Time to face facts on gun control

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Registered: 12-31-1969
Time to face facts on gun control
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Sun, 07-29-2012 - 10:22am
Some startling facts.... Time to face facts on gun control

 

By Fareed Zakaria

It has now been just over a week since a lone gunman opened fire on moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado. The airwaves have been dominated by soul searching.

Most of the pundits have concluded that the main cause of this calamity is the dark, strange behavior of the gunman. Talking about anything else, they say, is silly. The New York Times’ usually extremely wise columnist, David Brooks, explains that this is a problem of psychology, not sociology.

At one level, this makes sense, of course, as the proximate cause. But really, it’s questionable analysis. Think about this: are there more lonely people in America compared with other countries? Are there, say, fewer depressed people in Asia and Europe? So why do they all have so much less gun violence than we do?

The United States stands out from the rest of the world not because it has more nutcases – I think we can assume that those people are sprinkled throughout every society equally –but because it has more guns.

Look at the map below. It shows the average number of firearms per 100 people. Most of the world is shaded light green – those are the countries where there are between zero and 10 guns per 100 citizens. In dark brown, you have the countries with more than 70 guns per 100 people. The U.S. is the only country in that category. In fact, the last global Small Arms Survey showed there are 88 guns for every 100 Americans. Yemen is second at 54. Serbia and Iraq are among the other countries in the top 10.

We have 5 percent of the world's population and 50 percent of the guns.

But the sheer number of guns isn’t an isolated statistic. The data shows we compare badly on fatalities, too.  The U.S has three gun homicides per 100,000 people. That’s four times as many as Switzerland, ten times as many as India, 20 times as many as Australia and England.

Whatever you think of gun rights and gun control, the numbers don’t flatter America.

I saw an interesting graph in The Atlantic magazine recently. A spectrum shows the number of gun-related deaths by state. Now if you add one more piece of data – gun control restrictions – you see that the states with at least one firearm law (such as an assault weapons ban or trigger locks) tend to be the states with fewer gun-related deaths.

Conclusion? Well, there are lots of factors involved, but there is at least a correlation between tighter laws and fewer gun-related deaths.

I've shown you data comparing countries, and comparing states. Now consider the U.S. over time. Americans tend to think the U.S. is getting more violent. In a recent Gallup survey, 68 percent said there’s more crime in the U.S. than there was a year ago. Well, here’s what I found surprising: the U.S. is actually getting safer. In the decade since the year 2000, violent crime rates fell by 20 percent; aggravated assault by 22 percent; motor vehicle theft by 42 percent; murder – by all weapons – by 13 percent.

But guns are the exception. Gun homicide rates haven’t improved at all. They were at roughly the same levels in 2009 as they were in 2000. Meanwhile, serious but non-fatal gun injuries caused during assault have actually increased in the last decade by 20 percent, as guns laws have gotten looser and getting automatic weapons has become easier.

We are the world’s most heavily-armed civilian population. One out of every three Americans knows someone who has been shot.

Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion, but not to his or her own facts. Saying that this is all a matter of psychology is a recipe for doing nothing. We cannot change the tortured psychology of madmen like James Holmes. What we can do is change our gun laws.

Should U.S. gun laws be tougher? What would you change?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 08-30-2002
Sat, 08-04-2012 - 6:42pm

I know people who are collecters and wouldn't consider them having an arsenal. Most the people I know that collect muxzzle loaders, etc haven't tended to also have thousands of rounds of ammo. The guy who did Colorado ahd ordered 5 or 6K rounds via the internet before this happened and had purchased automatic weapons. One wonders why thousands of rounds to an individual can be so easily purchased without any red flags being raised.



iVillage Member
Registered: 07-11-2006
Sat, 08-04-2012 - 9:04am

My grandfather had a good dozen guns, I would not refer to it as "an arsenal of weapons". Like your dad's they were almost all older hunting rifles. I never did figure out where the bullets were kept.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-18-2004
Sat, 08-04-2012 - 1:41am
<< I have never met anyone who has an arsenal of weapons who isn't paranoid and holding delusions of "needing" them to protect themsleves from "Them.">>

I know people that collect guns and they have not a paranoid bone in their body.

My father is one. Last time I recall him using one, I was about 10 years old. We'd pulled into a pasture and wolves were tearing up a calf. He didn't hit one, but they scattered, and the calf was dead. (O/T: experts claim wolves are extinct here now, but I saw two a few years ago.)

I believe many of his are antique guns. He never goes out of his way to buy more. Usually it's someone needing money, so he'll buy their guns. Or take them in for a bond out of jail.

So I guess I'm curious how new laws would work... would someone like my 80 y.o. father be affected? Told he had to sell or destroy his guns?
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-30-2002
Fri, 08-03-2012 - 4:26pm

I agree. But what people don't seem to realize is that any threat of revolution will bring down such a big hammer. It doesen't matter how much fire power one has in their personal arsenal, the US government has way more firepower and they aren't going to just roll over. They will make examples of the "homegrown terrorists" that take a stab at revolution, and it won't be pretty. Just think about how they come down on relatively peaceful unarmed protesters-tear gas, rubber bullets, riot police........



iVillage Member
Registered: 08-30-2002
Fri, 08-03-2012 - 12:47pm

Thanks for the link.

We have Laura's Law in Cali because of a tragedy that happened in our community. Even though it is law we are the only county in the state enforcing it. Even with this law, a person has to have already been involved with the system to some degree to involuntarily commit and treat them. A recent article in our paper said the people who got the intervention were overwhelmingly grateful for the intervention because they couldn't have taken action for themselves and their lives changed for the better with intervention.

It just frustrates me no end. If we just let a person with alzheimers or severe autism make their own choices and fall into dispair, it would be considered cruel. But it's okay to leave people babbling on street corners, free to make their major medical decisions.



iVillage Member
Registered: 08-30-2002
Fri, 08-03-2012 - 12:46pm
Setting aside the mental health issue no individual needs or should own a huge arsenal. It's an unhealthy obsession, IMO.***
 
ITA. Paranoia is a sign of mental instability. I have  never met anyone who has an arsenal of weapons who isn't paranoid and holding delusions of "needing" them to protect themsleves from "Them." Wether "Them" is the government, neighbors, futuristic Mad Maxx/Doomsday scenarios. I know plenty of people that have weapons, but the ones that have arsenals, are always a bit out there.


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-30-2002
Fri, 08-03-2012 - 12:42pm

The last article I read said that his psychiatrist reported him to a "violent assessment" team at the university, and nothing was done.****

I know this. Once he disenrolled from the university it was no longer their problem. There in lies the problem. KWIM? It's nobodies problem until it's a problem, then everyone wonders why noone did anything. I've tried to get help for someone, just this past year, for someone who was obviously psychotic. She was even harming herself, but the harm wasn't immediately life threatening. It took law enforcement a week to do a well being check after I reported it. So much could have happened in that time.

These are real nuerobiological illnesses that need intervention and even if they have people that love them and professionals trying to get them help, it isn't done before it's a law enforcement issue.



iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2002
Fri, 08-03-2012 - 12:27pm
Amen to that!!!

 nwtreehugger  

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2002
Fri, 08-03-2012 - 12:24pm
They said on the news the other night that he dropped out shortly after being reported to the University. After that, they couldn't do anything.

 nwtreehugger  

iVillage Member
Registered: 04-07-2002
Fri, 08-03-2012 - 12:22pm
Excellent! Thank you for posting this!

 nwtreehugger  

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