Friday, December 28, 2012

The Truth Regarding Gun Violence, Ownership, and Control

This post has been a long time coming. I knew I wanted to tackle this issue after the horrible Sandy Hook Elementary Tragedy. Gun control and the right of ownership are issues that, until now, I was very much on the fence about. On one hand our Constitution explicitly protects the right to "bear arms" and on the other I was appalled that the state of Ohio (where I currently live) had passed a law allowing CCW holders to carry that weapon into bars. Once the story broke about Sandy Hook I knew I needed to educate myself more on the issue and do my best to bring to light the facts behind the controversy of gun violence, ownership, and control... This is what I found:

Owning a gun and carrying that gun increases your chance of dieing by gunshot over 4 times.

We are the highest industrialized country on the planet for gun related deaths. Switzerland is the closest industrialized country to us and they have 30% less deaths that we do. Other countries are even lower, like Germany, where one is 9 times less likely to die by firearm than in the USA. There are 2 correlations that tended to hold true as I scoured through data; that countries with more strict implementations of gun control were lower in gun deaths, and the more strict gun control is the lower gun ownership is. This brought to light something that I now realize should be obvious: The lower gun ownership the lower gun related deaths.

Even at the state level gun control proves amazingly effective. Of the top 10 states with strictest gun laws these being:

New York
Rhode Island

5 of them are the 5 LOWEST in deaths per 100000 by guns and NONE of them make it into the top 20!

The 3 least strict are Arizona, Alaska, and Utah. Arizona and Alaska of which are 2nd and 5th HIGHEST in gun deaths.

Not only do we have the highest gun ownership on the planet, we have 53% MORE guns than the 2nd most gun rich nation, Serbia . We own 88.8 guns per 100 citizens. That is nearly 1 gun per person!
I then decided to do a comparison between the US, Germany (because my Sister-in-Law lives there and they are a good european benchmark), and India ( a less wealthy country with much more strict gun policy and 4 times our population in a much more unstable part of the world).

India - 1,241,491,960
USA - 311,591,91 

Germany - 81,726,000
Europe - 739,165,030

School Shootings:
US - 18
Germany - 7
India - 0
Europe -13

Workplace Shootings:
US - 23
Germany - 0
India - 7

Hate Crimes:
US - 2
Germany - 2
India - 2

Familicides Using Firearms:
US - 62
Germany - 3
Europe - 30
India - 2

Familicides Using any weapon:
US - 110
Europe - 103
India - 19

I also found that we have had the 3 worst school massacres ever these being:
1.Kehoe, Andrew Philip, 55°May 181927Bath Township, MIU.S.
MECommitted suicide
Also killed numerous animals
2.Cho, Seung-Hui, 23April 162007Blacksburg, VAU.S.
FCommitted suicide
3.Lanza, Adam Peter, 20°Dec. 142012Newtown, CTU.S.
FCommitted suicide
 After doing this research I realized that my position on gun control and ownership was, necessarily, now firmly planted in the pro gun control camp. The truth is the more guns there are and gun owners there are the more gun deaths and violence there will be. No, Armed guards and teachers in schools will not lower gun deaths. It will simply increase the likelihood that the next massacre is perpetrated by an armed guard or a teacher. 

I then started to realize that gun control isn't a restriction of freedom, its an extension of it. I define freedom as the ability to live without the fear that the owner of a semi-automatic assault rifle is around the corner waiting to unload on a crowd of people. I define freedom as the ability to sleep at night without feeling like I have to own a gun because everyone else around me does. I define freedom as sending my children to school without men with guns at the doorway. Gun supporters continue to discuss the right to bear arms but what about the right to have a life without it being taken away by someone with a gun? The constitution protects the right to "bear arms" but it doesn't require a lot of incite to realize that the constitution is a document written 236 years ago when firearms were single fire front loading machines that required nearly a full minute or longer to reload. If we took this literally civilians could own grenades, rocket launchers, tanks etc. We have a military and we have a police force and we should let them do their jobs.  This delusion that adding more guns to stop gun deaths needs to end. CCW's need to end. Why does anyone need to own an assault rifle? Why does anyone need to own more than 5 guns? Why does anyone need a gun beyond use for hunting and sport? Here is a thought experiment: We do away with CCW's and only allow firearms for those with hunting licenses or use for sport. Other than the already extremely high proliferation of guns in our society, this would remove the need to own guns for home protection. This is the point of gun control and why it works; it limits the proliferation of guns into society and thereby lowers gun ownership which lowers gun deaths. Fact is most criminals that perpetrate a crime with a gun are not organized criminals that would seek out a gun on the black market; they are casual owners of firearms that commit a crime out of passion or desperation.  Lets stop the perpetuation of this delusion that more guns fixes the problem and start basing our gun policy on data and evidence of what works.