This is a lie: "guns don't kill people; people do." No, that's wrong.
Guns kill people. This is a fact.
Believe it, unless you're so anti-American, you consider that citizens of the United States are hugely more violent and immoral than people in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, and other western industrialized nations.
Have a look at two Wikipedia pages:
First, List of countries by intentional homicide rate. In 2010, these were the intentional homicide rates per 100,000 population:
United States 4.8
United Kingdom 1.2
Are Americans really three times more murderous than Canadians? Or six times more murderous than Germans? Is our violent nature the sole explanation for why our intentional homicide rate is so high?
Yes, there are cultural differences between the United States and those other countries. But they also have their ghettos, their poor, their lower classes trapped in difficult situations. So what else could be the reason for the much lower homicide rates in other countries?
Availability of guns. The U.S. is gun crazy. Our gun laws are extremely lax compared to those in Canada, the United Kingdom, etc.
Let's look at another Wikipedia page, List of countries by firearm-related death rate. The years for the data differ as shown in parentheses. Rate is per 100,000 population. These are homicides by guns, not accidents.
United States 4.1 (2004-06)
Canada .8 (1992)
England/Wales .1 (2002)
Australia .4 (1994)
Germany .2 (1994)
Even though the data for some of these countries are from time periods a decade or more part, the conclusion is inespacable: guns kill people; people don't kill people. More availability of guns, more gun homicides.
Irrational fact-starved NRA types try to argue that if someone with a homicidal urge doesn't have a gun available, he or she will kill with a knife, baseball bat, or whatever.
Unless, as noted above, it is assumed that Canadians are inherently five times less homicidal than Americans, and Australians ten times less homicidal. I don't believe that. What I believe is that the ready availability of guns is the reason for both our very high overall intentional homicide rate and, obviously, our very high firearms homicide rate.
If terrorists from another country were wreaking such havoc on American citizens every year, killing many thousands more than died from similar terrorist attacks in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia, there would (or should) be a massive outcry:
We've got to stop our people from being murdered! If other countries can protect their citizens, so can we! We're a culture of life, not of death!
Sadly, the NRA and weak-kneed legislators have teamed up to allow all those thousands of unnecessary deaths to continue, year after year after year after year. Shameful. Every year about 9,000 people are murdered by firearms in this country.
If our firearm death rate was as low as that in the United Kingdom (48 times lower), only about 195 Americans would lose their lives each year, rather than more than 9,000.
The NRA, right-wing Republicans, and other gun nuts are alllowing the equivalent of three 9/11 terrorist attacks to take the lives of our citizens each year. Nine thousand deaths. Sickening. And highly unpatriotic.
(Unfortunately, the Democrats aren't much better.)
Although your remarks deserve consideration, I do suggest that the basic problem might still lie at/on the more fundamental level. For comparison, cf.: "Beginning on April 6, 1994, and for the next hundred days, up to 800,000 Tutsis were killed by Hutu militia using clubs and machetes, with as many as 10,000 killed each day." (Found at http://www.historyplace.com/worldhistory/genocide/rwanda.htm .)
Availability of technology, I suggest, yet comes after this more basic problem in "human nature": people do kill people - regardless of their chosen means.
Robert Paul Howard
Posted by: Robert Paul Howard | July 23, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Robert, in World War ii tens of millions of people were killed by people. Ditto in the Civil War. This doesn't tell us anything about gun homicides in the U.S. today. We need to compare comparable situations.
That's why I compared Canada and the United States. Culturally similar, yet with vastly different homicide rates -- largely because of the much greater availability of guns here. Likewise in the United Kingdom.
Posted by: Brian Hines | July 24, 2012 at 12:10 AM
While we’re at it, let’s hand in our keys as well.
In the year 2000, these were the road fatality rates per 100,000 population:
United States 12.3
United Kingdom 3.59
The conclusion is inescapable: automobiles cause traffic fatalities; people don't cause traffic fatalities. More availability of autos, more auto related fatalities.
Posted by: DJ | July 24, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Some lateral thinking might be in order here. Read Dr. Sircus blog who points out that most of our recent notable "shooters" were on drugs such as Prozac. http://blog.imva.info/medicine/pharmaceutical-medical-madness-colorado-shootings
9000 annual deaths pales in comparison to the damage done by pharmaceutical drugs, even those drugs properly prescribed. Full disclosure: in recent years I have morphed from carrying a sidearm (Vietnam) to anti-gun, to being a gun owner (shotguns, handguns). Still haven't joined the NRA who come across as a bit heinous but am recently more inclined to buy into some of their arguments and those of libertarians.
