The National Rifle Association has frequently argued if more people carried firearms, the country would be a lot safer. As the head of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, famously stated,
The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun.
But this "good guy with a gun" argument is a complete and utter myth.
In reality, guns are rarely used to stop crimes or kill criminals.
According to a recent report from the Violence Policy Center, for every one justifiable homicide involving a gun in 2013, there were 37 criminal homicides. The same ratio was true across a five-year period from 2009 to 2013.
The study found there were only 211 justifiable homicides in 2013, but 7,838 homicides. Moreover, from 2009 to 2013, there were just 1,114 justifiable homicides involving firearms, but 41,218 criminal homicides.
Justifiable homicides involving firearms is another way of saying a killing committed in self-defense with a gun.
The data clearly shows firearms are rarely used in self-defense.
This is even the case when guns are used in self-defense but a criminal is not killed.
The Violence Policy Center study found,
For the three-year period 2012 through 2014... there were 18,328,600 victims of attempted or completed violent crime. During this same three-year period, only 163,600 of the self-protective behaviors involved a firearm.
The truth is guns are far more likely be used to harm others in a criminal capacity or inflict self-harm than for self-defense.
Correspondingly, over 20,000 people use firearms to commit suicide every year, accounting for approximately two-thirds of all gun deaths annually.
The method matters as well; studies show suicide attempts involving firearms are fatal around 85 percent of the time, while suicide attempts involving poisoning or cutting are fatal roughly 7 percent of the time.
When Americans call for gun control, they are not attempting to punish law-abiding gun owners or place unreasonable restrictions on their constitutional right to bear arms. They are simply asking Congress to acknowledge this country has a problem with gun violence and to realize doing nothing is not an answer.
No single gun law will solve this problem, but apathy in the face of rampant violence is not a solution whatsoever.
The US has a little more than 4 percent of the world's population, but 42 percent of all the world's privately held firearms.
This country ranks number one in the world in firearms per capita. Meanwhile, it also claims the title of the highest homicide-by-firearm rate in the developed world.
Where there are more guns, there is more death. The numbers don't lie.
One mass murderer does not represent all gun owners in the same way one jihadist doesn't represent all Muslims.
But, unlike its lack of response to gun-related problems, the US responded to acts of terror by starting wars in other countries, carrying out extended bombing campaigns, using drones and drone strikes, torturing people and beyond.
Guns killed more Americans in the past 50 years than all those who died fighting in all the wars in US history. Over 10,000 Americans are killed by gun violence per year (excluding suicides), yet somehow we all appear content to do nothing about it.
As people living in this country, we all have a lot of soul searching to do. Our collective response to this issue, or lack thereof, just doesn't make sense.
We all just witnessed the worst mass shooting in US history, and the NRA blamed it on "political correctness." This argument is absurd and an insult to the victims, who were killed by a man who legally obtained two weapons within a week of the attack.
If we all truly want to honor those who died, we'll work as hard as possible to ensure we never experience such a devastating tragedy ever again.
Citations: NRA: 'Only Way To Stop A Bad Guy With A Gun Is With A Good Guy With A Gun' (CBS), Firearm Justifiable Homicides and Non-Fatal Self-Defense Gun Use (Violence Policy Center), Most gun deaths are suicides, not homicides. That's a strong case for gun control. (Vox), America's gun problem, explained (Vox), CFR Backgrounders (Council on Foreign Relations), More Americans killed by guns since 1968 than in all U.S. wars, columnist Nicholas Kristof writes (PolitiFact), NRA blames 'political correctness' for Orlando shooting (The Hill), Omar Mateen Probed for Terror Ties but Legally Purchased Weapons (NBC News)