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Children are Dying in Cities – Gun Control Is the Issue

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Mitt Romney has addressed the prestigious NRA and pledged his belief in the right of Americans to own guns. Over the years, he has voiced a variety of opinions on the matter, but he has now vowed support for the NRA and for the American Constitution.

Sure, we all support some gun ownership. As a boy and a young man I hunted pheasants, ducks, and geese; for the last two, crouching in a chilly and cold duck blind on Wonder Lake. I kept my 12 gauge shotgun clean and well oiled, and the decoys lived in the garage.

But living now in Chicago is another matter. In one week last year, 52 people were shot, at least eight fatally, in gang-related incidents.  A one year old girl was grazed on the ear on West Hastings Street, four men were shot in that incident. That same evening, a drive-by shooting over drug turf near South Kolin Avenue resulted in five people being hospitalized in serious to critical condition. Then, 10 minutes later, police were called to Humboldt Park, a short distance from where a Puerto Rican Day Festival was in full swing: two men were shot there, on West Division Street. Later, shortly after 9 PM, a fifteen year old girl was shot in the hand on West Evergreen Street.

We live in a much different world than the world our founding fathers knew. The old west was still new, and police were far sparser than today’s law enforcers. It made sense to allow Americans to carry firearms, but it doesn’t make sense today.

Some may consider the thinking of the drafters of the Constitution, and of the members of the Supreme Court, as it applies to gun ownership for a standing militia, and to oppose a potential tyrannical government. This is a compelling argument, but it may also be outdated and unrealistic.

The NRA is the granddaddy of all special interest groups. They support the candidates who support them. We see our politicians line up daily to address the gun makers to pledge their support to the all important lobby.

Children in Chicago are afraid to go to the store; they are afraid to play in their yards, afraid to step off the block. Consider the plight of eleven year old Maria Rivera: frightened of the guns and gangs in Chicago’s gang-rich Little Village neighborhood, Maria is a prisoner in her own home, where she spends her after school time indoors with her mother. She created an artwork for her fifth grade social studies project, It shows a little girl standing before a barred second floor window, looking out at the gangbangers and drug dealers on the street below. Maria told schoolmates, “I feel like a prisoner because I usually can’t go outside.”

Lets look at some relevant statistics. In homes with guns, a member of the household is almost three times as likely to be the victim of a homicide compared to a resident in a gun-free home. A study of 626 shootings in or around residences in three U.S. cities revealed that for every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or a legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides. Another study concluded that regardless of good intentions, such as safe storage practice, and proper training, having a gun in the home was associated with an increased risk of firearm homicide.

Politicians who change their standards, alter their moral beliefs as the need to win elections molds their thinking, are many and ubiquitous, and that’s a shame.

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About John Lake

John Lake had a long and successful career in legitimate and musical theater. He moved up into work behind the camera at top motion pictures. He has done a smattering of radio, and television John joined the Blogcritics field of writers owing to a passion for the liberal press, himself speaking out about the political front, and liberal issues. Now the retired Mr. Lake has entered the field of motion picture, television, and video game (now a daily gamer!) critique. His writing is always innovative and immensely readable!
  • Harry Dale

    So, you’re saying if guns are outlawed, the gangs would disappear. Wake up John and smell the drugs.

  • Lou Windsor

    You’ve got to be kidding me. The murder rate is highest in every city of this nation that has the most strict gun laws. Guns aren’t the problem, political hacks and corrupt Democrat politicians are the problem.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Looks like the gun nuts are starting to show up.

    So…Hey, Gun Nuts! Got a couple questions for you! Why is it that gun violence is so bad in America’s inner cities, but is NOT NEARLY so bad in inner cities in other First World nations that have gun laws FAR stricter than here in America?

    And while you’re trying to figure that one out, you can also answer why it is that in America, while gun violence is worst in our inner cities, on a STATE level, our worst gun violence is MUCH higher in the Republican Deep South than anywhere else in the nation?

    I mean, according to YOUR logic, it’s those eeeeeeevil Democrats that is the problem – so why is it that the actual murder rate is highest in the Deep South? And why is it that the murder rate in the rest of the oh-so-SOCIALIZED First World is much lower than it is here in America? Hm?

  • Clavos Juarez Santana Zapata

    Since we can’t control drugs, even with a myriad of laws addressing the issue, what makes you think we can control guns?

    There are currently more than 300 million of them in the hands of americans; if the government, using a newly passed law were to begin to demand they be turned in, what percentage actually would be?

    Hint: NONE of those currently in the hands of criminals.

  • betabox

    1. Even if you took out all homicides by guns, the US homicide rate would still be higher than England’s. Guns are not the issue.

    2. The homicide rate in the US is the lowest it has been in 50 years. Things are not getting worse. They are significantly better.

    3. That study you quote is BS and has been thouroghly debunked. You are assuming causation. Ever think that that people who are at a higher risk of being murdered might naturally want to own a gun?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    betabox –

    1. Even if you took out all homicides by guns, the US homicide rate would still be higher than England’s. Guns are not the issue.

    If guns were not the issue, then what is? WHY is gun violence much worse in our inner cities than in the inner cities of the rest of the First World? WHY is gun violence in our strongly-conservative rural southern states much worse than in the rest of the nation? Answer the questions, guy.

    2. The homicide rate in the US is the lowest it has been in 50 years. Things are not getting worse. They are significantly better.

    Yet they’re still much worse than anywhere else in ANY of the other oh-so-socialist First World nations. WHY? Answer the questions, guy.

    3. That study you quote is BS and has been thouroghly debunked. You are assuming causation.

    Who quoted a study? If you want, I can show you stats all day long. What’s tragic is the assumption among gun nuts that a society would somehow become less violent if everybody had guns without regulation and restriction…never mind that there’s zero evidence to support such a supposition.

    Ever think that that people who are at a higher risk of being murdered might naturally want to own a gun?

