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We won’t know for awhile how many Americans were KIA or WIA from firearms on June 14th when Republican Majority Whip Steve Scalise of the House was critically wounded by some of the 71 rounds fired at each other by James Hodgkinson and the police. Actually it was not a big mass shooting deal, although Scalise was made the national center of attention by his Congressional colleagues and the mainstream media. In the first 165 days of 2017 we had only eleven days without a mass shooting of four persons or more. There was a much bigger one in San Francisco on the 14th when a disgruntled UPS worker killed three and wounded two of his fellow workers before blowing his own head off. On an average day we kill 93 and wound 275, ranging in age from fetuses (not counted!) to the very elderly. That means we continue to lead the planet and hold the Guinness World Records for senseless firearm killings and wounds. We have killed about 33,000 and wounded about 100,000 each year for many years with firearms. Financial and health experts estimate we spend about $230 billion a year repairing millions of bullet holes. What are 33,000 caskets worth? Maybe $100 million? It would be interesting to find out how many millions it will take to put Scalise back in Congress. His pelvic bone damage is extensive according to reports, so he needs more operations.
Let’s cover bullet wounds for a minute. The Alexandria shooter used a modified (able to use larger magazines) SKS-Soviet made rifle which fires a 7.62 round, the same as the Soviet AK-47. He also had a 9mm. handgun. The early investigation revealed he fired 60 rounds at the Congressmen. As an old infantry Marine Corps officer who first commanded a heavy machinegun platoon, I know a little about guns and bullets. I earned an expert rifleman’s badge with the Garand M-1 but never could hit the side of a barn with the Marine sidearm, at that time the Browning .45 Model 1911 semi-automatic handgun. What Do Bullets Do To Bodies?
An article by Baltimore trauma surgeon Dr. Leana Wen points out the difference between rifle and pistol wounds. Rounds from a pistol will have about one-third of the muzzle velocity of most rifles. The longer the barrel the more velocity, the longer the round the more propellant used. Scalise was hit in the hip by a round fired from the SKS rifle which shattered bones. A pistol round may not have done that much damage. Dr. Wen described one victim of a pistol shot: “The heart quickly stopped beating. We performed an emergency thoracotomy—splitting open his chest in an attempt to clamp off the bleeding and restart his heart. Blood poured out of his chest cavity. The bullet had disintegrated his spleen and torn his aorta. Four ribs had essentially turned to dust. The damage (from a pistol round) was far too extensive. He died in our E.R. He was 15.”
She described another victim hit in the hip by a round from an assault rifle with a muzzle velocity of 2,100 feet-per-second: “The bullet shattered the hipbone and pelvis into hundreds of pieces. It shredded the femoral artery, causing the life-threatening bleeding and destroyed whole portions of the bowel and bladder.” This is just one reason why it’s insane to have millions of assault-type rifles with ten to 30-round magazines to 100-round drums available to civilians.
A round from a low-muzzle-velocity pistol hitting a chest may leave the same size exit hole as entrance hole. A round from a high-muzzle-velocity assault rifle will likely leave an exit hole the size of a grapefruit. Many firearm victims have paralyzing spinal damage, are unable to walk, have lost limbs to amputation and infection, and because of intestinal perforations wear colostomy bags to reroute feces. Many, like Scalise, face multiple operations to clean up the messes made by high velocity rounds. The physical and financial losses are tremendous and may last a lifetime.
What Are Your Chances Of Avoiding Contact With Eighteen Million Nuts?
The American Psychiatric Association estimates that six percent of Americans, or close to 18 million, are bonkers or mentally unstable at any one time during a year. Not all of them will even think of weapons or use them in stressful situations--but millions will. There’s no doubt the Alexandria shooter should never have been access to a weapon. Hodgkinson had a long record of domestic violence, including punching women, assaulting a foster daughter, and using a shotgun to threaten his daughter’s boyfriend. Three women a day are killed by husbands or partners, That’s 1,000 a year. He was in other legal trouble for much of his life. He practiced shooting his weapons in his neighborhood. He was considered a “lone wolf” by his neighbors. Before he left Illinois for D.C. he sold everything from his business and many other possessions, including a beloved motorcycle. He said he was going to Washington to do “something about taxes.” On his Facebook account he wrote “Trump Has Destroyed Our Democracy. It’s Time To Destroy Trump & Co.” For four months he lived in his van and got into political arguments with complete strangers. He asked whether the congressmen practicing baseball at the field were Democrats or Republicans. He was a perfect candidate for a strong gun background check—and rejection. A group of internal medicine and emergency room doctors wrote this summary for the Annals of Internal Medicine publication: “It does not matter whether we believe that guns kill people or that people kill people with guns—the result is the same: a public health crisis. In the war zone of the ER we don’t see partisanship or politics. We see the devastation that happens when our society normalizes tools of total bodily destruction.”
