Posts Tagged Sandy Hook

Gun-Related Facts

It isn’t easy to decide how to discuss a situation like the one in Newtown, but I thought I’d take this gun-focused moment to summarize some firearm facts and move on from there.

In the wake of a mass shooting like the one we saw last week (although really no two mass shootings are the same) the traditional “two-sides” of the gun debate in this country come out with the well-known talking points. Pro-gun advocates have said that what would prevent shootings like this would be to arm more Americans. Gun control supporters have advocated a ban on assault weapons like the one used in Friday’s shootings.

Here are some quick facts:

  • The rifle used Friday, the AR-15, is, according to the New York Times, the “most popular rifle in America,” the same style of rifle used in a shooting at an Oregon shopping mall, and the shooting at an Aurora, CO, movie theater in July. 
  • AR-15s have “high capacity magazines, which feed 20 or 30 rounds at a fast pace,” and range in price from only $600 to $2,000.
  • According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were more than 32,000 gun-related deaths last year, nearly 20,000 of which were suicides.
  • A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that “the presence of a gun in the home was associated with a nearly fivefold risk of suicide … and an almost threefold risk of homicide.
  • A study published in the peer-reviewed journal BMJ concluded that in the United States, “Guns are used to threaten and intimidate far more often than they are used in self defense” and that “most self reported self defense gun uses may well be illegal and against the interests of society.”
The post-Newtown conversation has been shifting since Friday, hitting on topics like mental illness advocacy and violence in media in addition to the gun-control/public health aspect of the conversation. It’s impossible to deny that when shootings like this occur, there are many causes, and many things worth discussing. However, the idea that guns can prevent gun violence is one that can, and should, be dismissed out of hand.
According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, there are over 12,000 firearm-related homicides per year. Nearly 3,000 people died in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. FOUR 9/11s happen every year as a result of firearms, and we have yet to go to war over that statistic. That’s thirty-six 9/11s since 9/11. 36. This is a seriously troubling issue constantly, not just when a mass shooting occurs.
It’s important to take these facts into account at a time like this, when the media is consumed with the discussion of guns. If you’re interested in reading well-sourced material about this debate, I’d suggest checking out Alex Seitz-Wald’s piece for Salon, “The Answer is Not More Guns.” And possibly Gawker’s interesting take on the state of the gun debate moving forward, “Down With Big Gun“.

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