Guns, Kids and Sanity

By Shlomo   Maital   

Noah Pozner Noah Pozner 

    America leads the world in guns per capita, by far. (See Table).  It leads even lawless Yemen, or Iraq.  (Switzerland scores high, mainly because its citizens are in the reserve army and store their weapon at home). 

 

Country

Guns per 100 residents (2007)

Rank (2007)

 

United States

88.8

1

 
Serbia

58.2

2

 

Yemen

54.8

3

 
Switzerland

45.7

4

 
Cyprus

36.4

5

 
Saudi Arabia

35

6

 
Iraq

34.2

7

 

 

  Here are a few questions, in the wake of the tragic deaths of 20 small children in Newtown, CT.     Do Americans feel personally safer when so many pack weapons, or less safe?   Guns diminish personal safety.  When a household has a gun, there is much higher probability of death by suicide or death when one household member shoots another.   Some gun advocates like the National Rifle Association urge arming teachers.  Perhaps U.S. teachers’ colleges should now have curricula that include target practice as well as pegagogy.    Should every school have an armed guard?   This is the National Rifle Association’s suggestion, expressed by its President.   There is a country where this is the case: Israel.  Israel faces terrorism.  By law every coffee shop, restaurant, shopping center, and school, must have an armed guard.  But this is to protect people and children against an external threat. What if the threat is from Americans themselves? How do you protect a society from itself?  By more arms?  Or by fewer arms?    What can America learn from other countries?   Brazil has a great many shooting deaths, though far fewer per capita than the U.S. Brazil has a lot of firearms, though far far fewer than America (one-tenth).  Brazil has acted to limit firearms.  According to Wikipedia, “all firearms are required to be registered with the state; the minimum age for ownership is 25 and although it is legal to carry a gun outside a residence, extremely severe restrictions were made by the federal government since 2002 making it virtually impossible to obtain a carry permit.”  This is key.  There are 300 million weapons in America, about one per person. The NRA fights to allow people to pack a gun whenever and wherever they wish.   The first step in gun control should be to ban ‘carrying’.  Leave the guns locked, at home.   Does America benchmark other countries, like Brazil, and learn from their experience?  Simply: no!    Is gun control in America (like everything else) about money?   Here are the data – you draw your own conclusion.  “This year, the [gun] industry is expected to rack up a steady $11.7 billion in sales and $993 million in profits, according to analysts at IBIS World. Gun makers churned out nearly six million guns last year — double the number that they did a decade ago.”   If you had a $12 b. industry, would you spend fortunes on lobbyists to protect your business?  Guns, like so many other things in America, are in the end about money.  No effective action will occur until the political system puts some chains on ther high-paid lobbyists, including those of the NRA.

The haunting photograph of 6-year-old Noah Pozner, killed at Newtown, should be on the wall of every Congressperson and Senator.  

    

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