I’ll list the facts, you draw the conclusions about America’s relationship with guns
I woke up last Monday morning to nightmarish news from Las Vegas. My brain had difficulty processing the images and statistics as they rolled in. They were straight out of a war zone, like something you hear about in a far-off, more dangerous place on the globe. I am sure many of you felt the same.
In the face of the latest terroristic attack by an angry man with guns, the right and the left are settling, predictably, into their normal gun-control policy positions. I am not writing today to weigh in on that debate. I am here to merely set out facts about the U.S.‘s relationship with guns.
I know that guns occupy an important cultural space in western Colorado. I grew up in a small town in southern Idaho with a similar cultural history. Most families I knew owned guns, either to hunt or to do what they felt was right to protect their families.
So, I am purposefully not making any argument with regard to guns and l ask you to not write to me with your position on gun control. I ask, instead, for you to read the facts I list below, and just sit with them:
■ Worldwide, there are 2.18 gun deaths per 100,000 persons per year. (Source: University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation; healthdata.org)
■ In the U.S., there are 3.85 gun deaths per year per 100,000 persons: 31st worst in the world. (UW Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, 195 countries total)
■ If you cross the border north into Canada, you are eight times less likely to be killed by a firearm. If you go to the United Kingdom, you are 55 times less likely. (UW Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation)
■ 98 percent of mass shootings in the U.S. are committed by men. (“U.S. Mass Shootings, 1982-2017: Data from Mother Jones’ Investigation.”)
■ In 2016, 15,079 people were killed by a firearm (non-suicides). (Centers for Disease Control)
■ In 2014, gun suicides killed 21,334 people: 24 percent higher than 1999. (CDC)
■ Mesa County’s suicide rate is nearly double the U.S. average. (Mesa County’s Community Health Needs Assessment)
■ Americans make up 4.43 percent of the world’s population but own 42 percent of the world’s privately-held firearms. (United Nations)
■ Americans make up 4.43 percent of the world’s population but account for 31 percent of the world’s mass shootings. (Professor Adam Lankford, University of Alabama)
■ In 2007, the number of civilian-owned firearms in the U.S. was 88.8 guns per 100 people. The second-ranked country was Yemen, with 54.8 guns per 100 people. (Lankford, University of Alabama)
■ The Las Vegas shooter had 23 firearms in his hotel suite. He had 24 more firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and explosives in his two Nevada homes.
■ 12 firearms in his hotel suite were outfitted with bump stocks, devices used to make semi-automatic guns behave like fully-automatic machine guns.
■ The Las Vegas shooter purchased 33 of his 47 firearms in the past year and purchased all 47 and 12 bump stocks legally.
■ About 20 hours before the Las Vegas massacre, more than 20 shots rang out on a bar-lined intersection in Lawrence, Kansas, killing three people and injuring two others. The event barely received news coverage.
■ In 1934, National Rifle Association president Karl Frederick said, “I do not believe in the general promiscuous toting of guns. I think it should be sharply restricted and only under licenses.”
■ The NRA currently opposes limitations on types of ammunition on the market, limitations of the sale of assault-type rifles like the AR-15, limitations on the sale of magazines with more than 10 rounds, expanded background checks for firearm purchases, more controls on sales of guns at gun shows, gun licensing, gun registration, an electronically searchable database to track the origins of firearms used in crimes, or a ban on bump stocks like those used in Las Vegas.
■ The NRA has donated $86,500 to Colorado members of Congress who are currently in office, including Scott Tipton and Cory Gardner.
■ Since 1997, Congress has barred the Centers for Disease Control from any research that “advocate(s) or promote(s) gun control.”
■ Since the Dec. 14, 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook, in which 26 people — including 20 small children — were killed, Congress has passed exactly zero gun laws.
■ There have been at least 1,518 mass shootings since Sandy Hook. (Gun Violence Archive, a database that tracks events since 2013 in which four or more people — not counting the shooter — were shot at the same general time and location)
■ Since Dec. 22, 2001, when a man unsuccessfully attempted to detonate explosives packed into his shoes on a Paris-to-Miami flight, passengers have been required to take their shoes off at security gates at all U.S. airports.
Again, you decide what conclusions to draw with these statistics. If you feel nothing, that’s your prerogative. If you feel something, then ask yourself what can be done with that feeling.