Fri, Aug

Gun Management is Important, but So is Management of Rage, White Supremacy, Hate Crimes, and Domestic Violence

BCK FILE—Murder Math:

251 mass shootings in 219 days. 

33,028 total shooting incidents as of Sunday, August 4

8,734 deaths

17,308 injuries

5 high profile mass shootings in just 8 days, leaving 35 dead, 81 injured

382 mass shootings in 2016

346 mass shootings in 2017

340 mass shootings in 2018 

From 2016-2018, the average number of mass shootings was 356. That’s just shy of one shooting per day. 2019 is on track to equal or surpass 2016.  

According to Vox, since the horrific 2012 tragedy of Sandy Hook, there have been over 2,000 mass shootings in the United States. Since 2013, there has been only one week without a mass shooting, the week of January 5, 2014.  

In the twenty years since Columbine, over 187,000 students in 193 U.S. schools  have experienced a school shooting, according to a Washington Post report published in March 2018. Since 1999, an average of 10 school shootings have occurred each year, causing 375 deaths of injuries. This statistic reported by the Washington Post only includes on-campus shootings during school hours -- not suicides or accidental gunfire without injuries. 

For students as young as kindergarten, active shooter drills are as commonplace as fire or earthquake drills.  

Office Depot, Amazon, and a host of “security” websites sell bulletproof backpacks, marketed for “back to school.” 

Gun violence in the United States is in epidemic proportions. 

Thoughts and Prayers
Each incidence of gun violence in America draws a canned response from politicians who serve up “thoughts and prayers.". There’s always a mention of “mental health,” along with video games, breakdown of the family, a lack of religion. 

Prayers are useless currency when an AK-47 is easy to buy as tobacco or a six-pack of beer in many states.  

The U.S: Most Guns Per Capita  

In the United States, there are 101 guns for every 100 people. That’s a higher statistic than Americans who own their own homes or have a pet dog. The U.S. joins only two other countries with constitutional protections for gun ownership, the other two countries, Mexico and Guatemala, have specific restrictions in their constitutions. 

The United States has the most lax gun laws of any industrialized country and when it comes to gun violence, no other industrialized country comes even close.  

Beyond Mass Shootings 

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 39,773 fatalities occurred because of gun-related injuries in 2017. That number was the highest in 50 years and the third consecutive year of increased gun deaths. Adjusted for population, that’s 12-gun deaths for every 100,000 people. 60% of those deaths were suicides, with 74% of victims white males. The gun suicide rate in the U.S. is ten times that of other high-income countries.  

Homicides account for a third of gun deaths, 25 times that of other high-income countries. Access to a gun doubles the risk of death by homicide. Women are 21 times more likely to die from homicide by gun than women in other high-income countries. In fact, in an average month, 52 American women die after being shot by an intimate partner. Close to 1 million women have survived shootings by an intimate partner and 4.5 million women have been threatened with a gun by a husband or boyfriend.  

Children aren’t safe from firearm deaths. In fact, firearms are the second leading cause of death for American children and teens. Almost 1,700 children and teens die each year from gun homicide, most often in the home and connected to domestic or family violence.  

The Common Denominator 

No other country comes close to homicides or suicides by gun -- and no other industrialized country comes close to gun ownership.  

Mass shootings, homicides, domestic violence, and suicide are impacted by numerous factors. However, adding a gun into the equation exponentially increases the risk of death.  

Throwing a Match into the Fire

The United States has far more mass shootings and deaths by gun than any other industrialized country. Experts have long speculated why. People across the world experience mental health issues -- without similar statistics. The NRA gun lobby has been successful at keeping federal gun control legislation at bay. 

States including California and New York have passed significant gun legislation but 22 states fail the grade. According to the Gifford’s Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, states with stricter gun laws have fewer gun deaths, year after year. California is ranked #1 of 50 for strongest gun laws and #44 for gun deaths with 7,8 deaths per 100,000 people. In 2018, California increased the minimum age for gun purchase and manufacturing, and strengthened domestic violence laws, 

On the opposite side of the spectrum, Mississippi is ranked #50 for gun laws and #5 for gun deaths, with 21.5 deaths per 100,000. The states with F ratings include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming. In the 22 states assigned F ratings, the combined gun deaths per 100,000 rose 10 percent between 2017 and 2018. 

What Can Be Done? 

Preventing gun violence starts with tougher gun laws. States and countries with restricted gun access have by far less gun homicides, accidental deaths, and gun suicides than those with lax gun laws.  

Gun violence doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We need to address increasing rage and lack of impulse control, white supremacy and hate crimes, domestic violence, and other issues that accompany or lead to gun violence. But removing guns from an already volatile mix will go a long way.  

McConnell Blocks Background Check Bill 

Back in February, The House of Representatives passed H.R. 8 -- Bipartisan Background Checks of 2019 by a wide margin (240-190). However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is blocking the bill from Senate vote. McConnell has the bills placed on the Senate calendar instead of sending to a committee to potentially be passed by the full Senate.  

H.R. 8 would ban most person-to-person firearms transfers without a background check. This would close a loophole that currently allows transfers of firearms without a background check at gun shows or between individuals. In addition, the bill would extend the waiting period for background check response by at least 10 days before a sale can proceed.  

“Red flag” laws also have some bipartisan support. These laws would allow family members or law enforcement to limit access to firearms when a person is considered a threat to the public.  

Assault Weapons Bans 

In 2004, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 lapsed just ten years after its passage. The act banned the manufacture and sale of assault-style weapons and certain large capacity ammunition magazines to civilians, as well as other provisions. Congress has attempted to pass new assault weapon bans but the Republican-controlled Senate has not been eager to pursue.  

How You Can Help 

Numerous gun control advocacy groups have grown from tragedies, including Sandy Hook, Parkland, along with assassination attempts that injured Rep. Gabby Giffords and Former White House Press Secretary James Brady,  

Stay up-to-date on legislation and policy by subscribing to one or more of these websites. In addition, volunteer, donation, and other opportunities are available.  


(Beth Cone Kramer is a professional writer living in the Los Angeles area. She covers Resistance Watch and other major issues for CityWatch.)