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America loves its guns, almost as much as it loves its Constitution, which consists wholly of the Second Amendment (and only the second clause of that amendment, of course). It's the best possible America in the whole world, except of course for all the homicidal loonies out there who we need more guns to protect ourselves from. Let's take a fond look back at the rootinest, tootinest, shootinest parts of the past year!

The Year Of Mass Shootings

2015 wasn't really the year with the most mass shootings, although it sure felt like it, because maybe we're paying more attention. Part of the problem is defining a "mass shooting" -- if you count all incidents where four or more people have been killed or injured, then there have been over 350 in 2015; if you use a narrower definition, as Mother Jones does (at least four killed, in a public place) there have been four. MJ's Mark Follman makes a case that we should distinguish between mass shootings of strangers in public and "ordinary" murder rampages within a family, or during the commission of another crime, for the sake of studying mass shootings, since they seem to be on the rise while murder rates in general are declining. Follman also warns against exaggerating the number of mass shootings, since that may also be an impetus for more idiots to buy and carry guns, to protect from the slaughter they're certain awaits them at the movie theater or supermarket. Oh joy, more guns in circulation.

Say what you will about statistical models, dude, we've got a lot of people dying from gunshots. (Note: In cases where initial casualty figures were incorrect in early reporting, we have used the tallies from Mother Jones's interactive map of mass shootings.)

June 17: In Charleston, South Carolina, nine people were shot to death in their church by a 21-year-old who wanted to start a race war. Obviously, said Fox News, it was an attack on Christians, had nothing to do with race, and the easy availability of guns had noting to do with it.

July 17: In Chattanooga, Tennessee, five military personnel were killed and two injured in attacks on a recruiting center and a training facility. The shooter was a Muslim whose parents said he was depressed and using drugs, so obviously it was ISIS at work. Gun shops in Florida and Oklahoma cashed in on the fear by declaring themselves "Muslim free zones," and military recruitment centers asked armed volunteers to please, please not show up with guns to "protect" them, especially after one such patriot negligently fired off a round into a parking lot.

Oct. 1: In Roseburg, Oregon, a student at Umpqua Community College killed 9 and injured 9. Since the killings occurred at a school, rightwingers like Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore explained that obviously gun-free zones were responsible for the killings, although in fact the campus does allow concealed carry permit holders to be armed on campus. One armed student sensibly took cover rather than heading toward the shooting, because he preferred not to be shot by arriving SWAT teams.

[contextly_sidebar id="Mdvx6WbmdWObBiodK4ziaLt8QO6e5Vkq"]President Obama, in roughly the millionth speech of its kind during his presidency, asked Americans to maybe think about addressing the easy availability of guns. "Somehow," he said, "this has become routine." In response, presidential candidate Ben Carson suddenly became very popular for his commonsense advice that people should bum-rush shooters, since they can't kill everyone. And Rand Paul suggested we could end shootings by putting up some stickers.

Dec. 2: A husband and wife shot up a holiday party in San Bernardino, California, killing 14 and injuring 22. After days and days of Fox News wanting it to be terrorism, the FBI finally called it terrorism, so we could get to the serious business of keeping Muslims from entering the country. We could also talk about the easy availability of guns, even to would-be terrorists, but why would we want to do that?

Hell Is Other Children

Another big trend this year was kids shooting other kids, or shooting their parents, or themselves, with guns they found lying around. There were almost too many of these minor side effects of the Second Amendment to keep track of, in fact -- on average, about one case per week in which a child aged three or under fired a gun and hit someone with it. At least in these cases, there were a few more survivors, like the woman who was shot in the back when her two-year-old grandson found a gun in his mom's car and fired it through the passenger seat. Or the New Mexico couple whose 3-year-old managed to wound both mom and dad with a single shot.

But older kids got in on the shooting fun, too, like the 11-year-old in Tennessee who used his dad's shotgun to shoot and kill an 8-year-old neighbor after she wouldn't let him play with a puppy. Remember to share, kids -- it could save your life! As the year draws to a close, the Gun Violence Archive tallies 688 children under 11 killed or injured by firearms. That seems a pretty reasonable price to pay for keeping America free and protecting your family, except of course when one of the children in your family finds a gun and shoots you or another family member or another kid dead with it.

But Guns Keep Us Safe! Right?

[contextly_sidebar id="hejUyUcODxi1rLSHSGkEA6KKjRLJIT7O"]The great thing about guns -- apart from their seductive lethality and instant provision of manliness -- is that you can find all sorts of "research" to justify almost any claim, like the NRA's seriously dubious insistence that Americans use firearms defensively 2.5 million times a year. Slightly more fact-based research is being done, of course, and it's not especially encouraging for the "guns help everything" crowd. For instance, a study released in June by the Violence Policy Center found that the actual defensive use of guns is greatly exaggerated. In 2012, the most recent year for complete FBI stats, the study found "259 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm. That same year, there were 8,342 criminal firearm homicides."

Gun advocates replied with their own careful research, which determined "You're just a bunch of Nazis who want to take away our guns!" The study also confirmed other reports that a gun kept in the home for self protection is more likely to be stolen than to be used at any point to protect the owner against crime. Once those guns are stolen, of course, you need to run out and buy more guns to protect yourself from the criminal gangs that traffic in stolen guns.

And then there are the occasional mistakes -- like the Pittsburgh man who just days before Christmas successfully shot and killed a guy who was trying to break into his apartment. Unfortunately, he also killed his visiting 16-year-old brother and his housemate as well. This doesn't strike us as especially effective self-defense.

In conclusion, 2015 was a very shooty year, 2016 will be another very shooty year, and we are going back to bed and never coming out of our house again. Thank you very much, internet, for home grocery delivery. The End.

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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