6 Charts Showing Our Gun Solution Is Increased Regulation And Less Guns
The US is unique in two key — and related — ways when it comes to guns: It has way more gun deaths than other developed nations, and it has far more guns than any other country in the world.
People are attributing our gun epidemic (and it most certainly is one) to video games, violent movies, the destruction of the nuclear family, black people. and everything else but the guns themselves. There seems to be a disconnect when it comes to the gun solution and I don’t know why. Less guns has lead to less gun violence everywhere else in the world. No one has explained why that wouldn’t be the case here. At best, you get some variation of “muh freedoms”. Here are some charts explaining why more regulation and less guns are our gun solution. I intentionally omit mass shootings because they are only 2% of the gun deaths as of 2013 though we will explore them after the next one (assured), for we are 5% of the world’s population but have 31% of the mass shootings.
The Gun Solution Is In Regulation and Number
Amongst developed countries, 30 homicides by firearm per million people is 4 times more than second place Switzerland. What’s the difference between there and here?
Krishnadev Calamur details how gun ownership in Switzerland has deep historic roots and it is tied to mandatory military service for Swiss men between the ages of 18 and 34. The Swiss love guns. We love guns. It’s the number of guns that separates us.
The US has by far the highest number of privately owned guns in the world though. Estimated in 2007, the number of civilian-owned firearms in the US was 88.8 guns per 100 people, meaning there was almost one privately owned gun per American and more than one per American adult. The world’s second-ranked country was Yemen, a quasi-failed state torn by civil war, where there were 54.8 guns per 100 people. Another way of looking at that: Americans make up less than 5 percent of the world’s population yet own roughly 42 percent of all the world’s privately held firearms.
Calamur notes that while Switzerland has the third-highest rate of private gun ownership in the world, it’s rate of gun ownership is still substantially lower than America’s. In Switzerland the rate is roughly one gun per four people. The Swiss Defense Ministry estimates that there are 2 million privately owned weapons in the country of 8.3 million people. There are estimated to be 300 million guns in the U.S., but 130 million of them are owned by about 3 percent of the adult population.
Furthermore, unlike the U.S., background checks are mandated; heavy machine guns and military weapons such as grenade launchers are banned; and public-carrying permits are issued rarely. Guns can be transported, but must remain unloaded at all times when they’re not in use. Less guns and more regulation seem to result in less gun violence. Sounds like a gun solution to me.
Gun Ownership Is The Problem
I don’t own a gun. I don’t want to take away people’s right to own guns. I also know that our heightened rate of gun ownership seems to be correlative with gun related deaths.
Guns are not the only contributor to violence. (Other factors include, for example, poverty, urbanization, and alcohol consumption.) But when researchers control for other confounding variables, they have found time and time again that America’s high levels of gun ownership are a major reason the US is so much worse in terms of gun violence than its developed peers.
Mental Illness Is A Distraction
We should do everything we can for the mentally ill, but they aren’t the problem when it comes to gun violence. In face, people with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims, not perpetrators, of violence. Guns are the problem when it comes to gun violence. We know this because, when it comes to overall crime, we are right in line with the rest of the world.
Our problem is with lethal violence and the overwhelming majority of that is a result of having so many guns.
Less Guns Has Led To Less Gun Crimes
Lopez talks about about the Australian response to a mass shooting:
Australian lawmakers responded with legislation that, among other provisions, banned certain types of firearms, such as automatic and semiautomatic rifles and shotguns. The Australian government confiscated 650,000 of these guns through a gun buyback program, in which it purchased firearms from gun owners. It established a registry of all guns owned in the country and required a permit for all new firearm purchases. (This is much further than bills typically proposed in the US, which almost never make a serious attempt to immediately reduce the number of guns in the country.)
Australia’s firearm homicide rate dropped by about 42 percent in the seven years after the law passed, and its firearm suicide rate fell by 57 percent, according to a review of the evidence by Harvard researchers.
It’s difficult to know for sure how much of the drop in homicides and suicides was caused specifically by the gun buyback program. Australia’s gun deaths, for one, were already declining before the law passed. But researchers David Hemenway and Mary Vriniotis argue that the gun buyback program very likely played a role: “First, the drop in firearm deaths was largest among the type of firearms most affected by the buyback. Second, firearm deaths in states with higher buyback rates per capita fell proportionately more than in states with lower buyback rates.”
One study of the program, by Australian researchers, found that buying back 3,500 guns per 100,000 people correlated with up to a 50 percent drop in firearm homicides and a 74 percent drop in gun suicides. As Matthews explained, the drop in homicides wasn’t statistically significant because Australia already had a pretty low number of murders. But the drop in suicides most definitely was — and the results are striking.
One other fact, noted by Hemenway and Vriniotis in 2011: “While 13 gun massacres (the killing of 4 or more people at one time) occurred in Australia in the 18 years before the [Australia gun control law], resulting in more than one hundred deaths, in the 14 following years (and up to the present), there were no gun massacres.”
The gun solution is clear. More regulation of guns, less guns overall. Why people are saying this is complex is beyond me. It should not take a profile in courage to acknowledge and change the obvious.