Posted by: Randy | July 24, 2012 at 07:39 AM
How about we say, PEOPLE with Guns kill people. The firearm doesn't load itself and pull it's own trigger.
Posted by: Wayne White | July 24, 2012 at 07:52 AM
DJ, you looked at the wrong column in the Wikipedia chart. Death per miles/kilometers driven is a much better metric.
United States: 8.5
Very close. Looks like cars don't really kill people in the U.S. compared to Canada, but guns do.
Posted by: Brian Hines | July 24, 2012 at 07:58 AM
It's possible to build a better argument for the "guns kill, not people" argument if we could compare non-firearm homicides from those same countries. Without doubt, it is much harder to kill using alternate means like knives or strangulation unless the killer is a trained professional, so the greater access to guns in the US (legally or otherwise) means that we lazy Americans can readily kill without much effort.
Posted by: Lango6 | July 24, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Actually, just from looking above and subtracting out the differences you can make a provisional case for "guns kill." Even though the dates differ for some countries I don't imagine that having the absolutely correct data sets will change the result much.
Non-firearm homicide rate per 100k pop.:
So, factoring out guns puts us on par with comparable societies and adds to the argument that easy access to guns leads to more killing by them.
Posted by: Lango6 | July 24, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Apparently "gun(s)" operate for you like "god(s)" do for other people.
Robert Paul Howard
Posted by: Robert Paul Howard | July 25, 2012 at 06:44 AM
What is a gun? It is a device that projects a mass at great velocity.
What does a mass moving at great velocity do? If the moving mass contacts another mass, the structural integrity of both masses is disturbed to varying degrees.
Why do humans construct guns? There are many reasons, but the primary reason for the existence of a gun is to disturb the structural integrity of human beings.
Why would a human being want to disturb the structural integrity of another human being? Primarily, because it is exciting.
Guns definitely kill people.
Posted by: Willie R | July 25, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Brian: “Death per miles/kilometers driven is a much better metric.”
Exactly the point of my sarcasm, Brian. Per capita 100,000 general population is an inappropriate metric – for both cars AND guns.
Recalculate the gun homicide rate among permit holders or gun owners only (legal or otherwise) and the rates will likely come into closer alignment. “Deaths per X guns owned or per X gun households” is a metric that makes far more sense.
Regardless of the numbers, correlation is not causation. The folly is in trying to separate the car or the gun from the user’s actions when measuring the aftermath. More cars equal more car fatalities only if they’re being driven (there’s that mileage metric again). Likewise, more guns equal more gun homicides only if they’re being fired.
But – if guns do indeed kill people – why hasn’t a gun ever been convicted on murder charges? “I didn’t do it, the gun did.” Now there’s a slick defense for ya.
Posted by: DJ | July 25, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Once more - as I did yesterday - I offer the site address for another recent "essay" on this topic:
I do not know why my posting of this yesterday was deleted.
Robert Paul Howard
Posted by: Robert Paul Howard | July 26, 2012 at 02:50 AM
I'm from Canada and, frankly, I don't get the gun mania that exists in the US. Americans try to cross our border with guns saying it's our right to carry a gun. Not here it isn't. I get that you have a constitutional right to bear arms but when did it become "must" bear arms? Guns in the hands of angry or disturbed people or criminals kill.
Posted by: Erika | July 26, 2012 at 08:06 AM
Via Robert Paul Howard, who emailed me this link, here's an interesting post by Michael Moore on this subject:
Moore tries to figure out why the United States has such a high gun homicide rate. Yes, it's partly due to the easy availability of guns, but Canada also has lots of guns, according to Moore.
Posted by: Brian Hines | July 26, 2012 at 10:16 PM
What started this whole discussion is the theater massacre. Although guns were used, this is not a gun control issue. It is a mental health issue.
There are many millions of guns in the United States that have not and never will be used to kill people. I imagine the guy would have rigged a bomb if guns were not available. In Japan where guns are not allowed a maniac stabbed and killed many young children with a knife. The potential death and bloodshed that could be created by a skilled swordsman gone mad in a crowded room is roughly equivalent to the theater massacre. Just watch Uma in action in "Kill Bill" to get a theatrical idea.
We are shocked and appalled by these events and want to do something to prevent them from ever happening again. I don't think we can, I am sorry to say.