    So does that mean you think we should arm our children? It’s not just adults who are getting killed, guy. It’s our kids, too. My own son told me how he knew about ten kids who brought guns to school on a regular basis…which is one reason I took him out of country to finish high school overseas, and I don’t regret it for a moment. For your education:

    — The rate of firearm deaths among children under age 15 is far higher in the United States than in 25 other industrialized countries combined. “We have many more handguns and much weaker gun laws than any other country,” says Harvard Professor David Hemenway, who has worked to develop strategies to combat illegal firearms.

    — In 2003, 56 preschoolers were killed by firearms, compared to 52 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

    — More 10- to 19-year-olds die from gunshot wounds than from any other cause except motor vehicle accidents.

    — Almost 90 percent of the children and teens killed by firearms in 2003 were boys.

    — Boys ages 15 to 19 are nearly nine times as likely as girls of the same age to be killed by a firearm.

    — In 2003, there were more than nine times as many suicides by guns among white children and teens as among black children and teens.

    — The firearm death rate for black males ages 15 to 19 is more than four times that of white males the same age.

    — The seven states that recorded the most deaths among children and teens by firearms in 2003 were California, Texas, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina. The state with the fewest child gun deaths was Hawaii with one.

    ================================

    betabox, do you really know what most Democrats and liberals such as myself want? Hint: despite what Fox News will tell you, most of us do NOT want guns banned (because Pandora’s out of the box and she ain’t getting back in). MOST of us want gun registration for all firearm purchases, background checks for all firearm purchases to try to keep the guns out of the hands of the crazies, and mandatory reporting when firearms are stolen. And in my own opinion, I’d support mandatory firearms safety training prior to the first purchase of any particular class of firearm – even if it’s given by the NRA.

    I suspect that if you’d check, what I described above are STILL less restrictive than anywhere else among the First World nations. Problem is, y’all have been so…indoctrinated by the NRA and the gun industry who are getting rich off the paranoia they’ve fostered in you, that you probably cannot see the sense in what I’ve just told you.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    That’s a classic case of throwing one’s hands up and saying “the problem’s too big, so it wouldn’t do any good for us to try anyway!” What’s more, you’re adding the strawman of “the guv’mint’s a-gonna take all our guns” into it for good measure.

    Very, very few big problems ever got solved overnight by flipping a switch or passing a law. For one of this magnitude, it would take decades…but does that mean we shouldn’t even try? Take the Civil Rights Act – it took generations for America to get to the point to where the CRA was even politically possible, and even now we’ve still got a lot of racism in America. Does that mean, then that we should never have even tried to pass the CRA?

    Look at the big picture in the long view of history, friend. We’re NEVER going to make America safer by pumping ever more guns into the streets, and it will only get worse when those guns are unregulated and untracked and the buyers not held accountable for their guns.

    If we had gun regulations like those in most of the rest of the First World, our level of violence would NOT drop overnight or even in the first five years…but it would drop greatly in the generations to come.

    It sure would be nice to walk down the street feeling safe in any big city in America like it is right now in Vancouver, B.C., with a metropolitan population exceeding 2M people. Think about that, Clavos – a truly big city just across the border…and it’s a heck of a lot safer there than in any big city in America. They’ve got lots of minorities there, and lots of drugs too. So why is it safer in Vancouver B.C. than in, say, Seattle, or Dallas, or even the safest city in America – New York City?

  • Clavos Juarez Santana Zapata

    you’re adding the strawman of “the guv’mint’s a-gonna take all our guns” into it for good measure.

    I didn’t add squat; I postulated a hypothetical. However, I DO believe that any further steps taken towards gun control WILL ultimately (but not immediately) result in confiscation. I also doubt that even currently law abiding gun owners will give up ALL their guns; I won’t.

    If we had gun regulations like those in most of the rest of the First World, our level of violence would NOT drop overnight or even in the first five years…but it would drop greatly in the generations to come.

    Have drug laws even slowed the importation of drugs??? No. Much more drugs are on our streets than ever before.

    Vancouver, B.C…a truly big city just across the border…and it’s a heck of a lot safer there than in any big city in America.

    Did they start with 300 million weapons already on the streets? Again, no. Are there other factors that bear on that? Such concepts as fewer illegal aliens? A greater respect for the law and authority on the part of the Canadian populace vis-a-vis the american populace?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos –

    I didn’t add squat; I postulated a hypothetical. However, I DO believe that any further steps taken towards gun control WILL ultimately (but not immediately) result in confiscation. I also doubt that even currently law abiding gun owners will give up ALL their guns; I won’t.

    You’ve been paying way too much attention to the right wing blogs. YES, there are some liberals who want to take away your guns, but must of us do NOT. Confiscation hasn’t happened in the rest of the First-World democracies, and it wouldn’t happen here. Confiscation is a meme that the NRA and the gun manufacturers (and the far right) use to make money, and that’s all it is.

    Have drug laws even slowed the importation of drugs??? No. Much more drugs are on our streets than ever before.

    Apples and oranges, Clavos. One can’t get ticked off at the wife and go kill her and the kids with a joint or a hit of meth.

    Did they start with 300 million weapons already on the streets? Again, no. Are there other factors that bear on that? Such concepts as fewer illegal aliens? A greater respect for the law and authority on the part of the Canadian populace vis-a-vis the american populace?

    “300 million weapons already on the streets” – there you go throwing your hands up again, giving up before you even start trying. Fewer illegal aliens – FYI, they’ve got quite a few, but illegal aliens do NOT factor into the gun violence debate.

    And as for “a greater respect for the law and authority”…gee, which party is it that says they want government to be small enough to drown it in the bathtub? And then passes laws regulating what a woman can and can’t do with her uterus?

    You’re on the wrong side, friend. Your side has gone looney tunes.

  • Clavos Juarez Santana Zapata

    Apples and oranges, Clavos. One can’t get ticked off at the wife and go kill her and the kids with a joint or a hit of meth

    Totally irrelevant non sequitur which doesn’t even BEGIN to address the point I made…

    You’re on the wrong side, friend.

    Who are you to say which side is “wrong” and which is “right” in what is an opinion issue?

    I agree that, in your opinion, I’m on the “wrong” side, and deliberately so; I would not be able to live with myself if I were on your side in just about all the issues we discuss.

