What if I told you there were 53 gun deaths in the last week of May 2015?
That number might surprise you because it’s grossly low-balling it. That’s actually the number of gun deaths in the US in the last day of May.
Think about that: In one day this year, there were more than two deaths every hour by gunshot.
June is Gun Violence Awareness Month, an important time to highlight a growing problem we have in this country. Some consider gun violence to be a public health epidemic, and the stats give a pretty good indication why.
But, "gun nuts" and lobbyists are trying to dissuade public opinion on the issue of guns. They hide behind the Second Amendment like it’s a sacred cow, carrying loaded assault rifles in grocery stores to intimidate the public’s mind on the issue.
Yet, even responsible gun owners and a majority of NRA members believe in a comprehensive expansion of some gun regulation.
It’s important this month to realize many of the claims gun lobbyists throw out there are pure bunk. Here are three myths gun zealots often toss around, and why they’re absolute rubbish.
Myth #1: Background checks don’t work.
One of the most wanted changes to gun laws by a majority of the public is the expansion of background checks for gun purchasers.
By law, licensed gun sellers must submit customer information through a federal background check. This law is circumvented, however, by the “gun show loophole,” which allows private sellers at gun shows to sell their weaponry without being subject to such a check.
Internet sales, too, don’t have to go through those legal channels.
There are some who think background checks don’t work, and criminals will ignore the law completely anyway, so why bother?
That’s flawed thinking, and it creates a whole slippery slope of why we even have laws in the first place. We don’t justify laws based on whether they are followed or not.
We justify them based on their necessity and effectiveness.
And, background checks have been effective. In 2012, background checks stopped more than 200 felons daily from getting a gun. Think about that: 200 people with a criminal background prevented from getting a dangerous firearm … every day!
But, under current law, those individuals could attain a weapon easily through a gun show or Internet purchase. Why are we allowing this to happen???
Yes, some criminals would still get guns through the black market. But, we shouldn’t let otherwise-legal gun sales become complicit in selling to unlawful felons. We should close the “gun show loophole” once and for all.
Myth #2: Gun control can’t prevent suicides.
Nearly two in three gun deaths are related to suicide. That’s a harrowing statistic for most, but a feather in the cap for gun enthusiasts, who point to that fact as a reason why we can’t make gun laws more strict.
They argue we can’t stop people from choosing to kill themselves because lawful individuals will still be able to access guns, and to use them for the purpose of suicide. Mental illness is the real problem, they say, and we should focus our efforts there, not on gun control.
Mental illness is, indeed, a problem that needs addressing, but keeping guns out of the hands of those who are suffering from mental illness is important, as well, and also effective.
A buyback program in Australia resulted in a fifth of the guns in the country to be out of the hands of the populace. Then, an interesting thing happened: Suicide rates by guns dropped dramatically, by about 74 percent after the buyback program was instituted.
Looking at the US, it’s logical to assume the opposite held true based on the evidence: As gun laws were de-regulated, more suicides seem to occur.
In South Dakota, for example, where a 48-hour waiting period for gun purchases was repealed in 2009, suicides went up by more than 8 percent the following year.
Other studies suggest gun control laws have tended to reduce suicide rates among older Americans.
Myth #3: More guns means we’re more safe.
You hear it in just about every debate on guns: “More guns makes everyone safer. Just put guns in more places and we’ll be fine!”
The argument often leads people to think guns are needed in schools, churches, even airports, held by everyday people, and not just law enforcement personnel.
The idea stems from a study, which insisted geographical areas with concealed carry laws implemented tended to have less crime than areas that didn’t have the law in place.
That study has since been thoroughly debunked, and the new research is clear; more guns doesn’t mean less crime. In fact, the updated research shows just the opposite is true.
Which is why we’re seeing evidence that states with more guns (and less strict gun laws) are having higher rates of gun deaths.
In my home state of Wisconsin, which implemented concealed carry in late 2011, the number of murders from guns went up drastically, with the three years of concealed carry seeing higher rates of murder than the three years preceding its passage.
Be skeptical of selfish pro-gun hype.
There are a lot of reasons to be supportive of the movement to implement common sense gun legislation. Preventing gun violence and suicide are among many of the reasons why a sensible approach to gun laws are necessary, an approach that many gun owners themselves accept.
On the other hand, the motivations behind trying to defeat those measures seems to be rooted in selfishness and fear.
Gun owners worry their “right to bear arms” will be threatened by any law that regulates their weaponry, so they oppose ALL laws, even those that make sense. They hype up the data that fits their opinion, in spite of new data that contradicts their assertions.
There are sizable numbers of responsible gun owners who shouldn’t -- and don’t -- worry about gun reforms. And, proposed laws that aim to prevent violence and suicide are responsible ways to respond to a growing crisis.
We need less closed-mindedness and more openness on the discussion of gun violence in America. Reasonable reforms can and will help to make the nation safer than it is today.
One thing is for certain: We can’t afford to go the route we’ve been on for the past few decades.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of Elite Daily.