First, let me say this. I am not against people who use guns responsibly. We need hunters to kill all the deer here in Minnesota. Otherwise we’d be hitting them on the road a heck of a lot more, plus venison is pretty good.
Second, I have a few rules in life. One of them is not to make fun of people who legally own devices that are designed to kill. Just something I shy away from.
So, if you’re a gun owner, you keep it locked up safely, and you use it wisely, I don’t have a problem with you. In fact, I don’t really have a problem with most people.
However, since the tragic shooting in Colorado during the midnight showing of the newest Batman movie, Dark Knight Rises, I have made two observations.
Had he actually watched the damned movie, he would have heard Batman tell Catwoman “No guns, no killing.” The shooter probably hasn’t seen it yet (that should be part of his punishment, never get to see Dark Knight Rises, oh, and locked up for life, that too), and the survivors probably have not seen it yet either, ‘cus, ya know, they’re in the hospital from getting shot. But they DID meet Christian Bale, who later visited the survivors of the shooting. Not because he was told to by the studio, nope, just because he’s a good guy. I would have to say that Bale visiting those survivors evens things out after he screamed at that guy during the filming of Terminator.
2) Many pro gun politicians have said now is not the time to talk about gun control,
because: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people” but, that's missing the point.
But, In a stand up comedy special with Eddie Izzard, he says “The National Riffle Association says that ‘Guns don’t kill people, people do’, but I think they help.”
Also, in a Cracked.com article, it is argued that although people are definitely at least half the problem, it shouldn’t be left to ONLY their fault for gun violence since guns are specifically designed to kill or destroy.
But I argue we need a new phrase that’s a bit more accurate.
How about this:
“People don’t usually kill people without guns.”
Of course, I know people kill people without guns sometimes. But let’s take a look at the numbers and find out how many deaths or murders are committed with and without guns.
“In 2010 - the latest year for which detailed statistics are available - there were 12,996 murders in the US. Of those, 8,775 were caused by firearms.
If I did my math right, that works out to be %67 of all murders in 2010 were committed with a gun. The rest were committed with knives, cutting instruments, blunt objects like hammers, by people’s own body (like fists or chocking), and “other” which I assume includes poisoning. (I don’t know if vehicular homicide is included in this study)
The point is, over half of all murders are committed by the use of a gun, an instrument specifically designed to kill.
Now, some might argue that bombs kill way more people than a gun can. This is very true. If we take a look at the two worst bombings in recent American history, the Oklahoma city bombing killed 168 people, and the September 11th attack killed almost 3,000.
But bombs are illelegal, especially bombs of this size. And thanksfully terrorist attacks like this only happen once every few years, hopefully less. (it could be argued that both the Bush and Obama administration have done a good job in protecting us from more attacks since 9-11)
And that’s JUST murders. What about the deaths that are caused by the use of a gun that were not intentional? What do those numbers look like?
“The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracks the causes of fatalities for residents of the United States. In 2009 -- the most recent data available -- 31,347 people died in firearm-related incidents.
Suicides represent nearly 60 percent (18,735) of those gun-related deaths, while homicides make up nearly 37 percent (11,493). The rest of the fatalities fall into three categories: unintentional (554), undetermined (232) or legal intervention/war (333).
Overall, about 86 people die daily across the nation in firearm-related incidents. That figure drops to roughly 35 people a day when suicides are eliminated from the count. About 32 people die daily in homicides.”
So, if you include suicides, unintentional deaths AND murders where a gun is used, you get over 30,000 deaths in 2009, that’s over 80 deaths per DAY.
The argument, then, could be made that if we simply remove or reduce access to guns, murders and also accidental deaths over all in this country would drop significantly.
But, the counter argument would be, “Well, they’d just find another way.” Sure, some might. As the stats show in the graph above, 4,221 murders were committed without the use of a firearm in 2009, which works out to be about %32. If access to firearms was reduced, it’s true that the number of murders done with the use of a knife or something else would increase a bit. However, because guns are SO easy to use and much less personal, I would think that the number of murders would still drop significantly if access to guns was more limited.