  • Igor

    In Florida, it seems to me, that if two drug dealers confront and each draws his weapon in fear of the other, bullets fly and both survive, but a nearby child is killed, nobody can be prosecuted. Each dealer is exculpated by the Stand Your Ground law.

  • Montana Libertarian

    Igor – #11

    You are seriously wrong. Try to read the law.

    As to guns, I believe people like Diane Feinstein and Charles Schumer along with others of their ilk, who are candid about wanting to take all guns out of the hands of citizens.

    If you want to address inner city violence, address gangs.

    One of my ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War. My family has born arms ever since. We have no intention of giving up that right, regardless of who wants us to do so.

    When you come for my guns, you’d better bring yours. You’ll be needing them.

  • Duncan

    Mr. Contrarian:
    You said “Why is it that gun violence is so bad in America’s inner cities, but is NOT NEARLY so bad in inner cities in other First World nations that have gun laws FAR stricter than here in America?

    I cannot comment on the reason why America has gun violence, because I have never seen a firearm discharge itself without the intervention of some other entity.
    Consider this: There is a minimum number of gross actions that must be taken to fire a weapon.
    1: The weapon must be obtained
    2: The ammunition must be obtained
    3: The weapon must be loaded
    4: The weapon must be brought to bear
    5: The trigger must be pulled.
    If we know that a firearm is an inanimate object, and an inanimate object cannot cause damage without the interference of an outside actor, and it takes at minimum five steps to fire one bullet (presuming a non-automatic weapon,) how can one conclude logically that it was the fault of the inanimate object?
    I will agree that not everyone is responsible enough to own a weapon and there are some, due to legal and or mental status that should never be allowed to own firearms, but where is the fault for a criminal act? Does it lie with the person that committed the criminal act or with the inanimate object?
    If someone kills a family while driving under the influence, do we blame the alcohol, the car or the person?
    But back to firearms.
    We have high degrees of criminal activity, to include homicide and rape because of socio-economic factors, and inadequate parenting skills by those who think that having babies is more important than having the means to raise them.
    The rate of violence lies squarely on the shoulders of those committing the violence.

  • Nanjing03

    Igor, the Stand Your Ground law would not protect two drug dealers who threw down on each other simply because that law clearly states that the shooter in question has to be in a lawful place and performing a lawful act. That is the question now with the Zimmerman/Martin case. Was Zimmerman lawfully where he was supposed to be and was he performing a lawful act. Those questions and other details have to be investigated and determined.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Duncan –

    The problem with that approach is that it means that there’s no reason for people not to have, say, claymore mines or hand grenades or .50-cal machine guns…because it’s not the claymore that arms itself – it’s the person. So if we follow your ‘logic’ out to its conclusion, there’s no reason for any American citizen to not have just about any weapon designed by the mind of man.

    Guns don’t fire themselves, true – but guns just make it a heck of a lot easier to kill people, as we can see almost every time a guy kills a cop, or kills his wife and kids, or kills innocent teenagers in a drive-by.

    If gun regulation is so terrible, Duncan, then I ask you the SAME questions I’ve been asking all the other conservatives (which has as yet gone unanswered): Why is it that, if guns are not what’s resulting in so much gun violence in America, the rest of the First-World nations are SO much safer than America? Why is it that the part of America where guns are least regulated – the South – is also the part of America that has the highest murder rate?

    WHY, Duncan? Or is your (false) interpretation of the Second Amendment more important than the 2000-3000 kids – kids! – who get killed every single year by guns?

  • R.A. Bullseye

    Owning a gun and the 2nd amendment isn’t about protection it’s about liberty. Protecting liberty. So let the nay sayers say what they want to say and let the ivy league lawyers do what they want to do but the truth is the truth and it will live longer than any lie.

  • Willbill

    Firearms rights have been expanded over last several years, and more citizens are now free to carry firearms in more places. Yet, homicides, including homicides with firearms, as well as all other violent crime have been decreasing since 2006. Moreover, after a dramatic increase in firearms sales and ownership after the last Presidential election including an increase in first time firearms purchases and an increase in firearms carry permits, gun ban groups and zealot predicted that there would be a corresponding increase in murders. However, the U.S. homicide rate decreased from 5.0 per 100,000 in 2009 to 4.8 per 100,000 in 2010.

    Preliminary data from 2011 shows Murder is down by 5.7%, Rape down 5.1%, Robbery down 7.7%, and Aggravated Assault down 5.9%

    Murder victims by weapon 2006-2010

    Crime per 100,000 inhabitants 1991-2010

    Crime, % change over time

    By contrast, the United Kingdom enacted extreme firearms bans years ago, and gun crime in the U.K. has doubled in a decade.

    It is no wonder that a Gallup Poll of October 26, 2011 found that 60% of those surveyed supported enforcing current gun laws more strictly and NOT pass any new laws while only 35% responded to enforce current gun laws more strictly and pass new gun control laws.

  • Willbill

    Glenn, The Brady Campaign views Vermont as the worst case scenario, and they give Vermont a score of 6 out of 100 for its firearms laws. Even though citizens in Vermont are free to carry firearms both openly or concealed without a permit, and despite the fact that they are free to carry their firearms in restaurants that serve alcohol and even while consuming alcohol, the homicide rate in Vermont was 1.3 per 100,000 in 2009 and 1.1 per 100,000 in 2010. Of the eight homicides that were committed in Vermont in 2009 none of them were committed using firearms, and of the seven homicides committed in 2010, only two were committed with firearms.

    US crime by region 2008-09

    Murder by weapon type 2008-09

    US crime by region 2010

    Murder by weapon type 2010

    It has also been found that there is no correlation between firearms ownership and homicide and suicide rates, and many of the countries with the strictest firearms prohibitions have higher homicide and suicide rates than nations without such restrictions.

  • littlemike

    This blog is ridiculous. Chicago? it is completely illegal to even carry a handgun there (along with the rest of Illinois), and Chicago has some of the most repressive of gun laws in the country, one of which was so harsh it had to be stricken down by the US Supreme Court! Which of course means, according to the logic of the gun control crowd, that violent crime does not exist in Chicago. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country, the “outdated and unrealistic” laws laws that our founding fathers would agree with are keeping people alive.

