From Militias to Mass Gun Deaths

My old friend from Maitland Bar, the place where I’d unsuccessfully gone rabbit shooting some 47 years ago, rang me while I was writing this post. When I mentioned the rabbit shooting incident he explained that the .22 calibre rifles belonged to his business partner, not him. Of course, I thought, He was from a Quaker family in the USA and moved to Australia early in life

As a farmer and pastoralist he had never owned a gun, but his more important point concerned his own family. His brother returned to the USA as an adult, and went to live in Florida where he raised two children, a boy and a girl.

Until recently Florida might have conjured images of a benign sub-tropical life style, albeit a little too low lying given the relentless rise of sea levels, but recent events and my friend’s story have gravely shifted my image of Florida.

When the son was twenty years old he went out one night, had a lot to drink and returned home in the small hours stumbling around and creating sufficient concern for his father to assume he was an intruder. Exactly what happened next is difficult to know but his father shot him dead with a gun he kept in the house. There was scant official consequence save him losing his right to bear arms. What else has happened as the father now lives in grief, I’m not privileged to know.

The Second Amendment

Widespread private possession of fire arms in the USA is directly related to the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. This was adopted on December 15, 1791, as part of the Bill of Rights.

The Second Amendment reads:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

A mere 15 years after the US Declaration of Independence on 4 July, 1776 the United States had little by way of a standing army. There already was a colonial army, a militia known as the Continental Army, the force that had fought the British in the American Revolution. But this army was not the official army of the United States. Finally, on September 29, 1789, the U.S. Congress passed an act to establish the United States military.

There was also a concern in that period that a future government might become tyrannical, as the British colonial regime had been. In this turbulent time, with Britannia still ruling the waves, it was a realistic fear.

So, the Second Amendment had a specific context and meaning. Times have changed, nowadays the USA has well organised armed forces and could be said to rule the waves.

Of course, when the Second Amendment was drafted people were using single shot muskets, not advanced rapid fire weapons. During the American Revolutionary War, the American Continental Army was also equipped with a variety of artillery pieces.

The 2nd Amendment as the basis for widespread gun ownership

Supporters of gun ownership in the USA argue the amendment protects an individual’s right to own firearms for self-defense, hunting, and sport, and that any attempts to restrict this right through gun control measures would be a violation of the Constitution.

It is not clear whether they also argue that individuals should also have the right to artillery and mortars or even missiles. The preoccupations is with pistols, rifles and the contemporary rang of high velocity automatic and semi-automatic weapons

Opponents of widespread gun ownership argue that the Second Amendment was intended to protect the right of states to form militias, rather than an individual’s right to own firearms, and that the amendment should be read in the context of the time it was written, which did not have modern firearms technology and faced different security challenges.

Overall, the interpretation and application of the Second Amendment is a highly debated and controversial topic in the United States, with supporters and opponents on both sides arguing passionately for their respective views.

So, today gun culture is well established in the USA.

While the image is merely one of a toy I’d argue that it’s realism formed part of an extensive inculcation of gun culture.

Four-in-ten U.S. adults say they live in a household with a gun, including 30% who say they personally own one


Pew Research Center survey conducted in June 2021.

In recent years Walmart was a major sources of guns.

Now only “about half of all Walmart locations in the US still sell firearms and ammunition as of January 2023. However, the selection of weapons is limited compared to what they’re offered in the past.”

“Walmart ceased all sales of handguns and assault-style rifles in their stores several years ago. This applies to Walmart stores in all states, including Alaska and Hawaii. See this Walmart site for more detail

For a sense of the types of guns available this site,, provides a comprehensive view.

Gun Violence in the USA Today

As of May 1, at least 13,959 people have died from gun violence in the U.S. this year, according to the Gun Violence Archive – which is an average of roughly 115 deaths each day.

Of those who died, 491 were teens and 85 were children.

Deaths by suicide have made up the vast majority of gun violence deaths this year. There’s been an average of about 66 deaths by suicide per day in 2023. ABC News

Out of interest I decided to see if there was a correlation between Presidential voting and gun violence in the USA. Here is what I found.

Source: Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Source: Pew Research Center

I have not distinguished between Homicide and Suicide. The main take away here is:

12 out of the 13 states with the highest rate of gun violence per 100,000 of population voted for Donald Trump in the 2020 Presidential Election.

Thom’s Twitter bio reads America’s #1 Progressive talk show; NY Times bestselling author. SIriusXM, Pacifica, FSTV, nationwide radio, podcast Writings

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