Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
ALERT: Michael Moore will appear this evening on CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight to discuss the Aurora, Colorado theater shooting and where we go from here. Tune in at 9:00 PM ET/6:00 PM PT (replay 12:00 Midnight ET/9:00 PM PT and 3:00 AM ET/12:00 Midnight PT).
Since Cain went nuts and whacked Abel, there have always been those humans who, for one reason or another, go temporarily or permanently insane and commit unspeakable acts of violence. There was the Roman Emperor Tiberius, who during the first century A.D. enjoyed throwing victims off a cliff on the Mediterranean island of Capri. Gilles de Rais, a French knight and ally of Joan of Arc during the middle ages, went cuckoo-for-Cocoa Puffs one day and ended up murdering hundreds of children. Just a few decades later Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Dracula, was killing people in Transylvania in numberless horrifying ways.
In modern times, nearly every nation has had a psychopath or two commit a mass murder, regardless of how strict their gun laws are -- the crazed white supremacist in Norway one year ago Sunday, the schoolyard butcher in Dunblane, Scotland, the Ãcole Polytechnique killer in Montreal, the mass murderer in Erfurt, Germany " the list seems endless.
And now the Aurora shooter last Friday. There have always been insane people, and there always will be.
That means the United States is responsible for over 80% of all the gun deaths in the 23 richest countries combined. Considering that the people of those countries, as human beings, are no better or worse than any of us, well, then, why us?
Both conservatives and liberals in America operate with firmly held beliefs as to "the why" of this problem. And the reason neither can find their way out of the box toward a real solution is because, in fact, they're both half right.
The right believes that the Founding Fathers, through some sort of divine decree, have guaranteed them the absolute right to own as many guns as they desire. And they will ceaselessly remind you that a gun cannot fire itself -- that "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."
Of course, they know they're being intellectually dishonest (if I can use that word) when they say that about the Second Amendment because they know the men who wrote the constitution just wanted to make sure a militia could be quickly called up from amongst the farmers and merchants should the Brits decide to return and wreak some havoc.
But they are half right when they say "Guns don't kill people." I would just alter that slogan slightly to speak the real truth: "Guns don't kill people, Americans kill people."
Because we're the only ones in the first world who do this en masse. And you'll hear all stripes of Americans come up with a host of reasons so that they don't have to deal with what's really behind all this murder and mayhem.
Others will say it's the number of broken homes that lead to all this killing. I hate to break this to you, but there are almost as many single-parent homes in the U.K. as there are here -- and yet, in Great Britain, there are usually fewer than 40 gun murders a year.
People like me will say this is all the result of the U.S. having a history and a culture of men with guns, "cowboys and Indians," "shoot first and ask questions later." And while it is true that the mass genocide of the Native Americans set a pretty ugly model to found a country on, I think it's safe to say we're not the only ones with a violent past or a penchant for genocide. Hello, Germany! That's right I'm talking about you and your history, from the Huns to the Nazis, just loving a good slaughter (as did the Japanese, and the British who ruled the world for hundreds of years -- and they didn't achieve that through planting daisies). And yet in Germany, a nation of 80 million people, there are only around 200 gun murders a year.