Curbing Weapons-Related Killings

It seems to me….

Respecting the Second Amendment does not mean abandoning common sense. The right to own guns in this country must remain, while we also must strengthen our laws to prevent mass shootings.” ~ Claire McCaskill[1].

What does it take? Everyone cries “Enough” following every mass shooting and still nothing gets done. There has been on average more than one mass shooting every day so far in 2019. While the majority of shooting victims do not die in mass shootings, it is those types of incidents that receive the greatest attention. Single person incidents have become sufficiently common to not even be mentioned on the evening news or local newspaper. What does it take? Where does it end?

Americans own around 45 percent of the world’s estimated civilian-held firearms despite making up only around 4 percent of the global population[2]. There were approximately 857 million civilian-held firearms in the world at the end of 2017 with the U.S. holding around 393 million of them, followed by India (71 million), China (50 million), Pakistan (44 million), and Russia (18 million).

Only 22-30 percent of Americans actually own a gun – only 4.4 percent over 16 actually hunt. Roughly two-thirds of those Americans who own guns say it’s for self-protection but research shows that gun ownership actually increases the risk of homicide among intimate partners and family members – but notably not strangers. And in states with lax gun laws, children are especially at risk. Much of the pro-gun culture correlates to low educational attainment, limited employment, or low opportunity prospects.

The NRA, motivated by greed and financial gain, has become a marketing arm of gun manufacturers and no longer represents the interests of gun owners. It frequently attempts to attribute mass violence to mental illness though no factual link exists.

Contrary to NRA claims, one third of self-reported violent acts are committed by people without diagnosed mental illness. In fact, those with mental disorders are statistically more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetuators and more likely to injure themselves than others. There is, however, significantly higher incidence of brain abnormalities in violent offenders than in either nonviolent ones or in a control group[3]; 7 out of 10 violent crimes by those mentally ill are associated with substance abuse[4]. Tragically, more than 1 in 4 victims in mass shootings have been killed by an adherent of an extreme ideology.

A study[5] comparing firearm ownership levels and homicide rates in all 50 states, from 1990 through 2016, looking also at the victim’s relationship to the offender found that for every increase in gun ownership at 10 percent increments, domestic firearm homicide, specifically involving an intimate partner or other family member, goes up 13 percent while non-domestic firearm homicide goes up just 2 percent. In roughly half of all homicides reviewed, the victim was a friend or acquaintance of the offender.

There is an extremely strong cause-and-effect correlation showing that in areas where gun ownership is higher, there are more domestic homicides. A person with access to a gun is almost twice as likely to be the victim of homicide and is three times more likely to commit suicide based on an analysis of 15 studies, 13 of which were in the U.S. These results[6] found that when firearms are accessible, women are nearly three times as likely to be homicide victims and men nearly four times more likely to commit suicide. African Americans are more likely to be shot than Caucasians.

Firearm injuries are the second-leading cause of death for U.S. children. In states that for at least five years had required universal background checks for firearm purchases, gun deaths among youths were 35 percent lower[7].

The U.S. has had 57 times as many school shootings as all other major industrialized nations combined[8]. A total of 202 people were killed in these attacks and 454 were injured in school shootings in the U.S. since 1970[9]. School shootings are a reality in the U.S., an average of one a week just this year alone. The majority of shooters were young white men or boys, many of them current or former students of the schools where they opened fire.

It is a fact that states with stricter firearms regulation, including laws regulating dealers, background checks, licensing, reporting of lost or stolen guns, multiple purchases, and gun design and manufacturing standards have, on average, lower rates of gun-related homicide and suicide[10]. The benefits of firearm laws might not be fully realized until either all states within a surrounding area reach a certain threshold level of firearm legislation or more universal federal firearm legislation is enacted.

There is much that needs to be done to limit this carnage. 67 percent of Americans want stricter limits on firearm sales – 97 percent support universal background checks. Common sense weapon regulation needs to be approved banning military-type weapons and comprehensive extended background checks implemented preventing anyone criminally charged or deemed mentally ill from purchasing weapons. Concealed weapon permits should be permitted only for law enforcement officials.

It is time to cease attempts by the NRA, weapon manufacturers, and gun advocates to deflect the real cause of gun violence from the actual problem – the availability of too many weapons rather than the unsupportable claim that it is solely attributable to mental illness. As a very minimum, legislation reenacting the Brady Bill; with expanded and improved background checks, closure of the gun show loophole, closure of loopholes permitting domestic abusers and stalkers to obtain guns; and renewal of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB)[11] prohibiting the manufacture for civilian use of certain semi-automatic firearms defined as assault weapons, as well as large capacity ammunition magazines, should be approved.

We have become inured to the news of still another mass shooting – they have become too common. I began by asking what it will take to enact meaningful weapon regulation. Perhaps given the numerous candidates currently campaigning prior to another Presidential election, it is a good time to ascertain their willingness to commit to the passage of meaningful legislation.

