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CalculatorThe continuing ineptness of Congress to find a means to at least reduce the number of assault guns of mass destruction in the hands of those who have no business being able to lawfully purchase them continued this past week.

Here’s what a dear friend of mine, a staunch defender of what she thinks the 2nd Amendment requires, sent to me a few days ago to weigh in on her position, and that of her unidentified source:

What My Friend’s Unidentified Source Had To Say

Let’s set the record straight about this thing in Florida being the largest mass shooting in American history.

The largest mass shooting in U.S. history happened December 29,1890. When 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee Creek on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection”. The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms. The Calvary began shooting, and managed to wipe out the entire camp. 200 of the 297 victims were women and children.

Wounded Knee was among the first federally backed gun confiscation attempts in United States history. It ended in the senseless murder of 297 people.

The Second Amendment, the right of the people to take up arms in defense of themselves, their families, and property in the face of invading armies or an oppressive government. The Second Amendment was written by people who fled oppressive and tyrannical regimes in Europe, and it refers to the right of American citizens to be armed for defensive purposes, should such tyranny arise in the United States.

Wounded Knee is the prime example of why the Second Amendment exists, and why we should vehemently resist any attempts to infringe on our Rights to Bear Arms. Without the Second Amendment we will be totally stripped of any ability to defend ourselves and our families.

Not intimately familiar with the particulars of Wounded Knee, but suspicious about the accuracy of the above recounting, I decided to do a little research. Here’s what Encyclopedia Britannica reported on the subject of Wounded Knee:

How Encyclopedia Britannica Presented The Events

Wounded Knee, hamlet and creek on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in southwestern South Dakota, U.S. It was the site of two conflicts between North American Indians and representatives of the U.S. government.

On Dec. 29, 1890, more than 200 Sioux men, women, and children were massacred by U.S. troops in what has been called the Battle of Wounded Knee, an episode that concluded the conquest of the North American Indian. Reaching out for some hope of salvation from hard conditions, such as semi-starvation caused by reduction in the size of their reservation in the late 1880s, the Teton Sioux responded affirmatively to Wovoka, a Paiute prophet who promised the disappearance of the white man and a return of native lands and buffalo if certain rites and dances were performed. These rites, known as the Ghost Dance, caused alarm among whites and led to federal military intervention. The army subdued the Ghost Dance movement, but Chief Sitting Bull was killed by reservation police while being arrested (December 14), and a few hundred Sioux left their reservation at Pine Ridge, seeking to hide in the Badlands. Technically classified as hostiles because they had left the reservation, the Indians gathered around Chief Big Foot (by name of Chief Spotted Elk), who was dying of pneumonia. However, they surrendered quietly to pursuing troops of the 7th Cavalry on the night of December 28. Following an overnight encampment near Wounded Knee Creek, the Indians were surrounded and were nearly disarmed when a scuffle broke out over a young brave’s new rifle. A shot was fired from within the group of struggling men, and a trooper fell. From close range the soldiers, supported by machine guns, fired into the Indians, whose only arms were the clubs and knives that they had hidden in blankets. Fleeing Indians were pursued, and some were killed miles from the camp. Although the number of Indian dead is unknown (the Indians removed some of the dead later), 144 Indians, including 44 women and 16 children, were buried in a mass grave the following spring when the weather permitted the army to return. About 30 soldiers were killed during the hostilities.

On Feb. 27, 1973, some 200 members of the American Indian Movement (AIM), led by Russell Means and Dennis Banks, took the reservation hamlet of Wounded Knee by force, declared it the “Independent Oglala Sioux Nation,” and vowed to stay until the U.S. government met AIM demands for a change in tribal leaders, a review of all Indian treaties, and a U.S. Senate investigation of treatment of Indians in general. The Indians were immediately surrounded by federal marshals, and a siege began, ending on May 8, when the Indians surrendered their arms and evacuated Wounded Knee in exchange for a promise of negotiations on Indian grievances. Two Indians were killed and one federal marshal was seriously wounded during the siege, which alternated between negotiation and exchanges of gunfire.