    Face the facts! Gun control is NOT about guns, it is about control.

  • http://kyleascott.wordpress.com Kyle Scott

    Mr. Lake makes a good point, but until McDonald v City of Chicago (2010) in which SCOTUS struck down Chicago’s effective ban on handguns (sorry littlemike but it is now legal to have a handgun in Chicago according to SCOTUS), Chicago had some of the strictest gun laws in the nation. Good argument, just need a better case study for empirical support.

    Mr. Lake makes a reasonable argument. Unfortunately statistics won’t resolve the debate. I think (hope) both sides can agree that guns are at least part of the problem and sensible gun laws can be beneficial. The real difficulty is in deciding what is a sensible law.

  • John Lake

    When Daley was mayor he fought hard to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. The Supreme Court passed some allowances; Daley was able to interpret/modify the law so that the weapons had to remain in the house. Not the street, not the porch.. in the house.

  • Montana Libertarian

    John Lake:

    Citing ANY Chicago pol, much less Richard Daley the Second, in a discussion on human rights is simply absurd.

    Chicago is possible the most corrupt place in American, depending on how you rate New Orleans.

  • http://kyleascott.wordpress.com Kyle Scott

    Mr. Lake, thank you for the clarification. But I still think that Chicago, because it has strict gun laws, isn’t the best example to cite to argue that gun laws are the answer.

  • Gina Collins

    Switzerland has mandatory gun ownership for every citizen – you must own an automatic weapon if you own a place of residence. Their violent crime? Near zero… Kennesaw Georgia has mandatory gun ownership…violent crime is miles below the national average. Directly after disarming the German people, the Holocaust began… Crime in Australia jumped 400 percent right after the citizenry was disarmed… Bad guys don’t use registered guns…they don’t disarm. Decent people will be at the mercy of thugs with no way to defend themselves.
    Without the right to bear arms, there is no way to ensure that any other rights are protected. I don’t trust our corrupt govt to protect me…do you?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    R. A. Bullseye –

    Owning a gun and the 2nd amendment isn’t about protection it’s about liberty. Protecting liberty. So let the nay sayers say what they want to say and let the ivy league lawyers do what they want to do but the truth is the truth and it will live longer than any lie.

    Problem is, one can’t enjoy liberty if one isn’t ALIVE to enjoy it. We have 2000-3000 KIDS die from gun violence every year just so YOU can ‘enjoy’ your “liberty”. One wonders what your view on “pro-life” is….

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Willbill –

    You are SO full of the “correlation/causation” fallacy! For instance, if more ‘freedom’ to carry guns was somehow resulting in less violence, then the states that have more restrictive laws should have shown little or no drop at all, while the states with the lest restrictive should have shown larger drops and hardly any rise at all…but that’s not what the statistics show. The following is from a discussion I had with Clavos, probably this blog’s strongest conservative, in comments 5 and 6 in this article:

    Clavos –

    Yes, according to your reference, the Northeast rate of murder SKYROCKETED to 4.2 murders per 100,000 people, whereas murder rate in the South (which has the most states with the stand-your-ground law) PLUMMETED to 5.6 murders per 100,000 people!

    Never mind that the oh-so-dangerous-to-walk-down=the-street Northeast is 25% less murderous than the South.

    Aggravated Assault:
    Northeast: 209.1 per 100,000
    South: 296.1 per 100,000
    Northeast is 22.3% safer

    Forcible Rape:
    Northeast: 19.4 per 100,000
    South: 27.9 per 100,000
    Northeast is 30.5% safer

    And the really funny thing is, robbery’s more prevalent in the Northeast – 124.4 per 100,000 as compared to the South’s 122.4 per 100,000…which is a difference of about 1.61 percent. Big Whoop. I guess the Yankees (unlike the Southerners) don’t want to kill you – they just want your money. One wonders what the rate would have been if they’d included what Wall Street’s been doing….

    Furthermore, there were many states that did NOT have ‘stand-your-ground’ laws where the crime rate dropped quite a bit, too – like California (which has a lower murder rate than Florida), where the murder rate dropped NINE percent in the same time frame…whereas stand-your-ground state Utah’s murder rate jumped THIRTY-SIX POINT NINE percent. Oh, and New Mexico (a NON-STG state) saw it’s murder rate drop THIRTY percent.

    Clavos, what you did is to take ONE year’s worth of statistics…but ‘stand your ground’ laws are not a new thing. You should have looked at long-term results to bolster your claim (instead of using just one year’s worth of data), and thus allowed yourself to fall into the ‘correlation/causation’ fallacy (which you taught me about, remember) – but the example of California and Utah shows the danger of putting so much stock in pro-gun rhetoric.

    ===============

    So…Willbill – if unregulated guns for everyone were the solution, the most peaceful place on earth right now would be Somalia, followed closely by the cities along the northern border of Mexico. Why don’t you go check these places out sometime?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    littlemike –

    This blog is ridiculous. Chicago? it is completely illegal to even carry a handgun there (along with the rest of Illinois), and Chicago has some of the most repressive of gun laws in the country, one of which was so harsh it had to be stricken down by the US Supreme Court! Which of course means, according to the logic of the gun control crowd, that violent crime does not exist in Chicago. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the country, the “outdated and unrealistic” laws laws that our founding fathers would agree with are keeping people alive.

    Face the facts! Gun control is NOT about guns, it is about control.

    So…care to tell us exactly why, then, that the states where the gun laws are the LEAST restrictive – the bleeding-red Southern States (where I grew up) – are the ones with the highest murder rates in the nation?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Gina Collins –

    Switzerland has mandatory gun ownership for every citizen – you must own an automatic weapon if you own a place of residence. Their violent crime? Near zero… Kennesaw Georgia has mandatory gun ownership…violent crime is miles below the national average. Directly after disarming the German people, the Holocaust began… Crime in Australia jumped 400 percent right after the citizenry was disarmed… Bad guys don’t use registered guns…they don’t disarm. Decent people will be at the mercy of thugs with no way to defend themselves.
    Without the right to bear arms, there is no way to ensure that any other rights are protected. I don’t trust our corrupt govt to protect me…do you?

