The Transylvania Times -

Base Gun Laws On Facts


Last updated 2/28/2018 at 3:37pm

In the coming weeks and months, it appears as if state houses across the country, if not Congress, may reconsider regulations on guns. While the images of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., remain fresh in people’s minds, changes to the law should be based on facts. Those facts should lead to reasonable debate and plausible solutions to gun violence in America. To wit:

•America has more guns and more mass shootings than any other country. Of the 41 states in which the number of households with guns exceeds the U.S. average, 28 have gun death rates above the national average of 10.5 per 100,000. Of the nine states in which gun ownership is below the national average, only one had gun death rates above the national average. The states with more guns had more gun-related deaths.

•The greatest number of gun-related deaths are suicides. In 2016, there were an estimated 22,000 suicides by gun. That year there were roughly 11,600 gun-related homicides. Mass shootings that year accounted for 456 deaths, or 1.2 percent of gun-related deaths. Incidents in which victims killed perpetrators accounted for 589 deaths, or 1.6 percent of all gun-related deaths. Accidental shootings and other classifications of shooting claimed 3,500 lives.

• In 1995, Connecticut tightened its gun laws; it saw homicides decrease by 40 percent and suicides decrease by 15 percent. In 2007, Missouri eased its gun licensing laws; it saw homicides increase by 25 percent and suicides increase by 16 percent. Similar results have occurred in industrialized countries in which stricter gun laws have been enacted.

•Bullets from semi-automatic 9mm handguns leave linear damage that is no larger than the bullet itself. The entry and exit wounds are roughly the size of the bullet. Bullets used in AR-15s leave the barrel three times faster than a typical bullet from a 9mm handgun and have three times the energy. According to Heather Sher, the radiologist who saw victims from the Parkland shooting, “The high-velocity bullet causes a swath of tissue damage that extends several inches from its path. It does not have to actually hit an artery to damage it and cause catastrophic bleeding. Exit wounds can be the size of an orange.” Bullets fired from AR-15s are much more deadly than bullets fired from handguns.

•Passed in 1994, the federal assault weapons ban prohibited rifles like the AR-15 and large-capacity magazines. After the ban was allowed to expire on Sept. 13, 2004, the frequency and number of people killed in mass shootings has increased dramatically.

Based on these and other statistics, it’s reasonable to conclude that more guns do not equate to greater safety; gun laws, like traffic laws, can reduce the number of gun-related deaths; restricting the use of certain types of bullets would improve a person’s chances of living if they were shot; and we could use more counselors to prevent people from committing suicide.

As for the Second Amendment, the right to “bear arms” is not absolute. It is illegal to own automatic weapons. Former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in the Heller vs. District of Columbia decision, wrote, “Like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited. From Blackstone through the 19th century cases, commentators and courts routinely explained that the right was not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose….nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as school and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.”

Furthermore, on Feb. 21, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal on California’s 10-day waiting period for the purchase of a firearm, in essence supporting the Ninth Circuit’s opinion that “the 10-day wait is reasonable precaution for the purchase of a second or third weapon, as well as for a first purchase.”

Since the government has broad authority to regulate guns, as well as an obligation to “promote the general welfare,” it’s time for our elected officials to take action, based on facts, that will actually reduce the inordinate number of gun-related deaths in the country.


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