As we learn more about the atrocity that occurred at the Colorado movie theater, it concomitantly breaks my heart to hear of the loss of life and injuries and impacted families and strengthens my appreciation for the numerous acts of valor and compassion like the one President Obama recited during his remarks.
I guess it was inevitable that this tragedy would stir up the hornets’ nest that is the gun-control debate. I understand the passionate reactions of persons negatively impacted by the illegal use of firearms. Born and raised in Chicago and its western suburbs, gun violence far too common; every weekend, the news updates us with the latest totals and year-to-date comparisons. We are losing far too many loved ones to sense-less acts violence.
Of course we all want to decrease the number of people murdered. How best to do so, is the billion-dollar question and the most recent political hot potato. So, I pulled some information from various sources and decided to wade into this debate.
I unashamedly admit that I am a registered, conceal carry license holder. As such, I have a responsibility to everyone around me to be responsible and accountable for my actions and my weapons. To varying degrees, with certain limitations and depending on the jurisdiction, it is legal to be in possession of firearms and ammunition anywhere in this country, except Gun-Free Zones (GFZs). Some areas allow unregistered open-carry, some allow registered conceal-carry, some allow open-carry, but no conceal carry, etc.
Here is a partial list of massacres committed in the U.S. over the past 30 years. Several insights may be gleaned from this information. Massacres are not common in this country (though I agree, one is too many). Massacres are not a new phenomenon. Massacres occur all over this country. Another, key insight, is that massacres tend to occur in Gun-Free Zones (7 of the 10 noted below). I couldn’t find one massacre that occurred in a police station, at a gun show, or any other gun-dense location. So why then are anti-gun advocates so quick to recommend increasing the number of Gun-Free Zones? I suggest that this tendency is based on an ideological position, not a logical or fact-based position.
Recent US massacres
July 2012 – 12+ killed in Colorado movie theater (Gun-free zone)
March 2009 – 10 killed across two Alabama counties
April 2007 – 33 killed at Virginia college campus (Gun-free zone)
April 1999 – 15 killed in Colorado High School (Gun-free zone)
October 1991 – 23 killed in Texas restaurant
June 1990 – 10 killed in Florida corporate office (*Gun-free zone)
Aug 1986 – 14 killed at Oklahoma post office (Gun-free zone)
August 1984 – 21 killed in McDonald's restaurant
July 1976 – 7 killed at California college (Gun-free zone)
August 1966 – 16 killed at Texas university (Gun-free zone)
(* the asterisk is because employers can prohibit carrying guns while working)
But, massacres are the rare event. Surely, we wouldn’t try to legislate based on the least common denominator (if we did, we’d have to ban MEN from possessing firearms.) Many anti-gun advocates argue that we need more restrictions on guns to decrease the gun-based violence in our neighborhoods and cities. Unfortunately, the facts don’t support this policy.
According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (anti-gun advocates)
• Utah is the worst state based on their relaxed gun laws; they scored a 0 out of 100.
• California is the best state; they scored 81 out of 100.
However, according to the FBI’s crime numbers
• California had 1,257 firearm murders in 2010…that’s 3.37 murders per 100,000 people
• Utah had 22 firearm murders in 2010…that’s .78 per 100,000 people.
A bit closer to home for many of my friends, Illinois is in the top 10 BEST states according to the Brady Campaign, and yet, there were 364 firearm murders in 2010…that’s 2.81 per 100,000 people. Honestly, that seems low considering Chicago has 5-10 shootings every weekend… maybe that’s a reflection of the excellent/experienced emergency medical care available in the area.
Lastly, less we forget, one of the primary purposes for codifying the right to bear arms is to ensure that we as a nation will never be helpless to defend ourselves against our own government. Can you imagine having to wait for United Nations approval for other nations to supply our domestic resistance with firearms if some future administration decided to repeal our constitutional rights?
This was printed in the July 29, 2012 - August 11, 2012 Edition