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Guns or Knives? Careful what you wish for.

I’ve struggled whether to share my thoughts for the last week following the latest school shooting…and its time.  Any type of murder sickens me and the murder of kids is as bad as it gets.  There’s a part of me that’s reluctant to share my opinion as there are always those unwilling to listen and immediately call a differing opinion uncaring and callous.  What finally prompted me to write this post has been the constant barrage of misinformation, distortion and irrational response to a tragic situation.

A productive approach to a problem is best made when both sides are willing to deal in fact.  When one side of the discussion is based almost wholly on emotion the chances of reaching any kind of effective solution is lost.  Thinking that there are simple solutions to complex issues is foolish at best.

What really set me off was the discussion on one of the cable networks following the President’s meeting with survivors and concerned parties following the shooting.  Wayne LaPierre from the NRA spoke the same day.  The President was accused of calling the survivors “opportunists” by the TV host, which was pure bullshit.  If they listened it was quite obvious he was referring to our elected congress people calling for gun control within minutes of the shooting.  Watching the town hall meeting on one of the cable channels was scary to watch with a crowd showing a level of hostility to folks with an opposing view to theirs that was amazing.  If there was a collective group I would want to restrict gun ownership, they were it.  They went on to lay blame on the NRA profiting from the gun sales and manufacturers.  Do Assualt Weapon Sales Pay NRA Salaries

In the days following the shooting, more details started to emerge regarding the systemic failure of the FBI and local law enforcement.  Each had the opportunity to affect the ultimate outcome.  The story about the FBI’s failure to follow up on tips quickly fell off the front page.

So toughening background checks will address the problem?  Read the following before you join the circle:  “How they got their guns” .  Before you buy into that quick fix, consider the following.  A quick look at the 2014 stats from the FBI homicide by weapon report should give any knife enthusiast pause.  Your chance of being murdered with a knife is almost 5 time higher then murder by rifle.  ANY kind of rifle.  Hunting, target, single shot, bolt action, ‘assault’.

Weapon used                     2010          2011          2012          2013          2014

  • Rifle                             367            332            298               285           248
  • Shotgun                       366            382            310               308           262
  • Pistol                             61115      6251         6404              5782       5562
  • Knives                         1732         1716        1604            1490       1567
  • Hands/Fists/Feet     769           751           707                   687         660

We saw what happened to switch blades back in the 50’s when the pol’s got their shorts in a knot over the dangers of allowing ownership of switchblades.  Statistics be damned, they passed a law that made us all(?) feel ‘safer’.  Sixty years later the states are starting to unwind this emotionally driven ban which I question whether it saved a single life.

In conversations with customers from around the world I’m as amazed and frustrated as most of them at some of the inane knife restrictions they have to live with.  If the citizens of the US want some things to think about, read the following articles.  “Selling, buying and carrying Knives in the UK“,  “Is it legal to carry a knife in public” (Australia).

Reading the local news it seems that there are far more assaults with knives in North Dakota then firearms.  Sure, there’s the arrest for someone firing a shot in the air over the failed drug deal, but often it’s a couple of guys leave the bar at closing time and someone gets cut or murdered.  So why no outrage over the easy access to knives (borne out by statistics)?  Maybe our bad actors are more civilized up here and the assailant just wants to ‘cut’ his victim to make a statement and not kill him.

Back in the ’80’s I had a coworker with an office next to mine shot and nearly killed by her estranged husband before he committed suicide.  Her husband violated a restraining order that said he couldn’t come near her.  Her friends and co-workers weren’t upset about the fact that he used a 30/30 deer rifle but at the failure of the legal system to give her any sort of realistic protection from this nut.  Pass all the laws you want, the perpetrator could care less.  If they’re willing to ignore the fact that murder is illegal they sure as hell could care less about restraining orders, gun laws or ‘gun free zones’.

The problem is any time, no matter the cause, we have multiple people die for no apparent reason the knee jerk reaction is ‘we have to do something’.  It doesn’t matter if it’s an airliner going down with several hundred souls, a mass shooting or an Amtrak crash taking the lives of a dozen plus.  Our politicians feel a need to put forth new laws to assure their reelection by showing their overwhelming compassion that the opposing party appears to lack.  Don’t get taken in.

In the last few days there have  been corporations that have dropped their association with the NRA by discontinuing discounts to NRA members.  How and why the NRA has become the target in this recent debate is curious if you have any legitimate knowledge of the NRA and their mission.  This morning, Dick’s Sporting Goods announced they’ll no longer carry AR style rifles.  A few days ago outrage was leveled at Duluth Pack over a new product that included a pouch for conceal carry.   Congrats, you’ve all expressed your personal (corporate) feelings but how about laying a bit more blame on the laws and agencies  that are in place to protect us but failed?  Do something useful and demand the existing laws and agencies perform as promised.  Take the time to read the article “How mass shooters got their guns” and spend some time thinking about a realistic solution.

Death by guns, knives, airplanes, trains…. don’t jump to judgement at the first solutions offered to solve a perceived problem.   Emotion always runs high when the body count includes children and it involves ‘multiple’ victims.   Whether its a dozen fatalities in a single incident or 12 separate incidents shouldn’t matter.  But ask, does a problem exist or does the event fall under that unfortunate but very real category ‘shit happens‘ and you’ll never fix it?

In 2015, the  National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) reported 1585 child deaths due to abuse or neglect.  75% of these kids were UNDER 3 years old.  That’s over 4 kids PER DAY, EVERY DAY!  Where’s the comparable outrage?  When was the last time we had national headlines and outrage from our politicians, concerned citizens and corporate moralists?  Why don’t we provide training and licensing before allowing people to have kids?  Why don’t we forcibly sterilize parents found to be unfit?  Why don’t we start a national registry of people with drug, alcohol or emotional problems to monitor them?  WHY don’t we remove children in jeopardy and keep them out of abusive environments????  The examples go on and on.

Don’t view life with tunnel vision but take the time to look at both sides of the issue and analyze what’s being said by whom.  Personally, I make an honest effort to watch news from both the left and right.  I make every effort to listen to the speakers from the NRA, politicians from both sides and speakers with varying opinions before I formulate an opinion.   I have strong opinions but I’m willing to listen to both sides.

What can happen to the gun industry can just as easily apply to the knife industry.  Be careful what you wish for.  We can’t live in a bubble and I sure as hell don’t want to.