Sunday, April 05, 2009

Has America Had Enough Gun Violence Yet?

How many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
How many deaths will it take 'til he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind.
---Bob Dylan

Points to ponder:
  • Gun violence touches every segment of our society. It greatly increases the probability of death in incidents of violence. Each year, more than 100,000 Americans are victims of gun violence. Every day, more than 80 Americans die from gun violence. In addition to those who are killed or injured, there are countless others whose lives are forever changed by the deaths of and injuries to their loved ones.
  • Gun advocates point out that guns don't kill people, people kill people. However, consider the huge number of lives of innocent victims that would be saved if guns were not so prevalent in American society. There is practically nothing that average citizens can do to protect themselves from becoming a victim of gun violence. Self-defense is impractical when the bullets are flying but very practical if there were no bullets involved in criminal acts. Only superman is faster than a speeding bullet... and he's not even real (sorry, folks). We can't all walk around wearing body armor either... that's just silly. And of the 100,000 or so yearly victims of gun violence in the United States, only a miniscule number are able to protect themselves by using a gun. The overwhelming proportion of guns kept in the home are used in criminal acts as compared with justifiable self-defense.
On death:
  • Most murders (68% in 2006) in the United States are committed with firearms, especially handguns. On average, 31 gun homicides are committed EVERY DAY. In 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 30,694 people in the United States died from firearm-related deaths, including 12,352 murders, 17,002 suicides, and 789 accidents. An additional 71,417 people were shot and survived their injuries and 477,040 persons were victims of a crime committed with a firearm. In comparison, 33,651 Americans were killed in the Korean War and 58,193 Americans were killed in the Vietnam War. In the first five years of the U.S.-Iraq War, over 4,000 American soldiers were killed; however, more civilians are killed with guns in the U.S. every seven weeks. In a 10-year span, 633 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed by firearms in the US ; a handgun was the murder weapon in 78% (492 victims) of those murders; of the remainder, rifles killed 106 officers and shotguns killed 35. 253 slain officers were equipped with armor as well. Regions and states with higher rates of gun ownership have significantly higher rates of homicide than states with lower rates of gun ownership.
Economic cost to society:
  • Taxpayers pay more than 85% of the medical cost for treatment of firearm related injuries. A study of all direct and indirect costs of gun violence including medical, lost wages, and security costs estimates that gun violence costs the nation $100 billion a year.
Guns in the home:
  • The presence of a gun in the home triples the risk of homicide in the home. The presence of a gun in the home increases the risk of suicide fivefold. Domestic violence assaults involving a firearm are 23 times more likely to result in death than those involving other weapons or bodily force. Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm. Guns kept in the home for self protection are 22 times more likely to kill a family member or friend than to kill in self defense. In 2006, there were only 154 justifiable homicides by private citizens using handguns in the United States.
Children and guns:
  • In one year, more children and teens die from gunfire than from cancer, pneumonia, influenza, asthma, and HIV/AIDS combined. Between 1979 and 2001, gunfire killed 90,000 children and teens in America. According to the latest national data, one child is killed by gunfire every three hours; eight children every day; and more than 50 children every week. And every year, at least 4 to 5 times as many kids and teens suffer from non-fatal firearm injuries. 77% of murdered juveniles 13-19 are killed by firearms. Guns cause the death of over 19 children and young adults (24 years of age and under) each day in the U.S.
US is the world leader in firearms:
  • In 1998 alone, licensed firearms dealers sold an estimated 4.4 million guns, 1.7 million of which were handguns. Additionally, it is estimated that 1 to 3 million guns change hands in the secondary market each year, and many of these sales are not regulated. As of 2004, there were approximately 283 million privately owned firearms in the U.S -- 40 percent of them handguns. Nearly 1.7 million guns have been reported stolen in the past ten years; only 40% of those were recovered.
The US vs. the world:
  • In 2004, firearms were used to murder 56 people in Australia, 184 people in Canada, 73 people in England and Wales, 5 people in New Zealand, and 37 people in Sweden. In comparison, firearms were used to murder 11,344 in the United States. American children are more at risk from firearms than the children of any other industrialized nation. The rate of firearm deaths among kids under age 15 is almost 12 times higher in the United States than in 25 other industrialized countries combined. In one year, firearms killed no children in Japan, 19 in Great Britain, 57 in Germany, 109 in France, 153 in Canada, and 5,285 in the United States.
On laws and enforcement:
  • Laws that prohibit the purchase of a firearm by a person subject to a domestic violence restraining order are associated with a reduction in the number of intimate partner homicides. Over a two and a half-year period, at least 9,976 convicted felons and other illegal buyers in 46 states obtained guns because of inadequate records.
~ Kurt

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