Why is it harder to buy anti-psychotics than a gun in the USA?

The greatest democracy in the world has a problem with guns.

As we recoil once again in disbelief after yet another mass killing in the USA, people across the world (and also in America, let it be acknowledged), are asking how a killer could so easily obtain a weapon of mass destruction.  There’s almost no other country in the world where such a thing would be possible and certainly no country among the developed democracies where it would even be contemplated.

Omar Mateen used an Ar-15 to murder 50 people in Orlando and to destroy the lives of 500 more. He used a weapon that he bought in a shop under Florida’s lax gun laws.

The AR-15 is a fearsome weapon, made famous in these parts by Sinn Féin’s Danny Morrison when he spoke about the Armalite and the ballot box, and yes, that’s what the AR-15 is. An Armalite. Following modifications that increased its weight, it was adopted by the US military as the M-16, a version many military people regarded as inferior to the original which was light, portable and lethal.

We saw that capability in Orlando where a single shooter was able to massacre so many people on his own but we should not be surprised. This weapon, the AR-15, can fire a small projectile at such a high velocity that anyone struck by a bullet, in any part of their body, will almost certainly die. That was the designer’s intention. This weapon can shoot through walls and still kill you. In fact it will kill you worse, since the flying thing that  hits you will be a mis-shapen lump of high-velocity lead that tears a gaping hole in you.

This was also the designer’s intention.

ar 15 assault rifle

Now, the National Rifle Association is seen today as the body that does most to promote gun ownership in the United States and perhaps it is. The NRA is seen as the political wing of the American armaments industry and perhaps that’s true too. But if so, this is a very recent development indeed. If so, this is far from the traditional American attitude to ownership of weapons.

In reality the NRA’s support of unlimited access to weapons is less than forty years old. As far back as 1934, it supported the National Firearms Act, introduced to combat organised crime gangs following the Prohibition era. At that time, Karl Frederick, the NRA President stated as follows:

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]I have never believed in the general practice of carrying weapons. I seldom carry one. … I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.[/dropshadowbox]

Somehow, between the situation we find ourselves in today and the NRA’s  establishment in 1871 as a response to the perceived inadequacies of American military marksmanship, the NRA morphed from a quasi-official research organisation to a full-blown advocate for the major small-arms manufacturers. It was a classic example of a peripheral obscure quango taken over for profit, regardless of the consequences.  Though it had been lobbying since 1934 for a change to the gun ownership law under the the Second Amendment, that lobbying was on behalf of  hunters and competitive marksmen.

Even as  Charlton Heston entered his 50s, his hands not yet dead or cold, the NRA was still opposing widespread ownership of firearms, and it wasn’t until 1977 that it went fully political, becoming a thinly-disguised front for the arms industry.

Why do so many Americans today believe that the Second Amendment conferred the right to carry high-velocity assault rifles? Nobody knows. The National Rifle Association certainly never claimed any such thing until shortly before Ronald Reagan took office. The framers of the amendment never imagined anything more lethal than a muzzle-loading musket and certainly not a high-velocity automatic rifle that one man could use to shoot fifty people dead. Their concern was about keeping a militia available to defend against the return of the colonial power, and any other reading of the amendment is downright perverse.

[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”auto” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]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.[/dropshadowbox]

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State …

The Second Amendment, which is now entirely superseded by history, has to do with maintaining a militia, not with giving a redneck the right to own a bazooka and yet it has been used to foster a national love affair with firearms.

Perhaps this obsession with guns has been fostered through an endless diet of movies and TV series in which the gun has become an object of fetishistic veneration. Perhaps it was aided by the rise of the Western novel towards the end of the nineteenth century or maybe via the film noir of the 1940s and 1950s. Maybe it was the war movies of the forties right up to the present day. Who knows?

What does seem to be true is that many Americans firstly believe the gun is the answer to all life’s problems and secondly that the world consists of good guys and bad guys.

Of course, I can’t say that this childish binary mindset was caused by Hollywood. For all I know, reality is the reverse and Hollywood was caused by this childish mindset, but one way or the other it seems to exist and it seems somehow to have dominated the entire world through force of arms and economic muscle, which might not necessarily be two different things in the case of the United States.

What I find baffling is the complete inability of the USA to see that it is not in any sense the leader of the putative “Free World”, and I’m quite sure this is a feeling shared by most people in Europe and elsewhere when Americans refer to their President as our leader. How much self-delusion is required before a nation can believe such nonsense? How much Orwellian indoctrination? How much insularity? How much ignorance?

Only a nation whose citizens have never travelled abroad could possibly convince itself that its President is the leader of some mythical Free World it knows nothing about.