That’s what I think, what about you?


[1] Claire Conner McCaskill is a U.S. politician who served as Senator from Missouri from 2007 to 2018 and the Auditor of Missouri from 1999 to 2007.

[2] Karp, Aaron. Estimating Global Civilian-Held Firearms Numbers, Small Arms Survey, http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/fileadmin/docs/T-Briefing-Papers/SAS-BP-Civilian-Firearms-Numbers.pdf?utm_source=Fareed%27s+Global+Briefing&utm_campaign=4a0cd861ca-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_06_20_06_54&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6f2e93382a-4a0cd861ca-85658801, June 2018.

[3] Fields, R. Douglas. The Roots Of Human Aggression, Scientific American, https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-roots-of-human-aggression/, May 2019, pp64-71.

[4] Stuart, Heather. Crimes And Mental Illness: The Link Isn’t As Strong As You Think, Queen’s University, Ontario, https://www.decodedscience.org/crimes-mental-illness-link-isnt-strong-think/45694, 15 May 2014.

[5] Kivisto, Aaron J., et al. Firearm Ownership And Domestic Versus Nondomestic Homicide In The U.S., American Journal of Preventive Medicine, https://www.ajpmonline.org/article/S0749-3797(19)30197-7, 9 April 2019.

[6] Anglemyer, Andrew, et al. The Accessibility Of Firearms And Risk For Suicide And Homicide Victimization Among Household Members: A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis, Annals of Internal Medicine, https://annals.org/aim/fullarticle/1814426/accessibility-firearms-risk-suicide-homicide-victimization-among-household-members-systematic, 21 January 2014.

[7] Goyal, Monika, et al. State Gun Laws And Pediatric Firearm-Related Mortality, American Academy of Pediatrics, https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/144/2/e20183283, August 2019.

[8] Grabow, Chip, and Lisa Rose. The US Has Had 57 Times As Many School Shootings As The Other Major Industrialized Nations Combined, CNN, https://www.cnn.com/2018/05/21/us/school-shooting-us-versus-world-trnd/index.html?fbclid=IwAR386ar2R-0nvMX3mECWzK0hVnond5_ZE1qOatzg-v8oQytK9ZNyQpdCRxE, 21 May 2018.

[9] Cai, Weiyi, and Jugal K. Patel. A Half-Century Of School Shootings Like Columbine, Sandy Hook And Parkland, The New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/05/11/us/school-shootings-united-states.html?te=1&nl=morning-briefing&emc=edit_nn_20190512, 11 May 2019.

[10] Kaufman, Elinore, MD, et al. State Firearm Laws And Interstate Firearm Deaths From Homicide And Suicide In The United States, JAMA Internal Medicine, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2673375?source=post_page—————————, May 2018.

[11] The AWB was officially named the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act and was a subsection of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.

About lewbornmann

Lewis J. Bornmann has his doctorate in Computer Science. He became a volunteer for the American Red Cross following his retirement from teaching Computer Science, Mathematics, and Information Systems, at Mesa State College in Grand Junction, CO. He previously was on the staff at the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus, Stanford University, and several other universities. Dr. Bornmann has provided emergency assistance in areas devastated by hurricanes, floods, and wildfires. He has responded to emergencies on local Disaster Action Teams (DAT), assisted with Services to Armed Forces (SAF), and taught Disaster Services classes and Health & Safety classes. He and his wife, Barb, are certified operators of the American Red Cross Emergency Communications Response Vehicle (ECRV), a self-contained unit capable of providing satellite-based communications and technology-related assistance at disaster sites. He served on the governing board of a large international professional organization (ACM), was chair of a committee overseeing several hundred worldwide volunteer chapters, helped organize large international conferences, served on numerous technical committees, and presented technical papers at numerous symposiums and conferences. He has numerous Who’s Who citations for his technical and professional contributions and many years of management experience with major corporations including General Electric, Boeing, and as an independent contractor. He was a principal contributor on numerous large technology-related development projects, including having written the Systems Concepts for NASA’s largest supercomputing system at the Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley. With over 40 years of experience in scientific and commercial computer systems management and development, he worked on a wide variety of computer-related systems from small single embedded microprocessor based applications to some of the largest distributed heterogeneous supercomputing systems ever planned.
This entry was posted in Arms, Assault, Assault-type, Automatic, AWB, Background Check, Brady, Brady Bill, Brady Bill, China, Domestic Violence, Federal Assault Weapons Ban, Firearm, Gun, Gun Owners, Gun Regulation, Handgun, Homicide, India, Loophole, Mass Shooting, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Murder, National Rifle Association, NRA, Ownership, Pakistan, Rifle, Russia, School Shootings, Semi-automatic, Show, Suicide, Violence, Weapon and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.