I would like to start out by bringing a couple of simple facts to this debate, namely gun death statistics among a few modern industrialized democracies.
In last place is Japan, with a mere 0.06 gun deaths per 100,000 people. Only a bit above Japan is South Korea, with 0.08 gun deaths per 100,000. The United Kingdom is next, witnessing 0.23 gun deaths per 100,000, and then the Netherlands at 0.58 per 100,000.
Australia (0.93), Germany (1.01), New Zealand (1.07), Italy (1.31), Canada (1.97), and France (2.83) follow.
So where does the U.S. come in?
Here’s a hint: it is not a number to be proud of. America witnesses not twice, nor thrice as many gun deaths per capita as France, but nearly four times as many. In the United States there are a whopping 10.54 gun deaths per 100,000 Americans. All of this data is available for free at gunpolicy.org
It should be pretty clear that we have a problem. Just below us in terms of gun deaths are such peaceful locales as Mexico, Nicaragua, and Serbia.
Why are we so much more violent than the rest of our peers? Why are we the only Western democracy to break five gun deaths per 100,000? Well maybe, just maybe, it could be related to how absurdly lax our gun regulations are.
Maybe the fact that it’s legal to own easily concealed handguns and carry them around in public is a factor. Maybe the fact that gun manufacturers and retailers have no obligation to help the government track down weapons is a factor. Maybe the fact that it’s legal to anonymously buy weapons and ammunition in the U.S. is a factor.
Or, as so-called “gun rights activists” would have you believe, it’s because there’s not enough guns around. Somehow a massive fallacy has become widespread in American gun regulation discourse. Gun activists constantly spout the phrase “only a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun.”
This is actually fairly true, but it is designed to dodge the point. The question isn’t whether you can stop a shooter with love and flowers, but whether bad guys should be able to get guns.
The gun lobby wants to make it seem like guns are inevitable, like criminals will always have guns, and the best we can do is to give law-abiding citizens guns to combat this.
This just isn’t true, and the proof is in the statistics. Those countries which are near the bottom of number of gun deaths per 100,000 residents? They all have stricter gun laws than the United States.
Japan and South Korea both essentially prohibit the ownership of guns, while the U.K. and the Netherlands impose strict licensing and qualification requirements on owning guns.
Australia, Germany, New Zealand, and France all require competency tests and a valid reason for ownership in order to obtain a license for a gun.
In Canada, long guns are not restricted, but all other forms of guns, and in particular hand guns, are regulated and only allowed to be fired at ranges.
Only in the United States are all forms of guns considered a right, and no license is required at the federal level. Clearly, restricting guns does lower gun violence.
Every other Western democracy has figured this out and demonstrates it amply. Yet gun activists remain steadfast in their refusal to see the evidence. It’s time for them and, more importantly, congress, to see the evidence for what it is.
Strict gun laws don’t leave law-abiding citizens at the mercy of armed criminals. They leave criminals armed with knives at the mercy of well-equipped law enforcement officers.