It seems to me…
“America… just a nation of two hundred million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.” ~ Hunter S. Thompson.
Let me make something very clear: I am a gun owner. I have rifles, shotguns, and hand guns. While I enjoy shooting, I also accept the reality that gun violence in the U.S. is out of control. I am sure many people will label what I am about to say as heresy but, like it or not, it is time for the U.S. to enact gun control.
Why does the U.S. have more gun violence incidents than the rest of the world? People with psychological problems are equally distributed throughout every society; U.S. is not an exception. The only logical answer is that we simply have more guns.
The last global Small Arms Survey[i] showed there are 88 guns for every 100 Americans – Yemen is second with 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 this does not accurately indicate U.S. gun ownership. A recent Gallup Poll[ii] indicated that the percentage of U.S. homes having guns has increased from 41 percent in 2010 to 47 percent in 2011; the highest percentage since 1993 – and surveys indicate this percentage is continuing to climb. Even the NRA admits this percentage now is around 50 percent.
These statistics correlate to our number of fatalities[iii]. The U.S has three gun homicides per 100,000 people – four times as many as Switzerland, ten times as many as India, 20 times as many as Australia and England.
An Atlantic study[iv], contrary to what the NRA and conservatives claim, showed that states with gun control restrictions (assault weapons ban, trigger locks…) tend to be states with fewer gun-related deaths – tighter laws results in fewer gun-related deaths. (Another interesting finding was that states which traditionally vote Democratic had a lower percentage of gun-related deaths based on population.) Also contrary to common belief, states with a higher percentage of immigrants have lower levels of gun-related deaths.
Americans also believe the U.S. is becoming more violent. In a recent Gallup survey[v], 68 percent said there’s more crime in the U.S. now than there was a year ago when, actually, since 2000, the number of violent crime rates have fallen by 20 percent, aggravated assault by 22 percent, motor vehicle theft by 42 percent, murder – by all weapons – by 13 percent.
While the number of total murders has decreased, gun-related homicide rates have not improved – they were approximately the same in 2009 as they were in 2000. During this period, serious but non-fatal gun injuries caused during assault increased by 20 percent as purchasing guns, including automatic weapons, has become easier. The U.S. has the world’s most heavily-armed civilian population. One out of every three Americans knows someone who has been shot (including me…). So much for the argument that gun ownership makes us safer.
It is widely believed that gun control is unconstitutional. Adam Winkler[vi], professor of constitutional law at UCLA has extensively studied this belief and noted that guns were regulated within the “U.S. from the earliest years of the Republic. Laws that banned the carrying of concealed weapons were passed in Kentucky and Louisiana in 1813. Other states soon followed: Indiana in 1820, Tennessee and Virginia in 1838, Alabama in 1839 and Ohio in 1859. Similar laws were passed in Texas, Florida, and Oklahoma.”[vii]
Following passage of the first set of federal laws in the U.S. regulating, licensing, and taxing guns was passed in 1934, the act was challenged and argued before the Supreme Court in 1939 which determined its legality by unanimous decision.
When right-wing gun advocates began challenging these laws in the 1970s, Chief Justice Warren Burger (a conservative appointed by Richard Nixon) described these new interpretations of the Second Amendment to the Constitution as “one of the greatest pieces of fraud – I repeat fraud – on the American public by special-interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”[viii]
Only the uneducated and misinformed can argue that gun control is unconstitutional. At a minimum, the Brady Law requiring background checks for anyone attempting to purchase a handgun and a total ban on assault weapons needs to be reinstated along with closing the gun-show loophole allowing weapons to be sold at “private” events without background checks.
That’s what I think, what about you?