A Gun Control Critic: “Absolutely No One Is Responsible……..”
On the same day that Scalise and four others were shot, Memphis citizen Leslie Washington drove to a Subway where her two teenage sons were finishing their shift. In her car seat was her two-year-old daughter Laylah. As Leslie waited, a car swerved around the parking lot, nearly striking her car. Leslie yelled at the driver not to hit her car. As she was driving home, the same car followed her and shot four times at her car, striking Laylah in the head. She is now in the hospital, fighting for her life. Another senseless case of car rage settled by guns. Conservative gun control critic Charles Lane, writing about the Alexandria shooting: “Absolutely no one is responsible for this deed except the individual who carried it out.” Let’s see. We have a Congress, the National Rifle Association, and gun manufacturers who have flooded the country with between 300 million and 400 million firearms ranging from little pink .22 cal. pistols to semi-automatic “assault” rifles with 100-round drums capable of firing a couple of rounds per second. At Sandy Hook the shooter killed 20 first graders and six adults in less than five minutes, firing 154 rounds from a Bushmaster. One first grader was turned to hamburger by 11 rounds from a high-muzzle-velocity rifle. No one is responsible for this carnage? My God!
What Good Are Ears If Your Head Is Shot Off?
Was there a single Republican Congressman or aide practicing baseball on that diamond who had ever voted for gun control over the last two decades? You can bet your sweet bippy there wasn’t. On the same day of the shooting Congress was scheduled to have a hearing that would deregulate the laws on gun silencers. After all, shooting is hard on the hearing and public health of those committed to the Second Amendment. You see, silencers just don’t slip on barrels. They either have to be modified to take them—or, gee whiz, you have to buy a new firearm already machined to take one! It’s a gun lobby and NRA nightmare created to sell more weapons. Silencers were banned 80 years ago when “The Mob” started to use them in contract killings. At the same time a responsible Congress banned machine guns and grenades from the general market place.
What do you do when you hear the sound of gun fire? It immediately gets your attention. A combat veteran might have a PTSD episode. People duck and run while trained police rush toward the shooters. Think about what will happen with silencers. The police in over 90 cities now have audio technology which instantly maps the sound of gunfire within their city. What happens if the NRA and the gun lobby floods the cities and towns with silencers like they have guns? Law enforcement will be tremendously handicapped in getting quickly to the scene of the gunfire. The NRA sponsors of the silencer measure call it the Hearing Protection Act. What good are ears if your head is shot off?
When Will The NRA And The Gun Lobby Free Its Hostages?
North Dakota Representative Kevin Cramer says he’s “never been so shaken” by the Scalise shooting, that it “hits so close to home.” He even had the thought whether being in Congress “was even worth it.” I wonder what he thought about the killing of 26 at Sandy Hook in 2012, the killing of 49 gays at Orlando in 2016, the wounding of Laylah Washington in Memphis on his bad day of June 14, 2017, or the killing of 33,000 and the wounding of 100,000 of his fellow citizens each year. Did those shootings actually cause him “contemplation at a level I haven’t had since I’ve taken this job?” Does he even think why we have had only eleven days this year without mass shootings?
Robert Greenwald of Brave New Films says the Republicans in Congress suffer from the Stockholm Syndrome, the psychological phenomenon of captives identifying with or falling in love with those who are holding them hostage. He adds: “For decades now, the gun industry has held the Congress hostage to its radical agenda. Its weapon is the National Rifle Association which enforces its will through the reams of cash they provide to political campaigns, the direct threats they make to those who oppose them, and the endless stream of expensive propaganda they shove down the throats of weak-willed politicians. The “system” designed to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people in this country is little more than a sick joke.” South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who on occasion shows some bipartisan sense, probably knows better than anyone how his fellow Republicans will react to gun control:
“If we had the debate, it’d end like it always ends. We’re not going to tell law-abiding people they can’t own a gun because of some nut job.” So even the Scalise shooting, the 20 first graders shredded at Sandy Hook, nor the 30,000 deaths a year will make any difference to those with supple spines held hostage by cash and threats.