Are we too civilized? What do I mean by that?
The American Heritage Dictionary of 1973 says the adjective “civilized” means: “1. Having a highly developed society. 2. Of a people or nation so developed. 3. Cultured; refined;” while the verb “civilize” means: “To bring out of a primitive or savage state.”
The opposite of that savage state is “civilization,” a noun meaning: “1. Any human society having an advanced stage of development in the arts and sciences and social, political and cultural complexity. 2. The type of culture developed by a particular people or epoch.”
We see here that our basic human state is that of savagery; and as a nation we have developed and advanced from that basic human brute bestiality to our refined polite social, cultural and complex traditions that make up our modern community’s way of life.
So, when I ask, “Are we too civilized?”, I am asking if we have become so accustomed to the “cultural norms” that we don’t remember that our basic savagery still lives within the human animal.
Are our primal instincts are still there, only covered over by our social order? Do we think of ourselves as so “sanitized” from that bestiality that we can no longer admit that it really exists in our world? In ourselves?
The 9/11 remembrances, worldwide Islamic terrorism and the recent shooting rampages in the United States should be our wake-up call.
Humans, acting upon their savage instincts, are among us. And our cultural norms don’t fit those who reject civility.
My question then becomes, “Are we so deaf, dumb and blind that we cannot see what is going on, right in front of us?”
It is not the guns that are killing people. People are killing people!
People who reject civil order; people who reject civil obedience; people who reject other people’s rights, people who reject the laws of the land and people who reject peaceful coexistence with their fellow human beings are killing other people.
According to Pew Research Center (pewsocialtrends.com), three-in-10 American adults currently own a firearm (and “52% of all non-gun owners … say they could see themselves owning a gun in the future”).
Estimates of the total number of privately owned firearms vary wildly from 300 to 800 million.
Yet, the overwhelming majority of those gun-owners have done no harm to anyone.
If the very existence of guns were the causative factor for killing people, then those 100 million plus gun-owners would have killed far more than the population of America.
In fact, according to studies, “Of the 2.5 million times citizens use their guns to defend themselves every year, the overwhelming majority merely brandish their gun or fire a warning shot to scare off their attackers.
“Less than 8 percent of the time, a citizen kills or wounds his/her attacker” (gunowners.org).
Are gun restriction laws changing the minds of murders? Chicago has some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation.
In 2018, Chicago had 2391 shootings and 561 homicides (down from the peak of 770 in 2016, perhaps due in part to the addition of 1,000 police officers, though police still solve fewer than one in six killings).
Washington, D.C. — another city with restrictive gun-control laws — experienced a 40% increase in murders with 211, likewise for Baltimore with 307 killings.
Similar statistics are repeated across the nation in cities where Americans’ rights to keep and bear arms are infringed as a matter of law.
Hypocritically, the media barely mention the numbers murdered in a typical Chicago weekend — numbers far greater than the innocent lives lost in so-called mass shootings.
Why aren’t the members of the mass media worrying us with these numbers, of people killing others on the city streets, where they have very restrictive gun laws already?
Compare the crime and violence in places like Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., with cities like Kennesaw, Ga., where a local law passed in 1982 stipulates “every head of household residing in the city limits is required to maintain a firearm.”
With a population of 33,000, Kennesaw’s has had only one murder in the last seven years. In fact, immediately after the law was passed, the overall crime rate plunged 89% and has remained low ever since (compare Kennesaw’s violent crime rate of less than 2% with 11% for Chicago).
The fact is that not only are crime statistics far lower for communities that respect private gun ownership, but also they are dramatically higher in areas that infringe on law-abiding citizens’ right to keep and bear arms.
Unfortunately, many politicians, most of the media and others who seek to restrict private gun ownership twist the facts and outright lie in order to advance their gun-grabbing agenda (see JustFacts.com, CrimeSearch.org).
In their extensively cited article, “Here Are 8 Stubborn Facts on Gun Violence in America” (Heritage.org), John Malcolm and Amy Swearer use sources like the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting Program and the Crime Prevention Research Center to document facts versus fictions in the gun-control debate both within the United States and internationally.
The overall conclusions from their research are:
1. Violent crime is down and has been on the decline for decades.
2. The principal public safety concerns with respect to guns are suicides and illegally owned handguns, not mass shootings.
3. A small number of factors significantly increase the likelihood that a person will be a victim of a gun-related homicide.
4. Gun-related murders are carried out by a predictable pool of people.
5. Higher rates of gun ownership are not associated with higher rates of violent crime.
6. There is no clear relationship between strict gun-control legislation and homicide or violent crime rates.
7. Legally owned firearms are used for lawful purposes much more often than they are used to commit crimes or suicide.
8. Concealed-carry permit holders are not the problem, but they may be part of the solution.
TO BE continued next week.
PAUL FROWNFELTER of Henry County is a member of the local Volunteers for Freedom Tea Party. His email address is email@example.com.