President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama became proactive about tamping down on gun violence. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate has remained steadfast in rejecting multiple gun safety bills, but at least some members of Congress — including the late Georgian John Lewis — staged a sit-in in the House several years ago demanding gun safety legislation.
Dr. John O'Shea (Courtesy photo)
Dr. John O'Shea (Courtesy photo)
Congressman Lewis also made a speech that should have shamed the entire country into buckling down on gun violence. The U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to hear a challenge to Connecticut’s 2013 law banning some semiautomatic weapons. Some federal funding for gun safety research has resumed recently but is still limited. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now resuming major funding of gun research.
Among those daily 109 gun deaths, there are four victims on average each day who are under age 18. The overall gun death rate is 4.5 per hour, equaling one every 13 minutes. Whatever it takes and however long, we have to decrease those 109 daily gun deaths. Truly nationwide background checks, requiring “smart” guns, regulating gun distribution, and forbidding armor-piercing bullets would be steps in the right direction, as would more research on the details of the impact of gun violence, but sooner or later we will need to eliminate almost all guns from our country.
Look at how many Americans die from guns compared to the rest of the world. According to the World Population Review, the U.S. annual death rate from all guns is 12 people per 100,000 population, five times that of France, 14 times Australia’s, 29 times the Netherlands, 61 times the United Kingdom’s, and 610 times Japan’s rate. In the United States, 39,800 people die each year from guns, compared to 1,500 in France, 206 in Australia, 72 in the Netherlands, 126 in the United Kingdom, and 23 in Japan
If you look at suicides with firearms, the U.S. death rate is five times France’s, 10 times Australia’s, 30 times the Netherlands’, 46 times the United Kingdom’s. Japan has basically no gun suicides.
All of these countries have much tighter gun laws than the United States. Australia has seen a marked decline in gun murders and in suicides since enacting tighter gun laws that require almost all firearms to be registered by their owners.
Bringing a gun into a home to protect one’s family — or to be used as a gift — is more like bringing in a time bomb. A supposedly normal person who owns a gun is much more likely to commit suicide or to kill a loved one than to kill a criminal. As a 2013 study by Harvard Medical School and School of Public Health and a 2020 study published in Current Opinion in Pediatrics Journal have shown, laws resulting in fewer guns in our homes are accompanied by dramatic decreases in suicides and homicides by firearms, and in less killing of civilians by police.
Although gun safety legislation is under consideration nationally and in some states, not much progress has been made yet, and some states are weakening their gun safety laws. Recent studies in peer-reviewed medical journals have clearly shown that states with the strictest gun control laws have indeed been found to have many fewer gun deaths than those with less strict ones.
As Congressman Lewis asked his colleagues in his 2017 speech: “How many more must die? But there’s no number, is there? There’s no amount of blood or pain or death or suffering that would move this Congress to act. We hold moments of silence and vigil. We offer our thoughts and prayers, but it’s all a show, a placeholder until people forget.”