    What a WONDERFUL example of outright falsehoods. Tell you what, ‘Gina’ – post that again, AND INCLUDE GOOD REFERENCES. No hard-left or hard-right blogs, but from sources that have a good reputation of being truthful. I might even accept Fox News, as much as they mislead people like yourself. Or the Wall Street Journal. Even the Drudge Report or redstate.com, depending on whether they give references for their claims.

    But when you come on this blog making wild claims – “Crime in Australia jumped 400%” is but one of them – without providing a reference, you will be told to provide a good reference…and if you fail to do so, then you will be ignored.

  • STM

    Gina, the Swiss experience you cite is not accurate. In fact, it’s not even close.

    Gun ownership is not mandatory, but male members of the militia – which is effectively the Swiss army – are required to keep their weapons locked up in the house in case of mobilisation. Ammunition stored with it is packed and sealed and has to be regularly inspected. New laws forbid military ammunition from being kept in the home unless it is for members of special forces-type units. The army maintains very tight military discipline when it comes to firearms security and use of such weapons. Militia can be charged for breaking military regulations, and are.

    Rec shooting is popular in Switzerland and gun ownership is quite high. Ammunition can be bought for military issue assault rifles (which are by law turned into semi-autos when militia finish their term of service and elect to keep their weapon) – but this ammunition is only available at rifle ranges and must be used on range only. Anything not used on the day must be returned.

    The Schengen Treaty, however, requires very strict controls on gun ownership, purchase of ammunition, serial number registrations, etc. For instance, you can only own one firearm. You also need to have a police background check (for, say, psychiatric illness) and a criminal record check (criminal record = no firearm) and to obtain a firearms permit.

    Carrying concealed firearms in public requires a permit, and these are usually granted only to people who use firearms in the course of their work. Transport rules are strict too: Soldiers will carry them from home to barracks but the strict rules apply, including separation of the firearm and ammunition – ie, no loaded rifles or sidearms in public.

    No non-military weapons can be automtic. They have to purchased as singel-shot or semi-auto or converted (at a government-approved facility) after military service.

    So yes, there IS a high rate of gun ownership, but no, it’s NOT mandatory, but unlike the US, it’s not unfettered and the controls and laws surrounding ownership and use are federal laws, rather than state or local.

    There is no doubt that in the US, there is a nexus between the proliferation of illegal firearms and the availability and proliferation of legal ones. Part of the problem is that different states have different laws.

    Also, Switzerland has a much higher standard of living overall than the US. The Swiss tend to be better educated, too.

    The gap between high and low on the socio-economic scale is far smaller than it is in the US. Switzerland really doesn’t have the same level of working poor or the spin-off from that, a desperate criminal underclass. Drug issues tend to be dealt with through the health system (which unlike the US requires basic payment by citizens of health insurance with strict and tight government controls and regulations and is provided universally alongside free hospital accommodation etc, and is of very high quality – even those on welfare in Switzerland get a very level of care) rather than through the criminal justice system.

    These are key factors, as most gun crime in the US is committed by those locked into cycles of crime, poverty, unemployment and lack of social opportunity.

    You tend not to get that in Switzerland, as more people are happier with their lot in life, more often. Anyone falling through the gaps is given help. The bizarre thing about gun conservatives citing Switzerland as an example is that compared to anything anyone in the US might understand, it’s a socialist country.

    Mass shootings, however, are different. They don’t tend to occur as a result of crime but tend to be committed by disturbed people who have legally obtained their firearms.

    There was a case in 2000 in Switzerland in which 14 people were shot dead in a single mass shooting. That is one of the reasons why the controls on holding of ammunition now apply.

    A better comparison might be Australia, which has not banned guns but has enacted very strict state and federal controls … one firearm per owner, police background checks, no handguns except for work purposes or club shooting, no semi-autos except for those needing them in rural areas, etc.

    The ban came into force in about 1998, after Martin Bryant killed 35 people at Port Arthur, Tasmania, using two assault rifles.

    Yes, criminals have guns in Australia, but they tend to shoot each other. Since the controls were brought in, apart from some double or domestic homicides, there have been no mass shootings.

    That is a telling factor and IMO, evidence that gun controls intended to end the proliferation of mass shootings – and they had previously happened all the time in Australia – actually do work.

    Unless you’re sniping away at people, by the time you walk into a restaurant, say, and shoot one person with a bolt-action rifle, chances are unless you’re pretty highly trained, you won’t get too many more off before someone grabs you.

    That is the difference.

    Overall, I would say given the extremely tight controls placed on firearms ownership in Switzerland, it actually supports the argument for sensible gun controls in the US, rather than – pardon the pun – shoots them down.

    The truth is, the US has the highest rate of gun crime in the developed world. No other first-world country even comes close. It’s laughable really that people can’t see the nexus between this and the mostly unfettered availability legal guns in the US – especially when the stats will show that gun crime is mostly committed by those who’ve grown up or live in poverty-stricken poor minority areas where crime generally is the only way to make a dollar.

    Mass shootings

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And for all you gun nuts –

    America has the LEAST RESTRICTIVE gun laws of all First World nations. The gun laws of Switzerland and Israel are much more restrictive and include mandatory registration of ALL firearms and background checks of ALL purchasers.

    So if unregulated gun ownership makes the people of a nation safer, then please show me – with GOOD references – exactly why it is that among First World nations, America is the LEAST safe, with the MOST violence. You can’t blame illegal immigrants – Italy and Spain have lots and lots of them (mostly African and/or Muslim). You can’t say it’s the inner cities, because THEIR inner cities are much safer than our own…AND the most dangerous states to live in America are the ones that comprise the Deep South…which just so happen to be the ones where gun ownership is least regulated and most encouraged.

