USA Gun Control
Sometime today President Obama is announcing what he would like the government to do in terms of legislation for gun control. I have my doubt he will achieve all that he would like in spite of the fact that he will be asking for very limited sensible legislation. At most it seems he will be looking for a ban on the sale of assault rifles, a ban of large multi round ammunition clips, proper records of gun sales and transfers and to soften the focus some measures to improve mental health legislation which hopefully will limit the access to guns by the mentally ill.
None of what the President will ask for will reduce the number of guns in the society. He will not be asking a ban of the ownership of assault rifles so those that currently have them can keep them. The assault rifles are not the biggest gun problem in the US, although when they are used it is very dramatic. The biggest gun problem in the US is hand guns, which are used in most shootings. There is no suggestion they be banned. There will be no reduction in the number and availability in weapon in the US. The United States as the most weapon in private hands of any country in the World. at 88 per hundred residents, outpacing it closest rivals Serbia at 58.2 and Yemen 54.8. A sensible thing would be to reduce the shear number of guns available which is what Australia did after their dreadful assault weapon violence experience, at Port Arthur in 1996, after which they have never had a recurrence of a mass killing. Australia now have 15 guns per 100 residence.
One thing I would agree with the gun lobby is that gun control in itself, particularly as proposed by the Obama administration will have little or no affect on gun deaths in the country. There are several other countries including Canada which have a lot of guns in private hands around 30 per 100 residence. Some of these countries have very low rates of gun crimes. Shear numbers is not is not the critical cause of gun violence. In Canada we have more deaths from stabbings than from shootings, in spite of the relatively high number of guns. Likewise in Norway that hand that dreadful mass killing by Anders Breveik..
In fact, the United States record on gun killings is not that bad given the shear number of guns available. It is 10 gun related deaths per 100,000 persons. In Canada is 2.13 with a lot fewer guns, Mexico, which has somewhat more deaths than the US at 11.14 per 100,000. even though from the news you would think it was much higher/ To put this in perspective there are other countries with fewer guns but much higher death by guns. such as El Salvador and Jamaica, 50.36 and 44.44 respectively. If you only look at the intentional deaths by firearms the US rate drops to 4.8 per 100,000 and 1.6 for Canada. But Jamaica remains very high at 52.2 per 100,000. and a country that interests me, Venezuela, has an intentional gun killing rate of 45.1 per 100.000. Compared to these two countries the US is doing very well. Remember Yemen had the third highest number of guns at 54.8 per 100. Well their intentional gun death rate is only 4.2 comparable to theUS, even though that country has considerable social upheaval currently.
Well what do all these statistics mean, with regard to the US. Considering the number of guns available the US death rate by gun is not too bad. Even more interesting is that when only the intentional deaths are considers it is less that half of that. at 4.8 per 100.000. There are many more violent countries with fewer guns and much higher gun deaths, both in total and intentional. I suspect this reflects other factors than gun ownership such as the quality of the judicial system and policing. I think it also suggests that Americans generally take gun ownership and use seriously and are not very likely to kill someone intentionally. It seems that Unites States could lower it gun deaths by preventing accidental killings. Perhaps, besides reducing the availability of guns efforts should go into educations on gun use, regular requalifing to use a gun (testing) and improving the safe storage and handling of guns such as never leaving a gun loaded when it is not in use. locking guns up and transporting them with gun lock on the trigger and storing ammunition separately from the guns. These kinds of safety measures might prevent the number of accidental gun deaths and make it harder of the wrong people to access the guns and ammunition. None of this threatens the Second Amendment right to bear arms and could put everyone might at ease of their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It certainly is what an organization like the National Rifle Association should be involved in supporting legal responsible gun ownership. Here they could be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Many of their extreme views border of threats of terrorism against the government. I think one could accuse them of being a terrorist organization. If the government did this the consequence for the NRA and anyone who materially supported them would be fatal.
I began writing this blog posting with the ideal of exploring the cultural differences between the US and Canada to explain the different attitudes concerning guns. To understand the views of the US on guns requires and understanding of the culture and history of the country. I have lots of ideas on this which I may save for another time. To dramatically change the number of gun deaths in the US would ultimately need a cultural change which is a lot harder than passing legislation.