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11/10/2017

Can we talk about gun violence in America?

A report
in the New York Times shows the connection between the prevalence of guns in
the United States and mass shootings. No country in the world can match the
United States in the total number of guns owned by citizens. To put this in
context, “Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the global population but own
42 percent of the world’s guns.” There are about 270 million guns in
circulation in the United States and between 1966 to 2012 there were 90 mass shooters,
no other country in the world has more than 48, million guns in circulation or
18 mass shooters. In short, the problem of mass shootings is basically an
American problem because we have so many guns available for some people to use
in very harmful ways.

Critics may cite other variables that could explain the
inordinately high rate of mass shootings in the United States. Trump recently said
of the recent mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas:

“Mental health is your problem
here. This was a very, based on preliminary reports, this was a very deranged
individual, a lot of problems over a long period of time. We have a lot of
mental health problems in our country, as do other countries.”

As is often the case with his statements, the facts do not
support it. About 18% of the population have mental health problems and the
vast majority are not violent and are not involved in mass shoots, though a few
are. Other possible variables, such as time spent playing video games, the
level of racial diversity, immigration, and even crime rate, also can be ruled
out statistically as being a significant factor in mass shootings—there is no
statistical evidence that any of these variables account for the high
prevalence of mass shootings, as well as homicides, in the United States. For
example, we learn that a New Yorker is as likely as a Londoner to be robbed,
but a New Yorker is over 50 times likely to be killed in the process.

There simply are no other variables other than the number of
guns in circulation that would account for the uniquely high frequency of these
horrific mass shootings, with which we have become all too familiar. As the
report from the New York Times states:

“More gun ownership corresponds
with more gun murders across virtually every axis: among developed
countries
, among American
states
, among American
towns and cities
and when controlling for crime rates.”

If it is the case that is there is a correlation between the
number of guns available to citizens in a society and the number of mass
shootings that injure and kill innocent people every year, as a matter of
common sense, it seems to follow that the solution would be to reduce the
number of guns in circulation. In fact this common sense perspective has been
borne out by empirical research as stated in the New York Times report:

…(G)un control legislation tends to
reduce gun murders, according to a recent analysis of 130
studies from 10 countries.

 The facts seem
relatively clear both about the root cause of the problem and how to ameliorate
it. So why aren’t people—including citizen voters and politicians—paying
attention and responding? This question gets us into a whole other topic, which
I don’t want to explore in any depth now. But I will say it seems clear that
since the 1980s a powerful gun culture in America cultivated primarily by the
zealotry, funds, and organization, of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
This culture has been successful in inspiring its followers to take an
expansive view of the 2nd Amendment, to see the government as a potential
threat to its fundamental right of gun ownership, and live in perpetual fear
that politicians will take away their guns and their right to own them. Because
of the intense advocacy that puts critical pressure on key politicians, in
America the NRA gun culture representing a minority view can bully its way to
keeping in place laws that ensure easy access to guns, including deadly assault
weapons and large clip magazines.

The fact that most Americans, including many members of the
NRA, are thwarted in their desire to see sensible solutions to gun regulation
is what is most concerning. According to a Pew Research report,
89% of both gun and non-gun owners favor the mentally ill from purchasing
guns—which makes Trump’s repeal
of a rule that blocks gun sales to certain mentally ill people, especially in
light of his recent statements, all the more troublesome. Moreover, even on
issues like barring gun purchases for people on no-fly or watch lists, creating
a federal data base to track gun sales, banning assault-style weapons and high
capacity magazines, receive two-thirds support from the public. Sadly, in
America currently majority views about this and other vitally important public
policy issues don’t translate into change in policy.

What is the solution? It seems evident that the majority of
people in America with sensible views that are not being heard must take to
necessary measures to make themselves heard. Given the trajectory of violence
from mass shootings and the urgency of protecting innocent lives, it’s time for
new culture of resistance to the NRA and the politicians that support them to
find reasonable ways to regulate guns in America.

 

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Ethics. For more information on AMBI’s online graduate programs, please visit our website.  

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Health Care, Politics and tagged , , , . Posted by Bioethics Today. Bookmark the permalink.

11/10/2017

Can we talk about gun violence in America?

