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Gun Culture USA

The senseless American culture of gun violence: I wrote the below post a few years ago and a quick check of the stats today shows the acceleration as I expected.

The statistics:

Mass shootings:

There were 372 mass shootings in the US in 2015, killing 475 people and wounding 1,870, according to the Mass Shooting Tracker, which catalogues such incidents. A mass shooting is defined as a single shooting incident which kills or injures four or more people, including the assailant.

Source: Mass Shooting Tracker


School shootings: 

There were 64 school shootings in 2015, according to a dedicated campaign group set up in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in Connecticut in 2012. Those figures include occasions when a gun was fired but no-one was hurt.

Source: Everytown for Gun SafetyResearch


All shootings: 

Some 13,286 people were killed in the US by firearms in 2015, according to the Gun Violence Archive, and 26,819 people were injured [those figures exclude suicide]. Those figures are likely to rise by several hundred, once incidents in the final week of the year are counted.

Source: Gun Violence Archive


How the US compares: The number of gun murders per capita in the US in 2012 – the most recent year for comparable statistics – was nearly 30 times that in the UK, at 2.9 per 100,000 compared with just 0.1.

Of all the murders in the US in 2012, 60% were by firearm compared with 31% in Canada, 18.2% in Australia, and just 10% in the UK.

Source: UNODC.


The recent tragedy in New Orleans with a beloved Saints player being killed is a perfect example for people to wake up but they won’t.  Road rage between two huge men, one a professional football player and the other semi-professional. Exactly the kind of people who do not need to carry guns around. If they had no guns then there might have been a fist fight or brawl but no one would be dead. A father would still be there to see his children grow up. I don’t care who was right or wrong in the minor fender bender that supposedly precipitated the event. No one needed to lose their life and no one needed guns in those circumstances. The coach of the Saints said it best in his heartfelt plea. He said “I hate guns”.  Me too, Mr. Payton.


Here is my post from 2012: Little change and still heart broken….


Newtown, CN s

School shooting commentary and stats on guns in USA.

I can’t stop thinking about the little souls in Newtown. From what I read I am not alone. Hopefully this is a good thing because these tragedies have happened a lot in the last few years and we always seem to mourn for a few days then mostly move on as the horror fades.
This time I hope for a real dialogue, a short one because what I truly want is real and meaningful action to address the problem of guns and also mental illness.
It seems we just survived a very divisive election and now we are confronted with this. I feel the same vitriol in this divide. It is political and should not be and yet it must be at the same time. Here is what I think and feel free to defriend me, I won’t be hurt.
Perhaps it is a paradox but I, myself, would never own a gun and never hunt, I admit to being repulsed by it but on the other hand, I have many family and friends who do and I have reconciled that with the fact that I do believe in the right to defend oneself and I also think if a person wants to hunt and they are responsible and eat what they kill then I have no problem with it. Since I go buy my meat at the butcher I can’t really complain and I won’t.
But I have absolutely no concept of how or why we would ever need assault rifles in anything other than the military. Or hollow point bullets. If there is some logical reason please tell me.
And why would this Mother have these guns and take her son to the shooting range when she surely knew his mental health issues?
I am so sick of hearing the one liners and clichés like ‘guns don’t kill, crazies do’ and ‘if we take away guns only the crazies will have guns’ and all the other ridiculous variations and bumper sticker blasts. People who use the word ‘crazy’ in that format tell me all I need to know about them and obviously have no understanding or compassion for mental illness.
I have my own stats and I think they are better than clichés, they speak louder and are harder to argue with.
Here are just a few:

A study in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery found that the gun murder rate in the U.S. is almost 20 times higher than the next 22 richest and most populous nations combined.
Among the world’s 23 wealthiest countries, 80 percent of all gun deaths are American deaths and 87 percent of all kids killed by guns are American kids.

Number of Murders, United States, 2010: 12,996 Number of Murders by Firearms, US, 2010: 8,775

Number of Murders, Britain, 2011*: 638
(Since Britain’s population is 1/5 that of US, this is equivalent to 3,095 US murders) Number of Murders by firearms, Britain, 2011*: 58 (equivalent to 290 US murders)

Between 1955 and 1975, the Vietnam War killed over 58,000 American soldiers – less than the number of civilians killed with guns in the U.S. in an average two-year period.

In the first seven years of the U.S.-Iraq War, over 4,400 American soldiers were killed. Almost as many civilians are killed with guns in the U.S., however, every seven weeks.

Guns were used in 11,078 homicides in the U.S. in 2010, comprising almost 35% of all gun deaths, and over 68% of all homicides. The risk of suicide increases in homes where guns are kept loaded and/or unlocked.

People of all age groups are significantly more likely to die from unintentional firearm injuries when they live in states with more guns, relative to states with fewer guns. On average, states with the highest gun levels had nine times the rate of unintentional firearms deaths compared to states with the lowest gun levels.

The percentage of people killed with their own guns or guns of someone they knew– When I worked in Battered Women’s Services it was around 80%. I couldn’t find a stat on this today. But to illustrate, if I am angry I might get in my car and head for the back roads, and SCREAM!! But a person with anger management or other mental health issues will grab a gun if they know where one is. Oftentimes it is just to threaten or scare someone but just as often it goes horribly wrong.

Domestic violence assaults involving a firearm are 12 times more likely to result in death than those involving other weapons. Abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm.

What bothers me the most about all of this is that so many of us are actually on the same side. Like politics, I have never understood why so many people vote against their own self-interests. The only conclusion I can draw is that they fall for the scare tactics and one- liners and dare I say it –don’t bother to take the time to read and educate themselves. The dumbing down of our society is appalling.
Let me be clear, most people who are for gun control, like myself, do not want to take away your guns or stop you from hunting. We want to take away assault weapons and those clips with multiple bullets and have better checks on people who are allowed to purchase guns. Responsible gun ownership. Jane Smiley wrote a great commentary on Huffington Post that was full of new ideas (to me) about how this might be accomplished.
And along the same lines, it greatly distresses me that the same people who do not want gun control are the ones who vote against more funding to address mental health issues.
Yesterday I saw the news that some stores pulled assault weapons off their shelves and then even more heartening I saw that CA Teacher’s Union was reconsidering their investment portfolio in order to make sure they did not have stock in any company that did business with gun manufacturers. Personally I have done this for years but was happy to see it even if a little sad to realize that money talks the loudest as usual. Segue to the NRA and I definitely think they perpetuated this whole gun culture in many ways but I will leave that issue for another day. I thought maybe they had grown a conscience when I heard they went dark but I guess they were just out buying more assault weapons.
Just when I was lifted yesterday by this news I then see the headline that ‘assault weapons are flying off the shelves’.
Most horrific and terrifying thing for me is how to put the genie back in the bottle. Even if we banned assault weapons how do we get back the ones already out there? I have no solution, only more tears.
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