Edit: I’ve been thinking about posting this for a long time…I’ve hesitated, but I decided what would it hurt.
I know it’s a bit risky writing a post about the heated topic of gun violence and gun control. In a way this post is for me to better organize my thoughts and share some insights I’ve gained from living in Germany. By no means am I an expert on gun violence and data, but I find it important to reflect on the reality of the situation.
I read an interesting article that I’ll post HERE. It has a variety of statistical data that takes a look at what the chances are of dying from a gun. It shocked me when in the U.S. it is about as likely to die from car accidents as it is to die from gun violence. Think about it this way – we all probably know someone who has died from a car accident. Think how we assume of course it won’t happen to us. It’s the same with gun death. We assume that would never happen to us. But, it’s happening to average people every day. The theater, school, clubs and even the company I used to work for had a shooting. It seems crazy that we go to great lengths to decrease car accident deaths – age of driving, alcohol limit, speed limit, seat belts, etc. It would be silly to think that if none of those regulations were in place that car death rates would be the same. The fact is they would sky rocket. I’ve been in a car accident and if I hadn’t been wearing my seat belt I could be dead. Now, of course if people want to break the rules they will…free will I suppose. But, what about when laws are in place enforce seat belt wearing? I’m sure many of us wear or seat belt just for to avoid potentially getting a ticket. There’s a consequence to not following the rules. People are naturally drawn to follow rules. Maybe putting in laws doesn’t stop every anti-seat belt wearer, but it surely decreases that number.
I’ll also post this VIDEO that shows some great data. For as much as I hated my statistics class this year, it’s extremely important. In a world of subjectivity, we must rely on data to point to the reality. Data doesn’t lie. We need to be paying more attention to it.
So if cars are essentially killers and we regulate their impact, why isn’t there more regulations and policies around guns? I posted this question on my Facebook page and to no surprise a few people responded with comments like “criminals don’t obey gun laws” or “look what happened when there was prohibition.” First of all, cutting off a supply of alcohol is in no comparison to the gun argument. If people drink too much that may be causing harm to themselves or a few people near them. I’m pretty sure you can’t splash vodka around a club and kill 50 people. The issue is having a gun puts many more people in danger. For instance, if I owned a tiger. I swore I’d keep it locked up and no one would ever be in danger. But, one night the cage latch didn’t click, tiger gets out and mauls a family walking down the street. I would like to think that people would see that oh maybe it’s not such a good idea to own a tiger. Maybe not the best example, but it has some parallels.
Let me go back to the criminals don’t follow gun laws point. I think it’s absolutely ridiculous to think that criminals were always going to be criminals. We aren’t born with the instinct to kill others of our own kind. This is a molded thinking. Some also might think that oh we have more criminals in America and that’s why we have more gun violence. Not so much. Check out these two graphs pulled from the above video.You’ll see the U.S. doesn’t have the highest level of criminals compared to other countries.
Even though we have lower crime, we have more gun deaths. Sounds like a correlation to me. So, the argument that criminals don’t obey gun laws doesn’t hold. The countries above the U.S. on the chart all have stricter gun laws and guess what, they also have fewer gun deaths. To me it looks like gun laws do have an impact. The following is adjusted for population size:
Frankly, it’s just embarrassing. When I tell people I’m from America there is an immediate comment on the current gun violence. Now, we may have less gun deaths than Mexico, or parts of Africa or places like Syria at the moment. But the problem lies in that the United States is extremely developed. We are a global economic leader. But yet, we can’t figure out how to stop our people from killing each other. Living in Germany I’m not nervous that I’m going to be shot while sitting in a cafe. Sure, the threat of terrorism is still pretty high in Europe. Recently there has been a few random acts of violence in southern Germany, including shootings. I attribute this more to the ideological system of terrorism than something consistent trend like in the states.
I’d like to make a final comment that I don’t believe all guns are bad. And with the right training and checks maybe it is OK for people to own a gun. I’m more worried about the lack of regulations in the U.S. that allows people to so easily access guns … especially assault riffles.
If you didn’t already… watch the VIDEO