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Religious/Ethical/Moral conflicts

2018-9: Gun Control laws in the U.S.

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Definition:

Wikipedia defines "Gun Control" (a.k.a. Firearms Regulation) as:

"... the set of laws or policies that regulate the manufacture, sale, transfer, possession, modification, or use of firearms by civilians." 1

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2018: Results of polls on gun control in the U.S.:

Gallup has conducted polls on a random selection of U.S. adults since 1959 and has been polling annually since 1990. During 2018-OCT, 2 their poll of randomly selected U.S. adults found that:

  • 43% have a gun in their home; 55% do not; 2% refused to answer. (This compares with surveys by other groups which show that 26% of Canadian households and 14.2% of Ontario households own one or more firearm. 3)

  • 61% believe that "... laws covering the sale of firearms should be made more strict." 30% prefer the current laws be retained; 8% would like to have the laws made less strict.

  • 28% believe that laws should be implemented that "... ban the possession of handguns except by the the police and other authorized persons." 71% oppose such a law; 1% have no opinion.

  • 40% favor a law that would make it illegal to manufacture, sell, or possess semiautomatic guns (a.k.a. assault weapons. (These are weapons that fire one bullet every time the trigger is pulled). 57% oppose such a law; 3% have no opinion.

  • 28% have a very favorable, 25% a mostly favorable, 16% a mostly unfavorable, 26% a very unfavorable opinion of the National Rifle Association (NRA). 4% had no opinion. The NRA promotes relaxation of gun control laws in the U.S.

  • When asked about approaches to prevent mass shootings at schools, 92% favored "requiring background checks for all gun sales." *

  • When asked in general about a law requiring background checks for all gun purchases, 96% were in favor of such a law. *

  • Among various "problems facing the country," 51% personally worry "a great deal" about the availability of guns.

  • 46% are dissatisfied with the current laws and want them made more strict; 39% are satisfied with present laws; 8% are dissatisfied with present laws and want them made less strict; 5% are dissatisfied with present laws but want them kept the same; 2% had no opinion or refused to answer.
* Most states in the U.S. do not require background checks for firearms purchased from private individuals at gun shows, at home, at any other location, or over the Internet. This is often referred to as the "gun show loophole." It allows individuals who could not pass a background check to purchase firearms at any of the thousands of gun shows across the U.S. annually or to make private sales with another person. Federal law only requires that licensed dealers to conduct background checks. 4

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2019-JAN-08: Democrats introducing gun control legislation in the federal House:

A group of Democratic Representatives introduced a bill in the House to expand background checks during all sales and transfers of firearms. The date was selected to coincide with the eighth anniversary of the shooting of former Rep. Gabby Giffords. If, by some miracle, the bill were to become law, most researchers feel that it would make a significant dent in the number of gun deaths in the U.S. which reached almost 40,000 during 2018. 5

Gabby Giffords (D) said that the bill:

"... marks a critical first step toward strengthening America’s gun laws and making our country a safer place to live, work, study, worship and play. I stand ready to do everything in my power to get this legislation across the finish line. 5

The bill, like so many others on this topic, did not proceed.

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Does strict state gun control legislation reduce the level of firearms-related fatalities?

A 2018-MAY-06 article by Johnathan Cohn in Huffington Post said:

"Adjusted for age and population, the gun fatality rate in Massachusetts for 2016 was the lowest in the U.S. And that’s how it’s been for most of the last 30 years, although sometimes another state, like Hawaii, which also has very strict gun laws, ends up with a slightly lower rate." 8

During the weekend of 2019-AUG-06, 22 people were killed in El Paso, TX, and nine were killed in Dayton, OH during a pair of mass shootings. 7

The Facebook page "Occupy Democrats" later posted a statement, suggesting that tighter gun-ownership regulations could help to reduce levels of firearm-related fatalities. It said:

"In Massachusetts, to buy a gun you have to take a four-hour gun safety course, get character references from two people, and have a one-on-one interview with a police officer. Oh, and it has the lowest gun death rate in America. Let’s do this everywhere."

and:

"Adjusted for age and population, the gun fatality rate in Massachusetts for 2016 was the lowest in the U.S. And that’s how it’s been for most of the last 30 years ..." 6

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2019-AUG-08: Time magazine's cover image:

Edward Felsenthal, the Editor-in-chief and CEO of TIME magazine, discussed this week's magazine cover by artist John Mavroudis. It's title is: "ENOUGH. A year of gun violence in America so far." It lists the locations of 253 mass shootings so far in 2019. They define mass shooting as an incident in which at least four persons -- not including the shooter -- were injured or killed. Mass shootings are occurring slightly more than one a day in the U.S.

A continually updated listing of Mass Shootings during the year is available online at the Gun Violence Archive web site. 9

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Rates of deaths from gun violence in some countries around the world:

An article by Nurith Aizenman and Mark Silver of National Public Radio listed violent gun deaths for various countries worldwide. 10 Deaths due to armed conflict, accidents or self-harm -- including suicide -- were not included.

