The Truth About Gun Control: Polling, Research, Impact

The vast, vast majority of Americans (even NRA members) want gun control, yet the NRA and timid politicians are responsible for the deaths of over 30,000 Americans a year. Florida students descended on the legislature and the White House. The upshot: the President pledged to arm teachers. New teacher protocol for 2018: check attendance, take pledge of allegiance, check ammunition magazine, teach about life in America.

The Southside Mayoral Forum:  Candidates Respond to Youth, Families and Workers. TODAY, Thursday, Feb. 22, 6-8pm, at Cesar Chavez Elementary School, 6521 Jaguar Dr.  Here is a Mayoral Panel that will be worth attending, as the event is being organized by agencies working on the Southside with youth, families and workers to identify the issues and ask the questions. Retake has long asserted that if you want to understand how to achieve social, economic, racial, gender, and environmental justice, just ask those who are most oppressed by injustice. They know what is wrong and often how to fix it. I highly recommend this panel.

Are We Insane? AR-15s to Hunt Boar; Arming Teachers to Protect Students. What Have We Become?

To me, this Nation’s failure to enact meaningful gun control represents all that is wrong with our Democracy. A relatively small group of zealots can strategically infuse our political system with money to influence elected officials and then thwart any and all meaningful controls. As this post illustrates, it isn’t as if there hasn’t been enough polling and research done to  demonstrate that guns do not make anyone safer, that gun control is actually supported by vast majorities of Americans, even NRA members, or that gun control works. That is clear. What isn’t clear is why common sense and compassion for others simply don’t matter.  I examined this issue in a November post where I asserted that the measure of a Nation is found in its ability to work together, to listen, and to find solutions that make us better as a community.  Click here to review that post.

Yesterday, Roxanne found the online Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. It contains a wealth of easily navigated facts, research, and polling data that can be used to develop arguments in favor of background checks, opposition to open carry, restrictions on gun access, elimination of assault weapons, and other gun-related issues. I excerpted from the compendium of information available to provide readers with a more concise resource for constructing their own arguments.

Somehow we have to find a way to destroy the utterly ludicrous arguments used to counter common sense. Yesterday, some Stoneman students met with state legislators to beg them to ban assault weapons. After listening politely, a legislator responded, in effect: “I am so sorry for your loss but I have constituents who use AR-15s to hunt boar.” Setting aside how utterly weird it is that people actually do this, using the slaughter of boar with an AR-15 as a rationale for continuing to expose all of us to mass murder simply does not make sense. Then to have our President listen to other Florida students (while cameras click away to capture his concern) and have him reassure them with a pledge to arm teachers is even crazier. What is next, charter schools with commitments that all teachers will have an AR-15 in every classroom?

Before moving to the polling and research from Giffords’ excellent site, two more thoughts. First, Roxanne and I spoke last night about a related issue:  What is wrong with men and boys. Of the 92 mass shootings committed since 1982 in the US, three have involved women, one of those as an accomplice of a man.  I’m going to spend some time over the next few days researching not the extent to which this is true; that is easy. I did that in 30 seconds. But what is at work here? Look for this soon. Finally, many readers have been asking why Retake is not launching actions for March 14, 20, and April 20, all dates identified by students for marches, strikes, and other forms of protest. I am consciously stepping back here. We adults haven’t solved much lately. Maybe it is time to step back and support a student led effort.

But if you do want to get involved in local action, please join us on Sunday, March 4, from 2-4 for a Town Hall. In addition to introducing our 2018-2019 Election & Legislative Strategy and how you can be involved, we will have information on how you can get out the vote for our Mayoral election and I will try to arrange a student speaker who is involved in anti-gun violence actions in March and April. But do mark down those dates. We want students to lead, but we want have their backs. Click here to RSVP.

 

The Facts: Gun Control Saves Lives and Money

Gun Violence Costs Lives.  In 2010, guns took the lives of 31,076 Americans in homicides, suicides, and unintentional shootings.  This is the equivalent of more than 85 deaths every day and more than three deaths each hour.1

Gun Violence Costs Resources.  Researchers conservatively estimate that gun violence costs the American economy at least $229 billion every year, including $8.6 billion in direct expenses such as for emergency and medical care.1  Gun violence costs more than $700 per American every year, more than the total economic cost of obesity and almost as much as the annual price tag for the entire Medicaid program.2

Guns Do Not Make You Safer.  Guns kept in the home are more likely to be involved in a fatal or nonfatal unintentional shooting, criminal assault, or suicide attempt than to be used to injure or kill in self-defense.1  That is, a gun is more likely to be used to kill or injure an innocent person in the home than a threatening intruder. Though guns may be successfully used in self-defense even when they are not fired, the evidence shows that their presence in the home makes a person more vulnerable, not less.  Instead of keeping owners safer from harm, objective studies confirm that firearms in the home place owners and their families at greater risk.  Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that living in a home where guns are kept increases an individual’s risk of death by homicide by between 40% and 170%.2\

