Nobody is saying that homicides with a gun (or any other weapon or way) is a good thing. It is a life and death matter, therefore a health issue. Who wouldn’t want to reduce the numbers?
There is much talk about the balance between individual liberty and safety. We might even say we would sacrifice a small amount of liberty if that would stop almost all the gun murders. But we all know that’s unrealistic — and not on the table.
Other countries’ citizens seem aware that guns are not the real problem. The Australian newspaper, “The Age,” recognizes that reality in commentary about how upset Indians are about foreigners murdering their citizens abroad:
How does this happen? Well, it happens because human beings are imperfect creatures. They can be selfish, they can be hateful, they can enjoy hurting, even killing, other humans. It happens here, it happens in India, it happens everywhere.
Governments can’t stop it because they can’t control what their citizens do 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Governments can’t monitor every suburban park in Melbourne at night to ensure that no teenagers with knives have gathered for an illegal drinking binge. They can’t monitor every dark street in India’s cities, or every home in its villages, to stop people killing each other.
Perhaps making a few comparisons with other countries on the number of guns, the number of gun homicides, and so forth would give us some perspective. The UK newspaper, “The Guardian,” has done a comparison with the latest figures as of December 2012.
The Guardian didn’t publish everything relevant — such as non-firearms murders. But their figures can be used to calculate that.
Take India for instance. Only 7.6 percent of their murders are from gunfire. That means Indians commit about 38,000 murders every year without bullets. The Indians are finding diverse ways to cause the demise of their fellow citizens.
Sad, but true. Not that they don’t have guns — 46 million in civilian hands. Why don’t they use them? Good question.
Let’s take a look at that world map put out by “The Guardian.” This shows the rate of gun homicides per 100,000 population:
-Lowest rates of homicides are the light green, .01 – 1. That includes most of Europe, Canada, India, Australia, and Cuba.
-Next lowest rates of homicide are the sky blue, 1 -5. That category includes the United States (2.97), Peru, Chile, and Argentina.
-Intermediate rates of 5 – 8 homicides per 100,000 include Costa Rica and Paraguay.
-The high (8-12) and highest (12-70) rates range from Mexico down to Brazil — plus South Africa.
-The lilac-colored countries provide no figures on gun homicides for most of Africa as well as China or Russia. This is a huge gap given their populations.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t estimates of the numbers of private and public guns in China and Russia. That does provide some comparison to the United States.
China’s military and police have as many as 50 million guns while civilians have fewer — a sizeable 40 million. In Russia, defense forces and law enforcement have 31 million firearms versus 13 million for civilians. In the United States, the government owns just over 4 million guns; civilians own 270 million such weapons.
What are we to conclude? As a bulwark against government encroachment, we the people have the upper hand vs. those communist and post-communist lands. Indeed, we have lots of guns — but they are rarely used in homicide. If my calculations are right, 3/1,000 of a percent of our guns are used to intentionally kill another person each year.
PUBLIC WARNING: AT CURRENT RATES, EVERY ONE OF OUR GUNS WILL BE USED IN A HOMICIDE — IN 33,000 YEARS.
Also, rate comparisons to other countries are interesting. We are on the lower end of the spectrum. However, many countries have even lower rates — most of them in Europe. In the Western Hemisphere among major countries, only Canada does better at not murdering with guns.
So what are the absolute numbers of gun murders in the US? They have been as high as in the 12,000 range. The last several years have seen numbers about 11,000. The trend is pretty stable. There is no crisis.
Still, we should look to reducing the numbers in ways that don’t involve the civil government. Frankly the decline of Christian values is just as much responsible as any factor you can think of. The government should only be dealing with the crime issue. Churches and other civil organizations can deal with the attitude issues underlying murder.
To me, a significant factor in gun (and all) homicides is the lack of value for life. Every 3 and a half days we take the lives of the unborn at a rate equaling all the gun murders in a year. Hey, liberals, reduce the abortions to 50,000 a year and then let’s talk some more about gun control.
In that scenario, proponents of restrictive gun laws would demonstrate some credibility about caring for life and health.