We should be able to agree on something: This country will remain divided on the issue of gun control. Emotional tragedies like the Sandy Hook shooting only amplify this division.
Right now, our country is in the beginning phase of banning certain weapons and magazines, in response to the Sandy Hook shooting and others similar to it. I submit to you that we are motivated by emotion and not facts. Allow me to share some facts1 that are not otherwise likely to make their way into this argument:
All Murders – 2011
- There were 12,664 murders in the U.S. in 2011.
- 8,583 or 68% of those murders were committed with firearms.
- 1,694 or 13.4% of all murders were committed using a knife or cutting instrument.
- 728 or 5.7% of all murders were committed using only personal weapons such as hands or feet.
- 496 or 3.9% of all murders were committed using a blunt object.
- About 8% of the murders were committed with “other” weapons, presumably some of them unknown.
Firearm Murders – 2011
- 6,220 or 77.1% of firearm murders were committed using handguns.
- 356 or 4.1% of all firearm murders involve the use of shotguns.
- 323 or 3.8% of all firearm murders involve the use of rifles.
- About 15% of all firearm murders are committed by “other” firearms or by firearms that are “not stated.” Perhaps not specifically reported.
So if we conclude we have a murder problem that needs to be further addressed with laws and restrictions, which is the most logical cause to start with based on the knowledge we possess? In rank order of death toll:
- Blunt objects
- Rifles (including assault rifles)
In what order will lawmakers likely attack this problem? In rank order of emotional distress and voter pressure:
- Assault rifles
- Large capacity magazines for pistols and rifles
I am not sure what more I can add to the senseless argument that is taking place now and will continue throughout 2013, other than to state what I believe is obvious:
Some guns and ammunition should never be made available to the public. The best examples of this are cheaply made assault weapons which can be purchased for a few hundred dollars. There is no redeeming quality to these weapons in a civilian setting, no matter what anyone says - even the NRA. The cost, availability, and destructive ammunition they use all contribute to their ridiculousness. On the other hand, systematic and broad-brush restrictions on firearms are not the answer and should not be pursued by the government.
The constitutional argument is becoming the default tactic for nationwide patriotic manipulation. Americans get emotional about guns. There will be someone reading this post that will allege treason and use the word “tyranny” in his comments. The Supreme Court has heard many arguments regarding the second amendment and has upheld it. Let’s keep the argument about the facts today and stop labeling people because they don’t agree with you. I believe that in order to intelligently argue the issue of gun control and the second amendment, you must spend time on both sides of the fence.
No law ever suppressed the free will of man. More laws will not solve the issue of gun violence. It’s already against the law to kill people and has been since Moses received the 10 commandments. The problem is already being solved mysteriously at the rate of 2% to 3% per year. Murders continue to decrease from a peak in 1991 of 24,700 to a 44 year low of 12,664 in 2011. That’s a 49% decrease in murder in 20 years! Violent crime in general has been on a ten+ year downward trend. It is time to examine what is working, rather than using our imagination and fears to project what is wrong. Plus – only law abiding people abide by laws.
Arming teachers will only present a greater threat to our students. This extreme measure should be weighed by the parents of the students, not the National Rifle Association.
Do we believe schools in America are being targeted by mass murderers? If so, why wouldn’t we address the physical and procedural security of our school buildings? Why do all of the “experts” have to come from Washington D.C? Why does the President have to become emotionally involved before he takes action? I suspect the answer to our Nation’s problems are right here within our grasp, but unfortunately we have our attention focused elsewhere, and we are in the habit of concluding it’s someone else’s problem to solve.
I recommend we first identify the problem. Is it gun violence or school shootings? They are not the same problem, nor do they require the same treatment. Once we know what the problem is, let’s have national collaboration, emphasizing local action. Tap the National Sheriffs Association and International Association of Chiefs of Police to work with federal authorities to identify a number of options that will be appropriate and effective in combating the issue. These two organizations should be among the first-string problem solvers; after all, this is a public safety issue, not a political one. Lawmakers and the federal government do have a role however, and that is to find the needed funding to support the solutions.
1 Source: FBI Murder Data Tables