Service of Crowds: What do Guns Have to Do With It?

October 5th, 2017

Categories: Government, Guns, Laws, Restrictions

Photo: pinterest.com

I avoid crowds. I don’t like being one among hordes whether in a stadium or an indoor or outdoor venue. I learned, in writing this post, that I attributed to my dislike something else about mobs relating to gun violence that turns out isn’t true. Please read on.

When I saw the fans on “60 Minutes” last Sunday cheering feverishly for American star soccer player Christian Pulsic—the 19 year old is on the professional German Dortmund team [photo above]—I shuddered while I think I was supposed to admire. Thousands dressed largely in team yellow and black colors stood and cheered, then jumped up and down while squeezed shoulder to shoulder. [Pulsic was remarkable, but I digress.]

I loved the Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall last year but even that gave me pause. The capacity is 6,000+. Ticketholders are scrutinized by security airport style–wand and all–but still.

I see countless images and mentions on Facebook of folks either at or returning from a glorious rock concert or exhilarating game. [I love concerts–in moderately sized halls.] In supersized stadiums or open spaces I fear stampedes and not being able to get out of a packed place.

Now, after the latest massacre by guns–in Las Vegas–I thought I had another reason to question whether it’s safe to produce/attend events at venti-sized stadiums or heavily subscribed gatherings in smaller spaces until we have a better way of vetting venues for nasty perpetrators.

Photo: drawception.com

Turns out that where being fish in a barrel for gun-toting killers is concerned I’m wrong to worry about humongous  venues–statistically anyway. The Washington Post reported “People killed in mass shootings make up less than half of 1 percent of the people shot to death in the United States. More than half of gun deaths every year are suicides. In 2015, more than 12,000 people have been killed by guns, according to the Gun Violence Archive.” [I highlighted part of the quote.]

Put another way, that means that two years ago, almost 6,000 people died from gunshot wounds that weren’t due to suicide and mostly didn’t happen in stadiums and outdoor music festivals. “Twenty-seven percent of the mass shootings occurred in workplaces, and 1 in 8 took place at schools. Others took place in religious, military, retail and restaurant or other locations.”

Photo: en.wikipedia.com

So I was wrong about massive crowds being targets, but guns are not off the hook. The government protects us from unsafe prescription drugs, cigarettes, and from harm by having passengers remove their shoes at airports—so why not from citizens with guns?

A Vox.com article subhead is “In the developed world, these levels of gun violence are a uniquely American problem.” Shouldn’t Congress mount a program to correct misinformation and misplaced anxiety and simultaneously put in place ways to verify the sanity and objectives of people who buy guns in future? Shouldn’t there be a gauge to determine the appropriate type of guns a citizen should own for non military/police-related purposes? Common sense tells us that there must be a suitable number of guns for sportsmen and women to own. Why not do for guns what we do for cars–register them so that homeland security in every community is aware of citizens with an excessive number? Everyone appears shocked to learn that the latest murderer had so many rifles. We should never be surprised. Nothing’s perfect–car fatalities are caused by people whose licenses have been revoked–but does that mean we shouldn’t address the problem?

Photo: slate.com

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13 Responses to “Service of Crowds: What do Guns Have to Do With It?”

  1. Hank Goldman Said:

    Wow.
    This is a really hard topic. I believe in everything you say. I wish others would see it as being the logical next step… Severe restrictions on these kinds of weapons… Enforce existing restrictions on crazy people buying and or using these weapons!

    The answer to why it hasn’t happened yet, is plain and simple.

    The NRA.

    There are lists available of how many millions of dollars in direct contributions, campaign fund contributions, and who knows what under the table contributions the NRA makes to senators and representatives… To not do anything! Money talks!

    Don’t forget that the military industrial complex contributes mightily to the NRA… They have the funds so that men and women who need to display their masculinity and or femininity need these weapons to show off!

    After each major disaster, people want the rules to be tightened, realizing that the second amendment was written when muskets took several minutes to load in between shots !!!

    Some claim they are afraid the government will take their weapons… If that were true… And 50 swat team members approached your house, your weapon wouldn’t be much good!

    It’s a terrible problem. Money versus humanity! We have to keep fighting for humanity! Thanks for bringing up the topic, and your excellent potential solutions !!!!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Hank,

    The NRA and other interest groups with deep pockets would lose a great deal of their power if there were limits on the amount of money politicians could spend on campaigns. Maybe politicians could turn to the public’s best interest at that time–what a concept!

