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Human life is easily ended by those who are the strongest

To The Daily Sun,

Recently the CIA disclosed that it had killed 100 prisoners by torture. The number may be an abstract figure, it could very well be a lot higher.

In admitting to this heinous crime, the CIA is well aware that every International War Crimes Court (in which we are a signee) has ruled that killing prisoners is an act of murder. United States military has demonstrated, in a decade of war (undeclared) total disregard to what the rest of the industrial world has judged as criminal. We do as we please and the rest of the world can be damned. We rationalize our warped claim to morality by the misconception that it is acceptable considering the fanaticism of the enemy we face. This bizarre concept is totally erroneous — but many people accept it without question.

The crime should be fully disclosed to the public. How did these prisoners die We should know the specifics.How many were starved to death, electrocuted? How many were water-boarded to death (drowned.) How many bled to death by repeated stabbings? How many hung on a cross and died of suffocation as Jesus did? Were they attacked by crazed dogs?

Is this the country I grew up with? Are the torturers men I once admired? The worst thing that comes out of all of this is: human life is easily ended by those who are the strongest, and have widespread support. Our nation has given their silent consent to brutality and systematic murder with hardly a word of protest. God help us to see our hatred and inhumanity is entirely outside of what many call patriotism.

Leon R. Albushies
Gilford

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Sometimes guns save lives but defensive fun use is quite rare

To The Daily Sun,

The United States is averaging more than one mass shooting per day in 2015. I hold that a "mass shooting" is any single incident in which at least four people are shot (not necessarily killed), including the gunman. The U.S. represents less than 5 percent of the 7.3 billion global population, but accounts for 31 percent of mass shootings worldwide.

When it comes to gun massacres, the United States is tragically exceptional: There are more public mass shootings in our country than in any other country in the world.

Studies show that mass killings happen about every two weeks. Public massacres like Newtown account for only one in six mass killings. A majority are domestic-related, where one in four victims were family members.

Between 2003 and 2012, 6,410 domestic violence deaths were caused by guns — slightly fewer than the total number of U.S. troops who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. A study by the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research reveals that having a gun in the house increases the risk of intimate-partner homicide by eight times, compared with households without guns — and 20 fold when there is a history of domestic violence.

Unsurprisingly, if sadly, The NRA opposes legislation that would close the loopholes between stalker and boyfriend gaps and bar those subject to temporary restraining orders from having guns, subject to later review. The NRA claims this legislation "manipulates emotionally compelling issuers as 'domestic violence' and 'stalking' simply to cast as wide a net as possible for federal firearms prohibitions." Emotional manipulation? Please. At that the NRA has no parallel.

The common thread is that conservatives and the NRA need to instill and maintain a level of fear in the populace. They need to make gun owners fear that government is going to be knocking on their doors and seizing their guns. They must be armed to the teeth for that inevitable day when the government declares a police state.

The NRA's absurd fantasies: the "mass confiscation" of privately-held firearms after Hurricane Katrina, the United Nations Small Arms Treaty — threatening individual firearms ownership with an invasive registration scheme, the AFT's botched "Fast and Furious" operation — a secret plan to enact tougher gun laws, the notion that universal background check legislation requires a national database of gun owners, etc., etc. The list goes on and on...

Such insurrectionist fear-mongering serves the gun lobby well, the NRA has to convince the average gun-owner to buy more guns so that manufacturers can generate more profits. And there's no better way than to tell supporters that the government is planning to forcibly take their firearms and enslave them. They are constantly seeking any excuse to impose their paranoid views, which lead to fear, like a vampire needs blood, on their followers. Selling fear — sells guns.

To be clear: I'm not disputing that guns sometimes save lives. They must, although the 2 million figure — often inflated to "2.5" million in NRA propaganda — is bogus. Defensive gun use is actually quite rare.

I'm certainly not disputing that the Constitution secures the right of individual gun ownership. It does. I'm questioning the claim that widespread gun ownership makes America a safer place. The research that supports that claim is pretty weak — and is contradicted, above all, by the plain fact that most advanced countries have many fewer guns and also many fewer crimes and criminals.

Gun owners have frightened themselves irrationally. They have conjured a much more terrifying environment then genuinely exists — and they are living a fantasy about the security their guns will bestow. What they don't understand, is that the dangers they face, are directly related to the prevalence of the very guns from which they so tragically mistakenly expect to gain safety.

The debate over guns is extremely contentious and polarizing. There's no easy fix to gun violence in this country. As gun rights proponents are quick to point out, municipalities with strict gun laws, like Chicago and D.C., see more than their fair share of gun crime. Often a mass shooting involves a failed safety net such as protective orders, the mental health system, immigration, bureaucracy, etc. But it's nevertheless a fact that the level of gun violence we see in the U.S. is like nothing seen in other wealthy Western nations.

Robert Miller

Alton

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