In addition to analysis of gun violence in the US and why the gun lobby will win again… and again…and again, we provide both discussion of how Australia controlled guns in just 3 months after the Port Arthur mass shooting.
Hold the date: Oct 27-28, Civil Disobedience Training: Philosophy and Methodology derived from the lifework of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led by American Civil Rights Leader and 2016 recipient of the Gandhi International Humanitarian Award Dr. Bernard Lafayette. For information on this and other events, including tonight’s Local Research and Advocacy Team meeting, click here.
Just How Many Lives Could Be Saved With Sensible Gun Control
The chart at left compares gun death rates in the US with other ‘developed’ countries, along with showing how many lives could be saved in the US each year, if the US had gun death rates matching each of the countries represented in the chart. For example, at the top of the chart just below the US is Finland with a gun death rate of 3.50 per 100,000 people compared to the US rate of 10.64 per 100,000. As you can see at the right of the chart, if our rate were comparable to Finland, we would save over 22,500 lives each year. At the bottom of the chart, the UK has only .23 gun deaths per 100,000, so if the US had a comparable rate we would incur only 700 gun-related deaths a year, saving almost 33,000 lives a year.
One would think that at some point one of these US tragedies would generate enough of a public outcry that the US would finally create meaningful and strict gun control. There is precedent to be found in Australia where the Port Arthur massacre of 35 innocent bystanders led to the Australian legislature passing strict gun control despite fierce opposition among the significant segment of the population who were gun enthusiasts. Australia has “a high rate of gun ownership who espoused the ideals of rugged individualism, much like the U.S. does. But after the massacre, the ruling center-right Liberal Party joined with groups from across the political spectrum to work on legislation to sharply restrict the availability of guns.” In the aftermath of the Port Arthur tragedy, Australia banned automatic and semiautomatic firearms, adopted new licensing requirements, established a national firearms registry, and instituted a 28-day waiting period for gun purchases. It also bought and destroyed more than 600,000 civilian-owned firearms, an initiative that cost half a billion dollars and was funded by raising taxes. The entire overhaul took just three months to implement and an agreement on the terms of the change took just 12 days. Click here for the full report. It is worth noting that since the controls were implemented there have been zero mass shootings in Australia and homicides have declined steadily as more controls were added over time.
From a Vox report I found this quote: “A recent, highly sophisticated study found that once you control for general crime rates and other confounding factors like poverty, ‘each 1 percentage point increase in proportion of household gun ownership’ translated to a 0.9 percent increase in homicides. A meta-analysis — study of studies — found a strong consensus among researchers that access to guns correlated with higher homicide rates in the United States.” Click here to review the full Vox story. But if you want to understand why research, data, and opinions mean nothing when it comes to getting gun control legislation done in the US, read on and then you must view the two John Oliver clips where he interviews a gun lobbyist and also visits Australia to find out from them how easy it was to do the right thing if there is political will. Aside from being informative, John Oliver is at his best. If you only have time for one, the first is the better of the two.
Why Can’t We Get This Done In The US? Money, Greed, Fear Mongering
It is no coincidence that the gun lobby gets its way in the US. A Mic report published Tuesday described seven reasons why the gun lobby will get its way, yet again. “’Gun owners made this election happen.’ That was what National Rifle Association leader Wayne LaPierre said in a video message released shortly after the November election. Click here to watch LaPierre’s speech. I don’t actually encourage you to watch that speech or you may throw a brick through your monitor. But it does convey quite clearly what we are up against.
How did the NRA and gun owners win the election for Donald Trump? The NRA spent $30.3 million supporting President Donald Trump and $20 million supporting six Senate Republican candidates, five of whom won.” What’s more, in 2016, gun rights groups spent $10.6 million on lobbyists. Gun control groups spent $1.7 million — with the NRA alone spending more than three times as much as all the gun control groups combined.
The NRA doesn’t just bribe legislators, they work the media better than almost any other lobbying group. From the Mic report: “NRA TV boasts a leading presence among emerging conservative media outlets. Besides its live streaming website, NRA TV boasts 234,000 Twitter followers, 1.2 million likes on Facebook and a stable of high-profile personalities like Dana Loesch.” And the NRA and other gun lobbyists don’t just use their own media. As soon as politicians, social media and mainstream media began calling for gun control measures after the Las Vegas massacre, Fox accused them of ‘politicizing a tragedy’ as if it was some kind of moral affront to want to end the insane levels of gun violence in this country. Mourning the deaths of 59 people does not preclude using the moment to try to prevent another slaughter or to prevent the 30,000+ Americans who die by gun violence each year. Finally, Mic points out that Trump won the election largely by winning rural America, receiving 62% of those votes. Mic points out that over half of rural voters own guns. And far too many of those gun owners have been convinced that the most modest gun control legislation is an intolerable violation of the 2nd Amendment. Click here for the Mic report. And while the two videos below are frankly hilarious, they also both illustrate what can happen when a gun-loving country like Australia just says: enough is enough. The video also exposes the entirely vacuous logic of at least one gun lobbyist.
John Oliver: Two short videos that expose the gun lobbyists empty-headed arguments.