Know your gunfire

I did something today that I never imagined myself doing: I sat down on the sofa with my wife and teen son and played them a video from the Las Vegas mass shooting.

Why? Because my wife and I frequently visit the US, and my son likely will at some point (though he currently shows little desire to, finding my nation baffling and backwards). And at this point in our history, one thing has become obvious.

Anyone going to visit the US should be able to recognize the sound of gunfire.

Even, maybe especially, automatic gunfire. The firing rate in Las Vegas indicates either a fully automatic weapon (one of the only types of guns that is difficult to buy in the US) or a semi-automatic modified with a cheap (less than $100) device to simulate a fully automatic firing rate. The latter is more likely, completely legal, and extremely easy to procure.

Gunfire doesn’t sound like what you hear in the movies or on TV. Unless you’re close to the weapon being fired, it doesn’t have that resonant boom that shakes your subwoofer during an action scene. It sounds like a little pop. “Like firecrackers,” is what witnesses often say. In the case of the Las Vegas shooting, it sounded like a whole lot of pops, a whole string of firecrackers.

(I originally wrote “the most recent mass shooting,” but that is already out of date. Three people died and two were injured in another mass shooting in Lawrence, Kansas yesterday.)

People die because they don’t recognize this sound. They don’t immediately duck and run. I now consider the ability to recognize gunfire a basic safety requirement before crossing the US border.

My son said, “The United States: zero days since the last mass shooting.” Americans, this is how our nation is viewed by the developed world. Except the truth is, we should set that counter at hours, not days. Over the past five years, the US has averaged a mass shooting 9 out of every 10 days.

This shooting was horrific. Families will be torn apart and grieving. Many victims will need long-term care; many others who weren’t injured will need trauma counseling that most of them won’t be able to afford.

But nothing will change, because selling guns and selling fear is making a lot of people very rich — from the manufacturers to the right-wing media stars to the lobbyists to the legislators they buy and the parasites who live off them.

Listen to this sound. If you live in or plan to visit the US, you should be able to recognize it.

EDITED TO ADD: YouTube took down the video I linked to, but it was made by the Guardian, which still has it up. It’s at the top of this page of ongoing updates.

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About Fletcher DeLancey

Socialist heathen and Mac-using author of the Chronicles of Alsea, who enjoys pondering science, politics, well-honed satire (though sarcastic humor can work, too) and all things geeky.
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3 Responses to Know your gunfire

  1. xenatuba says:

    Sadly, this conversation with your son was a necessity. His comment was 100% accurate.

    I don’t know what it will take for this country to actually enact some common sense gun laws. My suggestion is to take the NRA’s Range Safety Rules and codify them into statute, with a penalty attached for specific violations. These can range from (and I’m using Oregon law here since that is what I am more than passingly familiar with): Violations (fine only, comparison with the driving code to determine severity, occasional loss of privilege for a short time, i.e. Careless Driving), Misdemeanors (punishable by jail, fine or both, i.e. Reckless Driving, DUII, mandatory loss of privilege for a set period of time, with repeat offenses being treated as Felonies), and Felonies (punishable by prison, fine or both, i.e. causing injury or death while intoxicated or with intent, with loss of privilege for longer periods of time to include a lifetime ban.)

    There are no firearms “accidents”; at every single discharge of a weapon, there is someone pulling the trigger, or mishandling the firearm in a way that causes a discharge (think dropping, sliding across a surface, etc.) If there was some form of culpability assigned for those, then I think you would have one whole area of gun violence peter out within a few years.

    Now, for these mass shootings (defined as 4 or more victims with no “cooling off” period). This speaks to the psyche of American males. I am not as well versed with that as I am with Oregon laws. I do believe that the combination of lack of any sort of mental heath care system, the “be a man” condition of stifling emotions, and being taught that anger is an acceptable emotion, the constant thread of bullying that pervades our culture, and unrestricted access to firearms are the root causes for these “normal” people to “snap”.

    Sorry for the long response. As a gun owner, and one who carries on a daily basis, I long for more sanity in this realm.

  2. Mish says:

    I was at a market in Cusco, Peru and it was full of people. I heard a “pop, pop” noise. I instantly dropped to the floor and covered my head in the middle of the busy market. Everyone around me stopped to ask me if I was okay. I had to tell them that in the States where I live, that sound meant gun fire. In Cusco, they had set of fireworks because it was festival time. I believe a lot of us in the States have some form of PTSD from guns

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