We are reeling from back-to-back mass shootings, at least one of them an explicit manifestation of white nationalist terrorism in which Americans of a specific ethnicity were targeted, Nazi-like.
The US policy of constantly endangering our children is enacted by a bought-and-paid-for Congress on behalf of 10 major gun manufacturers with an $8 billion industry. Most Americans don’t have or want a gun, and 50% of all guns in the US are owned by 3% of Americans, i.e. some 6 million people out of 320 million. That three percent would survive better security checks and a ban on assault weapons.
As of the end of 2017, there were 1,624 mass shootings in 1,870 days in the United States. (As far as I can find, the FBI report on 2018 is still incomplete and preliminary).
You’ll note you don’t hear about many mass shootings in Australia, Japan or for the most part the United Kingdom, or other civilized countries whose politicians have not been bought by 10 major gun manufacturers.
In fact, when a mass shooting was carried out, by a white nationalist terrorist at a mosque in New Zealand last March, 2019, the New Zealand government promptly banned semi-automatic assault weapons. It just took one (admittedly horrific) incident. In the US, hundreds of mass shootings a year don’t soften the hearts of our bought-and-paid-for legislators even a little bit.
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 or by persons with a history of mental illness. 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 law enforcement.
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 almost no further such incidents).
In 2016-17 (the twelve months beginning in March), there were 32 fatalities from gun-related crimes in England and Wales (equivalent to 160 because Great Britain 1/5 the size of the US). (The murder rate was up in Britain because an apartment owner was charged with negligent homicide and suffocation when his building went up in smoke and killed over 80 residents; ‘firearms offenses’ were also up in London but few of these went so far as murder).
Police in the UK fired their guns 7 times in 2015.
Number of Murders by Firearms, US, 2017: 15,549
Number of Murders in the US in 2017: 17,284
Percentage of all Murders that were committed by firearms in 2017 in US: 89%
Suicides in US 2015: 44,193
Gun Suicides in US, 2015: ~22,000
Percentage of all murders in England and Wales that were committed by firearm: 4.5 percent.
Academic research shows that more guns equal more suicides.
Number of suicides in England and Wales, 2016: 5,668 (equivalent to about 28,330 in US or 36% lower)
Number of suicides by firearam in England and Wales, 2011: 84 (this is the most recent statistic I could find but the typical percentage is given as 1.6% of all suicides; that would be the equivalent of 707 suicides by firearm in the US instead of 22,000).
For more on murder by firearms in Britain, see the BBC.
The US has the highest gun ownership in the world and the highest murder rate in the developed world.
It seems pretty clear, as well, that many US suicides would not occur if firearms were not omnipresent.
There is some correlation between high rates of gun ownership and high rates of violent crime in general, globally (and also if you compare state by state inside the US):
In the case of Britain, firearms murders are 53 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.]
— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) December 2, 2015
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.
PS this is a revised version of an older column; if they keep refusing to legislate rationally and go on causing these massacres, I can keep writing a similar column.
Related video added by Informed Comment: