Another day, another mass shooting. This time, right here in Oregon.
Time to face facts. And get political. Not later. Now!
Obama got it exactly right today. I've boldfaced parts of what he said that I especially liked.
And, of course, what's also routine is that somebody, somewhere will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together, to the body politic.
I would ask news organizations — because I won't put these facts forward — have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who've been killed through terrorist attacks over the last decade and the number of Americans who've been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports.
This won't be information coming from me; it will be coming from you. We spend over a trillion dollars, and pass countless laws, and devote entire agencies to preventing terrorist attacks on our soil, and rightfully so.
And yet, we have a Congress that explicitly blocks us from even collecting data on how we could potentially reduce gun deaths. How can that be?
This is a political choice that we make to allow this to happen every few months in America. We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction.
When Americans are killed in mine disasters, we work to make mines safer. When Americans are killed in floods and hurricanes, we make communities safer. When roads are unsafe, we fix them to reduce auto fatalities. We have seatbelt laws because we know it saves lives.
So the notion that gun violence is somehow different, that our freedom and our Constitution prohibits any modest regulation of how we use a deadly weapon, when there are law-abiding gun owners all across the country who could hunt and protect their families and do everything they do under such regulations doesn't make sense.
Facts are wonderful things. They can save lives. But this country keeps on ignoring facts about the relationship between gun ownership and gun deaths.
More guns, more deaths. That's a fact. Guns kill people. The more guns there are, the more people are killed.
Today Vox put up an informative piece, "Gun violence in America, in 17 maps and charts." Here's some of the disturbing key facts.
Homicides per firearm per 1 million people. That's the United States down at the bottom. Our homicide rate is six times greater than Canada and 21 times greater than Australia. Are Americans really that much more immoral and violent than Canadians and Australians?
No. The reason for our much higher homicide rate by firearms is...
We have an astounding number of guns. The United States has about 4% of the world's population and 42% of the world's guns. If guns keep people safe, we should be the safest country in the world. Except, we aren't, as the first chart showed. Here's more proof.
Developed countries with more guns have more gun-related deaths. Guns per 100 people is along the bottom. Gun-related deaths per 100,000 people is along the side. That's the United States way off by itself in the top right corner.
We've got way more guns than any other developed country, and also way more gun-related deaths. Seems obvious, right?
A country with more cars is going to have more car-related deaths. Same holds true for guns -- as is clear from the diagonal line showing the relationship between gun ownership and gun-related deaths in developed countries.
More guns means more gun-related deaths holds true on the state level. Percentage of households with guns is on the bottom. Gun deaths per 100,000 population is on the side. New Jersey, Hawaii, and Massachusetts have both low rates of gun ownership and low rates of gun deaths. Wyoming, Montana, and Alaska the opposite -- high rates of gun ownership and high rates of gun deaths.
This chart shows that mass shootings happen on almost every day of 2015. We only hear about the most dramatic mass shootings, but they're happening all the time.
Why? Because we don't do anything to stop them!
Or at least, hardly anything. Oregon required background checks for all gun purchases in the last legislative session. That's something. But we need to do a lot more.
Again, Obama got it right in his remarks today.
There is a gun for roughly every man, woman, and child in America. So how can you, with a straight face, make the argument that more guns will make us safer?
We know that states with the most gun laws tend to have the fewest gun deaths. So the notion that gun laws don't work, or just will make it harder for law-abiding citizens and criminals will still get their guns is not borne out by the evidence.
We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.
Update: Here's a satirical piece from The Onion that isn't really satire. Too many people in this country actually feel this way -- that there's no way to markedly reduce gun violence, even though every other advanced nation in the world has been able to do just that.
ROSEBURG, OR—In the hours following a violent rampage in southwestern Oregon in which a lone attacker killed 10 individuals and seriously injured seven others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Thursday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place.
“This was a terrible tragedy, but sometimes these things just happen and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop them,” said Ohio resident Lindsay Bennett, echoing sentiments expressed by tens of millions of individuals who reside in a nation where over half of the world’s deadliest mass shootings have occurred in the past 50 years and whose citizens are 20 times more likely to die of gun violence than those of other developed nations.
“It’s a shame, but what can we do? There really wasn’t anything that was going to keep this guy from snapping and killing a lot of people if that’s what he really wanted.” At press time, residents of the only economically advanced nation in the world where roughly two mass shootings have occurred every month for the past six years were referring to themselves and their situation as “helpless.”