Now is the time to talk about gunsSince the tragic shooting in Colorado during the midnight showing of Dark Knight Rises, many pro-gun politicians have said that now is not the time to talk about gun control. But now that there’s a “guilty” verdict for the man who killed six people in Arizona, and with the recent shooting in Wisconsin, this topic seems even more relevant, and more important to discuss.
By: Nathan Carlsen, Duluth Budgeteer News
Since the tragic shooting in Colorado during the midnight showing of Dark Knight Rises, many pro-gun politicians have said that now is not the time to talk about gun control. But now that there’s a “guilty” verdict for the man who killed six people in Arizona, and with the recent shooting in Wisconsin, this topic seems even more relevant, and more important to discuss.
On Thursday, Wired.com reported that Washington, D.C. resident Seth Horowitz ordered a TV from Amazon.com, but instead received an assault rifle, which are illegal in D.C. This is how easy it is to get a gun in this country: When you don't even want one, you can pick one accidentally.
Some pro-gun people and politicians still say the old favorite: “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
Yet, many of us disagree. I argue that not only is now the perfect time to discuss gun control, we also need a new phrase that’s a bit more accurate.
How about this:
“People don’t usually kill people without guns.”
An article titled “Gun crime statistics by US state: latest data” published by The Guardian and using data supplied by the FBI gives the number of all murders in the United States and these findings:
“In 2010 — the latest year for which detailed statistics are available — there were 12,996 murders in the US. Of those, 8,775 were caused by firearms.”
That works out to be 67 percent of all murders in 2010 that were committed with a gun.
But that’s JUST murders. What about the unintentional deaths that are caused by the use of guns?
Politifact.com responded to a gun-related statement by Rush Holt, with 2009 data supplied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the 31,347 people who died in firearm-related deaths, there were 18,735 suicides; 86 people die daily in firearm-related deaths.
What do murder rates in other countries look like?
The article “A Land Without Guns: How Japan Has Virtually Eliminated Shooting Deaths” published by The Atlantic, reported these statistics:
“In 2008, the U.S. had over 12 thousand firearm-related homicides. All of Japan experienced only 11, fewer than were killed at the Aurora shooting alone ...”
How did they do that?
In the same article published by The Atlantic, it was explained that in order to have a firearm, one must prove psychological stability and pass a background check. Then, upon receiving the registered firearm, one must report to the authorities where it is kept in the house, ammunition stored separately
But, perhaps Japan still has a lot of murders, just not with the use of a firearm; or perhaps it has far fewer people than the United States.
An article, “Murder in Japan,” published in Japan Today, reports the total of murders committed in 2009: “The 1,097 murders in Japan last year were, according to statistics from the National Police Agency (NPA) … This is out of a population of 127 million … This represents less than a tenth of the murder rate in the U.S.”
The Wikipedia page called “List of countries by intentional homicide rate” uses crime statistics from many different official sources and shows that the United States has 4.7 murders per 100,000 people, whereas Japan has 0.35 per 100,000. The United States just simply experiences more murders than Japan and many other countries.
I’m not saying we need to be exactly like Japan and take away all our guns. I realize firearms and guns are part of our national culture. But let’s have an intelligent, calm, adult conversation about gun access, and perhaps save thousands of lives.
Duluthian Nathan R. Carlsen is a movie reviewer and a photographer. Visit his website: www.TheRollerskate.com. Some of his writing has been published on Cracked.com under his handle “rollerskate.”