Posted by: tucson | July 26, 2012 at 11:41 PM
pencils misspell words then right hahaha
Posted by: hahah | September 04, 2012 at 02:51 PM
There are many items that can be used for weapons if someone decided to inflict harm. There are many cases that involve the obvious such as cars, knives, medication, poison, and the list goes on. There will always be the uncommon, until they become common, such as the tennis referee accused of killing her husband with a coffee mug. You will always have those every day citizens that out of the blue seem to act violently, but the over all majority of law abiding citizens would never do so unless faced with the choice of their life or another's. (most will never know what they will actually decide unless faced with it and always hope they are never placed in that situation.) Any item could be a potential weapon. I don't think a coffee mug will help me much if a gang member, drug addict, robber, or any other criminal type has a gun of any type. I have no doubt that they do not care for any gun law or regulation for what is in their possession, they only care about what they are intending to do. I am also sure that their gun was not obtained through the proper laws or regulations that we follow, but instead was obtained illegally. If the gun regulators have their way, I, as a law abiding citizen, will be armed with a coffee mug and the criminal will be armed with a gun. No thank you! You don't take a knife to a gun battle. (or a frying pan or coffee mug!) You take a gun!!!!!
Posted by: tm2012 | November 19, 2012 at 11:00 PM
I have car insurance for the same reason I have a gun. I have no plans to use either, but they are there just in case. I am a United States Marine, father of two, and responsible tax paying NRA member. Trust me, the evil that is out there kills people, guns are a tool. The Taliban use fertilizer to kill, ban fertilizer? The Iraqi insurgents use cell phones to detonate bombs, ban cell phones? Where does it stop? These are our God given, US military protected, Constitutional rights. I am a libertarian and couldn't care less what you do in your home as long as you stay out of mine. Deal?
Posted by: Turbo | December 03, 2012 at 06:26 PM
If GUNS kill people, then shouldn't the GUNS be the ones standing trial for the murder indictment not the people? I've got some buddy's who would like to blame their DUI's on their car too. There' a stat I'd like you to show me. How many cars drove drunk last year or any year. Hell I'm a nice guy. I will let you decide what year you want use.
Posted by: chris | December 15, 2012 at 04:58 AM
Acually guns are a tool. Just like a hammer or a screwdrive. People get killed by axes every year so lets bam those too. Guns that kill people are all illegal and saying you should destroy the second amendment will punish people that use guns correctly
Posted by: Tony Quartarone | December 15, 2012 at 09:54 AM
chris and Tony, have you flown on a plane in the last eleven years? Have you noticed that you can't bring on a big bottle of shampoo, because way back when, someone tried to blow up a plane with liquid something or other?
If its true that banning devices which people use to kill other people doesn't work, because it is people who kill people, not those devices, why can't we all carry knives, guns, explosives, gallons of liquids and such onto airplanes?
It's crazy that military style semi-automatic weapons keep on being used in mass killings in this country, and nothing is done to restrict their availability, yet one terrorist attempt to bring down a plane with liquids leads to a nationwide ban on carrying more than a few ounces on board.
If we can regulate liquids on planes, we can damn well regulate the size of magazines in rifles, as this country used to do.
Posted by: Blogger Brian | December 15, 2012 at 08:21 PM
THE BIGEST MASS MURDER IN AMERICAN HISTORY A GUN WASNT USED....BUT A BIG TRUCK LOAD OF FERTILIZER...
Posted by: willie t. Ribs | December 18, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Todd Mandoline, Villa Park, 9 murdered by Arson - Should we ban fire?
Martin Green, Fox River Grove, murder by hammer - Lets ban construction tools too
Elzbieta Plackowska, Naperville, 2 children murdered by knife - Knives are only made for cutting, lets ban those too
David Walker, Chicago, murder by baseballbat
- sorry kids, that's a deadly assault weapon there, it's now banned
Yashesh S. Desai, DuPage, Mudrer by weed trimmer - ban gardening tools to stop the violence?
Stop blaming the tool and start blaming the person. People will always kill people, it's sad but true. Blaming a gun for someones actions is down right moronic. Whenever there's a dui related death, do people go screaming that cars need to be banned?
Posted by: Candytripn | December 26, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Many guns are smuggled into Canada from the USA. Citizens in our country are aware that drug gangs are are the users. Violence of these gangs have municipalities forming guns and gang units from their police force. Ordinary citizens do not have hand guns because the right to hand guns is difficult at best to get a permit.
Posted by: Gary | January 09, 2013 at 07:16 PM
Canadians are not allowed to use a weapon to protect themselves against an intruder entering their home unless the intruder attacks them directly. Calling 911 and letting the police do their duty to protect and serve is what is expected
Posted by: Gary | January 09, 2013 at 07:22 PM
On 14/12/2012 a deranged man still living at home in his twenties, kills his mom, and go on a killing spree at a local school - The result: 22 children and one school teacher INJURED.
The man living in China only had acces to a knife, and was stopped by teachers with broomsticks!
Sandy Hook Elementary same day - very different result
Posted by: Tom | February 07, 2013 at 11:58 PM