How can people be so blind?

So I was moseying around on YouTube a couple of days ago, and I ran into an interesting video. Obviously the guys in the vid were trying to make some point about gun control. However I think their perspective is entirely irrational. Here’s the video in question:

The comment I am talking about occurs at about 1:20. And I quote:

So this is the deal right, this is why there is so much instability in Somalia. The NRA’s got it wrong, like, guns don’t kill people, AK-47′s kill people.

Orly? I am constantly amazed by how much misdirection is fed to the general public by the gun control lobby, and those who claim that guns are the source of many of societies ills. AK-47s are the cause of instability in Somalia? So how about poverty? How about greed? Corruption? Apathy?

If any of these folks had actually lived in a poor developing country, gotten to know the people, and made even a token effort to understand how the economics of the country affects the people of any country torn by poverty, civil war and strife, they would realize that these guns are simply a means to an end. Survival. Protection. Control. Nothing more, nothing less.

And if you argue that the proliferation of “cheap” weapons makes it difficult to stabilize the region, then you are simply advertising your own ignorance. Before there were cheaply obtainable firearms, there were machetes, cutlasses and knives, and exactly the *same* amount of violence.  If not worse. It is the poverty, the need to survive, or to fight the oppression that results from corruption and greed, that creates instability. Not the firearms.

In fact, if we look at firearm ownership in the good ‘ol U.S. of A, you can clearly see that it is not simply the presence or abundance of firearms that cause problems. There are an estimated 250 million firearms in the country. And that is not counting military, law enforcement, unregistered, or black market firearms. Now here’s the thing. As of the time of this post there are an estimated 350 million men women and children in the country.

If we count every single gun in the country, that would easily make one firearm per household. In actuality, surveys show that most gun owners own multiple guns, who are estimated to make up anywhere between 25% to 50% of the US populace. And given the recent surge in gun ownership, my guess is that number is probably closer to 50%.

In contrast, in Somalia, for instance, over 60% of a population of roughly 10 million, live well below poverty. They couldn’t afford to buy a gun even if they wanted to. And I would be willing to bet that, out of the remaining 40% living above poverty, only a fraction of them make enough to own a firearm. But even if each and every Somali that could afford it owned a firearm, that would still mean that at most, 40% of Somalis own one.

So given the 10% greater (and that’s conservatively speaking) percentage of the American populace owning firearms, If firearms cause these problems, and lend to political instability, why are we not constantly engaged in constant civil war? Why is America relatively stable? Well, I’d argue that it’s because the guns themselves have no influence on the nature of the people. If the people for any reason, are moved to violence, then it doesn’t matter what weapons are available.

Somalia, and many countries like it, are in civil strife because of the environment, and the people. Not the guns. Poverty, religious beliefs, cultural strife, political power, greed and hatred are what motivate them. And they will continue to war with themselves until the learn how to overcome those internal conflicts. Regardless of whether they use AK-47s, machetes, or sticks and stones.

The truly observant will notice that the kinds of violence we see in poor developing countries only exists in isolated pockets of America. It is seen only in areas where the same level of poverty, strife, corruption and cultural tension exists. It is an easy pattern to spot, if you are really looking to solve problems, rather than chasing ghosts and looking for quick fixes or scapegoats.

It is always disappointing to see how much time, energy and cash the gun control lobby pumps into trying to get weapons off the streets, when the real problems are poverty, lack of education, prejudice, etc. These people are not about making the world better. They might believe that they are, however they are simply trying to eliminate anything that scares them, anything they do not understand. Regardless of how it might affect anyone else.

It is really a shame.

I am Infinitely Less Holier Than Thou…

You know, people have given me a lot to think about. It is becoming more and more obvious that for many of you, the debate about religion vs atheism has little to do with actual rights, intelligence, violence, or anything of any relevance whatsoever, and more to do with being right, people trying to feel better about themselves, and, of course getting their own way.

I’ve heard some really stupid religiously motivated garbage. Non-believers should perish. The believer is more important than the non-believer. God told me to kill those people. God’s wants me to persecute them. It is impossible for a non-believer to be good. Associate with sinners and you’ll go to hell.

Dancing is of the devil. (no, I kid you not – life is stranger than fiction.) I’ve read a lot of religious texts. And I’ve realized that what many people get out of them is what *they* want to take from them. They are all written in a metaphorical style, and as a result, they are all highly subject to interpretation. And this is where, in this humble bloggers opinion, people go wrong.

That’s not to say that the other side is blame free. I keep hearing Atheists talking about having their rights violated by religious zealots. For things that are ridiculously just trivial. And then gleefully sliding down that slippery slope to whatever conclusions gets their knickers all a-twist. Yet the same people turn around and say that *nobody* should not be allowed to pray in schools, as if it’s an infringement of their rights if someone should dare say a few “Hail Mary’s” in their presence, or say Grace before a meal. Meanwhile, a person can cuss up a storm, regardless of who may happen to find swearing offensive, then stick their nose in the air and say “Freedom of speech!” and everyones lips snap shut.

And then theres things like this: “Why are atheist mad? Because it’s religions people are pretentious! It’s as if they think they are better than us!” Yes, I’ve actually heard that said. Meanwhile, The very same atheist are calling religious people stupid for believing in what they believe to be the equivalent of the tooth fairy. As if belittling anothers belief system was not at all condescending in any way. Yeah. Right.

It’s one thing to say that everyone should be given the choice whether to pray or not, but I hear some of you saying that ALL RELIGION must be removed from schools, hospitals, etc, and that is just going to the opposite extreme. Might as well ban cussing, swearing, spitting, eating red meat, smoking, drinking, etc, etc, etc. Yes it sounds extreme, but this is exactly the same type of legislation many atheists would like to see with respect to religion. And if that happens, you can all just call me Plissken.

Who is really looking down on whom, I wonder? My personal take? Both camps are being selfish, pretentious, illogical and intolerant. Religious folks cannot blame “sinners/nonbelievers” for all that is wrong in the world. I know many nonreligious folks who are much better, higher quality people, than quite a few Christians I know.

Conversely, atheists cannot blame “Religion” for everything either. The acts of a few fanatics do not represent “religion” as a whole, and and even if they did, proposing complete religious prohibition would still be prejudice. “Because it could possibly offend someone.” is not a good rational to make something illegal. Why do people not get that? Everyone is offended by something these days. If we follow that train of thought, everything would be illegal.

It seems very few people these days seem to truly understand the meaning of balance and tolerance.