After the school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, the whole queston of gun control in the United States has once again become a cause celebre; and once again everyone seems to be throwing up their hands in helpless dismay, giving up the battle before they have really begun to fight.
We had already been invited to give a presentation on the topic to our nearest (Beckley WV) Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. In researching for that presentation, we have now come across a very good article–an eye-opener–which we recommend that everyone read. It is contained in the March/April 2013 issue of Mother Jones, the independent investigative journal that repeatedly leads us to say “Hoo boy.” Some of the conclusions from the article are worth repeating. Example: The number of guns owned by this nation’s military and law-enforcement bodies is estimated to be four million (4,000,000). The guns owned by civilians is three hundred ten million (310,000,000). In the two weeks after Newtown, more than a million guns were sold.
Gun deaths by state came as a shock: Wyoming led with 18 deaths per 100,000 per annum. And of all things, Massachusetts was lowest with 4 per 100,000 per annum. The other thing that was pretty startling to us was that in 2008 there were 11,030 gun deaths in the United States. Contrast that figure with 11 in Japan. The commonly held idea that video games produce gun homicides is sunk by this statistic: In Japan $55 per person is spent on video games per annum; whereas only $44 is similarly spent in the United States. Also everyone believes that the NRA controls gun legislation–and indeed that is true. But when polled, 74 percent of NRA members say (note: they say) that they support background checks for all buyers of guns. You might like to know that 40 percent of guns are sold without background checks, mainly at gun shows and on line. Also 67 percent of NRA members would support background checks for buyers of ammunition. And 45 percent say they support a ban on assault weapons.
After we looked at these (and a lot more) statistics in the Mother Jones article, we came up with the talking points below for discussion at the Fellowship. We thought we would share them with you to get your opinion on these and other things that could be done to reduce gun homicides.
Can we act as a group?
Ban assault weapons
Require background check for all sales
Require background check for purchase of ammunition
If you want to purchase a gun or ammunition, you must prove you own a safe in which to store it
Develop a black list naming criminals and mental patients
Install and use more metal detectors at schools, stores, bars, churches, restaurants
Toughen up requirements for permits to carry weapons include handguns, shotguns and rifles
People who buy/own guns must consent to warrantless random searches of vehicles and homes
If loaded gun found not in a safe, first offense confiscation of all weapons and $10,000 fine;
second offense, 10 years in jail with no option, no appeal