My guess is that it’s obvious that I love the U.S. I put my life on the line repeatedly for the good of the country before I retired to write full time. Because of that love, the country’s flaws especially aggrieve me. Two of my pet peeves are U.S. gun violence and our failure to address climate change. I’ve written about both here before and no doubt will again. Maybe if I beat the drum long enough, people will listen and take action. I’ll start today with firearms deaths.
The U.S. has less than 5 percent of the world’s population but owns 46 percent of its guns. We have 120.5 guns for every hundred people, the highest ratio in the world. Every year, we kill more Americans with guns, and 2021 is on track to be the deadliest year in our history—so far this year, we have killed almost 12,000 people.
The ratio between the number of guns owned and the number of people killed in a country is roughly the same throughout the world—the more guns, the more killed. So the way to reduce the number of gun deaths is to reduce the number of firearms in the hands of the civilian population. Taking guns away from policemen on their beat would also decrease the total slain. We know from watching the British whose bobbies are mostly unarmed that it can work.
The two arguments I run into whenever I plead for the reduction in firearms are that (1) the U.S. is a gun culture, and (2) criminals would always find ways to get guns, putting the rest of us at their mercy.
The gun culture argument is easily dispelled. If the culture is costing us upwards of 20,000 deaths a year, we as a nation, led by our federal government, must change our culture. And if we seriously reduced the number of guns in the population’s hands and cracked down on firearms imports and smuggling, we could reduce the number of weapons in criminal hands to close to zero.
None of this would be easy, but we have shown that we as a nation can take on tough problems and solve them. Let’s tackle gun violence now.