At the beginning of the new year, it’s worth taking the time to recap my arguments on two urgent issues: the plurality of guns and gun deaths in the U.S. and our national disregard of climate change.
In 2017, the most recent year for which complete data are available, 39,773 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a death rate of more than 10 per 100,000 people. At the same time, our number of guns per hundred people was 120.5—we have 20 percent more guns than people in the U.S. With less than 5 percent of the world’s population, we have about 46 percent of the world’s civilian-owned guns.
Compare us to our northern neighbor, Canada: death rate by gun-related injuries: 2.1 per 100,000. Guns per hundred people: 34.7.
Granted, the Canadian city of Toronto witnessed an increase in gun violence in 2019, but the majority of guns in Toronto were smuggled in from the U.S.
In short, we lead by a large margin the western civilized world in the number of guns we own and the number of our citizens killed by gunfire every year. No other western democracy even approaches our numbers in guns and deaths.
Only by reducing the number of guns in our country can we reduce the number killed by guns. Those against gun control point to the Second Amendment of the Constitution, which they interpret to mean that we cannot legally control ownership of guns. I argue that they are misreading the Second Amendment. It is specifically intended to avoid limits on guns for militias. It does not say that the general population should have unlimited access to firearms.
Those in favor of unlimited gun ownership also point out that guns are ingrained in American culture. We are gun owners by tradition. My answer is that we’d damned well better change our culture. It’s costing us tens of thousands of lives every year.
It’s time to go back to the original meaning of the Second Amendment and reduce the number of weapons in the hands of citizens. The alternative to accept as normal the death annually of 40,000 citizens.
Our current government—Trump in the White House and the Republicans controlling the Senate—are unwilling to act. We must vote in people who will.