There were 34 mass shootings in the US in 2012 and more than 70 since Representative Gabby Giffords was shot in the head and 6 people killed at a Congress on Your Corner event in Tucson. On average, there are 32 gun murders in the US each and every day…a total of approximately 270,000 in the last decade.
That’s 6.9 times more than in 22 other wealthy nations combined!
Of course, the National Rifle Association would have us believe that the only way to reduce these numbers is to increase the number and availability of guns. In the words of NRA apologist, Wayne LaPierre, “the only answer to a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”
In reality, there is no evidence that more guns results in less violence.
The US has more guns and a higher incidence of gun ownership than any other nation in the world. In 2007, there were 88.8 guns per hundred people in the US. The next closest country was Serbia with 58.2 guns per hundred people. Given record gun sales since President Obama was elected in 2008, our gun dominance is likely much greater. So, if Mr. LaPierre is correct, our gun violence should be dramatically lower.
To counter the NRA’s claim, we need only look to two countries: Switzerland and Australia.
In Switzerland, virtually every able-bodied man is required to serve in the citizen militia. As a result, most homes have guns. Yet as Swiss gun ownership has increased, so has the nation’s murder rate. The nation now ranks 4th in the world for murders by guns. Suicide rates are also on the rise.
By contrast, following the Port Arthur massacre in 1996, Australia instituted strict gun control laws. It grouped firearms into 6 categories.
Category A consists of non semi-automatic rimfire rifles, air rifles and paintball guns which require Australian citizens to provide a “genuine reason” for ownership.
Category B consists of non-automatic centerfire rifles and muzzle loaders made after January 1, 1901. For these, citizens must demonstrate a “genuine need” for ownership.
Category C consists of semi-automatic rimfire rifles holding 10 or fewer rounds and pump-action or semi-automatic shotguns holding 5 or fewer rounds. These are strongly restricted.
Category D consists of semi-automatic centerfire rifles and semi-automatic or pump-action shotguns holding more than 5 rounds. These weapons are restricted to government agencies and a few “occupational” shooters.
Category H consists of handguns, including air pistols and deactivated handguns. These guns are available only to competitive target shooters who mush serve a 6-month probationary period and must demonstrate that they compete in a minimum number of matches each year or relinquish their gun.
Category R/E consists of restricted weapons such as assault rifles, machine guns, rocket launchers, flame-throwers, anti-tank guns, etc. These weapons may be owned by collectors providing they have been rendered permanently inoperable.
Draconian? Hardly. Effective? Yes.
These gun restrictions allow Australian citizens access to appropriate guns for hunting, target shooting and home defense. But the new laws prevent access to those weapons designed for mass shootings.
And since the laws were instituted, gun violence in Australia has dropped dramatically and it’s still falling. Between 1997 (the year after the restrictions were enacted) and 2007, the nation’s gun violence was cut by more than half. In 1997, guns were used in 24 percent of Australia’s homicides. By 2007, that statistic was just 11 percent.
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