REALITY CHECK: Let’s Talk About Guns

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    Let’s talk about guns.

    Well, first let’s remove the politics and truthfully talk about gun laws, about gun violence.  After the Newtown shooting President Obama commissioned the Center for Disease Control to research gun violence and offer solutions.  And the study was completed this summer and it just might make you rethink your stance, your view, on the issue.  It did for me.  It’s making me rethink it.  I’m going to cite the CDC study and I’m going to cite an article from Slate magazine, which find that no surprise we, the United States of America, have the worst gun related homicide problem of any industrialized country in the world.  Almost 20% higher than the homicide rates of any other “high income country in the world.”

    However, that same study – are you listening? – it shows that mass shootings are not the problem.  They account for a very small fraction of firearm related deaths.  Here are the numbers.  Since 1983 there have been close to 80 shootings where four or more people were killed by a single perpetrator in one day in the U.S.  Eighty shootings, four or more people killed.  That’s about 560 victims, people who have been killed, since 1983.  Thirty years.

    You know how many people died from non-mass shooting events, four or more people, between 2000 and 2010?  That’s ten years alone.  Three hundred and thirty-five thousand people.  Three hundred and thirty-five thousand.  And the vast majority of those victims did not die from those so called military style assault weapons that people rally against so much.  Instead they died from handguns. Handguns are used in more than 87% of all violent crimes.  And in fact handguns accounted for the most, most of the murders, the manslaughters, the incidents in this country.

    So what does that say?  It says that even though the Navy Yard shooting happened on a military installation, it was unfortunate.  People died.  But it says that people in the military, people who are hunting, are not for the most part the people who are killing other people and themselves in this country.

    It says that you have a better chance of getting shot walking down your street, getting into an altercation, or getting robbed in cities like New Orleans, Detroit, Baltimore, Miami, D.C., Atlanta or Cleveland than you do getting shot or killed in a mass shooting.

    So, while the studies show that most gun violence, and most crime in the country, are not worse, it’s going down, it’s still an epidemic.  And as a person who often walks down the street in some of those cities and who lives in a big urban city himself it makes me wonder for all of us.  If our lawmakers, including the President, won’t step up and make significant changes in gun laws, in gun registration, background checks, mental health, if gun purchases continue to grow and flood the streets, it makes me wonder that by some of us not owning a gun, or at least embracing the idea of one, are we setting ourselves up to be victims in a movie theater, a school, a public building, most of all in our streets, in our own neighborhoods, and in our own homes.

    And armed with just our cellphones, our fists and our wits, are we setting ourselves up to be sitting ducks, defenseless in the face of a sane, or an insane person, armed to the teeth and bent on killing.

    TOM JOYNER:  Make them think.  Make them think.  Now the one problem about legislation, the lawmakers, most of the lawmakers are backed by the NRA.

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