Is America really Hollywood made real or is Hollywood the real America?  I don’t know. What I do know, however, is that this vast, immensely powerful nation has a juvenile understanding of the world that extends right up to its top echelons as we saw with the utterly stupid invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, culminating in the creation of Islamic State, thanks to a complete disregard for other cultures. They were going in to take out the bad guys and that was all that mattered.

Hollywood might not have intended to create the militaristic tendency of the United States, but the military sure as shootin’ bought into the clichés provided by the film industry, just as the Mafia bought into The Godfather. Pretty soon, you’re not sure who’s talkin’ like who or where it all started. Pretty sure, you start to believe the only guys who can save the Earth from an asteroid strike are Bruce Willis and the crew of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Can-Do-Hoo-Ha!

Naturally, those who support access to firearms will argue that guns make people safer which makes it hard to understand why the United States firearms death rate is five times that of Canada, 50% higher than Mexico’s, five times that of Israel (Israel!), ten times the death rate of Germany and fifty times the rate of the United Kingdom, where nobody has a gun.

On the other hand, if I suffer from a psychotic illness in the United States, while I might not be able to afford the medical care to treat any homicidal tendencies, I can always walk into my local gun store and buy myself an Armalite, with no questions asked.

What was that they said about the  Free World?


Also on Bock

Orlando murders

The second amendment

Mass murder and the American gun fetish

Gun control in America




New York Times

32 thoughts on “Why is it harder to buy anti-psychotics than a gun in the USA?

  1. I remember the Irish Army, standing guard inside the confines of Leinster House, standing guard to thwart a potential rebellion from outraged citizenry protesting the Iraq war. We have guns in America to protect us from that.

  2. good piece Bock.

    following NRA logic , if the occupants in the club that night had guns – they would have protected themselves by getting the bad guy first ………

    michael moore recently said ( i’ve paraphrased ) – “fear, born out of ignorance and transformed into hatred ”

    by way of metaphor , not too long ago we lived in dread of meningitis – the smallies and early lovin teens most prone to this killer .

    we learnt about viral and bacterial strains and that the bacterial was more serious – the real killer.

    and then medicine found an inoculation against the viral strain and miraculously , to my mind , the mortality rate from the bacterial strain dropped too. ( we rarely hear anymore about meningitis )

    merika – get rid of the guns – bullet deaths will stop .

  3. In the 72 hours following the Orlando massacre, a further 93 people in the USA were shot dead.

    And yet they cling to the belief that guns keep them safe. It’s like a mental illness.

  4. I was in NY a 2 years ago and went into a chemist to buy Sinutan. It really would have been easier to buy a gun, I had to show my passport, hotel keycard and it was all photocopied and a phone call or 2 was made before I got it.

  5. “I remember the Irish Army, standing guard inside the confines of Leinster House, standing guard to thwart a potential rebellion from outraged citizenry protesting the Iraq war. We have guns in America to protect us from that”.

    Let’s analyse this extraordinary comment.

    This person once saw soldiers at our national parliament. Not something, one might imagine, that would be unusual anywhere in the world.

    Without evidence, he deduces that the soldiers were present to suppress a rebellion because Irish citizens were protesting against the US invasion of Iraq. He fails to explain whether he thinks protest and rebellion are the same thing. He also fails to explain why the Irish people would rebel against a government that had nothing to do with invading Iraq.

    He then states that “We have guns in America to protect us from that” but he fails to say what “that” means. He also fails to explain what he means by “we”.

    Is he saying everyone in America can buy guns to prevent citizens from protesting?

    Is he saying everyone in America can buy guns to prevent rebellion? If so, this seems deeply contradictory since the essence of preventing rebellion would be to remove access to guns.

    Is he saying the US government has guns to suppress rebellion or to suppress protest? If so, why do they allow the Michigan Militia to own bazookas?

    Perhaps he’s simply saying “I’m American, so GUNS!”

    I think that’s what he’s saying, but given the confusion of this message, who knows if he understands himself what he’s saying?

  6. Your country was born out of armed conflict, as was mine, and I put it to you that if Michael Collins hadn’t have been assassinated, the laws in your country that have disarmed everyone but criminals and the Government may never had been introduced onto the books. Eamon De Valera has much to answer for, so lustful of power was he that he stabbed the republican movement in the back to placate the British. You have no guns because of the British, We have guns because we sent the British packing. While it is true, that having an armed populace has its draw backs, you only have to look to events in Paris last November to realize that the most stringent gun laws in the world can’t protect you from guns, they just make you vulnerable. The Democrat party in the US want gun control that leads to elimination, yet they fail to tell you that they have no intention of disarming themselves. When the Armenians were disarmed, they were slaughtered, as were the Jews in Germany, the Cambodians, the Chileans. These examples are what ‘that’ is. BTW, I was outside Leinster House, while thousands of Irish citizens protested Ireland’s involvement in the Iraq wars, which was allowing planes laden with US Soldiers to land and refuel at Shannon. I’m incredulous that Bock wasn’t present for that. The Irish government response to the protest was to have hundreds of Soldiers, with rifles drawn, protecting the government from the people who elected them. That is Tyranny.

