Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The US Gun Debate: Part Two

It is  estimated there are  ninety guns of one type of another in civilian hands for every one hundred persons in America, more per capita than any other nation on earth.  Forty-nine percent of all US households have a gun in the home.  (The next closet nation to the USA  per capita is Yemen, otherwise known to one and all as "the pearl of the Indian Ocean" for its stable governments, high  standard of living and general popularity as a center of tolerance and tourism opportunities. )
Switzerland has a lot of guns, as many point out, but ammunition is more strictly controlled and has  more of a direct military purpose as all adult able-bodied  men are expected to be part of their armed forces. 
Here are some other numbers and data of interest to all sides in the current assault weapons debate:           
5,459,240 guns were legally manufactured in the  United States in 2010. A further 3.500,000 guns came from overseas. (Sources here are from Time magazine articles "The Next Gun Fight" 1/28/13.) 
 For a nation that seems to have a lot of guns already that seems like quite a lot of manufacturing since, unlike bananas, guns do not generally decompose rapidly.
  A recent Time/CNN poll showed some interesting if contradictory data on public opinion on guns.  Amazingly to me, only 23  percent cite the availability of guns as the primary cause of violence in America.  Seventy-four percent believe that the ways parents influence their children and pop culture explains violence crime.  And while 55 percent of Americans favor stronger gun laws, and only three percent of Americans in the poll thought it was "too difficult to buy a gun" in the USA, an estimated  forty-eight percent of Americans agree with the positions of the National Rifle Association.  This is made even more strange that the folks at Time and CNN report that sixty-nine percent support gun registration and majorities (58 percent) support a ban on high-capacity ammo clips and fifty-six percent support a ban on sales of assault weapons.  It is likely that at best only one of the three major proposals by Obama administration before Congress will pass---the requirement for closing the"gun show loophole",  where an electronic  background check will be needed, thus giving some extra security and vigilance to an estimated forty percent of gun purchases.         

Why are there these contradictions in public opinion, one might ask?   The answer I think is that the National Rifle Association and the gun manufacturers who supply millions of dollars to its lobbying coffers know a thing or two about "manufacturing consent" and getting to the fear centers of Americans' brains. 
Although it seems clear to me that gun availability leads to more gun crime (for reasons that seem self-evident) many will dispute this ad infinitum.   Perhaps one reason for all the guns comes  from our history  as I mentioned in my first post.  Here is a summary (admittedly brief and not without editorial content) on our national obsession with guns from the 2002
Michael Moore documentary  "Bowling for Columbine".                     


  1. Well Doug, all the statistics add up and the history as briefly explained in the video situates the gun debate very well, but still the fear is so great that a lot of people are convenced that the world wants to kill them. There is no reasoning with that blind irrational fear that says the more guns you have the less danger you face no matter how many times the logical inconsistencies of that argument are pointed out. Thanks for doing your bit for rationality Doug, but it does seem an uphill struggle. I think Obama will only achieve superficial or cosmetic changes if indeed any change happens at all, but at least the issue is being debated now, so I suppose that is a step in the right direction. Good post Doug, thanks for sticking your neck out on this contentious topic.