MY THOUGHTS - One has to be made of stone not to have been affected by the senseless mass shootings of the last three weeks.
Why have we titled this article “Dear Red States”? Maybe a tongue in cheek solution I have included at the end of this rather dry but important information, might give you a small chuckle. I do want to credit the NY Times, BBC News, CNN and all the other sites from which I gleaned information. I learned a lot.
I have combed the internet looking for information on gun violence. My first inkling was to take on the nefarious National Rifle Association but in Tuesday’s Los Angeles Times, Columnist Jonah Goldberg pointed out the weaknesses of the NRA and concluded that it was the voters in the primarily red States that were responsible for supporting lax gun laws.
Interestingly enough, the NRA is not the biggest contributor to pro-gun candidates. The money they give, aside from buying their officers and CEO a luxurious lifestyle, serves to promote a more motivated electorate. Goldberg is a rational, pragmatic Republican. I don’t always agree with him, but he doesn’t go in for partisan hyperbole on either side. He compared it to the groups like Planned Parenthood which motivates the democratic or Pro-choice voters.
There isn’t a great deal of statistics on gun deaths since it is up to the individual States to report to the CDC, but some research groups have managed to piece together some important conclusions.
In a recent interview with Shawn Hubler at the New York Times, Dr. Garen J. Wintemute, who directs the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis, Medical Center in Sacramento said “For the last 20, maybe even 25 years — except for the two years of the pandemic, which have increased homicides and suicides across the country —California’s rates of firearm violence have trended downward, And this has been at a time when most of the rates in the rest of the country have gone up.”
California’s rate of firearm mortality is among the nation’s lowest, with 8.5 gun deaths per 100,000 people in 2020, compared with 13.7 per 100,000 nationally and 14.2 per 100,000 in Texas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported. And Californians are about 25 percent less likely to die in mass shootings, compared with residents of other states, according to a recent Public Policy Institute of California analysis.
Dr. Wintemute was asked how California is different since a couple of weeks ago California had a mass shooting, He said,” you must look at it on a population basis. We do have more mass shootings in California, but we’re also by far the largest state. I looked a while ago at the rates of firearm violence across the 21st century — homicide and suicide together — and the rest of the country was up, but California’s rates were so far down that the average was flat.
“Governor Abbot (Texas) stated that California had more mass shootings than Texas. That’s because we evaluate policies one at a time, in isolation. The results for one policy might be mixed or even negative. But what California has done over a number of decades has been to enact a whole bundle of policies that I think work in synergy, to measurable effect.
“The idea is to prevent the holes in the policies from lining up. But if we rank the states, California’s rate of firearm violence ranks 29th out of 50 states for homicides and 44th for suicides.
“California has done a lot to prevent high-risk people from purchasing firearms. We’ve broadened the criteria for keeping guns out of the hands of people who pose a danger to themselves or others due to mental illness. If you’re convicted of a violent misdemeanor in California, you can’t have a gun for the next 10 years; that offense must be a felony in most states.”
A news story from CNN said “ People can debate the need for more or fewer armed guards at American schools, the use of active shooter drills and the wisdom of the idea that maybe even teachers should be packing heat.
“But there's one thing that is indisputable in the available data on gun violence -- and the data is limited since until recently the federal government was effectively barred from gathering it.
The indisputable fact is that where there are more guns, there are more gun deaths.
This is true despite Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's attempt to explain away gun deaths at the elementary school in his state this week by comparing them to gun violence in Chicago.
"I hate to say this, but there are more people who were shot every weekend in Chicago than there are in schools in Texas," Abbott said on Wednesday, arguing stricter gun laws are not a solution.
There are indeed a horrific number of gun deaths in Chicago each year. According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Texas suffered 4,164-gun deaths in 2020, the most recent year for which the CDC has published data. That's a rate of 14.2 deaths per 100,000 Texans.
California, by comparison, saw 3,449 deaths, a gun death rate of 8.5. per 100,000 Californians.
Texas does not have the highest gun death rate, The top states by gun death rates per 100,000 people are:
- Mississippi -- 28.6.