“Ok Nate,” you might say, “but what are other countries doing? Are they any better than us?”
Glad you asked.
Of the world's 23 "rich" countries, the U.S. gun-related murder rate is almost 20 times that of the other 22. With almost one privately owned firearm per person, America's ownership rate is the highest in the world; tribal-conflict-torn Yemen is ranked second, with a rate about half of America's.
But what about the country at the other end of the spectrum? What is the role of guns in Japan, the developed world's least firearm-filled nation and perhaps its strictest controller? In 2008, the U.S. had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone. And that was a big year: 2006 saw an astounding two, and when that number jumped to 22 in 2007, it became a national scandal. By comparison, also in 2008, 587 Americans were killed just by guns that had discharged accidentally.
Let’s recap. According to the CDC, in 2008 the United States had over 12 Thousand homicides where firearms were used. Japan had 11. No, not 11 Thousand. Eleven. Like, that number after ten, and just before twelve. If you hold out all your fingers on both your hands, count those and add one. That’s how many homicides Japan had in 2008 committed with guns.
How the hell did they do that?
"To get a gun in Japan, first, you have to attend an all-day class and pass a written test, which are held only once per month. You also must take and pass a shooting range class. Then, head over to a hospital for a mental test and drug test (Japan is unusual in that potential gun owners must affirmatively prove their mental fitness), which you'll file with the police. Finally, pass a rigorous background check for any criminal record or association with criminal or extremist groups, and you will be the proud new owner of your shotgun or air rifle. Just don't forget to provide police with documentation on the specific location of the gun in your home, as well as the ammo, both of which must be locked and stored separately. And remember to have the police inspect the gun once per year and to re-take the class and exam every three years."
“Sure, Nate,” you might say “but I’ll bet they still have tons of murders.”
Ok, let’s look at ALL murders.
“The 1,097 murders in Japan last year were, according to statistics from the National Police Agency (NPA), down 200 from the previous year, a third of the number in 1954. This is out of a population of 127 million, in the middle of the worst recession since the war.
This represents less than a tenth of the murder rate in the U.S., and a hundredth of that of the most violent countries in the Caribbean and South and Central America. “
“Fine,” you might say, “but they just have less people than we do. It’s no wonder they have less murders.
It’s true, United States has over 311 Million, and Japan has around 127 Million. So, you’re right, we have a bit more.
Ok, let’s break it down per capita.
Wikipedia, using crime statistics from a lot of different sources (listed) show that United States has 4.7 murders per 100,000 people. Where as Japan has .35 per 100,000.
The United States just simply has more murders that Japan and a lot of other countries. This seems to confirm part of the statement “People kill people”, and it’s true, we do. And, for some reason, especially Americans kill Americans. But wouldn’t it be a good idea to make it a bit harder by limiting access to something originally invented for the sole purpose of killing someone easily?
Humans have been inventing new ways to kill each other since the beginning of human civilization. The rock, the sharp stick, spear, then the sword and a bow and arrow. Finally we created the French invented arquebus, the first gun that really worked, but it was really slow to reload and shoot, and extremely inaccurate. Eventually we improved that design and now one person can fire hundreds of bullets from one gun in seconds. One person, with one gun, can kill dozens of people. I argue that one of the reasons less are murdered in Japan than in the United States is because they limit who has access to advanced, human killing technologies.
My point is, we should have an intelligent, calm, adult conversation about gun access. I’m not saying we need to take away all our guns. I realize firearms and guns are part of our national culture, I get that, and it’s not going away.
But, I (and Batman) think we can find a happy middle ground where people who want to use guns responsibly can still enjoy that right afforded in the constitution, but people who shouldn’t have access to them have a harder time getting them.
Recently, a very well written counter argument was posted on this article. I enjoyed it, and wanted to leave it up. However, they didn't use a name or recognized account to leave a message.
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