Aaron Alexis carried out the mass murder of 13 people at the Navy Yard with an AR-15 assault rifle and a shotgun. AR-15 Bushmasters are semi-automatic weapons that can fire many rounds per minute and can be bought at retail stores such as Walmart or at gun shows in southern states from private individuals without a background check. In the Clinton era, semi-automatic weapons were restricted for about a decade but all restricts have now been lifted.
Alexis’ act is not being considered ‘terrorism,’ though it is hard to see how it materially differs from the shootings at Ft. Hood. Both shooters were clearly mentally disturbed and loners.
The United States continues to be peculiar in handing out powerful magazine-fed firearms to almost anyone who wants one and not requiring background checks on private purchases even if these are made at gun shows. 80% of civilian-owned firearms world-wide are in the US, and only Yemen vaguely competes with us for rates of firearm ownership; Yemen is a violent mess with Shiite insurgencies, al-Qaeda taking over cities from time to time, tribal feuding, southern separatism and US drone strikes. And even it has fewer guns per person than the USA.
It has gotten to the point where the increasing epidemic of mass shootings now threatens the US military, the most powerful military in the world.
The US is downright weird compared to civilized Western Europe or Australia (which enacted gun control after a mass shooting in 1996 and there have been no further such incidents).
Number of Murders, United States, 2011: 14,612
Number of Murders by Firearms, US, 2011: 8,583
Number of Murders, Britain, 2011-2012*: 640
(Since Britain’s population is 1/5 that of US, this is equivalent to 3200 US murders)
Number of Murders by firearms, Britain, 2012*: 44
(equivalent to 220 US murders)
For more on murder by firearms in Britain, see the BBC.
The international comparisons show conclusively that fewer gun owners among civilians per capita produce not only fewer murders by firearm, but fewer murders per capita over all.
In the case of Britain, firearms murders are 30 times fewer than in the US per capita. [Don’t bother with flawed citations of Switzerland or Israel, where most citizens are the equivalent of military reservists.]
Do hunters really need semi-automatic AR-15 assault weapons? Is that how they roll in deer season? The US public doesn’t think so.
*British crime statistics are September to September, so 2012 is actually 2011-2012.