  7. Consider, there are 30,000 people a year who die due to the gun in the US. That equates to 0.001 percent of the population, and while tragic, that percentage pales in comparison to gun deaths in some other countries that remain anonymous on this blog. While 1 per 100,000 die in Ireland to guns 10 per 100,000 die in the US due to guns. However, US gun ownership is constitutionally protected, gun ownership in Ireland is illegal. Correct me if I’m wrong but if 35 people a year die to gun violence in Ireland, I believe the percentages are similar in Ireland to the US.

  8. You seem to be saying that gun deaths in the US are so high because so many people have guns.

    Isn’t that the problem?

  9. If you think Armenia, Cambodia and the Jews of Germany are valid comparisons, there is much work to be done.

    As for the countries you think I’ve ignored, do you think I should have included dictatorships, failed states and war zones?

    Let me offer you Australia if you want an example of a modern democracy that successfully banned guns following a mass killing.

  10. “you only have to look to events in Paris last November to realize that the most stringent gun laws in the world can’t protect you from guns, they just make you vulnerable.”

    And yet the people in the nightclub in Orlando were just as vulnerable as the people in Paris.
    Are you suggesting people should carry guns at them at all times and they’d be less vulnerable to being shot and killed? Are you sure you’ve thought this through Greg?

    The are a lot less people shot or killed proportionally in France than in the U.S.

    More guns = more deaths. It’s very simple Greg.

  11. Can you stop doing that please, would be a nicer way to ask, thanks.

    Is it bothersome?
    Sorry about it now.. I’m doing it as I don’t want to go to the effort of re-writing a comment, if it’s not going to appear. I’m do a little testing first, relax. I’m putting effort in here like.

  12. Click your delete button as appropriate and fix your comments.

    Please and thanks.

  13. Death rate from gun violence in us over 10,000 per year
    In Canada 543, that would put the US at 20 times higher than Canada not 5 times you quoted.

  14. The constituency that was targeted in Orlando were mostly Democrat voters, who tout gun control. It stands to reason that there would have been no guns there. (Why didn’t the shooter go to Bubba’s Bar and Grill instead? You already know the answer.) But this event has opened up a hornets nest. Why do you thing Obama is out in full force decrying weapons possession today? (he’s a lame duck), It’s because one of his core constituencies was butchered by guns, and the conservatives (who’ve always spoke logically on the subject) are telling them, we told you so. You should check out what’s happening in West Hollywood today and going forward in the LGBT community.

    Obama and Clinton are protected by the gun, They enforce laws that sometimes happen at gun point, yet they want to disarm the law abiding public.

    There is a reason that car insurance is more expensive in areas that have more cars, Its because there are more accidents. It stands to reason that more people get shot when there are more guns around. If a gun ban is implemented, who will abide by it? only law abiding citizens, who will become vulnerable to crime, because criminals do not follow the law. Its not by accident that most mass shooting in America happen in Gun Free Zones. The perps know that there is less chance of them getting shot.

    Chicago, Washington DC, New York City, Los Angeles have some of the most stringent gun control laws on the books, yet they are far and away the leader in Gun Violence and Crime. Texas, Florida, Tennessee, to name just a few, have the fewest gun crimes in the country. Why? Criminals know where it is safe for them. A majority of gun violence in America is related to Crime. Do away with the criminal, not the gun, otherwise they’ll use knives, cars or planes to carry out their dastardly deeds.

  15. Who exactly is doing the shooting.
    Ordinary folks with a twisted sense of self importance enough that they hate others who don’t measure up to their expectations in lifestyle, religion or race.

  16. It’s not just your gun. Everyone needs to renounce firearms.

    Jesus, the US has a worse record than Mexico for gun killings. Mexico!

    Americans shoot ten times as many people as Europeans. Why is that?

