Brief Issue Analysis: Gun Violence in America

This issue has been paraded about on the left for decades: the epidemic of gun violence.

And though it has always been portrayed as an issue which strikes fear into the hearts of everyday Americans, as though every American citizen wakes each morning with a genuine, reasonable fear of death in a “mass shooting,” I have ignored this portrayal as run-of-the-mill media sensationalism.  But now, I am actually seeing people I know, intelligent, respectable people I know, become seemingly genuinely afraid of such a thing.

So how is it that we have come to this?  I have personally always been surprised that we don’t have a horrifying mass shooting every day.  It seems to me our very large country must have the requisite volume of passionately angry, irrational people and, as President Obama has noted, there are more than enough guns in this country for every person to have one.  Why, if weapons are so readily available to an adequate population of people so seemingly eager to commit mass murder, would one argue with the idea that we have a mass shooting every day?

Well, because, thankfully, we don’t.

In fact, before I continue, it would be a great exercise for each reader to just let himself or herself throw out a knee-jerk reaction to the question “What percentage of American citizens are murdered with firearms?”

Guess.  Do you have a guess?  Remember, the longstanding media and Democratic position is that we are facing an epidemic of gun violence.  The Black Plague was an epidemic.  It killed one third of the entire population of Europe.  So go ahead and guess.

And hopefully you guessed.  Now let me tell you the actual figure as reported by the CDC for the year 2013:  The total percentage of American citizens murdered by culprits bearing firearms was:  0.0035%.  3.5 out of every 100,000 people were murdered with firearms.  A total of 11,308 out of over 318,000,000 people.  And that doesn’t even take into consideration the percentage of those murders which are the result of gang warfare (perhaps as much as 50%).

So look, it does suck that people are murdered.  Every innocent life taken by a homicide is a complete tragedy.  But from a public policy perspective, it seems to me that our numbers are actually pretty staggeringly good for a population as heavily armed as ours.  For people arguing about gun violence representing a severe public health crisis, well, there are simply bigger fish to fry in that arena even if you grant that it should be dealt with as a public health matter.  Automobile accidents, for example, result in 10.5 deaths per 100,000 people, three times as many as firearms.  But do you hear people feverishly promoting policies aimed at reducing the number of cars on the road (like promoting telecommuting solutions or distributing the population more evenly to avoid intensely congested areas)?

No.  Because that’s not what our sensationalism-obsessed culture is interested in.

Basically, it seems reasonable to conclude that gun control and gun ownership in America do not deserve nearly the amount of attention they receive in the political arena.  We are, I’m afraid, victims of media sensationalism and the horrifying nature of mass shootings (such as those which took place in Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Orlando).

Common Falacies

So what’s the deal with obviously outrageously bogus statistics such as “there has been a mass shooting every day this year”?  Well..it’s just a total lie a redditor made up, apparently.  Even if you try to count all the multiple-victim shootings, you still don’t wind up with that number.  Apparently even counting all the multiple-victim shootings in which three or more people were indiscriminately shot, you still only got 6 in 2015.

And what’s the deal with Australia completely eliminating all gun violence in their utopian continent of permanent peace?  Well, it’s true that they don’t have a whole lot of murders over that way, just about 1.5 out of 100,000 people each year as compared to our 5.1 per 100,000 (so props to them on that one).  In all of Australia for the year of 2007, only 266 people were murdered.  Of course, they only had a population of 20,830,000 people that year, which was less than one tenth of ours in that same year.  Nonetheless, good on them.  What’s more, it’s true that there’s been a downward trend in firearm use during Australian homicides!  Of course, there hasn’t been a total correlate downward trend in homicides…now they just stab each other instead.  In fact, in 2002, they observed the most homicides since all the way back to 1990 (as far back as the graph went in this particular page), yet the percentage of homicides in which firearms were used was near to its all-time low.

It’s a paradise, I tell ya.

Anyway, this sort of thing, as far as I can tell, does little beyond polarize us and distract us from more pressing issues (such as the horrifying degree of income disparity in the country, the idiotic, unconstitutional crime fuel that is our “war on drugs,” our terrifyingly bad monster factories we call prisons, our money-controlled elections and politicians…) whose resolution would, themselves, likely do far more to lower violence in the country than any weapons-oriented legislation.  Frankly, I suspect there is something of an unintentional conspiracy among politicians on this count since the issue is deeply divisive, with extremely predictable party-line support among the relevant electoral bases, so everyone gets a shot at grandstanding virtue signaling without actually having to do anything, as the issue is quite obviously politically intransigent.

Proposals for Action

  1. End the unconstitutional war on drugs which fuels cartel and gang violence that accounts for much of our firearms-related homicides (and illegal immigration issues…and destabilization of Mexico and Latin America…and overpopulated, poorly regulated prisons…).
  2. Prohibit persons being investigated by the FBI from acquiring weapons.
  3. Create a national weapon registry.
    1. I really can’t figure out why anyone would be against this; the primary argument against it seems to be that the government would know who had guns, which would assist in their systematic confiscation…but such systematic confiscation would probably constitute a reason to rebel against the government with one’s weapons…so…what?  I think you should be more than willing to allow the police to identify someone you shot as being someone you shot.
  4. Maybe limit high-capacity magazines?

Superior Alternatives for our Attention

But, really, given the statistics above, does any of this matter as much as the fact that 1% of the country controls 50% of the wealth, or that the lack of publicly funded elections precludes any but the most entrenched career politicians from having a shot at important elected offices?  Does it matter as much as the fact that we continually subject ourselves to an unconstitutional, inhumane federal prohibition on drugs which fuels the cartels that cause such a problem at our borders and the gangs responsible for much of our firearm-related violence, itself?

American needs to get smart and focus on some core issues until they’re resolved.  Then we can bicker about who gets to own what guns.  It won’t have much of an impact on anything, really, but let’s save our time-wasting for when we have more comfortable time to waste.

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