To the Valley News:
Recently, while exploring the internet, I stumbled across an article in the Washington Post that dealt with ”What makes America’s gun culture totally unique in the world.” This in turn led me to a database compiled by the Guardian titled, “Gun Homicides and Gun Ownership Listed by Country.” It is a list of 178 countries which includes some very interesting and informative information about civilian firearms ownership and numbers of firearm related homicides. The United States of course is at the top of the world’s civilian gun ownership list by far. In fact while our population makes up only 5 percent of the world’s population we own somewhere between 35-50 percent of the worlds civilian guns. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/newa/datablog/2012/iul/22/gun-homicides).
In this country there, currently, are around 270 million guns held privately. This equates to 88.8 guns owned per 100 people. Our homicide by firearm rate per 100,000 people comes in at 2.97. From here, it all depends upon how you choose to interpret the data.
If I were oriented toward more stringent gun control I would point out that in a number of cases there is a direct correlation between the number of firearms privately owned and homicide rate. I would point to our neighbor Canada where, there are only 30.8 firearms per 100 people and a homicide by firearms (HBF) rate of only 0.51 HBF per 100,000 people. In addition I would show Australia with a 15 guns/100people and a HBF of only 0.14. I could point out Japan with a 0.6 firearms/100 people and an HBF rate of only 0.01. I could in fact go on and on pointing out that those countries with fewer guns and most likely stricter gun control laws do in fact have lower rates of firearm related deaths. Of course when you truly examine the numbers we see that this issue is in fact far more complicated than, where our personal bias tends to fall.
If on the other hand I wanted to point outthat gun control” was a fallacy then I would look at the number 3 country for civilian gun ownership, Switzerland. Switzerland has a gun ownership level of 45.7 guns per 100 people with a HBF rate of only 0.77. Number 4, Finland comes in at 45.3 guns per 100 people and a HBF rate of only 0.45. Looking at these numbers it would seem that something else is going on in these countries and perhaps it would be wise for us to take a look at exactly what it is that they are doing other than simply imposing more stringent gun laws upon our population.
All of the above is however completely meaningless rhetoric and useless banter to the parents who lost their children at Sandy Hook Elementary and to the friends and relatives of the more than 30,000 people each year for the past ten years who have been victims of gun violence.
I am a gun owner and hunting, protecting our homes and families and serving our country has been part of our family heritage in America for well over 350 years. We are missing the point completely, however, and getting sidetracked into an anachronistic obsession that makes us look crazy people in the eyes of the world. It’s not about the right of the individual to bear arms. Our citizens are dying from the misuse of firearms and rather than letting our thoughts be driven by the propaganda of power hungry politicians or special interest groups with questionable motives, we should be solving this problem the way other countries not so blinded by their own myopic needs are doing at this very moment. Rather than trying to arm teachers, janitors, administrators and security guards with deadly weapons which seems to me like fighting fire with gasoline, we need to start installing “biometric facial recognition security systems” in our schools and work places the way the rest of the civilized world is doing. We need to reach out to other countries in order to learn how they have been able to hold their Homicide by Firearms rates down. We also need to interact with one another in a civil manner over an issue that is in fact highly personal and emotional in order to come up with gun control laws that really work. This is what the internet and its vast universe of information and networking capabilities should be used for, and not for becoming enfeebled by a continual barrage of numbers and information that leads to the oppositional interpretations that keep us all in a mass consciousness paralytic coma; while the senseless shootings continue.
Roger Frary, Putnam Station