I have researched this question, and interviewed several on the anti-gun side; from one who just didn’t want a gun in the house, to people who didn’t want anyone to have a gun in the house. I don’t care for cigarettes but I recognize that they are legal and I will not lobby to have them outlawed just because I don’t want anyone else to have them.
According to the CDC in 2006, last up to date numbers, there were 30,896 total firearm related deaths, of which, 642 accidental, 16,883 were Suicide, 12,791 were Homicide, 220 were Undetermined and 360 by Legal intervention. In the same year, 43,664 were killed in motor vehicle accidents, 37,286 died from poisoning, and 20,823 died from unintentional falls. The CDC also reported that cigarettes were responsible for approximately 438,000 deaths from 1997 to 2001. Statistics show that approximately 75,000 lives will be lost each year due to alcohol and approximately 39 percent of all traffic fatalities involve alcohol. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2005 over 16,500 individuals lost their lives in alcohol-related accidents.
When someone dies from cancer, or is killed in a motor vehicle accident, it rarely makes the news, and only makes the national level news when it is a prominent person. For some reason, when people are shot, the media sensationalizes it. I live in Northern Virginia. My entire geographic area was held hostage by two homicidal maniacs in 2002, dubbed by the press as the “Beltway Sniper”. Whenever there is a tragic shooting in a school, at a theater, of a prominent person, it attracts sensational press coverage 24 hours a day for several days. Honestly, I can understand the average person, who is not familiar with firearms, being frightened and wanting to ban guns. It is the highly educated people who have easy access to all the facts who rabidly oppose the right of a citizen to lawfully own a firearm that I have trouble with. It is these people that I find most frightening as many of them are either politicians or members of powerful political lobbies.
Some have been victims of gun related violence, so that is more understandable. However, many have been victims of alcohol related accidents, and yet there is not a hue and cry to return to prohibition. What makes guns such a divisive issue?
There are the rabid anti-gunners, from who I have yet to hear a rational reason for not allowing law abiding citizens to own firearms…for hunting, for recreation and for self-defense. There are the ones in the middle who don’t want to own a firearm but aren’t fundamentally opposed to allowing gun ownership. There are those of us who enjoy the shooting sports and legally own firearms.
The numbers are convincing. Armed crime rates go down in jurisdictions that allow Concealed Carry. People who possess legal concealed carry permits are recognized as generally more likely to obey the law. Wikipedia cites the Violence Policy Center claim that from May 2007 through the end of 2009, concealed carry permit holders in the U.S. have killed at least 117 individuals, including 9 law enforcement officers (excluding cases where individuals were acquitted, but including pending cases). There were about 25,000 murders by firearm that period, meaning that concealed carry permit holders committed less than 1% of the murders by firearm. Furthermore, a large number of the victims were killed in extended suicides, most of which took place in the home of the shooter, where arms can be possessed without special permits.
The anti-gun lobby defies logic. Driving, drinking and smoking are more dangerous than guns, statistically speaking, but these industries are not targeted as vehemently.
We need to support safety education, promote awareness and emphasize that the majority of us who lead an armed life hold ourselves to a higher standard of behavior, letting slights go that we might have responded to before being armed because we understand the stakes are higher.
Don’t make new law’s, enforce the ones on the books. Don’t make criminals out of law abiding citizens.
In closing, two clichés come to mind. First, “If guns are illegal, only criminals will have guns.” Second, “Americans have the right and advantage of being armed – unlike the citizens of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” – James Madison
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