On March 31, 2021

The politics of guns

By Angelo Lynn

Hunters and reasonable gun owners may be the only Americans capable of talking sense to Republican representatives in the U.S. House and Senate.

That’s because political leeches like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, believe he is crowing to his base with his shoot-from-the-hip snipe that any calls for gun reform in the wake of the tragic murder of 10 people in a Boulder supermarket is just “ridiculous theater” by Democrats, saying all the talk of gun restrictions will not stop senseless shootings.

Cruz, of course, is dead wrong. Suggestions that gun restrictions won’t stop mass murders has been a nonsensical trope from Republicans for the past 20 years, but the facts and correlations are obvious to anyone with a shred of integrity.

America’s mortality rates with guns as the murder weapon towers above any other Western nation in the world; and the primary reason is that America allows the purchase of guns, particularly military grade assault weapons, to almost anyone at anytime.

America has less than 5% of the world’s population, but has 35-50% of the world’s civilian-owned guns, according to the much-cited Switzerland-based Small Arms Survey.

While someone is not necessarily more likely to get mugged in a U.S. city than in Europe, they’re much more likely to die from the attack, as guns (the most common weapon used for such crime in America) are more lethal than knives.

Is America the worst offender? No. El Salvador, a nation racked by armed vigilante groups and a weak central government, claims that spot. Mexico and other South American countries also have higher incidents of death by gun than does the United States. But among our world peers, “mortality rates for gun homicides” —and that’s what we’re talking about with these mass shootings — are off the charts.

Here’s the ranking in that statistic as reported by the New York Times: The U.S. ranks third, after El Salvador and Mexico, with 31.2 deaths per million people. Chile is fourth at 14.3 deaths per million, followed by: Israel, 7.5; Canada, 5.6; Ireland, 4.8; Netherlands, 2.3; Germany, 2.1; France, 2.0; Austria, 1.9; Australia, 1.7; China, 1.6; Spain, 1.6; New Zealand, 1.5; Poland, 1.1; England, 0.9; Norway, 0.9; Iceland, 0.6; Scotland, 0.5; South Korea, 0.4 and Japan, at 0.1 deaths per million people, which is the same number in that country as people killed by a lightning strike.

Think of that: the chance of being murdered by gunfire in the U.S. is 300 times more than it is in Japan.

Other studies confirm that the sale of military style assault weapons are practically non-existent in those same countries with the lowest rates, compared to the free-for-all market we have in the U.S. In countries with the highest murder rates by gun, military style assault weapons are also prevalent.

For those readers who may have been confused by the name of the weapon used in Boulder’s mass murder, the AR-556 is called a pistol, but it is anything but. It’s a compact machine gun made for the military specifically for short-range combat to kill other people.

It’s not for hunting, or target practice. On the contrary, its rapid-fire capability allows a mentally unstable person to be a deadly assassin.

What President Joe Biden and other Democrats are calling for is common sense legislation that would restrict the sale of military-style assault weapons, and perhaps impose better background checks on purchases of some weapons.

Nor should this even be a controversial issue. All Americans should want to prevent citizens who pose a risk to society from buying assault weapons capable of mass murder.

That Cruz and other Republicans can’t comprehend that assault weapons in the hands of irresponsible people is a danger to the country is not the issue; the issue is they care more about playing politics to their perceived base than doing what’s right for the country. Only responsible members of their base will be able to convince them otherwise.

Angelo Lynn is the editor and publisher of the Addison Independent, a sister publication to the Mountain Times.

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