Following the recent horrible events in Las Vegas, which showed us again the ugly potential of gun ownership, the media fuelled outcry for more gun control came as loudly as it is expected and usual.
As Mona Chalabi wrote in the Guardian on 5 Oct: Other wealthy countries don’t have as many guns as the US, they don’t have as many gun death as the US either.
There are about 33,000 gun related death each year in the US. That is a lot, but still less then death by car accidents in the US (~38,000), and they have very strict speed limits over there.
I do not like to join uninformed a general outcry based on headlines, and after digging deeper into the numbers and facts surrounding gun ownership, let me take a different view on the problem - and do not get me wrong, there is a problem, but I am not sure it is as simple as gun ownership.
Now, of these 33,000 death, a staggering 22,000 (2/3rd) are suicides. WOW! The US ranks 48th in the world for suicides (per 100’), behind Sweden 46th, Japan 26th, Belgium 23rd, Russia 17th and Poland15th - to mention just a few who have higher suicide rates. Other are Switzerland 82th, Netherlands 98th and Germany 105th with a lower rate. I could go on, but my point is: just because you allow John Doe in the US to own a gun, doesn’t mean he is more (or less) inclined to commit suicide then anywhere else in the world. The preferred method of suicide are guns in US, and its hanging in Germany. Same sad result, other method. But its counted as over 65% in gun violence numbers.
So we are down to 11,000 “unwanted” death by guns - and I am not saying suicide by gun is a good thing, but maybe better then by jumping in front of a train or bus, where you leave the innocent operators traumatised.
The general outcry always comes after a mass shooting of innocent people, like in Las Veags, and this is a tragedy. (Sorry to say) BUT, this only accounts for 1.5% of gun death, still a big number of 500 murders, committed by a few disturbed nutters, who rarely do get a second chance to do it again. But the media outcry is orchestrated over days, and bigger then any statistical impact.
There need to be changes, and recent reports encouraged me to think that the NRA is now to considering in a small first step, regulation on so-called “bump stock”, and even semi-automatic weapons clearly need a much tighter control. More steps need to follow.
500 death, 500 death too much. Now a similar amount of death by guns are caused by accidents - well sorry to say - shit happens. Not always the shooter himself dies, but rarely a innocent bystander, more likely a mate standing next to him with a beer can in his hand waiting to pump some action out of the gun himself. Looking at the many “fails” video's on YouTube I tend to have little sympathy with the casualties, Darwin wins. I am not a friend of an ever growing nanny state, who tries to legislate every risk or danger away, at the end creating a vulnerable human race unable to evaluate and deal with risks personally.
The remaining high number of 10,000 death are homicides. It sounds cheesy, but there is a point: not guns kill people, but (in planned homicides) its people who kill people. By taking guns out of the equation, will it stop some people wanting to kill people? I doubt it, it will just make it harder to kill somebody, and shift the problem to other means, like knifes, cars, you name it. It is the moral and even religious value of “You shall not kill!” that needs some serious marketing, starting in early education and continuing throughout life.
The battle cry of “NO GUNS” doesn’t solve the problem, specially not in a country where over 300 million guns are legally owned these days, by who knows who. Voluntary returns may reduce the numbers of guns owned by law abiding citizens, but there will always be enough on the road for the handful of nutters living a sick dream and the 10,000 murderers who did not read the memo “You shalt not kill”.
To believe you can turn the clock back and get Genie back into the bottle is a waste of time, and this effort is not solving the problem of recognition of acceptable human values and behaviour in our modern times.