Nothing says “holiday” like a family discussion about gun control. After the dishes were cleared and relatives had made their cases, I came home to the Cleveland Plain Dealer and a sobering op-ed by Leonard Pitts, Jr.
Pitts writes that since the December killings in Newtown, Connecticut, nearly 5000 kids in America have been shot by guns. Not 5000 people in the world. Not 5000 Americans. 5000 American kids.
Newtown was an aberration, some say. Nothing will stop a madman like Adam Lanza. Bad cases make bad law. And so on. The thing is, Newtown captures the headlines, in all its horror and bloodshed. But those victims make up only a tiny fraction of a percent of the total deaths from guns.
A quick internet search shows that at least 2244 Americans have been killed by guns since the Sandy Hook massacre. The Huffington Post shows a chilling map, with deaths marked in red across the country.
Do people die from guns in other countries? Of course. But in the US, children are 13 times more likely to die from guns than in any other industrialized country. As I wrote in December, restricting the most dangerous weaponry works. In Australia, for example, when gun legislation was passed, murders from guns decreased by 40%.
In addition, regulating guns results in fewer suicides. Conventional wisdom says that if someone is intent on suicide, he or she will get it done whether a gun is at hand or not. But the facts say otherwise. In fact, if depressed people can’t get their hands on guns, they don’t kill themselves that day. When they don’t succeed that day, they most often never get around to it. Their lives improve a little, someone reaches out, they get some help, and they stay alive. Australia saw a 50% decline in gun-related suicides. Read Nicholas Kristof’s intelligent analysis here.
No one is saying that we’re going to take away everyone’s guns. We couldn’t do that if we tried. We’re asking for sensible gun control: thorough, required background checks and restrictions on high-capacity magazines.