    C’mon, y’all – use yer noggins! I’m just a stoopid ol’ lib’rul who don’t know nuthin’ ’bout nuthin’! Here’s a clue – I was ONE of you once…but I learned to question not just the Democrats and liberals that I really didn’t like, but also my fellow Republicans…

    …and when I saw the answers, I realized I was on the wrong side. Dubya spent eight years proving just how wrong y’all are, and many, many people had to die for his stupidity.

  • STM

    That last line should have read: “Mass shootings and gun crime generally are two different things and need separate approaches. One of these should be tighter controls.

    That’s how the Swiss have done it.

    And, Gina, I live in Australia; crime hasn’t risen 400 per cent since the controls on firearms. Socially, the place is very similar to Switzerland in terms of high living standards, smaller gap between rich and poor, universal health care, etc.

    The crime rate in Australia is way lower than it is in the US.

    I feel one of my rights is the right to catch a bus to work or go to a tourist venue or restaurant without some idiot walking in and taking potshots at me.

    Many Aussies felt the same way, which is why we voted to end unfettered access to firearms in this country.

    I’d say the approaches of Switzerland and Australia might indicate there are other ways of dealing with this – but in the case of the US, I wouldn’t be holding my breath hoping for understanding by 2nd amendment fundamentalists.

  • http://newtrajectory.blogspot.com Baldr Odinson

    I agree completely. As a writer at the Kid Shootings blog, I see hundreds of reports of kid shootings every month. The NRA has vehemently opposed any and all legislative attempts to keep guns out of the hands of those who would abuse them, such as with Child Access Protection laws, which would mandate safe storage of guns around children, or mandatory background checks for all gun purchases (nearly all private sales in the US do not require a background check, ID, or paperwork). When will our legislators recognize the NRA for what it is: a pro-criminal extremist group which wants guns in more hands in more places, no matter what the consequences?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Stan –

    I feel one of my rights is the right to catch a bus to work or go to a tourist venue or restaurant without some idiot walking in and taking potshots at me.

    Many Aussies felt the same way, which is why we voted to end unfettered access to firearms in this country.

    Beautifully said!

  • Igor

    #16 – R.A. Bullseye is wrong when he says: “Owning a gun and the 2nd amendment isn’t about protection it’s about liberty.”

    The second amendment is about maintaining a militia, presumably to resist marauding indians or Brits, etc.

    Homeowners guns have proven a weak defense against loss of liberty since the worst incursion on American liberty was passed right under our noses, “The Patriot Act”, with not even a peep from the gunnery folk. And even more liberty depriving acts have occured, such as the Joint Terrorism Task Force, and various new snoop-and-grab banking laws that only effectively harm small ordinary citizens and still allow Big Crooks to do as they please.

    Not a peep from the NRAabout any of those severe incursions on our liberties.

  • John Lake

    Baldr Odinson makes a point that he views the NRA as being vehemently opposed to any and all legislative attempts to keep guns out of the hands of those who would abuse them. I notice that none of the commenters here have made mention of my view that politicians make little effort to hide their kowtowing to the NRA which provided the legislators with millions.

  • Montana Libertarian

    I’d just like to make the point that trying to compare the US to the rest of the industrialized world is an extremely foolish endeavor.

    Every industrialized country has its own history and probably more importantly its own culture. Trying to factor those influences out of the picture is literally impossible, so let’s not keep flogging that horse: it’s been dead for a long time.

  • Clavos Juarez Santana Zapata

    Every industrialized country has its own history and probably more importantly its own culture. Trying to factor those influences out of the picture is literally impossible, so let’s not keep flogging that horse: it’s been dead for a long time.

    Quoted For Truth

  • Willbill

    Glenn, the point that you choose to ignore is citizen disarmament zealots and groups that an increase in firearms ownership and rights lead to an increase in gun crime, murder, and violent crime. The fact is the firearms ownership rights and ownership has been increasing and all violent crime has been decreasing since 2006.

    By contrast, gun crime has doubled in the U.K. in the past decade despite their extreme firearms bans. Russia has a total ban on the civilian ownership of handguns and strict controls on rifles. Yet, the murder rate for Russia is three times that of the U.S.

    Furthermore, citizens disarmament groups focus on a few southern States to argue that weak firearms laws lead to more violence, but they ignore states like Vermont that have strong firearms rights but low violent crime. The Brady Campaign views Vermont as the worst case scenario, and they give Vermont a score of 6 out of 100 for its firearms laws. Even though citizens in Vermont are free to carry firearms both openly or concealed without a permit, and despite the fact that they are free to carry their firearms in restaurants that serve alcohol and even while consuming alcohol, the homicide rate in Vermont was 1.3 per 100,000 in 2009 and 1.1 per 100,000 in 2010. Of the eight homicides that were committed in Vermont in 2009 none of them were committed using firearms, and of the seven homicides committed in 2010, only two were committed with firearms.

    [see Willbill’s comment 18 for supporting citations – comments editor]

    More guns does not equal more crime.

    Yes, Switzerland is an example. They do have easier access to weapons than in many U.S. States and municipalities not including military weapons and ammunition kept in their homes, and there murder rate is among the lowest in the world.

  • STM

    MontanaLiberaltarian: “I’d just like to make the point that trying to compare the US to the rest of the industrialized world is an extremely foolish endeavor”.

    Well, yes, and no no. It’s obvious to everyone what’s going on in the US in regard to firearms and the high rate of gun crime, but its history and culture has brought it to that point, so there’s mot much chance now of it being undone.

    That was never the point. The point was, Gina was making absurd claims about Switzerland – which is a social democracy with universal healthcare, very high standard of living overall and a low rate of crime generally – and using that as an example, I assume, of American gun ownership being a gopod thing if only the dang crime would down.

    Like I say, the Swiss have far tigher controls – enacted as a single standard federally – than does the US generally.

    It’s like comparing apples and oranges.

    The claim about Australia’s crime rate is pure nonsense, has nothing to do with the introduction of gun CONTROLS (not bans) and any climb in the crime rate in some cities is down to one thing: drugs and gangs of particular ethnic groups.

