Facing the facts on gun control
Posted on July 31, 2012
I don’t plan on turning this blog’s focus from morality to guns and gun control, but in carrying out some follow-up research on my essay posted here yesterday, I happened upon another essay, by Fareed Zakaria, that I thought you’d find interesting.
Most of the pundits have concluded that the main cause of this calamity is the dark, strange behavior of the gunman. Talking about anything else, they say, is silly. The New York Times’ usually extremely wise columnist, David Brooks, explains that this is a problem of psychology, not sociology.
At one level, this makes sense, of course, as the proximate cause. But really, it’s questionable analysis. Think about this: are there more lonely people in America compared with other countries? Are there, say, fewer depressed people in Asia and Europe? So why do they all have so much less gun violence than we do?
The United States stands out from the rest of the world not because it has more nutcases – I think we can assume that those people are sprinkled throughout every society equally – but because it has more guns. …
The U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population, but 50 percent of its guns.
But the sheer number of guns isn’t an isolated statistic. The data shows we compare badly on fatalities, too. The U.S has three gun homicides per 100,000 people. That’s four times as many as Switzerland, ten times as many as India, 20 times as many as Australia and England.
Whatever you think of gun rights and gun control, the numbers don’t flatter America.