It seems to me…
“Force and mind are opposites; morality ends where a gun begins.” ~ Ayn Rand.
While the current gun debate since the incident in Newtown, Connecticut, normally focuses on mass shootings and assault weapons, far more Americans die from suicide than in such events. Nearly 20,000 of the 30,000 deaths from guns in the United States in 2010 were suicides according to the most recent figures from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The national suicide rate, which has increased by 12 percent since 2003, is the third-leading cause of death for teenagers. Research cited by the New York Times stated, “Suicidal acts with guns are fatal in 85 percent of cases, while those with pills are fatal in just 2 percent of cases”.
Even the origin of the weapon is not that relevant. The issue that gun advocates seldom accept is the relative ease with which weapons can be obtained. The U.S. has the highest incidence of gun-related incidents for one reason: we have the greatest number of guns.
The prevalence and easy availability of weapons obviously extends to gangs, the psychologically disturbed, and criminals as well as responsible owners. While gun advocates are correct in their assertion that enactment of current recommendations restricting sales of assault-type weapons and high capacity magazines will do little to reduce the overall death toll, it would aid in preventing the type of mass murders that attract public attention.
The supposed prevalence of violence in games and entertainment being in some way the cause of gun-related incidents is not supported by facts. Most wealthier nations share an equal amount of violence in their games and entertainment but with a much lower degree of gun violence. Japan, with probably the highest percentage of violent game players has essentially zero gun-related deaths.
The case can be made comparing today’s gun-related deaths to auto-related deaths in the 1960s[i] when there were 50,000 traffic fatalities. Automakers, starting in the 1920s, asserted that cars did not kill people, it was the drivers that did (sound like a familiar argument?).
At the time, insufficient research was available to indicate what could be done to reduce the carnage on our highways. Only in the mid-1950s was it possible to show that vehicle design was as much to blame as bad drivers. Subsequent vehicle improvements, starting with mandatory seatbelt requirements, have resulted in an 80 percent reduction in death rates.
Following findings by the CDC that the presence of a gun in a home tripled the probability that a family member would be shot, the NRA, realizing that research was not in agreement with their stated presuppositions, successfully blocked comparable subsequent gun-related safety research. The NRA attempts to have people believe the only two available choices are either unrestricted gun ownership or totally banning them, which is blatantly untrue. Extensive and unrestricted research on weapon safety is required to determine what combination of technologies and policies would be most appropriate in reducing death and injuries.
Controlling the number and type of weapon availability actually increases the freedom of the average person: the right to live is an extremely important right and freedom. Governments have an obligation to place more restrictions on individual gun ownership if so doing leads to more lives being saved.
That’s what I think, what about you?
[i] Board of Editors. Science Agenda, Ready. Aim. Investigate, Scientific American, March 2013, p10.