Edited and abridged from my first, March 24, 2018, post.
What is the root of America’s burgeoning homicide and suicide rates?
Some argue the problem stems from an overabundance of firearms in America. Gun advocates respond, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” With a blind eye to implications for Americans’ values and culture, gun advocates lay the problem off on mental illness and, ironically, a seemingly need to defend themselves amidst a hostile society.
To be sure, the strains and complexities of human life can exacerbate mental illnesses and lead to murder. Despite America’s failings in appreciating and treating mental illness, I’m convinced the average American is no crazier than citizens of countries with dramatically lower murder rates. Moreover, while the mental processes leading to homicide are not “normal,” my hunch is, the vast majority of murders in America are not committed by the “mentally ill.”
Contrary to firearm advocates claim, Americans do not harbor more homicidal intentions than citizens of other countries either. Since Cain and Able humans have slain each other: the Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, Conquistadors massacuring native Central and South Americans, by force or arms Great Britain colonized half the globe, Stalin annihilated millions of his own people, World War I, World War II, Hitler’s “Final Solution”; Hutus wiped out 70% of Tutsis, suicide attacks and truck bombs rock Europe, ISIS beheads infidels, Mexican drug-cartels murder rivals and bystanders, Bashar al-Assad massacres Syrians, adults, children, babies!
So, if not insanity or homicidal inclinations, what lies at the root of the facts that, “Compared to 22 other high-income nations, the U.S. gun-related homicide rate is 25 times higher.” That, “Gun violence . . . was the leading cause of death for children 19 and under in 2020.” (Wikipedia) That, in the most materially blessed country on Earth, in 2021, guns killed 24,000 by suicide!
A Counsel on Foreign Relations, “U.S. Gun Policy: Global Comparisons,” “Gun Ownership and Homicide, Selected Countries” graph is instructive.
|Country||Civilian-owned guns per 100 people (2017)||Gun homicide per 100,000 people (2019)|
With 5% of the world’s population, Americans possess over half its firarms. Does American civilians owning seven times as many guns and committing thirteen times as many homicides as the average for six developed countries, suggest a link between firearm ownership and murder in America?
In America, guns have become the major solution to minor grievances. A hot-head sees the neighbor’s dog taking a crap on his lawn. Not owning a firearm, the hot-head charges down the front steps, kicks the mutt in the ribs, and punches the neighbor in the nose. With his trusty 44 Mag at hand, he steps to the porch and blows the pooch, and maybe neighbor, away. Some jerk gets cut off on Interstate 5, lacking a firearm he curses, calls the offender a “stupid son-of-a-bitch!’, and gives him the middle-finger salute. The ol’ 38 Special on his belt, the hothead rolls down a window and wastes the dumb bastard. Gangs who once “duked it out” now shoot it out. Drive-by shootings are common as fender-benders. When was a six-year-old girl accidentally killed by a drive-by stoning? At the point of “ending it all” pulling a trigger is quicker and less problematic than hanging from the balcony, leaping from the thirteenth floor, or slitting a wrist.
Get a grip Americans! We murder more because we have more guns than people! We murder more because firearms are easy to get, simple to use, quick, reliable, and more surely lethal than a knife, baseball bat, poison, garrote, or stone.
For a random murder or massacring a kindergarten class, America’s tool of choice is a gun!