Monday, February 04, 2013

Guns as a Disease

I was reading this post on Tom Rick's blog about the death of Chris Kyle. One of the readers who commented was trying to argue that guns don't kill that many people compared to the top 10 diseases as judged by the CDC. He was right if you go by the government's breakdown, but it all comes down to how you look at it. Suicides outnumber gun related homicides, but most suicides by men use guns. I haven't crunched the numbers, but my guess is that gun related deaths in the US (homicides and suicides) are probably easily the ninth or tenth killer on the list. Breaking them down to just suicide (all causes) and homicides (gun related) makes the numbers more politically and culturally palatable.

Saturday was a really nice day in this part of Arizona and chances are that it was a nice day in North Central Texas as well. I'm saddened that two men were gunned down by a man who they tried to help. It's almost like every Texan was shot in the back Saturday evening. That's the emotional effect of Chris Kyle's death. But, there is also the saying, "He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword". That saying is true in this case. Pete Coates in Australia pointed out that "perhaps shooting guns is not a really good idea as far as therapy".  That thought has been echoed by others. However, veterans say that shooting a gun is a form of meditation. It calms the mind and slows physiological processes. That may be, but you can't kill someone through meditation. The only thing you may kill with meditation is the false self or unwanted thoughts. Meditation is a means to an end. The usual means to an end with a gun is a punctured target, be it paper, animal, or human being.

Upon reflection, another thought came to mind today. It's from Western Lore. The more notorious and dangerous a gunman, the more likely it was he would be shot from behind or ambushed by his killer. Jesse James and Wild Bill Hickock come to mind as do Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrows. If the news is to be believed, there wasn't much left of this poor killer's mind, but he had enough presence to shoot both men in the back and kill them by surprise. Chris Kyle was proud of his "sniper score", as well as being a SEAL, and that ex-Marine would have known how deadly a killer he was as well. So, I suppose that Chris Kyle has joined Jesse and Bill as a modern day Western legend as befits any true cowboy.  He'll be remembered as a hero who was gunned down by some coward long after I'm dust. And, it won't matter whether the story is true or not. "When the legend becomes fact, print the legend" even if it's not true.

But, I can't help thinking, was his killer born that way, or did being around all those guns and being trained to kill men by the Marines make him that way. Was it just an opportunity by a sick man which wouldn't have occurred had he not had access to guns? If it's the latter, then the victims made a fatal mistake in trusting a mentally ill man with a gun (which comes close to being a Darwin Award). Of course, this (mental illness) could be an excuse promoted by the killer's family or attorney. I think that using guns as a form of therapy for mentally ill vets should be carefully reexamined because this time three lives were destroyed. Maybe Chris Kyle's and Chad Littlefield's sacrifice won't be entirely in vain.

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