Despite resistance from gun owners across America, there will be serious attempts in the next Congress to address the issue of gun control. The recent mass murder of innocent children, teachers, and administrators at Sandy Hook Elementary has launched the issue to the top of President Obama’s agenda. He’s not alone either, a number of representatives and senators have already acknowledged the time has come. More will follow as they consider these six chilling facts about guns in the U.S.
1. Guns are used in most suicides: According to a 2011 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide was the #10 cause of death in the U.S. with 38,285 deaths reported. Of those suicides, guns were used in 19,766 cases (52%). Restricting access to guns may not impact the suicide rate, but then again it might.
2. Guns are used in most homicides: The same report states that homicide by gun represented 11,101 deaths, 70% of total homicides. The annual homicide total in 2011 was 15,953.
3. Guns take innocent lives: Accidental firearm deaths accounted for 851 funerals. It may seem a small number considering the total deaths for the year exceeded 2.5 million, but if your family member was among them it would have been a tragic loss.
4. Guns are typically used in mass killings: The Washington Post reported that since 1982 there have been 61 mass killings in the U.S. Presumably, these were all gun related. There are no statistics available for which of these mass murders involved assault rifles, but it’s safe to say when an assault rifle is used, more people die.
5. Guns only take 5 days to buy: The 1994 Brady Bill instituted a five-day waiting period for the purchase of a handgun and requires a background check on all handgun purchasers.
6. Guns bought at at a gun show can be purchased immediately: The Brady Bill exempts gun show sales from the requirement for a background check or a waiting period, thus completely negating the notion that progress has been made. What was the point?
If we truly want to do something about the killing in this country we must ban the sale of assault rifles, high-capacity magazines, and any weapon that is .50 caliber or higher. Above all we must close the gun show loophole.
There is no reason for a civilian to own a military style assault rifle. These weapons were designed with one purpose in mind, to shoot people. Taking these guns off the market will not prevent a person from protecting his property or hunting game, but it could save many lives. There is no guarantee that removing assault rifles will impact homicides in any way, but if taking them out of the mix saves just one life, given they serve no other purpose than to kill, then it’s worth doing.
The gun show loophole can have an immediate positive impact by taking away free access to guns for people who might not pass a background check. That doesn’t mean these people can’t acquire a gun by some other means, but there’s no good reason for us to make it easy for them; and there’s no evidence that the inconvenience to the rest of us is any more than just that.