To be sure, the loss of one human life is a tragedy and one loss of life too many. However, the comparison of Wounded Knee and the recent Orlando mass shooting advanced by my friend’s unidentified, and questionable, source, seems . . . feeble:

The Math

The first person killed at the original Wounded Knee was a U.S. trooper, not a Sioux. Barring friendly fire, the first shot, then, was fired by a Sioux, not a trooper.

Wounded Knee (both chapters) was an unlawful gathering. U.S. Troops were attempting to confiscate unlawful guns and disband the gathering.

(Editor’s Note #1: Whether or not the law outlawing such gatherings was appropriate, then or now, it was the law. And it had nothing whatsoever to do with the 2nd Amendment.)

(Editor’s Note #2: The 2nd Amendment was 100 years old at the time of the original Wounded Knee. If the Sioux had the resources to acquire all those guns, one wonders if they could simply have hired a lawyer and asserted their possible 2nd Amendment rights? I am aware of no 2nd Amendment claims, made either in conjunction with the first or the second Wounded Knee episode. One might counter that this was not practical in 1890, but certainly it was in 1973. As I recall, the AIM movement in 1973 had plenty of legal counsel assisting it, perhaps none quite as smart as my friend’s unidentified source.)

The purported reason behind my friend’s email was to challenge the popular belief following the Orlando shooting that it was the largest mass killing in U.S. History. Is it just me who finds it odd–and off putting–to compare a mass shooting of those who were apparently the first to open fire at an unlawful gathering and those poor victims lawfully gathered and minding their own business when they were mowed down by a lawless terrorist? And who (aside from the ego-maniacal, narcissistic Orlando shooter out to set a record because nothing else about his life was noteworthy) would attribute any significance to the Orlando shooter finishing second rather than first?

The apparent real reason behind my friend’s email was to use the first Wounded Knee tragedy to demonstrate why her incorrect interpretation of the 2nd Amendment is so important. This bears closer scrutiny.

Assuming the accuracy of her unidentified source’s claim, 297 Sioux were killed by government troops at the 1890 Wounded Knee. Two members of AIM were killed by government troops at the 1973 Wounded Knee. (It is not known who opened fire first in 1973 at Wounded Knee, but AIM members did fire as well and wounded one trooper.)  In an exchange of gunfire following the most recent publicized unlawful gathering on federal property in Oregon, one or two demonstrators were killed. Of course, there have been handful of similar events, for example Waco, in which there have been additional deaths of the “governed.” Let’s estimate on the high side: 400 “governed” killed by the government since the first Wounded Knee in 1890. I’m including all “governed” killed by police in that same period of time, justified and unjustified.

So, 400 governed killed by the government between 1890 and 2016, approximately 125 years. Let’s call it only 100 years so I don’t need to pull out my calculator. That’s 400 divided by 100. That comes to four killings of the governed by the government per year. And the number is trending down.

According to CNN.com, there have been 136 mass shootings in the U.S. in the first 164 days of 2016. For purposes of its study, CNN defined a mass shooting as one in which four or more persons were killed or injured. Let’s just use five as the average. This amounts to over four mass shooting deaths or injuries per day. I had to use my calculator on this one after all.

This bears repeating: Four killings of the governed by the government per year over the past 125 years. And four mass shooting deaths or injuries per day by non-government shooters. Not quite an apples-to-apples comparison because I don’t know how many of the private shootings were “just” injuries and not deaths. But I think you get the point:

There is simply no statistical justification to suggest any meaningful threat to the governed from guns in the hands of the government, the supposed rationale of the 2nd Amendment, or that this frivolous argument should be used as an obstacle to finding a means to get assault guns of mass destruction out of the hands of lone wolf terrorists, if not others as well who should not be permitted to lawfully purchase such weapons.

You do the math. Or at least check mine. I’ll even lend you my calculator.


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