A report
in the New York Times shows the connection between the prevalence of guns in
the United States and mass shootings. No country in the world can match the
United States in the total number of guns owned by citizens. To put this in
context, “Americans make up about 4.4 percent of the global population but own
42 percent of the world’s guns.” There are about 270 million guns in
circulation in the United States and between 1966 to 2012 there were 90 mass shooters,
no other country in the world has more than 48, million guns in circulation or
18 mass shooters. In short, the problem of mass shootings is basically an
American problem because we have so many guns available for some people to use
in very harmful ways.

Critics may cite other variables that could explain the
inordinately high rate of mass shootings in the United States. Trump recently said
of the recent mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas:

“Mental health is your problem
here. This was a very, based on preliminary reports, this was a very deranged
individual, a lot of problems over a long period of time. We have a lot of
mental health problems in our country, as do other countries.”

As is often the case with his statements, the facts do not
support it. About 18% of the population have mental health problems and the
vast majority are not violent and are not involved in mass shoots, though a few
are. Other possible variables, such as time spent playing video games, the
level of racial diversity, immigration, and even crime rate, also can be ruled
out statistically as being a significant factor in mass shootings—there is no
statistical evidence that any of these variables account for the high
prevalence of mass shootings, as well as homicides, in the United States. For
example, we learn that a New Yorker is as likely as a Londoner to be robbed,
but a New Yorker is over 50 times likely to be killed in the process.

There simply are no other variables other than the number of
guns in circulation that would account for the uniquely high frequency of these
horrific mass shootings, with which we have become all too familiar. As the
report from the New York Times states:

“More gun ownership corresponds
with more gun murders across virtually every axis: among developed
countries
, among American
states
, among American
towns and cities
and when controlling for crime rates.”

If it is the case that is there is a correlation between the
number of guns available to citizens in a society and the number of mass
shootings that injure and kill innocent people every year, as a matter of
common sense, it seems to follow that the solution would be to reduce the
number of guns in circulation. In fact this common sense perspective has been
borne out by empirical research as stated in the New York Times report:

…(G)un control legislation tends to
reduce gun murders, according to a recent analysis of 130
studies from 10 countries.

 The facts seem
relatively clear both about the root cause of the problem and how to ameliorate
it. So why aren’t people—including citizen voters and politicians—paying
attention and responding? This question gets us into a whole other topic, which
I don’t want to explore in any depth now. But I will say it seems clear that
since the 1980s a powerful gun culture in America cultivated primarily by the
zealotry, funds, and organization, of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
This culture has been successful in inspiring its followers to take an
expansive view of the 2nd Amendment, to see the government as a potential
threat to its fundamental right of gun ownership, and live in perpetual fear
that politicians will take away their guns and their right to own them. Because
of the intense advocacy that puts critical pressure on key politicians, in
America the NRA gun culture representing a minority view can bully its way to
keeping in place laws that ensure easy access to guns, including deadly assault
weapons and large clip magazines.

The fact that most Americans, including many members of the
NRA, are thwarted in their desire to see sensible solutions to gun regulation
is what is most concerning. According to a Pew Research report,
89% of both gun and non-gun owners favor the mentally ill from purchasing
guns—which makes Trump’s repeal
of a rule that blocks gun sales to certain mentally ill people, especially in
light of his recent statements, all the more troublesome. Moreover, even on
issues like barring gun purchases for people on no-fly or watch lists, creating
a federal data base to track gun sales, banning assault-style weapons and high
capacity magazines, receive two-thirds support from the public. Sadly, in
America currently majority views about this and other vitally important public
policy issues don’t translate into change in policy.

What is the solution? It seems evident that the majority of
people in America with sensible views that are not being heard must take to
necessary measures to make themselves heard. Given the trajectory of violence
from mass shootings and the urgency of protecting innocent lives, it’s time for
new culture of resistance to the NRA and the politicians that support them to
find reasonable ways to regulate guns in America.

 

The Alden March Bioethics Institute offers a Master of Science in Bioethics, a Doctorate of Professional Studies in Bioethics, and a Graduate Certificate in Clinical Ethics. For more information on AMBI’s online graduate programs, please visit our website.  

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Health Care, Politics and tagged , , , . Posted by Bioethics Today. Bookmark the permalink.

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