Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Another perspective on guns, guest blogger from Arizona

I live in Arizona halfway between Phoenix and Tucson at the intersection of I8 coming from San Diego and I10 connecting Phoenix and Tucson. I am about 2 hours north of the Mexican border. An Indian reservation stretches from the border all the way to Interstate 8. It is a major drug and human trafficking corridor with about 60% of the drugs coming into the U.S. coming across the Arizona border. I am surrounded by desert and small mountain ranges similar to what you see around Phoenix with Camelback and South Mountain if you’ve ever been there. The population in our area is around 60% Hispanic from many Central American countries with very low income levels, poor English skills and a high number of illegals. We have gangs in the area including MS-13. We have 5 prisons in the area mostly private serving the states of California and Hawaii and an ICE prison. We have an active Border Patrol station here part of the Tucson Sector. People that live here do so because they like the outdoors, nature, climate and of course the scenery including beautiful sunsets and night skies. People love to hike in the desert and mountain climb. Rattlesnakes, wildcats, mountain lions and the cartel members can be encountered on those hikes. It may be hard to believe but most rural roads are still dirt roads.

Having said all that, it is a good place to live. The cost of living is relatively low and access to the cities of Phoenix and Tucson is less than an hour away as is Phoenix Airport. Crime is actually quite low, less than in the larger cities. The biggest issues are robbery and drug related. But, most of the people I know have guns. They carry them while hiking or when traveling in less secure places. They are business owners who are small mom and pop operations. They are ex-military and now gun collectors. They are retired police. They are sheriff auxiliary on patrol with deputies. They are game hunters. They are farm operators with hundreds of acres of open land. They are ordinary people who feel more secure with a gun in the house. There are shooting ranges in the area that are heavily used. People think twice about breaking into a home or starting a confrontation with someone because you never know who has a gun. So in that case it is a deterrent. Most shootings here involve domestic disputes usually around drugs, mental illness or estranged spouses.

Everyone always looks at the mass shooting or violence in the bigger cities but what do you say to my neighbors who have and use guns correctly, for protection or for hunting. How do you structure laws to allow my neighbors to have guns but control mass shootings or inner city killings. I’ve always been taught to look at root causes. In this case is the gun the root cause or is it the laws on the books that are not being enforced or followed? Is it training on the proper use?  Just look at TV and movies and how guns are promoted. Should we start with outlawing video games, or limiting TV violence? It seems to have worked for drinking and smoking on TV shows and commercials.
Truthfully, I’m more frightened about being hit by a drunk driver or impaired driver than by being shot. We have laws against driving impaired, but yet it still happens and people die. What do we do, have laws outlawing cars to prevent drunk people driving them? We seem to be dancing around what to do with driving under drug influences. It’s an emotional issue for those who have been around and used guns all their lives. It reminds me of how traumatic is for someone to have to give up a driver’s license because of age after driving all their lives. A part of your life is being taken away. I also think the discussion is driven by the large number of deaths in any one instance. It’s like one large plane crash where hundreds die being heavily investigated trying to establish fault yet many more smaller plane crashes where one or two people are killed go unnoticed even though the total deaths is more in the single plane crashes.

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