Gun lovers are in severe denial. Actually, even moderate-conservatives like David Brooks are too -- since Aurora he has been repeatedly stating that sociological studies do not indicate that gun regulations tamp down in homicide rates. Now, it is true as some commentators on my prior OEN article ( www.opednews.com/articles/What-the-Majority-of-Found-by-Gregory-Paul-120727-26.html ) have said many countries have higher homicide levels than the USA. The problem is that these are all underdeveloped 2nd and 3rd world countries with an absence of sound government and lots of guns around and about. What is also all too true is that among all the advanced, 1st world prosperous democracies the USA has by far the highest rate of criminal homicides (there are just a few hundred justified homicides a year, a wee fraction of the almost 15,000 murdered, bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/justify.cfm). There is no controversy about this. This well know fact was best demonstrated by the rigorous data gathering in http://www.esdp.org/research/hosb1203.pdf, and the best current data compilation at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate#cite_note-sweden-50 shows that the pattern continues. In other words, the USA is the only 1st world country that is suffering from murder rates otherwise found in only in the 2nd and 3rd worlds. This is a national shame that the gun industry/lobby and its foolish supporters as per the commentators are trying to cover up (unless some of the latter are ignorant about reality).
I am currently working with university based colleagues to compile and statistically analyze what will be far and away the most comprehensive comparison of socioeconomic conditions between 1st world countries. Around four dozen indicators and correlates. The plot I included with click here is from that project (maybe I've missed it, but I have not seen such a plot, which is odd because it is an obvious thing to do). What the plot shows is that the only western nation with lots and lots of guns, that would be ours, has a sky high level of homicide of the rate expected in badly governed underdeveloped countries. There is no example of a prosperous democracy that has low levels of homicide that has limited gun regulations. Not one. In every 1st world country with less than 30 guns per 100 persons achieved by strong firearms regulations homicide levels are remarkably low. In every one. All western democracies with tight regs on heaters has little in the way of murder. Even in England where street violence is pretty intense -- they beat the crap out of each other as per The Who's Who Are You, but they lack the long range firepower to kill one another. Commentators prattle on about how the Swiss have lots of guns. But they are way behind us, and those guns are under government restrictions; it is tied into their militia system.
One commentator thought he scored a big point by pointing out that American homicide rates are in decline. But they are in decline in other western countries too, so we are still far worse off. And according to surveys gun ownership is in strong decline in America (http://www.vpc.org/studies/ownership.pdf) -- which means that the gun industry lobby project for all its political-legal success has been losing the contest to actually motivate people to protect themselves with high velocity projectiles. This is because Americans are getting older, less into hunting, and women who are not as adoring of firearms as men tend to be are increasingly heads of households. These powerful demographic trends are wrecking the right's propaganda effort to put a gun onto the person of every American, which has been good for cutting down the general slaughter.
Another commentator tried to pull the classic slight of hand trick of comparing the low homicide rate in gun friendly New Hampshire to that greater murder in less gun welcoming California. This is a trick because CA has major urban areas that breed lethal crime while more rural NH does not. To avoid this sociological faux pas you have to compare regions that include broadly similar urban/rural ratios. Sure enough, the relatively gun unfriendly north east has less murdering, will the gun happy south has more (bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/region.cfm). Other research is showing a correlation between guns and homicides in these United States (www.hsph.harvard.edu/research/hicrc/firearms-research/guns-and-death/index.html).
Fact is there is no prosperous country with a large urban population and lots of lightly regulated guns that is not afflicted by a shameful amount of bloody death, so to think that a nation can combine limited gun regs plus lots of firearms like we are trying to do with low homicide levels is completely unsubstantiated, wildly speculative, and almost certainly wrong. If the USA has low homicide rates that would be another thing, but we don't and we do have an incredible amount of firepower in the hands of civilians, and look what that has got us. At the same time in the similarly urbanized countries where heaters are scarcer because of democratically enacted restraints a lot fewer people have their bodies ripped up by bullets, so there is absolutely no doubt that scheme works, which makes sense.
The NRA and its allies have refused to acknowledge these patently obvious truths. Same for the pro-gun commentators. That's because they are trying to sell America a bad bill of goods. The tall tale they are spinning is that Americacans have hundreds of millions of semi-automatic guns that will make bad people so scared that we will have few murders. They have to push that fantasy because they know that they will lose the American war of the gun if the American majority realizes that maximizing gun liberty also elevates gun violence. And quoting Ben Franklin won't change that.
Another commentator tried to challenge the characterization of semi-automatic pistols as weapons of mass destruction. The guy who invented the heavy machine gun as a military weapon intended to destroy masses of men was Hiram Maxim. He tried to apply his technology to automate military pistols, but the technology was not quite ready. One of the first effective semi-automatic pistols, the Mauser C96, was a military weapon widely used in the South African War at the turn of the century. The famed Colt 45 1911 was adopted as the standard US Army pistol for most of the 1900s. Standard magazines for the Glock range from 10-17 rounds depending on the model, enough to kill and maim 10-17 people in a few seconds. The Glock will place a round within an inch of the aim point of a reasonably skilled criminal's shooting range of 15-30 ft, especially if they are using a laser pointer to target the head or heart. That's a weapon of mass destruction.
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Will the gun crowd start to urge the law abiding citizen to armor up as the arms race they are pushing one way or another progresses? Of course they will. It's just like the battleships I am interested in, the guns and armor piercing rounds got better so the armor got thicker until you got the Yamato s with 16.1 inches of sloped face hardened steel side plate. Now the criminals like the Aurora shooter are armoring up. If more citizens pack heat on the street the armed muggers will start to protect their bodies -- they may not be the brightest folks around, but they are not the stupidest. When the crooks are protected, the gun people will follow their standard modes operandi. They usually start low key. Why shouldn't we be able to protect themselves with a gun? When they get that, why shouldn't all brave citizens be ready to protect the innocent with a gun? When they get that, and the bad guys armor themselves, well of course the law abiding gun carrier will need to do the same. We are not naïve. And just you wait.
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Gregory Paul is an independent researcher interested in informing the public about little known yet important aspects of the complex interactions between religion, secularism, culture, economics, politics and societal conditions. His scholarly work (more...
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