Whether yesterday’s tragedy could have been avoided with tighter gun controls will once again be hotly debated. For those of us watching from the other side of the pond, it’s hard to understand the passion with which so many Americans defend what they see as their god-given right to bear arms. But when mainstream news anchors like Fox’s Bill O’Reilly behave like this towards anyone with the temerity to challenge that right, one soon realises how entrenched this “gun culture” has become, and how hard it will be to eradicate. Incidentally, inviting people onto your show only to lecture them on why you think they are wrong and without giving them any opportunity to defend their position, does seem a bizarre variation on the “interview” format.
The 2nd Amendment to the US constitution, probably made sense back in 1791 when it was first adopted as a safeguard against chaos, anarchy and the breakdown of government, but to use it to justify allowing guns into school, beggars belief.
Strangely though, very few of these debates refer to the statistics, which unless I’m missing something, clearly indicate that tighter gun controls result in fewer deaths by shooting.
With 88 firearms per 100 citizens, the US is the worldwide No.1 in private gun ownership. Yemen, which is No.2 has only 54. This results in one of the highest homicide rates in the developed world. There may still be 27 countries with a higher gun homicide rate than the US, but most are either developing nations or war zones.
As tragic as yesterday’s incident was, at least 25 people are murdered every day in the US by shooting. At least the same number shoot themselves (suicide) and accidents involving firearms account for half as much again. These numbers don’t even include those shot dead by police or the hundreds that are injured. And these figures are DAILY.