  17. Ed, The vast majority of gun deaths in America happen in the Inner Cities. They are gang related and by extension crime related. You can pass whatever laws you want, but that will never change. Chicago has the strictest gun laws in the country, yet it leads the table in gun deaths. Thousands die each year in Chicago, yet you never hear Obama mention it, and he was a state senator there and his former chief of staff in now the mayor. Agreed, there are Kooks in this country that are responsible for some horrible shooting deaths, but there are 300 million people here and it is not the only country that experiences these types of episodes. Dunblane and Norway to name a few (both gun control countries BTW). The perpetrators of those two horrific events are just as depraved as any of the screwballs here who committed similar offenses. In China, there are recent events of mass stabbings because guns aren’t readily available

    Bock, If you want to renounce gun possession while leaving government as the only entity in possession of them, more power to you. I want no part of that.

  18. You seem to be saying that you want to be able to engage in armed insurrection ifyou consider it necessary. The last time that was tried, it didn’t,t work out so well.

    As for Norway, there is simply no comparison between the annual numbers of shooting incidents in the USA and those in any other developed country. As I said, even Mexico is doing better.

  19. As far as you are aware, Mexico is doing better. Maybe it is if you eliminate the mass decapitations. Mexico is a far smaller country, and most of their murderers live in America. Much of the Murder/Crime rate in America can be attributed to Illegal’s from south of our border. It doesn’t absolve the home grown scumbag for perpetrating mass shootings, but it does skew the numbers somewhat.

    Armed insurrection? For me, not so much but there is an element of it here and they are very serious, as they should be.

  20. Armed insurrection isn’t for you so much, but at the same time you want your guns because you don’t trust the government.

    Now, if taking arms against the government isn’t insurrection, I don’t know what is. You mentioned independent states. The last time any US states attempted to assert their independence, it didn’t work out so well for them. They were crushed utterly by a Republican president. Do you think it would work out any better this time round?

  21. “gun ownership in Ireland is illegal. Correct me if I’m wrong”

    It is of course legal to own a gun in Ireland. Farmers can own a gun for pest control, wildfowlers and deer hunters can own appropriate guns, also bona fide competitive target shooters can own target rifles and hand guns.
    There are limits to the specifications of what you may own, additional requirements if you own more than one, and prohibition on heavy calibre, automatic and military style guns. A firearms certificate is a prerequisite to a purchase and applicants are fully checked out for bona fides. There are gun clubs all over the country and there are quite a few clay pigeon shooting grounds. I’m pretty sure there are rifle ranges as well, but not many.

  22. Not sure if I have the testicular fortitude for an armed insurrection, I certainly wouldn’t lead one though if I felt that sinister intentions were afoot regarding denying my liberty, I may join one. The whole thing about the government telling me that Guns are the problem when they clearly aren’t grates against me. Cars, Bats, Knives, and planes all kill on a massive scale, yet no one asks for any of those be regulated.

    If you take the US Constitution at face value, there is a very concise framework for government. The United States is a federation of independent states. Each state is supposed to regulate itself and pass laws that serve each. There is a stipulation in the constitution (article 5) that allows the states to veto any federal action provided that 38 of the 50 states agree. As it stands now, 25 states are on board and it is expected that the remaining 13 will be joining over the next couple of years. Please look up, ‘Convention of States’ and educate yourself about what tools the people who love our country have at their disposal to stand against crooked bloated government. Armed insurrection will never be necessary, the constitution already has a remedy to deal with an over reaching government written into it. Our founding fathers were smart and visionary.

  23. If armed insurrection will never be necessary, why do people need military-grade firepower?

    Your argument about cars is utterly specious, since all human activity carries a degree of risk and we can’t ban living. Transport is a necessity and all that can be done is to make it as safe as possible. Actually, that day is coming with driverless cars. Your point about planes is simply nonsense: planes do not kill people on a massive scale, even though individual crashes lead to significant loss of life for individual incidents.

    As for bats and knives, are you suggesting a bat-wielding atttacker would have been able to kill 50 people in Orlando?

    The point you keep ignoring is that no European democracy comes close to the US level of gun homicide and you have failed to explain why.

  24. The more motivated follower of Mo fired 250 rounds and reloaded over ten times in the “gun free zone,” according to reports

    How many times do y’all reckon he’d have reloaded in Texas?

    “All my ex’s tried to reload (that’s why they’re ex’s) in Texas. That’s why I reload in Tennessee.”

    With apologies to the great George Harvey Strait.

    How many lives have guns saved?

  25. There are people who use cars as a weapon, that is what i was referring to in particular. Planes have been used as a weapon. 47 school children were stabbed in one incident is China 2 years ago.

    I suggest that you read these two articles below. But before you do, understand that my position is that no matter what laws you enact, bad people intent on committing bad deeds will not obey the laws, thereby leaving law abiding citizens vulnerable.



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