America Has Stupid Gun Laws


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We have ten dead Americans, again, by a crazed gunman. Why? Well, we don’t know the personal reasons for this gunman. We do know this- he had three guns with him when he was killed at the scene. Those guns touched countless lives.

Stop saying we can’t stop this. Stop saying you can’t see this coming. We can. Many states have strict gun laws, and in those states gun violence is lower than it is in states where guns are available on demand. We know thatĀ statistics tell us that more gun safety laws save lives. We know that statistics have told us much about what a gun in the home does to the odds of an accidental shooting, a domestic dispute turning deadly, and yes, that it rarely ends up actually saving someone from an intruder. We also know that countries with strict gun laws, countries like Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom, they have less gun violence. A lot less gun violence. The statistics tell us all we need to know.

And yet we always end up going in other directions with this discussion. We’ll hear how criminals don’t obey gun laws anyway, which I guess we could use as an argument against any kind of law. We’ll hear about how Hitler wanted to disarm the public. We’ll hear about how each individual gun law wouldn’t have stopped one individual shooter. We’ll hear how we need guns, to stop some sort of tyranny from the government, as though that is realistic or even relevant to our society. We’ll get sucked into lots of crazy, irrelevant, and conspiracy driven discussions about why we can’t regulate guns in any way.

The entire discussion of “taking guns away” from people is tired, not grounded in reality, and is frankly a distraction. No one is proposing to take everyone’s guns away. It’s not possible, or even necessary. There are lots of people in this country that own guns and handle them just fine. No one is coming for them. In fact, there’s not even a legislative proposal to come take guns away from people. There are plenty of other proposals though, reasonable ones, and they are being stopped in Congress and state legislatures. They are mostly being stopped by Republicans, but by some Democrats too who support the agenda of the NRA. A few examples of the irrational behavior of these pro-NRA legislators:

  • Congress bi-partisanly had a proposal to increase background checks on gun sales. Now, we need universal background checks, but they didn’t go that far. They just asked for more. It never got a vote in the House, nor did it pass the U.S. Senate.
  • In Pennsylvania, there has been a proposal to make it mandatory to report a lost or stolen hand gun to the authorities. Think about that, your gun is missing and cannot be found, and you don’t currently have to report it. Republicans and some Democrats refuse to pass this common-sense proposal.
  • Congress expressly bans the Federal government from collecting data on shootings in the United States. We can’t even collect data and try to look for ways to lower gun violence.
  • In New Jersey, Senate Republicans backed up Governor Christie’s veto of a bill that would have included law enforcement in the process of deciding whether a person with a documented history of mental illness can get a permit to carry a gun. Think about that- they won’t let the cops take part in the process.

These are not bills to come take your gun. They aren’t bills that would even effect most gun owners. These pieces of legislation are basically common sense. You have to have truly irrational fears to think we shouldn’t have these laws. You have to live in an alternate reality.

Yesterday, President Obama asked the media to pull the statistics about deaths by gun violence, as opposed to by terrorism. Vox did it, and I’ll share a little part of their report:

Over ten thousand Americans are killed every year by gun violence. By contrast, so few Americans have been killed by terrorist attacks since 9/11 that, when you chart the two together, the terrorism death count approximates zero for every year except 2001. This comparison, if anything, understates the gap: Far more Americans die every year from (easily preventable) gun suicides than gun homicides.

The point Obama is making is clear: We spend huge amounts of money every year fighting terrorism, yet are unwilling, at the national level, to take even minor steps (like requiring background checks on all gun sales nationally) to stop gun violence.

It’s true- we know how to lower gun violence, we can see it in places that have taken action. We choose to do nothing. Instead we have stupid gun laws that defy common sense. Our country should be ashamed.

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