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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, May 27, 2014

 
Cliff Schechter nails it on gun violence

by David Atkins

Cliff Schechter has a post on gun violence at The Daily Beast that's worth reading in full. Here's a sample:

Of course, there is one easy case study that proves the rule: Hawaii, which is separated from every other state by quite a bit of ocean. The Aloha State, which boasts the lowest gun ownership rate and among the strongest gun laws in our country, has the lowest gun violence rate, according to The Law Center To Prevent Gun Violence. Meanwhile, in Arizona, with those ridiculously nonexistent gun laws, you're five times more likely to die from a gun than in Hawaii.

This pattern extends throughout the country, from lax regulation states like Mississippi and Alaska (18.3 and 17.6 gun deaths, per 100,000 people, respectively) to strong regulation states like Rhode Island and Massachusetts (3.5 and 3.6 gun deaths per 100,000, respectively). This really isn't that hard.

And for those of you about to point out that cities like Chicago have both strict gun laws and horrifying gun violence, well, you might want to do some reading about how many of those guns came from Indiana, which has much less strict gun laws, or other parts of Illinois, where laws don’t come close to matching those in the city of Chicago. Use The Google, my friends. It's free.

If lax guns laws and more guns overall made people safer, the United States would be the safest place in the world. Instead, that designation goes to countries like Japan and England, which have actually taken on this problem with the seriousness it deserves. And then there is the special case of Australia, which was heading down the same path as us until 1996, when they had their own Newtown, known a the Port Arthur Massacre. They passed not weak-tea gun laws, but a comprehensive package (passed by their Conservative Party). The results have been stunning, as not only has there not been a mass shooting since then (there were 11 in the 10 years before they passed this legislation), but their suicides and gun-related deaths have gone way down too.

In Santa Barbara, we had a young man who had been detained or interviewed three times by the police recently, including once for domestic assault. Both a social worker and his parents warned the authorities about his fraying mental state. But all of that led to no red flags popping up to stop him from buying three semi-automatic guns and enough bullets to take on the police department.

In England, Japan, Canada and Australia, that would have been enough to stop him cold. In these places, as is common sense, requirements exist such as third-party references from family and/or friends, rigorous psychological exams and background checks. Any blemish on one’s record pointing to violence would have been a red flag during these tests. Additionally, there are waiting periods before one can receive a gun after initial purchase, making it more likely someone mentally unstable would be caught doing something else in the meantime, or perhaps even get the help he so desperately needed before obtaining a firearm.

The answer is obvious. There's just a very well-funded group of terrified, angry violent men standing in the way of doing what's right.



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