On Friday August 24 in New York City, outside the Empire State Building a 58 year old man shot a former co-worker. Two veteran police officers shot the gunman after he pointed a pistol at them. Nine bystanders were injured – all from the policemen’s bullets. The point here is that even when trained policemen return fire in an emergency situation bystanders may end up being shot as well. This example exposes the fallacy of the unsubstantiated claims of the National Rifle Association and its supporters that the way to reduce gun violence is to have more people armed. Can one imagine the carnage that might have resulted if hundreds of untrained and frightened citizens outside the Empire State Building were all armed and started shooting – each believing that the next gun waving citizen was the original shooter? Can one imagine how much greater the slaughter would have been on July 20, 2012 if after James Eagan Holmes started shooting, everyone in the Aurora Colorado Century movie theater had been armed and began shooting in the dark?
In a separate report, on August 25 it was reported that in Prospect Connecticut a seven year old boy accidentally shot his neighbor with his neighbor’s gun.
The factual evidence collected by the Harvard Injury Control Research Center is that higher levels of gun ownership and availability are associated with higher levels of gun homicide. This relationship holds even after one adjusts for a myriad of other factors such as rates of aggravated assault, robbery, unemployment, urbanization, alcohol consumption, and poverty. The relationship between gun availability and gun violence is valid in the US as well as in the rest of the world. This evidence contradicts the religious type doctrine of the gun lobby that more guns provide greater safety.
The key to reducing gun violence is to tightly regulate the availability of guns and to eliminate the availability of guns with large magazines and those capable of rapid repetitive firing. Individuals applying for gun licenses should be rigorously screened and these individuals should be required to undergo safety training prior to receiving a license. There should be strict penalties for unauthorized gun possession, safety violations and illegal gun use.
Unfortunately, US politicians fear the gun lobby more than they cherish the lives of the US citizenry.