Sunday, May 03, 2015

202.4 - New evidence tells the same old story: guns don't stop violence, they cause it

New evidence tells the same old story: guns don't stop violence, they cause it

A couple of years ago I did a series on different aspects of gun violence in the US*. I mention that now because I can say that absolutely nothing in the interim has caused me to change my mind in any way.

Indeed, the newest evidence only strengthens my convictions about the dangers of guns and the fact that even within the limits of those hideous Supreme Court decisions on guns (District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. City of Chicago) which redefined the meaning of the Second Amendment to include a personal, individual right to own guns, decisions which I maintain were wrongly decided and decided on political, not legal or historical or Constitutional grounds and which ignored precedent, which they clearly did, even within in the limits imposed on us by those decisions, much more can and should be done to limit ownership of guns which take the lives of 33,000 Americans every single year.

Before I get into that, a quick sidebar to what might well be called an example of Unintentional Humor, where something not intended to be funny, just is.

The Nutzoid Rabbit-brains of America - that is, the NRA -  held its annual convention in Nashville over the weekend of April 10-12. As part of that, the 70,000 or so attendees could ogle the "nine acres of guns" (according to an ad for the event) displayed among the over 500 vendors dealing in everything from Glocks to camo suits.

None of those "nine acres of guns" are for sale: Federal law requires such purchases to be through federally-licensed dealers and sales can't be made at the conventions. However, what, as near as I can determine, is not federal law but is NRA policy, is that guns on display not only are not for sale, they are unloaded and they don't work: The firing pins have been removed. Apparently, the NRA doesn't think it's safe to be surrounded by all those guns.

Anyway, getting back to that newest evidence:

A year ago, David Hemenway, director of the Injury Control Research Center at Harvard, set about surveying a wide range of experts on guns. His team went through about 1,200 articles on firearms published since 2011 in peer-reviewed journals focused on public health, public policy, sociology, and criminology. In May 2014, Hemenway began sending monthly surveys to the authors of these articles - upwards of 300 authorities - with questions related to firearm use, background checks, and other gun policies. The Harvard team has completed nine surveys so far, with about 100 researchers responding to each and the answers consistently came out in ways that smacked down the gun-lovers bogus claims.

Most significantly, a heavy majority the experts agreed that having a gun in the house makes it a more dangerous place to be, makes it more likely that a woman living in the house will be killed, and increases the risk of suicide. Heavy majorities also agreed that having more guns around does not reduce crime and that strong gun laws do reduce homicide.

Meanwhile, a study done by Mother Jones magazine determined that the economic cost of gun violence in the US is $229 billion per year - more than the economic costs of the health effects connected to obesity and almost as much as we spend on Medicaid.

At some point the hard reality of guns and the damage they cause - I may not see it in my lifetime - but at some point that reality will penetrate the public consciousness, at some point the understanding of the Second Amendment will again pay more attention to Constitutional history and precedent and an understanding of what the Amendment actually means than to political power and reactionary ideology. And so at some point the phrase "gun control" and even the phrase "gun ban" will no longer be part of a seemingly-dead language.

The only question is how many of us will be needlessly killed or paralyzed or maimed in the meantime.

Sources cited in links:

*The series on gun violence in America
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