Wayne's Words: More guns no solution
Wayne Horne | 10/31/2018, 10:01 p.m.
Since I began writing this column it has been traditional for me to opine regarding voting in elections, and the issues and people involved, at election time. Given the past week’s events I decided to pass on the election this time. There is plenty of info around regarding candidates and issues in the Times Weekly and other media outlets. Instead, this topic seems more appropriate.
About six years ago I wrote a column about gun violence. The mass killing at Sandy Hook grade school in Connecticut had occurred about a week before and gun control was a hot topic. That was in December of 2012. Since then there have been more than 1600 mass shootings. A mass shooting is defined as an occurrence where four or more individuals are killed or wounded with guns. Add the victims of last week’s shooting inside Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue to the list.
That’s a staggering statistic but, even under this broad definition, it’s worth noting that mass shootings make up a tiny portion of America’s firearm deaths, which totaled nearly 39,000 in 2016 alone. The idea of protecting one’s self with a gun is a long-standing conviction among many in America. We are the only nation in the world that makes owning a gun a right guaranteed by our Constitution. Americans are 4.4 percent of the world’s population but have possession of 42 percent of the civilian-owned guns around the world.
Are we safer because of that fact? When compared to other countries not at war on their soil, there is little evidence we are safer than countries that have fewer guns among their population. The issue of gun control divides our country. Many who own guns see it as an attempt to remove all guns from private hands. That utopian idea is probably far in the future, if ever, but the ability of a lone gunman armed with an AR-15 automatic weapon to enter a synagogue and murder 11 people and wound six others is an intolerable occurrence.
The suggestion that an armed security guard would have prevented such a slaughter is also insupportable. The fact that four trained police personnel were wounded attempting to subdue the gunman is evidence enough that the idea is nonsensical on its face.
When I wrote the above-mentioned column six years ago I received several responses that agreed some form of legislation limiting automatic weapons and requiring comprehensive background checks should be the least of requirements. It’s interesting to note that in Australia any gun purchase requires a “genuine reason” for needing a weapon, and self-defense could not be a reason. I am not suggesting our nation adopt any other country’s laws or that we compare ourselves to another country’s experience.
One response I did receive still disturbs me to this day. Not out of fear, but of concern that such an attitude of recklessness would be vented. I quote, “Mega kudos to you for your little anti-gun diatribe in your TW column this week-it reminded me to renew my NRA membership. It boggles my mind how the media that whores for the govt in this country wrap themselves in the 1st amendment and crap on the 2nd…. Also-do you know where I can get more ammo? “