Stumbling Towards Ecstasy

Creativity dedicated to the Heart, Mind, and Soul

United States, We have a Problem

We The People Have a Problem

In light of the recent Aurora Colorado travesty, gun control is once again in the spot light and the subject remains highly contentious. From a GOP senator defending a person’s right to buy high-capacity magazines to Mayor Bloomberg calling for the government to finally start taking gun control seriously, everyone in between has an opinion.

I am not anti-gun. If one wants to own a hand-gun or rifle for hobby shooting or to protect oneself and knows how to use it as well as takes appropriate precautions, great. I don’t own one, but would like to learn to shoot in case I ever have a need.

Regardless of which side of the issue you stand on, regardless of what argument you use to defend your position, some important facts remain true and must be considered.

In 2003, the World Health Organization assembled data from high income countries (Australia, Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom (England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland) and the United States) of firearm deaths. And article published in 2011 took that data and came up with the following statistics:  Journal of Trauma-Injury Infection & Critical Care: January 2011 – Volume 70 – Issue 1 – pp 238-243      

  • US firearm homicide rates are 19.5 higher than the other high-income countries
  • For 15-24 year olds firearm homicide rates were 42.7 times higher
  • For US males, firearm homicide rates were 22.0 higher
  • For US females 11.4 times higher
  • US firearm suicides were 5.8 times higher
  • US firearm unintentional deaths were 5.2 times higher
  • 80% of all firearm deaths occurred in the US
  • 86% of women killed by firearms were US women
  • 87% of all children aged 0-14 killed by firearms were US children

Data on firearm deaths has been collected since the early 1900’s and it shows the same trend. This chart represents firearms deaths for one year between 1990 and 1995. The US leads these countries, even over such violent countries like Brazil and Mexico.

Firearms Death Rate (per 100,000, age adjusted) for Selected Countries in one year between 1990 and 1995.International Journal of Epidemiology, 1988

The United States has a problem.  We lead THE WORLD in firearm related deaths. We have the most LAX GUN PURCHASE laws in the world. We, the people, must get engaged and expect our lawmakers to engage in honest and respectful problem solving on this issue. Rhetoric isn’t helping. Entrenchment doesn’t help. People keep dying. Every day. Do people REALLY want this to go on, unstoppable, until we all live in such fear we no longer delight in the basic joys of life like going to a movie, shopping in a mall, learning at school? Step up. Do something. Help stop the killing.

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2 thoughts on “United States, We have a Problem

  1. Interesting piece! I do not know the population of the countries you have used in your comparisons and what their system for rehabilitation of offenders, poverty levels and many other parameters are. I only say this because gun violence cannot be viewed in a vacuum.

    I know the Aurora tragedies are horrific, and I think the shooter should face the full force of the law. However, for some of us in America, guns are a part of our culture, We own guns and use them for many many legitimate purposes. The culture of violence in America, extreme polarization, the growing chasm between the rich and the poor, the culture of racism and so many issues probably contribute to the higher numbers of gun related violence as you have indicated in your diagram.

    We want to own whatever guns we want and as many as we want, and as long as we are nit hurting people, I do not think anyone should curtail our right to bear arms.

    The shootings are a symptom of the deeper malaise in this society and they should address these matters and not engage in this polarized debate of gun ownership.

    Thanks for allowing me share my thoughts.

    http://blackrepublicanandmyworldview.wordpress.com/2012/07/19/running-on-fear-the-tale-of-the-2012-elections/

    • HI! I appreciate your thoughts! I don’t have an answer to the problem, just that the problem exists and we must begin to have a dialogue about it like responsible citizens. The data comes from the WHO and is calculated per 100K population so it compares apples to apples so to speak. As for the other parameters, these countries are considered, like the US, as high-income nations based on similar economic factors, but as I didn’t wade through the thousands of pages and left that to experts, I can’t speak to the specifics. 🙂 As Bloomberg said in his comments, the answer may not be in more laws, but in addressing more of the issues that you speak to. I simply don’t know. I can only say that I find it difficult to justify anyone’s right to own or purchase a machine gun for any purpose other than killing another person(s). Honest and respectful communications with the purpose of hearing the other side and coming to an outcome that works for everyone is required. This I hope for.

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