For the year 2017 death rates for various countries were:

  • Singapore: 0.20 per million persons.
  • Japan: 0.4
  • Indonesia: 0.4
  • Oman: 0.4
  • China: 0.4
  • South Korea: 0.5
  • United Kingdom: 0.6
  • Iceland: 0.7
  • Bangladesh: 0.7
  • Romania: 0.8.
  • ...
  • Burkina Faso: 37.3
  • United States: 44.3 (the 28th highest of all countries)
  • Cote d'Ivorie 44.5
  • South Africa: 45.6
  • Cape Verde: 67.9
  • Lesotho: 68.0
  • Trinidad and Tobago 151.9
  • Belize: 156.9

If a country's rate of gun violence deaths was based solely on socioeconomic status, then the U.S. should only experience about 4.6 deaths per million.

Canada, which perhaps has the closest culture to the U.S. of any country in the world, experienced 4.7 deaths/million. Gun ownership is restricted by laws in Canada.

See also:

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What Congress could do if lawmakers actually cared about the deaths of fellow Americans from gun violence:

The process could be simple:

  • Step 1: Fund a major study that attempts to discover the reasons why the rate of deaths due to gun violence varies so much in countries around the world. In depth analysis of death rates in Canada, the UK, and the U.S. -- three countries with relatively similar cultures -- should be particularly instructive.

  • Step 2: Attempt to determine what law changes in the U.S. could significantly reduce such deaths while avoiding conflict with the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that guarantees public access to guns.

  • Step 3: Implement such laws.

  • Step 4: Those members of Congress who voted in favor of the law(s) would then have to find other sources of income to finance their reelection campaigns. The National Rifle Association (NRA) which supports allowing gun ownership by the general adult population would probably discontinue their donations. During the 2016 election, the group gave a record $54.4 million to support the election campaibns of Donald Trump and Republican candidates running for US Senate seats. 11

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2019-SEP: Poll shows very strong public support for "red flag" gun control laws:

A Washington Post/ABC poll during early 2019-SEP found that 96% of Americans support "red flag" laws that would allow guns to be taken from individuals who are seen to be a danger to themselves or others. The poll also found that 89% are in favor of expanding existing federal background checks to include private sales and gun-show transactions. Both measures are supported by over 80% of Republicans, white evangelical Christians, members of gun-owning families, and other traditionally conservative U.S. groups. However, only a minority of Republicans but a majority of Democrats favor a ban on ammunition clips with more than 10 bullets, on sales of assault weapons, and a manditory buyback program to turn in all assaault weapons. 12 The margin of error on the survey was +/-3.5 percentage points.

60% of those polled say they are somewhat or greatly concerned that a mass shooting will happen in their community. Democrats and independents are more worried now than they were in six years ago, while Republicans are less worried.

During early September, President Trump said that he expects to present a "package" of proposals, but they would target the mentally ill. He said:

"I support keeping guns out of the hands of sick people. ... [background checks] wouldn’t have stopped any of the last few years’ worth of these mass shootings, which is a problem." 12

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Gun Control," Wikipedia, as on 2018-DEC-15 at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  2. "Guns," Gallup, updated between 2018-OCT and 2019-JAN, at: https://news.gallup.com/
  3. "Firearms, Accidental Deaths, Suicides and Violent Crime: An Updated Review of the Literature with Special Reference to the Canadian Situation," Federal Department of Justice, 2015-JAN-07, at: https://www.justice.gc.ca/
  4. "Gun Show Loophole FAQ," The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, as on 2018-DEC-15, at: https://en.wikipedia.org/
  5. "Dems to Push Gun Control on Anniversary of Giffords Shooting," Associated Press, Snopes, 2019-JAN-04, at: https://www.snopes.com/
  6. Dan Macguill, "Does Massachusetts Have Strict Gun-Ownership Requirements, Low Firearm-Death Rates?," Snopes, 2019-AUG-09, at: https://www.snopes.com/
  7. Meg Wagner, et al., "At least 31 killed in US weekend mass shootings," CNN, 2019-AUG-06, at: https://www.cnn.com/
  8. Johnathan Cohn, "This Is The Toughest Gun Law In America," Archive.today, 2018-MAY-08, at: http://archive.is/
  9. "Mass Shootings in 2019," Gun Violence Archive, at: https://www.gunviolencearchive.org/
  10. Nurith Aizenman & Marc Silver, "How The U.S. Compares With Other Countries In Deaths From Gun Violence," National Public Radio, 2019-AUG-05, at: https://www.npr.org/
  11. Matt Cohen, "A Titanic Battle Over Gun Safety Is Coming, and the NRA Has Never Been in Worse Shape," Mother Jones, 2019-AUG-09, at: https://www.motherjones.com/
  12. Mike DeBonis & Emily Guskin, "Americans of both parties overwhelmingly support ‘red flag’ laws, expanded background checks for gun buyers, Washington Post-ABC News poll finds," Washington Post, 2019-SEP-09, at: https://beta.washingtonpost.com/

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How you may have arrived here:

Home > Morality > here

Home > Change/conflict > here

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Copyright 2019 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
O
riginal posting: 2018-JUL-23
Latest update: 2019-SEP-09
Author: B.A. Robinson

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