Wednesday, January 12, 2011

We Must Stop the Madness

In honor of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D)AZ and in memory of those who lost their lives at her side on Saturday, January 8, 2011, I ask you,

DID YOU KNOW? In one year on average, almost 100,000 people in America are shot or killed with a gun.

* In one year, 31,224 people died from gun violence and 66,769 people survived gun injuries (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (NCIPC)). That includes:

o 12,632 people murdered and 44,466 people shot in an attack.

o 17,352 people who killed themselves and 3,031 people who survived a suicide attempt with a gun.

o 613 people who were killed unintentionally and 18,610 who were shot unintentionally but survived.

DID YOU KNOW? Over a million people have been killed with guns in the United States since 1968, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated (Childrens’ Defense Fund, p. 20).

* U.S. homicide rates are 6.9 times higher than rates in 22 other populous high-income countries combined, despite similar non-lethal crime and violence rates. The firearm homicide rate in the U.S. is 19.5 times higher (Richardson, p.1).

* Among populous high-income countries, 80% of all firearm deaths occurred in the United States (Richardson, p. 1).

* Gun violence impacts society in countless ways: medical costs, costs of the criminal justice system, security precautions such as metal detectors, and reductions in quality of life because of fear of gun violence. These impacts are estimated to cost U.S. citizens $100 billion annually (Cook, 2000).

DID YOU KNOW? Where there are more guns, there are more gun deaths.

* An estimated 41% of gun-related homicides and 94% of gun-related suicides would not occur under the same circumstances had no guns been present (Wiebe, p. 780).

* Higher household gun ownership correlates with higher rates of homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings (Harvard Injury Control Center).

* Keeping a firearm in the home increases the risk of suicide by a factor of 3 to 5 and increases the risk of suicide with a firearm by a factor of 17 (Kellermann, 1992, p. 467; Wiebe, p. 771).

* Keeping a firearm in the home increases the risk of homicide by a factor of 3 (Kellermann, 1993, p. 1084).

DID YOU KNOW? On the whole, guns are more likely to raise the risk of injury than to confer protection.

* A gun is 22 times more likely to be used in a completed or attempted suicide, criminal assault or homicide, or unintentional shooting death or injury than to be used in a self-defense shooting. (Kellermann, 1998, p. 263).

* Guns are used to intimidate and threaten 4 to 6 times more often than they are used to thwart crime (Hemenway, p. 269).

* Every year there are only about 200 legally justified self-defense homicides by private citizens (FBI, Expanded Homicide Data, Table 15) compared with over 30,000 gun deaths (NCIPC).

* A 2009 study found that people in possession of a gun are 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault (Branas).

DID YOU KNOW? Assaults and suicide attempts with firearms are much more likely to be fatal than those perpetrated with less lethal weapons or means. Removing guns saves lives.

* There are five times as many deaths from gun assaults as from knife assaults, where the rates of assault with knives and with guns are similar (Zimring, p. 199).

* More than 90 percent of suicide attempts with a gun are fatal (Miller, 2004, p. 626). In comparison, only 3 percent of attempts with drugs or cutting are fatal (Miller, 2004, p. 626).

DID YOU KNOW? Guns can be sold in the United States without a background check to screen out criminals or the mentally ill.

* It is estimated that over forty percent of gun acquisitions occur in the secondary market. That means that they happen without a Brady background check at a federally licensed dealer (Cook, p. 26).

* Sales from federal firearm licensees (FFLs) require a background check. Sales between individuals, under federal law, do not require a background check. This means that felons can “lie and buy” at gun shows and other places where guns are readily available.

We must stop the madness. Private citizens do not need handguns.

The second amendment to our constitution reads, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." It means that so long as the people were needed to maintain "... a well regulated militia..." they retained the right to bear arms. That is no longer the case. We now go to great expense to maintain a professional "militia."

We must outlaw the sale of handguns to private citizens. I hope you will join me in lobbying Congress to make this happen.

No, it won't be easy, but since when do we let that stop us from accomplishing what is right?

Access all references at the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence website by clicking on the title of this post.


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