Sunday, October 4, 2015

Getting a Handle on Gun Control

There have been so many mass shootings:  Aurora, Sandy Hook, Vicksburg, Charleston, Fort Hood, and, sadly, many more.  Last week, after another senseless massacre by a deranged gunman in Oregon, President Obama called on news outlets to compare the number of American deaths due to terrorism vs, the number of deaths due to gun violence.  This chart reveals the shocking differences:

According to a podcast called On the Media, the American death toll due to acts of terrorism including 9/11 is just over 3,000.  The death toll due to handgun violence is approximately 200,000.  If you include accidental death and suicide, that number is almost half a million.   Shocking figures and hugely bigger numbers than any other comparable (read:  large, wealthy) nation:

Doesn't it make sense to enact stronger gun laws -- minimally requiring mandatory background checks on the previous convictions and mental state of gun owners and potential owners?  Gun lobbyists resist any restriction on gun control, often pointing to the 2nd Amendment "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." But what does "well regulated" mean to you?  Seems to me the Founding Fathers foresaw limits. Further, as many people (recently Garry Wills and Adam Gopnik) have pointed out, the phrases "keep arms" and "bear arms" are terms specifically used by the military. In other words, the Amendment may not apply to personal possession of guns at all.  The Supreme Court was deeply split on this issue when it last came before the court, narrowly (5-4) siding in favor of guns.  Like our Silding Doors poems, it's tempting to think of what might have changed if the court held a slightly different balance.  It's not clear when the issue will again be decided by the Court or by legislators.  Will the upccoming (current?  it's just 13 short months away!) presidential race will give politicians and ordinary citizens a new chance to voice their opinions on gun control. 


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  2. Wow, I think these statistics are absolutely shocking! One thought that I have is that when I go through the newspaper in the morning, I seem to see a lot of matters relating to terrorism, like ISIS, and and other groups from the Middle East. I think we as a society should be more aware of events like this.

  3. I agree, the statistics really are eye opening. I guess the question is, how are we able to make America safer, without infringing on our constitutional right to bare arms. I don't have the answer but there definitely needs to be some sort of compromise. No one wants to see this many people die but many people feel strongly about their right to have guns.

  4. I think the U.S. has to come up with a solution for the gun violence. We are fighting the war on terror but the war we never hear about in the media is between Americans using guns. Chance the Rapper illustrates this neglect on a song called 'Paranoia': "They murder kids here / Why you think they don't talk about it? They deserted us here / Where the fuck is Matt Lauer at? Somebody get Katie Couric in here." Terrorism is a more 'entertaining' topic for the media to report than kids in America getting shot. This is because we can blame terrorism on the terrorists, whereas it's America's fault people are getting shot, and people don't want to question our own country.