    I suggest that both sides take deep breaths and negotiate but at the moment, one side–those who want restrictions on gun ownership–has a door slammed in its face. Those who feel that nobody should own a gun for any reason probably didn’t grow up in a community where hunting was an important right of passage. They need to give a little. The argument that citizens must be able to protect themselves so they MUST own guns has validity with many–but how many weapons can one person wield at once? And how many perpetrators do they think will come at them in their homes?

    Further, get labels out of the discussion. This business of “liberals are anti gun,” gets us nowhere. Such language raises issues with some–as it’s meant to do–that don’t belong in this discussion. A shooter is targeting innocent people, liberal and conservative, Republican and Democrat, white, black or brown and every religion you can think of, alike. Political leanings are irrelevant.

  3. David Reich Said:

    This is a tough one, even putting the politics of it aside.

    In so many cases in our daily lives, especially here in NY City, we are fish in a barrel for a nut who wants to take random people out for whatever reason, or even no reason.

    After 9/11, I avoided busy venues and quickly scooted through Grand Central. But we have to live our lives and not be in constant fear or terrorists and crazies have won. I try to use common sense and avoid places and situations that might invite a crazy — although I did march in the women’s protest after our dear president was inaugurated (annointed? crowned?) I walk through Times Square to go to see a show.

    Unfortunately, there’s no great answer. Maybe some research could help. the government spends around $320 million for traffic safety research, and a similar amount on public health research. Hardly a penny on research into gun violence issues, because the NRA convinced Congress years ago (I think during Reagan’s era) not to fund any research on the gun issue. How did the NRA convince Congress? $$$$$$$

    Some form of sensible gun control might help, but it won’t prevent terrorism and it won’t stop the lone gunman like the guy in Las Vegas this week.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    David,

    I have been wanting to write about this for a long time and didn’t know how to go about it. It is a tough subject.

    My fear of crowds began as a 10 year old. My mother and I were leaving Castel Gandolfo. Throngs had waited in a courtyard to hear the Pope say a few words and bless the crowd from a balcony and when he went inside everyone pushed to leave at once. I could have lifted my feet off the ground and I’d have been thrust towards the entrance and away from Mom.

    Even before 9/11 there was the to-do around the 2000 New Year’s celebration and all the mailboxes in the Times Square vicinity were locked or removed as they are yearly around the UN at General Assembly time. When I see army troops in Grand Central wearing camouflage [that does anything but in that place] carrying machine guns I wonder, “what’s up?” and keep moving. Friendly fire is also a possibility in an emergency though I don’t begrudge the military their guns.

    I’m convinced it would help to keep track of gun owners and what they buy, easily input by gun sellers. Using social security numbers and computers, overseen by homeland security or FBI or police….it would be a start. The obvious argument is “the bad people won’t do this.” So? They never do. Does that mean we should have no laws as there are people who break them daily?

  5. Judith B Schuster Said:

    Even the NRA came out today for a law regulating bump stocks, the attachment that turns a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic weapon. He had several. Keep in mind, however, that the “nut” in Las Vegas had no criminal record and no history of being mentally ill, although clearly, he was. He could easily have asked friends to buy some of the weapons. In fact, he may have done so, at least that is what authorities are looking into now. It’s too late to lock up all the guns, we’ve had the freedom to buy them for centuries. I don’t think anything can be done about someone determined to go down in flames as he was, not in a country where anyone without a criminal record can buy a gun. (I have friends/relatives who own them, sometimes several of them, but not in the number he had.)

    I’m not afraid of crowds either, have regularly gone to Michigan football games in Ann Arbor, where the stadium holds 100,000 plus. It’s great fun to be a part of it especially since Michigan usually wins.

    I think we just have to bite the bullet and live our lives. I just hope they kill me because I don’t want to suffer or have to live with a disability from then on!

  6. HB Said:

    When I volunteered for the draft in 1956 the Army decided, for some obscure reason, that I should be trained to be a policeman. As an MP, I carried a sidearm when on duty and didn’t like doing so one bit. Despite my having earned a peacetime direct commission as 2nd lieutenant in the Reserves, I managed, legitimately, to avoid further active duty after my discharge from active duty in 1958. Consequently, I have not had to fire any type of weapon since then and have never owned a gun or had one in my home.

    I truly believe that guns were created to facilitate killing and serve no other useful purpose.
    The first crowd of which I have any memory was at St. Peters Basilica in Rome in say 1938 where my mother had taken me to be blessed by the Pope. The faithful must have worked themselves up into frenzy and scared me as I remember crying uncontrollably to the point where my mother had to take me away from the square. I don’t recall seeing the Pope, but I do recall being very frightened.

