Guns Are Not the Answer

Over the weekend of March 19-20 there were nine mass shootings across the country. Eight people were killed and 60 wounded including children and unlucky bi-standers.

These incidents happened in diverse locations and a variety of social settings. The usual reasons given for gun violence – a mentally ill “lone wolf”, “bad guys,” drug gangs, ethnic or religious hate – don’t seem to apply. From the limited information available, there appears to be only one common thread to these incidents – the presence of guns.

  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin: 4 shot at a party
  • Dumas, Arkansas: 1 killed, 27 injured at car show
  • Norfolk, Virginia: 2 killed, 3 wounded outside a pizza restaurant
  • Austin, Texas: 4 shot near a music and film festival
  • Madison Heights, Virginia: 1 killed, 4 wounded
  • Dallas, Texas: At least 10 wounded
  • Fayetteville, North Carolina: 3 killed, 3 wounded at a motel
  • New Iberia, Louisiana: 5 injured, including an infant in drive by shooting
  • Houston, Texas: 1 teenager killed, 3 wounded at a large birthday party.

What is crystal clear from all these incidents is that guns do not protect anyone. Guns only exacerbate conflicts and escalate the harm done to people. The right wing, NRA, 2nd amendment gun nuts are dead wrong about guns protecting us and making us more safe.

There have been 107 mass shootings so far in 2022. Mass shootings are defined as four or more people shot in one incident. Mass shootings don’t include the numerous, everyday shootings involving suicides, domestic disputes, road rage incidents, accidents, armed robberies or simple murders. Nor do they include people shot by police.

According to the Pew Research Center, 45,222 people died from gun-related injuries in 2020 (the most recent year with complete data). It was the worst year on record for total gun deaths and injuries. This is an increase of 14% from 2019, a 25% increase from 5 years earlier and a 43% increase from the decade before.

Education Week magazine began tracking school shootings in 2018. They say there have been 110 school shootings between 2018 and March 22, 2022. Sixty six people were killed and 202 people injured in these incidents. Thirty four occurred in 2021 (the worst year) and 18 have happened so far in 2022.

The Gun Violence Archive says there have been 10,348 total gun deaths and 8119 injuries as of March 30, 2022.

Republican politicians who pander to the gun nuts, the NRA and the profitable weapons industry are complicit in this carnage. They are facilitating and enabling more violence in our society.

On March 15, Ohio became the 23rd  Republican controlled state to allow residents to carry concealed weapons without a permit. Ohio’s “permit-less” carry law allows residents 21 and older to carry a concealed weapon without a license, background check or any training. The new law also ends a person’s “duty to notify” police that they are carrying a weapon. Laws in the other 22 states are similar with some lowering the age to 18.

The recent explosion of  permit-less carry laws has been opposed by many police departments and law enforcement officials. Obviously these laws will endanger police officers and make their difficult job harder. But this has had little impact on the “law and order” Republicans.

For Republicans “law and order” only applies to people of color, the poor, or social activists. As proof look at which states are passing laws criminalizing or penalizing political protest, limiting voting rights, outlawing abortion, prohibiting transgender youth from playing sports or teaching the truth about American history. They are the same states passing weaker gun laws and expanding the unrestricted right to carry weapons in public. Republicans have a very narrow definition of freedom.

Exhibit A is the 2008, 5-4 ruling by the Republican controlled U.S. Supreme Court which overturned 200 years of precedents on interpreting the Second Amendment. For the first time the court created an individual right to possess a firearm separate from any connection to a “well regulated militia.” Essentially the court re-wrote the Constitution in favor of expanded gun rights at the expense of public safety.

Republicans are responsible for “stand you ground” laws. Thirty eight states have these “shoot first” laws that eliminate any duty to retreat before using armed force in self defense. In 2019, the RAND Corporation reviewed available studies and concluded “…there was “moderate” evidence—the second strongest level of evidence—that these laws are associated with an increase in homicides…None of [the studies] found that “stand your ground” laws prevent violent crime.”

People with a legitimate reason to defend themselves are already fully protected under existing laws. Stand your ground laws were not necessary. In addition, the average person is extremely unlikely to ever be in a situation where they would need to use a gun to defend themselves.

Research has also shown that guns do not make us safer. A study by the Center for American Progress found the 10 states with the weakest gun laws had 3.2 times more gun violence than the 10 states with the toughest gun laws. A John Hopkins University study found that when Connecticut implemented a requirement to have a permit to purchase a gun, gun homicides dropped by 40 percent. When Missouri repealed a similar law, gun homicides rose 25 percent.

Despite all the evidence right wing gun nuts are demanding the right to openly carry guns without restrictions. High capacity, military style weapons are being carried in public. Gun sales are steadily increasing. First-time gun purchasers are increasing including women and Black women. People are increasingly afraid even though the vast majority of people will never be a victim of crime.

But Republicans do not care about rational policy. They do not care about the safety of the general public. For Republicans some esoteric, hypothetical concern for individual 2nd Amendment “freedom” is more important that the harm being done to real people by having more guns than people in our society.