    Same as the UK; in London, black on black gun crime is the main issue there and is related to inner-city gangs and drugs in large public housing areas. In other cities in the UK, it’s a similar story but different ethnic groups – including whites.

    In both countries, the crime rate generally and the rate of homicide in particular, is far, far lower than it is in the US.

    If other commentators not armed with the facts want to hold up other nations as examples, expect us to set you straight.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Clavos #37 –

    Your ‘qft’ is yet another example of you throwing your hands up in the air thinking that we shouldn’t try to make things better. That’s why you’re a conservative…because like most other conservatives, you’re afraid – repeat, afraid – of change, of our nation taking a walk down a path we’ve never trod before.

    Conservatives hate change (unless it’s back to those (imaginary) good old days). Liberals embrace change. Thing is, the world’s changing whether you like it or not. Your choice is simple: either ride the wave with a big smile on your face, or start doggie-paddling as if your life depended on it.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    STM –

    You’re wasting your time educating these people about places beyond America’s borders – see #36 and #37. They think that the experiences of other nations are of no consequence in America…as if people there somehow aren’t as human as Americans. Oh, they’ll deny that, of course, but when the rubber hits the road, “they” (meaning non-Americans) are of no concern to the conservatives. Unless it’s Israel.

  • http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/IanMayfield Dr Dreadful

    Just a couple of points:

    Firstly, even if gun crime has doubled in the UK as Willbill says, the numbers are still so low that the effect of a gun ban is somewhat illusory.

    As an analogy, let’s say you have a small town (population ~50,000) in which one person was shot to death in the whole of 2010. Then in the whole of 2011 there’s also one homicide involving a firearm: only this time, the shooter kills two people, rather than just one. The gun homicide rate in that town has doubled. But it’s still insignificantly low. In 2010, 49,999 people did not get shot to death. In 2011, 49,998 people managed to avoid that fate.

    It’s an extreme hypothetical, yes, but the point is that gun deaths in that town are so extremely rare that to infer anything from the change in death rates from 2010 to 2011 is, statistically speaking, useless.

    Secondly, I believe the gun homicide rate in Switzerland is significantly higher than that of any other first world country except the US. (Although it’s still orders of magnitude smaller than America’s.) The inference should be obvious: the more guns there are lying around, the more crimes are going to be committed using those guns.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    The notion that gun ownership is responsible for reducing crime is understandably a popular one with those that promote gun ownership but is actually incorrect.

    Crime rates across the board are actually reducing in most countries and the prime driver of this appears to be rising affluence.

    The USA is, as is often the case, an unusual instance and one of the main elements driving the prevalence of illegal weapons are the ridiculous and excessively harsh drug laws and the aggressive, quasi military tactics that are used to police them, which is driving an arms race.

  • Cannonshop

    Gun control is NOT the issue. Let me repeat that, Gun Control is NOT the issue.

    The issue is Gun CRIME. Much of which could probably be solved better, by means of correcting the downward spiral in this country economically. Simply put, people with something to lose, tend not to turn criminal. Jobs, folks, Jobs and Education will fix a million more things than ANY gun-focused fetishistic laws will.

    Per-Capita crime rates drop when people are working, as opposed to drawing dole benefits or starving. A strong industrial economy feeds a strong service economy-but a weak industrial economy (as ours is increasingly becoming) leeches off the service side-you can’t have one without the other over the long term, because service jobs inevitably will flee the nation as fast or faster than industrial jobs, leaving poverty and resultant criminal growth in its wake.

    Your example isn’t texas, and it isn’t Vermont, and it’s not Switzerland…or Australia.

    It’s DETROIT. Urban wastes and criminal killings are what you GET when the work goes away, and no amount of well-meaning and water-headed legal paper is going to stop the violence and crime that comes with a destroyed local economy, or a wrecked national economy.

    We’re rapidly running out of room to enjoy the standard of living that overspending prior generations bought on credit with the assumption that the work would still be there. There is coming a time when things like “Environmental issues” are going to backseat to the simple fact that you can only hide the unemployment numbers for so long, and that the refusal to face what we’ve gone and done to ourselves in a timely manner isn’t going to make that particular revelation any less painful.

    Gun Control does not even treat the SYMPTOM, it’s a placebo, it doesn’t WORK. It DOES cost, but you get nothing out of it.

    It’s a sugar pill when you need trauma surgery.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Cannonshop, whilst not disagreeing with your point that deprivation is a prime driver of crime, neither the USA nor the wider world is on a downward economic spiral, at least in anything other than the shortest term view.

    Along with many other nations, the USA is undergoing economic changes but this isn’t a downward spiral at all.

    Change is always a disruptive force by definition but, just as a forest fire clears the way for new growth, so too will these contemporary forces.

    Gun control is probably important but nowhere near as important as getting the USA back onto a more positive path and removing and/or rebalancing such massively destructive and unrealisable efforts as the war on drugs, the excessive concern with the war on terror and the totally out of proportion spending on the military, the far too numerous security and police forces and the legal and prison systems would go a long way to help what is still one of the biggest producer economies in the world.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Cannonshop –

    Gun control is NOT the issue. Let me repeat that, Gun Control is NOT the issue.

    The issue is Gun CRIME.

    Which is enabled by gun POSSESSION, whether legal or otherwise. You point at Detroit – which is wracked by poverty – as a hotbed of gun crime…and I point at the entire rural South, which is ALSO wracked by gun crime at the highest rate of ALL America’s regions.

    And you know what? Though poverty is certainly a factor, it’s NOT the biggest one. How do I know this? Because it’s safer for me and my son to walk down the street in Manila than it is to walk down the street in Mississippi. The reported homicide rate in Manila is (if one extrapolates the monthly rate reported here) 2.8 per 100,000. Now most crimes in Manila go unreported, but I feel quite safe in saying that while most property crimes and assaults (and rapes) go unreported, most homicides are certainly reported.

