By Sam Madden
(Revised Oct. 27, 2017)
In the United States we have more people die from guns in two years than all the soldiers that died in the Vietnam war. Is this really acceptable for an advanced civilized nation such as ours?
There are many people in this country and the NRA who want us to believe that nothing can be done to bring down this gun violence in our country which eclipses any other advanced civilized country anywhere from 300% to over 5,000% on a comparable basis.
The following is just a small sample of gun death rates by country, (per every 100,000 residents). There is no western nation or advanced civilized nation that even comes close to the U.S. Switzerland is the closest.
Denmark – 1.6
France – 2.8
Germany – 1.1
Switzerland – 3.0*
Canada – 2.3
Spain – 0.6
United States – 10.2
*Switzerland has the right to bear arms by law. But their gun laws differ from the United States in significant ways.
This begs the question: Are Americans just a more violent society of people or is there a problem with our gun laws?
There are many who want us to believe that criminals don’t follow laws so any law will not work. Then I ask the question: “If laws will not work why the discrepancies above?”
The fact is criminals will only break laws when they think they can get away with it. They do not want to go back to prison. So the more lax a law is, the greater chance is that, yes they will break it.
Milwaukee Chief of Police Edward Flynn pointed out one major loophole which allows criminals to legally carry weapons and even to have a concealed handgun permit.
A person with a felony on their record of course is barred from having a firearm. But according to Chief Flynn what happens is that a person is charged with a felony but they plead down to a misdemeanor to avoid a court trial and thus qualify to have a concealed handgun permit since no felony conviction is on their record.
Another fallacy that the that gun control opponents like to point out is that Chicago or other places with strict gun laws proves that stricter gun laws don’t work.
Here is the problem with that argument. I will use the following example as an analogy.
When I was growing up in Milwaukee, WI the drinking age was 18, but in Illinois the drinking age was 21. Did the drinking age of 21 in Illinois keep 18,19, and 20 year old residents from driving to Wisconsin to buy and/or consume alcohol?
Of course not. Having turned 18 in 1978 I remember it was a major problem with these Illinois kids driving back from Wisconsin drunk and/or with alcohol in their cars.
So when a city or state passes a gun law but then you can just drive to the next city or state which has loose gun laws, city councils and state legislatures are just spinning their wheels.
Only a national answer regarding gun control will work, not municipalities or even states having their own laws regarding the gun violence crises we face in this nation.
Finally many like to ask the question: “What specific law would have prevented this tragedy?” This is the question that is asked whenever a a tragedy such as that in Las Vegas happens.
Sometimes there isn’t a specific law that could have been implemented for a specific tragedy, but what we do know is that we can bring down gun violence in this country if only we would stop making the excuse that nothing can be done.
As far as the Las Vegas incident? Yes I can point to a specific law that would have had a high probability of preventing this incident. Anyone accumulating a large amount of weapons and ammunition is immediately subject to a psychological evaluation and additional screening on the purpose of the mass accumulation. If it’s because someone has an underground bunker because they believe the world is coming to an end or preparing for a major climate event, they pass. Someone like Stephen Paddock knowing what we know now would have never passed and his weapons would have been confiscated and his buying stopped.
Sam Madden is a Board Member at the Center For Pluralism. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org