According to a recent report in Science Daily (1-28-2013) the majority of the American people support more gun controls to reduce and prevent the epidemic of gun violence in the U.S. Despite the hysteria over the "violations" of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution generated by the NRA and the lunatic right-wing extremists in the Republican congressional delegations and their misinformed constituents (as well as others) that new gun controls laws would result in, a recent scientifically conducted poll by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has determined that the majority of the American people reject these right-wing arguments and want more laws to ensure gun safety.
Here is a breakdown in percentages of the survey's findings:
1. Universal background checks (no loopholes)-- 89%.
2. Ban on military style assault weapons-- 69%.
3. Ban on high capacity ammunition clips-- 68%.
4. Ban on gun ownership for individuals considered "high risk"-- 83%.
5. Ban on those who violate restraining orders for domestic violence-- 81%
While percentages were not given, the article also reports that more regulation of gun dealers was supported as well as various restrictions dealing with those having a mental illness. The survey was conducted with both gun owners and non-gun owners and found little difference between them in their responses so that it represents a true cross section of the American public on this issue.
Colleen Barry, PhD, one of the authors of the study said,"This research indicates high support among Americans, including gun owners in many cases, for a wide range of policies aimed at reducing gun violence. These data indicate broad consensus among the American public in support of a comprehensive approach to reducing the staggering toll of gun violence in the United States."
The researchers also conducted a separate survey, at the same time they did the gun control survey, to determine the public's attitudes towards mental illness. This is a complex subject requiring a dialectical analysis of the potential contradiction between the goal of preventing gun violence and that of preventing stigmatization of persons with mental illness.
This second survey revealed the following:
1. In favor or more screening and treatment of mental illness to prevent gun violence-- 61%.
2. Agreed that there is a big problem of discrimination against the mentally ill--58%.
About 50% of those interviewed thought the mentally ill more dangerous than other people and about 66% did not want to live near anyone with a "serious" mental illness. This led Dr. Barry to conclude, "In the light of our findings about Americans' attitudes toward persons with mental illness, it is worth thinking carefully about how to implement effective gun-violence prevention measures without exacerbating stigma or discouraging people from seeking treatment." Actually, it is more complicated than not just exacerbating stigma; we must find a way to diminish stigma and even eliminate it in the long run without watering down gun control measures in the process.
This means Congress must engage in a serious non-partisan legislative project to begin reversing and eventually eliminating the dangerous culture of gun-violence that has been created by the gun manufacturing lobby, the NRA and the corrupt politicians that are dependent on them and do their bidding in Congress.
This survey has shown what the majority of the American people want and those in Congress and elected positions of power who work against the goals described above are only interested in their own narrow interests and the interests of a few big corporations and not those of the American people and their children.
Right now the number of people murdered in the U.S. (31,000 a year according to Science Daily) is 20 times greater than the average in other developed capitalist nations that consider themselves "advanced." It is not the American people who are ultimately responsible for this violent gun-culture imposed upon them by reactionary corporate forces and their political stooges. Now is the time to bring about meaningful change and mobilize progressives to support those fighting for change.
Thomas Riggins, PhD CUNY, is a retired university lecturer in philosophy and ancient history and the former book review editor for Political Affairs magazine.