Whatever else you can say about us, this much is clear. No other so-called advanced, or civilized, or industrial nation has anything like the deaths from firearms we do.
Yes, there will be murders committed with guns in Japan this year. Based on recent statistics, there will probably be 12 or 13 of them. Japan has about 127 million people.
Michigan has less than 10 million, so if our culture was anything like Japan’s you might expect we’d have perhaps one murder committed with a firearm this year.
Instead, we’ll have more than 1,000 gun-related deaths. If you live in Michigan, the odds are now greater that you’ll be killed by a gun than that you’ll die in a car accident. Notice I didn’t say murdered; we’ll have hundreds of those, but there will be even more suicides.
And every year, some children will find their parents’ loaded weapons and manage to kill themselves. Three-year-olds are most likely to do this, according to a study by the Associated Press and USA Today.
We’ve also become resigned to the fact that we can’t do anything about this.
Americans have an attachment to their guns other societies consider deranged. Many of us seem to love our guns more than our children. That’s not hyperbole. We all remember when a 20-year-old maniac murdered 20 tiny children and six adults at a school in Sandy Hook, Connecticut.
Afterwards, despite major efforts by President Obama, Congress refused to even pass a law calling for expanded background checks before someone could buy a weapon.
I understand that we all need our guns so we can be ready when the secret black helicopters come to impose tyranny on us.
But now that we are armed to the teeth, do we really need to be even less safe in our everyday lives?
The Michigan House of Representatives thinks so.
They’ve passed a bill to allow anyone to carry a concealed weapon without a permit or any training whatsoever.
One member actually said he believed "allowing law abiding citizens to have the same freedoms criminals do will make our communities safer."
That was Lee Chatfield of Levering, who earlier this year wanted to completely abolish the state income tax.
In Ohio, meanwhile, the lower house passed a bill that said if you take your concealed weapon into a place that prohibits firearms, like an operating room or kindergarten, no worries; you won’t face any legal penalty.
Well, I don’t know how to reason with people like that. But I would like to quote a famous U.S. Supreme Court Justice who wrote that even though the court has now said people have the right to own a handgun —
"Nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on … laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools or government buildings."
That wasn’t a liberal dissenter, by the way, but the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the decision in the famous case nine years ago saying guns themselves couldn’t be outlawed.
Scalia also said we can outlaw gun ownership by felons and the mentally ill, and impose conditions and qualifications on how guns are sold.
I don’t know if our lawmakers will care, but I just thought you might want to know.
Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio’s Senior Political Analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.