- Louisiana -- 26.3.
- Wyoming -- 25.9.
- Missouri -- 23.9.
- Alabama -- 23.6.
- Alaska -- 23.5.
All those states with the highest gun death rates are among the ones with the highest gun ownership rates. The advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, which endorses stronger gun laws, takes the CDC data on gun deaths per 100,000 residents and puts that alongside each state's gun laws. The states with lower gun violence rates are mostly among the states with the strongest gun laws.
Conversely, with the exception of Louisiana, the states with the highest gun death rates and highest gun ownership rates are among the states Everytown says have the most lax gun laws.
- Mississippi -- 50% of adults live in a household with a gun.
- Louisiana -- 48%.
- Wyoming -- 59%.
- Missouri -- 48%.
- Alabama -- 50%.
- Alaska -- 59%.
Where there are fewer guns, there are fewer gun deaths. The states with the lowest gun death rates in 2020, per the CDC (alongside the percentage of homes with a gun in 2007-2016, per RAND) were:
- Hawaii -- 3.4 (8% of adults live in a household with a gun).
- Massachusetts -- 3.7 (10%).
- New Jersey -- 5 (8%).
- Rhode Island -- 5.1 (11%).
- New York -- 5.3 (14%).
California requires background checks, and not just from licensed retailers; in most other States, purchases from private parties require no background checks or record keeping of any kind. A system is being considered in Sacramento, for getting guns back from “prohibited persons” — people who have been convicted of violent crimes or who are facing domestic violence restraining orders. California does enforce these policies, unlike a lot of other States.
In the early 1990s, cheap handguns — “Saturday Night Specials” — were almost entirely manufactured around Los Angeles. It was a few companies making upward of 800,000 cheap handguns a year. So, the state-imposed standards for design and safety. One of the companies has since gone to Nevada. The rest went bankrupt and no one else has replaced them.
The lower the prevalence of ownership, the lower the rate of firearm violence — that’s been one of the most robust research findings for decades. Rates of gun ownership are lower here, in part because of this bundle of state measures. In the United States overall, something like 25 percent to 30 percent of individuals own guns. In California, it’s about 15 percent to 18 percent.
The following came across my desk some time ago. I don’t know who wrote it or who sent it to me so I can’t take credit. If anyone out there knows the source, I’d be happy to name them. It is however a lighter moment after all the sadness we have experienced in the last three weeks, although it does make one wonder, “What IF?”
DEAR RED STATES:
WE'RE LEAVING. We've decided we're leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we're taking the other Blue States with us.
In case you aren't aware, that includes Hawaii, Oregon, California, New Mexico, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast.
We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country that includes Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and Washington D.C.
We also get most of the major shipping ports. So good luck with getting goods in or out of the country affordably.
We also get Costco, Starbucks and Boeing. You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states.
We get stem cell research and the best beaches.
We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Branson, Missouri.
We get Intel, Apple and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.
We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Mississippi.
We get two-thirds of the tax revenue; you get to make the red states pay their fair share.
Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's, we get a bunch of happier, intact families.
Please be aware that California will be pro-choice and anti-war. We're going to want all our military citizens back from all countries except ours. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home.
With the Blue States unified, we will have firm control of 80 percent of the country's fresh water, more than 90 percent of the pineapple and lettuce, 92 percent of the nation's fresh fruit, 95 percent of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at your state dinners) 90 percent of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools -- Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, the Penn, Princeton, and Yale; and Mount Holyoke, Vassar, Smith, Wellesley, Bryn Mayr, Barnard, and Radcliffe colleges; plus UCLA, UCB, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.
With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88 percent of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92 percent of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100 percent of the tornadoes, 90 percent of the hurricanes, 99 percent of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100 percent of all televangelists, Ted Cruz, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Alex Jones and Rand Paul.
We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.
Additionally, 62 percent of you believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44 percent say that evolution is only a theory, 53 percent that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61 percent of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties. (See that part about divorces. ...)
Oh, and you can have all the new COVID-19 cases since you're too dumb and self-centered to wear masks or get vaccinated.
Signed: We the people of the Blue States