people we put in office and whose salaries we pay through our tax dollars are lawmakers. So let them make laws that will help reduce the availability of and accessibility to semiautomatic assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Let them close the loopholes in gun laws. Let them demand background checks and waiting periods. Let them raise the minimum age to purchase a gun, let them require, as with cars, licenses, registration, training, and testing. Let them not get away, time after time, with doing nothing more than sending out thoughts and prayers.

And we, the ordinary people, can also do more than send our thoughts and prayers. We can vote into office — at the local, state, and federal levels — candidates who will commit to taking definitive actions to do something meaningful about gun violence in America, rather than spouting empty words.

Toe the Party Line

In today’s Republican Party, you have to toe the party line. You have to play by their rigid, uncompromising rules or you have to pay. Let me give you an example.

Today, a New York Republican congressman, Chris Jacobs, whose district in a Buffalo suburb near the grocery store where 10 Black residents were killed in a mass shooting a few weeks ago, has abandoned his campaign for re-election after his support for a federal assault weapons ban caused a GOP backlash.

Jacobs, serving his first term in the House of Representatives, stunned fellow Republicans by embracing a federal assault weapons ban and limits on high-capacity magazines. Jacobs said, “I can’t in good conscience sit back and say I didn’t try to do something.”

It took only seven days for political forces to catch up with him. There was an intense backlash from party leaders, who started pulling their support of Jacobs. A local gun rights groups doxed him by posting his phone number and address on the internet. And he was subjected to a “forceful dressing down” from Donald Trump, Jr. Ooh!

Rather than backing away from his support for a federal ban on assault weapons, Jacobs announced that he would abandon his re-election campaign. Imagine, a Republican politician with a conscience and scruples. No wonder his party is shunning him.

This situation demonstrates that Republican Party officials and activists will not tolerate any deviation whatsoever from their lawmakers on gun policy, despite broad support for gun safety measures by Americans.

Truthful Tuesday — Guns, Guns, and More Guns

Melanie, of Sparks from a Combustible Mind, is still filling in for Frank, aka PCGuy, who is taking a temporary hiatus from his Truthful Tuesday prompt. This week Melanie wants to know about a very hot topic.

Guns? Gun laws and how they could be improved. Pros and cons. A brief synopsis of why you feel as you do about them in which ever country you live.

I decided, rather than to repeat here in this post my thoughts about guns, gun laws, and how I feel about them, I’d just put in a link to a post, Second Amendment Thoughts Revisited, that I published this past Friday. Here’s the link to that post, and, for those of you who just want to know my bottom line on guns, below are the final two paragraphs from that post.

I believe any reasonably thinking human being, even those who support the right of citizens to keep and bear arms, can’t possibly justify the availability and use of such assault weapons by other than members of the military — the professional military.

We need to stop the insanity. Enough is enough. It’s time for Congress to put public health above special interests and politics. Otherwise I’m afraid for the future of our society.