Saturday, November 21, 2015

Killing us softly.... no, loudly, with these guns....

Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said: you are entitled to your own opinions, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

An example of an opinion is that having unrestricted access to guns is a good thing. A fact is that there are numerous countries- Australia, Japan, United Kingdom, and so forth, which have very strict gun control laws, yet have not seen increases in violent crime, and have a gun death rate one one thousandth- or lower, than ours. That's a fact- and nothing any 2nd amendment defender says can change it. It is possible to severely limit and restrict long guns, eliminate all hand guns for civilians (only law enforcement and military), yet not lose one iota of freedom or security.

Here are some statistics: in 2014, total deaths from firearms in Japan: 6. That is so statistically insignificant in a country of 127 million people, that the number per 100,000 is effectively zero. In Australia, a very freedom loving (and free wheeling) country of about 24 million, originally founded as a transport country (convicts and the detritus of England-- ) the total was 226 in 2012, the most recent year I could find in a quick internet search. That comes to less than 1 in 100,000.

The stats also break down by suicide, accident, and homicide, although not by stranger homicide versus domestic or "friends." I would wager that most homicides by firearm are not the kind that would involve self defense against a burglar or a carjacker. In Australia, the rate per 100,000 for homicide is .11, but suicides are 6 times higher at .62 per 100,000 (that's a decimal point- so we are still talking way less than one.

And the rate per 100,000 in the United States? More than 10 times higher- in a country of over 300 million, annual firearm deaths are over 33,000 (about 10.5 per 100,000).

The fact is that firearm deaths can easily be reduced by outlawing hand guns completely, and requiring that only adults without criminal histories and with a certificate of firearm safety course be permitted to own long guns. And we can register those. Will criminals still have guns? Yes, of course. But the truth is, the myth of the good guy with a gun stopping a bad guy with a gun is just that- a myth.

Why is it a myth? Because we are the most gun loving and owning country in the world, yet of the civilized countries, we far and away lead them in firearm related deaths- suicide, accident, and homicide combined.

And no amount of good guys with guns will ever reduce- not even by one death- the day to day tragedies of 2 and 3 and 4 year olds playing with guns and shooting someone else or themselves.

So if your opinion is that you like guns, or you like to hunt, or you think that unfettered individual gun ownership or unrestricted access to guns is positive or a good thing, no one can take that opinion away from you. But if your opinion is that the U.S. is safer from firearm deaths to innocents (suicides, children, victims of domestic violence, accidents) than we would be with strict gun control, then your "opinion" is factually mistaken, based on the factual experiences of civilized countries that have strict gun control.

We have mass shootings here almost weekly, and we wring our hands and do nothing. We should take heed of Australia, which reacted to their 1996 mass shooting tragedy by imposing strict gun control- and it was a conservative prime minister who led the way. Aren't we at least as capable as Australia-- or Japan, or the United Kingdom- in stopping gun deaths while retaining our freedom and our security? I would hope so.