Gun control is one of the most contentious issues in the US. The ownership of weapons for hunting and personal protection is clearly endorsed by the Constitution. Therefore the possibility that gun ownership will be outlawed in the future is nil.
Yet the prevalence of guns in America is quite remarkable. The New York Times published a piece that is very anti-gun. Nevertheless some of the statistics in the story could lead one to believe that the sheer number of guns in the country accounts for higher rates of death.
[Note: This piece is not meant to be an anti-gun statement. Rather it is presented to others for discussion purposes. One important assumption made by the writer is that the statistics presented by the Times are accurate and not intentionally tilted.]
Consider the following comments made in the aforementioned piece:
- The US has 270 million guns and had 90 mass shooters from 1966 to 2012.
- No other country has more than 46 million guns or 18 mass shooters during the same period.
- Americans make up about 4.4% of the world’s population, but own 42% of the guns in the world.
- From 1966-2002, 31% of gunmen in mass shootings were Americans.
- Only Yemen has a higher rate of mass shootings among countries with more than 10 million people.
- America’s gun homicide rate was 33 per million in 2009, far exceeding the average among developed countries.
- In Canada and Britain, the gun homicide rates were 5 per million and 0.7 per million, respectively.
- A New Yorker is just as likely to be robbed as a Londoner, but the New Yorker is 54 times more likely to be killed in the process.
- In 2013, American gun-related deaths included 21,175 suicides, 11,208 homicides and 505 by accidental discharge
- An American is about 300 times more likely to die by gun homicide than a Japanese person.
All these factoids are not a reason to radically change gun control laws. Rather they should impel Americans to reconsider common sensible changes to laws that just might decrease the number of deaths in America caused by guns.
The first issue that comes to mind is the shear number of weapons in this country. Less availability of guns could decrease the number of deaths. The odds favor this outcome.
A strict and highly enforced law against gun ownership by mentally ill people makes sense. In Texas a breakdown of the current system of notifications enabled a crazed person to buy weapons and kill innocent people.
The availability of semi-automatic and automatic weapons definitely makes it easier for a killer to murder others. They should be banned.
Magazines that hold large numbers of bullets should also be banned. Once again they only result in more deaths.
I am for gun ownership. The Constitution indicates that I have a right to own a weapon. But common sense should guide us in this important debate.