Both candidates are shocked and saddened by the events in Aurora; neither is likely to address the issue of guns. One of them has a base that believes as a matter of faith that guns reduce violence; the other refuses to challenge that absurdity, lest he be painted as anti-gun (though the country’s leading gun lobby has already declared him the “most anti-gun president in American history”). Given the cognitive dissonance, it makes sense that they would suspend their campaigns during the peak of this news cycle.
Some sobering statistics about guns and gun crime from Howard Steven Friedman’s new book THE MEASURE OF A NATION, which compares the US to a cohort of “competitor” nations:
The data strongly suggest that guns intensify crime situations and increase the likelihood of the outcome being more violent or lethal. For example, in a family or intimate assault, death is twelve times more likely if a gun is present than if another weapon is used. Analysis shows that an estimated 41 percent of gun-related homicides and 94 percent of gun-related suicides would not have occurred under the same circumstances had no guns been present.
The correlation between rates of firearm-related deaths and gun ownership is etched even more sharply by the fact that countries with the lowest rates of civilian firearms ownership, like Japan and South Korea, have the lowest rates of firearm-related deaths. The United States, with its widespread presence of guns, has by far the highest rate of firearm-related deaths; in 1998, about one-half the deaths were suicides. The low rate of firearms-related deaths in the United Kingdom is undoubtedly a reflection of that country’s 1997 ban on private handgun ownership.
Our violence is not limited to the streets and to ordinary citizens. We even have a higher rate of political assassination than most other countries–all by guns. Four American presidents out of forty-four, as of this writing, have been assassinated while in office, and two others were severely injured in assassination attempts….
The correlation between the presence of guns and personal safety comes into sharpest focus when we look at murder rates. In 2008, firearms were the cause of 67 percent of all homicides in the United States–by far the majority of these deaths. At the same time, the intentional homicide rate in the United States is much higher than that of other countries.
It is more than twice the rate of our next closest competitor, South Korea and about ten times higher than that of Japan. In fact, if the homicide rate in the United States were brought down to the level of our competitors, more than 12,000 lives per year would be saved; that is about twice as many American lives as have been lost in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars since 2001.
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