    I’ve been in numerous crowds since then in such diverse places as Santiago de Chile, Mexico City, Lagos, Nigeria, Genoa, Italy and Beirut, Lebanon, even Pleasantville, NY and East Rutherford, NJ. Some of these were extremely hostile, even violent, all of them left lingering memories which range from being unsettling to unpleasant. I now purposely avoid being part of a crowd, and, when I am, I hunker down and, for example, wait until most or all of others present have left before leaving a theatre or getting off a train.
    .
    You have most effectively combined two of my pet phobias in one post. As to what the government can do about the problem, I have mixed feelings. The way our government is structured intentionally protects the rights of our minorities, and we must remember that almost third of our citizens do enjoy shooting and killing and being entertained by watching reenactments of people inflicting violence and cruelty upon one another. Scenes including brutality and gore are not just on electronic devices. Check out your neighborhood movie house or sports arena, you’ll see.

    With respect to crowd control, if we are to respect the civil rights of our citizenry, and I think we should, we are already doing all that can be expected.

    However, because we are unable to ban gun ownership, the killing must inevitably continue and perhaps event expand. Even so, since we already effectively license hunters and limit hunting seasons, why can’t we properly license and regulate weapon ownership? That way, eventually, the general public, and especially the police, would come to know who owns what gun and the purpose for which it is to be used. Is that too much to ask?

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    The tragic Las Vegas experience had nothing to do with mass gatherings. Sadly, all the restrictions which may be imposed on gun ownership won’t help murderous scenes, and if all this righteous yelling and screaming about guns doesn’t stop, worse is coming.

    I’ve said this before: Remember the McVeigh massacre? The Boston marathon? Not a shot was fired. So take away the big bad guns…….bombings are on the way……in increasing numbers.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Judy,

    I think that the NRA wants to keep Congress away from the subject of guns for fear of stricter regulations and this was an easy, painless cookie to toss and make people think they are on the job to cool down anti-gun rhetoric. Smart move, but not enough.

    I don’t think we should lock up guns…[though if I had any, I would so no harm would come to anyone in the household], but law enforcement should know who owns them and how many. We have to start sometime. Supposedly background checks are done on prospective buyers. Jumpstart the database with them.

    Oh, Judy….what a terrible thought to rather die than survive with horrible injuries….but I understand it. I also see this as yet another reason to control the use and ownnership of guns.

    I love the enthusiasm of people at a stadium…just don’t want to be part of it.

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:

    HB,

    I hadn’t thought about hunting licenses. Hunting licenses are yet another good place to start collecting data. And police should know who owns what.

    I’m amazed that you could remember something from when you were so young. I often wonder if we remember a childhood event or if we remember what people have told us about it.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    The Las Vegas murderer wouldn’t have hurt and killed as many in a short period had there not been a ready made gathering for him to attack which is why I added–incorrectly–fear of being a fish in a barrel to a perpetrator out to do no good to the pile of other reasons I avoid crowds. It’s an example of misinformation about the whole issue of guns and why Congress should address it to correct misunderstandings.

    I don’t see a database of gun owners as a restriction. My car is registered and I have a driver’s license and it’s no skin off my nose.

    I don’t see protests by people who have lost children, sisters, parents, friends and relatives–or who don’t want to lose loved ones–as any more righteous than the mission of Mothers Against Drunk Driving [and now, I hope texting while driving]. You get a ticket if a policeman finds you without your seatbelt or taking on the phone unless it’s hands free. These are good restrictions and don’t cause those at fault to ram into pedestrians.

    Terrorists at 9/11 used planes to kill but what does that have to do with guns? Terrorists can use poison gas in subways etc. too. Also irrelevant. There is so little we can control–but knowing who owns guns, what guns and how many of them is a very good start and getting rid of automatic any gun is also a good idea. In England, they stopped a centuries old sport of hunting foxes because it was cruel to the fox. What about cruelty to humans?

  11. JM Said:

    I bought on line 2 safety sirens for my grandchildren who live abroad & my grandson had his iPhone stolen @ a pool in Lyon where he’s taking a course. I also bought a flashlight that temporarily blinds the person who steals up on you but it has no directions to set it up. My order arrived yesterday! This morning, I emailed the Company to send me the directions to set it up but haven’t heard from them yet.

    I’m in the same safety mode as you are after the Las Vegas shootings.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:

    JM,

    For so many reasons, anxiety is throughout the land.

    Speaking of missing instructions, I bought an antihistimine and when the directions on the box referred me to the instructions I noticed that there were none. I’d purchased the store brand–$3+ less than the name brand. Maybe if I’d paid more I’d have rec’d instructions. I looked them up on line, but still….

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Mandatory liability insurance for gun owners an idea I saw in a Facebook post by Occupy Democrats. Wonder what the impact would be?

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