Thanks, Ms. Mod. I'll just christen this thread by saying that while I do understand why people want to own guns and would not support disarming the populace, one of the things that bothers me about people who do not want more gun control is that they don't seem to have any alternate suggestions. Do I think more gun control will fix everything? Nope. Not everything. But here are some interesting facts:
- The US is THE most violent affluent nation in the world. There is no reason that we should have more killings per capita than Europe or the UK, but we do. By a fat margin. (We actually have twice the homicide rate of Iraq. Now ain't that something?)
- The US also owns more guns per capita than any other nation, about nine guns for every 10 people. (Obviously not that many are armed; many gun owners have multiple weapons.)
- In the US, the highest rates of gun ownership are to be found in the South, then the Midwest, then the West, then the Northeast. Specifically in the US, higher gun ownership correlates strongly with higher homicide rates, about a 3:1 ratio between high gun ownership and low gun ownership. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1447364/table/t3/)
- Though there are weapons of death in pretty much every US household (knives, pencils, pantyhose) and guns in far fewer, guns are by far the weapon of choice in in homicides. I don't know how many *attempted* murders there are, though, since guns are the most deadly weapons we have commonly available. But I'd rather be stabbed than shot anyway, based on the chance of survival. (Interesting comparison: on Friday, in China, a man performed a mass assault on a school and stabbed 22 people. The primary difference: none of them died.)
Now. All that being said, it's also fair to note the following:
- Stricter gun laws, in and of themselves, do not necessarily guarantee a lower homicide rate. You have to take societal considerations into account. (Case in point: Washington, D.C.) It's ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL that any laws enacted be thoroughly thought through, researched, and implemented as part of an overall plan to reduce violence.
- About two-thirds of the deaths by gun in the US are suicides; unfortunately I'm less convinced that those would significantly decline if our gun ownership laws were stricter as it's pretty easy to kill yourself if you're really determined. Still, while that's sad, one person dying is better than 28, and suicide-by-pills is less likely to be successful than suicide-by-gun.
- Gun violence and gun ownership are actually declining in the US, though tragically, mass shootings are at historical highs.
So here's what I'm thinking needs to happen.
- Stricter, federal-level controls on gun ownership. For some reason a lot of my gun-toting friends are posting about how awesome Israel's gun culture is (they have a fairly low homicide rate). I didn't know much about it, so I checked it out. Some gun advocates seem to think er'body in Israel be toting firearms, but the truth is: Gun ownership in Israel is fairly low--way low compared to the US. Minimum age to own a gun unless you've served in the military: 27. Stringent background checks. You must requalify every three years. You must have a reason for wanting it. There are limits on how many one person can have. AWESOME. Yes. Let's do that.
- A REAL solution to treating the severely mentally ill. If you haven't read "I am Adam Lanza's Mother," you need to. Go read it. And then ask yourself what the heck is a parent of a child like that supposed to do in our current system? This needs to be part of the overall conversation about health care in this country. Let's be real: "Christopher" (her son) is never going to be a non-dangerous member of society unless some sort of medical miracle happens. Someday he's going to hurt someone badly, maybe even kill someone, unless he is kept from doing so. And in our current culture, there's not a thing we can do about it.
- A change in how the media handles these crimes. I think part of the reason these are escalating is that there is a measure of fame that goes along with committing a crime such as this. I'd like to see a few things.
- NO comparison to ANY OTHER mass shooting when reporting one. Just the facts. No "second deadliest after Virginia Tech."
- No mentioning of the shooter's name. Let people dig it up on Google or whatever, but just refer to him/her as "the perpetrator" in the major news outlets.
- Make the reporting as devoid of emotion as is possible. These guys already generally know they'll be hated (if they're that mentally aware). They either cherish that or don't know/care. Take away the glory.