I am often corralled by my European friends to explain why there is so much “gun violence” in the U.S. and why we don’t do something about it. Frankly, I don’t have a good answer other than to cite our Constitutional “right” to bear arms. In any event, our brain-dead politicians have sadly shaped the political debate largely along party lines – or NRA lobbyist lines – which hardly seems the logical way to get any meaningful reform.
Found below is “The Big Picture” on gun violence in the United States as reported by NBC.
The Big Picture:
- Every year in the U.S., an average of more than 100,000 people are shot, according to The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence.
- Every day in the U.S., an average of 289 people are shot. Eighty-six of them die: 30 are murdered, 53 kill themselves, two die accidentally, and one is shot in a police intervention, the Brady Campaign reports.
- One person is killed by a firearm every 17 minutes, 87 people are killed during an average day, and 609 are killed every week. (source: CDC)
Homicides by weapon:
- Handguns comprised 72.5 percent of the firearms used in murder and non-negligent manslaughter incidents in 2011; 4.1 percent were with shotguns; 3.8 percent were with rifles; 18.5 percent were with unspecified firearms.
- 13.3 percent of homicides were done with knives or other cutting instruments.
- 5.8 percent of homicides were from the use of hands, fists, feet, etc. (source: FBI)
Guns and kids:
- 82 children under five years old died from firearms in 2010 compared with 58 law enforcement officers killed by firearms in the line of duty (sources: CDF, CDC, FBI)
- More kids ages 0-19 died from firearms every three days in 2010 than died in the 2012 Newtown, Conn., massacre (source:CDF, CDC)
- Nearly three times more kids (15,576) were injured by firearms in 2010 than the number of U.S. soldiers (5,247) wounded in action that year in the war in Afghanistan (source:CDF, CDC, Department of Defense)
- Half of all juveniles murdered in 2010 were killed with a firearm (source: Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention)
Now if these figures are correct a couple of startling “facts” emerge:
- Handguns (not rifles or automatic weapons) account for the vast majority of murders and non-negligent manslaughter;
- Some 60% of gun-related deaths are suicides.
Are government leaders shirking their responsibilities by focusing instead on high-capacity magazines and assault weapons rather than the proliferation of handguns and weapons in the hands of those prone to suicide? Sadly, it appears to me that our elected leaders have simply politicized a most serious social problem by raising self-serving political theatrics that have very little to do with the Big Picture Facts of gun violence in the United States.
With a debate framed largely along party lines and abetted by influential lobbyists, this sad situation will continue to baffle both me and my European friends. When dollars replace common sense as the carrot which motivates our political leaders, can chaos be far behind?