Since the enactment of the Brady law on March 1, 1994, through December 31, 2012, background checks blocked more than 2.4 million prohibited purchasers like domestic abusers, convicted felons, mentally ill persons, and other dangerous individuals from purchasing a firearm or receiving a permit to purchase or carry a firearm.1

In 2012 alone, background checks blocked 192,043 prohibited persons from gaining access to firearms,2 including 82,000 felons or roughly 225 felons every day.3

Statistics reported by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence confirm that background checks work and have had a significant positive impact on national crime rates. Before the Brady law was enacted, America’s gun homicide rate was on a dramatic rise, increasing by 55 percent from 1984 to 1993 even as non-gun homicides were falling over this period.4 After Brady background checks were required, however, gun murders began to steadily decline and ultimately fell by 32 percent from 1993 to 2006.5

The Polls: Americans Actually Strongly Favor Strict Gun Control, Even NRA Members

A poll conducted in August 2012 found that 96% of respondents support a background check on anyone attempting to purchase a gun in order to determine whether the prospective buyer has been convicted of a felony.  That poll also found that 91% of respondents favor preventing certain people, such as convicted felons or people with mental illness, from owning guns.(CNN/ORC International poll (Aug. 9, 2012),

Gun owners and NRA members also strongly support background checks for gun purchasers.

A May 2012 poll of gun owners – including NRA members – found that:

Though more than 90% of the American public supports background checks for all gun sales, a dangerous and deadly loophole in federal gun laws still exempts unlicensed sellers from having to perform any background check whatsoever before selling a firearm. With this loophole, guns easily find their way into the hands of illegal buyers and gun traffickers, dramatically increasing the likelihood of gun murders and suicides.

Concealed Weapons

A 2012 poll of gun owners – including NRA members – found support for restrictions related to carrying concealed weapons. Among the poll’s findings:

  • 75% of NRA members believe concealed carry permits should only be granted to applicants who have not committed any violent misdemeanors, including assault.
  • 74% of NRA members believe permits should only be granted to applicants who have completed gun safety training.
  • 68% of NRA members believe permits should only be granted to applicants who do not have prior arrests for domestic violence.
  • 63% of NRA members believe permits should only be granted to applicants 21 years of age or older.1

A poll of registered voters conducted in April 2010 found that 57% feel less safe when they learn that loaded concealed guns may lawfully be carried in public. Fifty-six percent of registered voters oppose allowing people to carry concealed guns in public, with 41% strongly opposing concealed carry.2

Gun Prohibition for Specific Kinds of Individuals (Felons, Those with Mental Illness) 

  • A poll conducted in August 2012 found that 96% of respondents support a background check on anyone attempting to purchase a gun in order to determine whether the prospective buyer has been convicted of a felony.  That poll also found that 91% of respondents favor preventing certain people, such as convicted felons or people with mental illness, from owning guns.1
  • That poll also found that 90% of respondents favor fixing the gaps in government databases that are meant to prevent the mentally ill, drug abusers and others from buying guns.4 Nearly 79% of respondents favor notifying state and local law enforcement when a person fails a background check for a firearm.5

Large Capacity Ammunition Magazines

  • An August 2012 poll found that 60% of respondents favor a ban on the sale and possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines.1
  • A January 2011 poll of registered voters found that 58% of respondents favor banning the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines.2
  • Another poll conducted in January 2011 found that 63% of respondents favor a ban on large capacity magazines.3

Assault Weapons

  • A poll conducted in August 2012 found that 57% of those polled favor a ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of semi-automatic assault weapons.1
  • A June 2011 poll confirms support for a national assault weapons ban:  62% of Americans polled support a federal ban on the sale of assault weapons.2
  • A January 2011 poll of registered voters found that 81% of respondents favor the tracking of bulk purchases of assault rifles; guns that recently have become the weapon of choice of Mexican drug cartels.3
  • Another poll conducted in January 2011 found that 63% of respondents favor a ban on assault weapons.  A majority of gun-owning households – 54% – also support such a ban.4

Click here to visit the Giffords site. And for an excellent source of information about local action and resources against gun violence, visit the website of New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

2 thoughts on “The Truth About Gun Control: Polling, Research, Impact

  1. Paul…I received a priceless assault weapon/teacher training image this AM that just NEEDS to be posted, but I cannot find anywhere that we are ALLOWED to post a picture on Retake….not even Facebook…..help, please! It is a powerful statement in the style of Rockwell and not inflammatory!

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