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Columns

July 5, 2014

Macho, crazy America sticks to its guns

“I shoot first, and ask questions later.”

Big macho bumper sticker motto, often seen on vehicles driven by men with pot bellies who believe that owning an assault weapon makes them thin, handsome, patriotic and a hero-in-waiting.

With 26 states that have “Stand Your Ground,” i.e. “Shoot First,” laws that tend to make unjustifiable homicide somehow justified, we are a nation that shoots first, and if we ask questions later, nobody appears to be answering.

We must be crazy. The rest of the world knows it but is either too polite to say it to our faces or too scared that we are going to shoot them, too.

Take Australia, for instance. In 1996, after 35 people died in a Port Arthur gun massacre, it took all of 12 days before the Aussie federal and state governments agreed on some strict gun laws, including a ban on semi-automatic rifles.

There had been 12 mass shootings in Australia between 1981 and 1996, but not even one in all the years since the new laws were passed.

In Scotland, in 1996, a guy in the town of Dunblane shot to death 16 kindergarten-aged children. Like the 2012 tragedy in Newtown, Conn., in which 20 schoolchildren and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School were shot to death, there was public outrage after the senseless carnage.

The Scots passed laws that have helped prevent any more school shootings. Similar legislation was adopted in Canada, Germany and Finland after shooting incidents, with similar results.

In the United States, we haven’t done a damn thing. There are more guns in this country than there are people.

A statistic you hear a lot is that we have had 74 school-related shootings in the U.S. just since Sandy Hook. That came from a gun-control group connected with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

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