    Now think about that, Cannonshop – why is it that in a megalopolis of 12M people (where most people live in a degree of poverty hardly ever seen in modern America), the murder rate is one-third of what the murder rate is in Alabama (and far less than our own poverty-ridden inner cities)? Guns are available there, but not only is there full gun registration, but most people there simply can’t afford guns, and guns simply can’t be brought over the border to be sold on the black market like elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, you can’t say it’s because the people trust the government – if anything, they’ve FAR less trust in their government than the Tea Party has in ours!

    So while poverty’s a factor, it’s NOT the biggest factor. The degree of unregulated gun possession IS the biggest factor in gun violence.

  • STM

    Cannon: “The issue is Gun CRIME. Much of which could probably be solved better, by means of correcting the downward spiral in this country economically. Simply put, people with something to lose, tend not to turn criminal. Jobs, folks, Jobs and Education”

    Bingo, Cannon. Too many guns don’t help when you have the opposite but that is undoubtedly the root of the problem. But where do you from here?

  • STM

    Glenn, I must say I got a bit windy in Manila – every place I went into had a sign out the front asking for firearms to be left at the front door. I’ve even got a picture somewhere!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Stan –

    There’s quite a few gun stores there – but when you go inside, you see that the normal Filipino can’t afford those guns.

    And in every gun shop there’s lots of really cool-looking submachine guns and machine pistols and assault rifles. Upon closer inspection, one finds out that they’re all Air-Soft guns. I was so bummed!

    And on a side note, right next door to a gun shop in one mall was an office-supply store…and right there in the window was a typewriter – a brand-new typewriter (Olivetti, I think) – on sale for about $100 U.S. And to this day I’m wondering just where the heck the factory is that’s still pumping out typewriters!

  • Glenn Contrarian

    And Stan –

    I think the gun problem in the Philippines would be FAR worse if it weren’t a rather remote archipelago. As it is, the only real routes to smuggle guns there are by way of Indonesia – which isn’t as easy as most Americans think – or by ship.

  • John Lake

    Prime drivers of crime. We have deprivation. Do we mean hunger for ourselves and our children, or do we mean hunger for drugs, street status, power and fame?
    If a young man has a gun, will he be content to own it … or will he be driven by a need to fire the new toy, to utilize the weapon?
    That need to use the damned thing might even apply to home owners. Remember, home, apartment, and condo owners in impoverished areas are near the street or on it.
    A thought I hesitate to express; while most drugs propel crime, we might see an exception in the case of marijuana. Prior the colorful sixties, gangs with knives and guns fought in the streets over turf. With the coming of the magical era of Beatles and Stones, the gangs were gone, the violence was ended. People embraced peace, music, thoughtfulness, introspection…
    Mary Jane is far less harmful that liquor. A gangster on pot is less likely to kill in the streets, than to spend time grooving, saying, “Wow, dude, … check it out!”
    Just a thought.

  • Freedom

    The real issue is blacks and Mexicans, which is why the south has a higher murder rate…the south also has a higher black and Mexican population. Same with Detroit…but that isn’t the ultra politically correct answer Glen wants…

    In all the murders involving guns, what percentage are white, Glen??

    [Personal attack deleted by Comments Editor]

  • Glenn Contrarian

    “Freedom” –

    Seeing as how a racist like you probably never served a day in our armed forces (I served twenty years), I guess it’s to be expected that you’re so quick to assume that you even know what freedom is.

    Now why don’t you do something completely different, and do some actual RESEARCH…because if your racist rant was as right as you seem to think, then I’d be hailing from the most dangerous place in America – Sunflower County, Mississippi, which is 71% black (which I believe makes it the highest percentage-black county in America).

    But it’s not.

    Furthermore, if you were right, then America’s homicide rate should be SKYROCKETING since we’ve got a higher percentage of blacks and Hispanics than ever before, even to the point that whites will make up less than half the nation by 2030.

    But America’s homicide rate isn’t skyrocketing – it’s PLUMMETING.

    So does that mean that more blacks and Hispanics mean less crime? Of course not. It just means that you haven’t a clue when it comes to what really affects a nation’s crime rate. Go get yourself edjimicated and then come back and talk to us and maybe you won’t embarrass yourself the next time.

  • John Lake

    There are violent white gangs in cities controlling drug “turf.”
    The key is to educate the entire population from early childhood. Keep them in school, and in after school monitored options.
    We caused the high level of black violence by our discrimination in years past.

  • Y’all

    How come my comment in reply to the alleged “Freedom” and, I thought, dripping in delicious irony, was removed by the editors here. Doc, didn’t you realise???? Maybe one can inadvertebtly be too ironic and such a failing doesn’t go unpunished on BC. I must learn to do better instead of staring out the window constantly. Oh, woe is me.

  • http://www.RosesSpanishBoots.com Christopher Rose

    Afraid that was me, Stan. It looked pretty ugly so clearly any irony didn’t come across, plus with you not using your regular name…

    Try again if you like!

  • Ethical Wells

    Simple solution to curb gun violence in urban communities, no research or surveys conducted just a thought. The federal government regulates a lot of shit right and violence is a huge business and if anyone disagrees well, don’t waste your breath talking to them anymore. I think the federal government should establish a social regulation bill on urban violence i.e., inner-city areas with extreme death rates caused by gun violence. The federal government regulates greenhouse gas emissions to improve the environment thus, to slow down global warming and to better human life. Why not regulate urban violence by imposing a gun-violence ordinance that would tax the city each time someone is killed due to gun violence. Gun-violence tax is a tax imposed on the citizens who live or work in urban communities, to decrease the death rate from firearms in order to improve society.

  • John Lake

    Fine the city for not being able to prevent individual actions of gun violence.
    The money would go to the Federal Government, but there wouldn’t be a whole lot of cash involved.
    But the implication is that the cities aren’t doing all they can to prevent the violence. Might work.

  • Bill

    Mr. Glenn,

    I’m not sure the last time you walked the streets of Manila, you may feel safe in the Fort but the rest of the city is becoming a shooting range. Daylight assassinations for minor luxury items are on the rise.

    Poverty is clearly the issue.

  • rsmith

    Why call us gun nuts? We prefer pro Rights

  • John Lake

    In cities, men, women and children are dying daily owing to (your phrase) “pro Rights.”