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Shots Heard Around the World

Applying a common-sense approach to guns and gun control as we have with car safety.

On Dec. 14, Newtown, Conn., joined a list with Blacksburg, Va., as the scenes of the most tragic mass murders in our history.

This list contributes to the United States having 80 percent of all firearm deaths among the 23 populous, high-income countries in the world.  Over a million people have been killed with guns in the United States since 1968, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. 

In one year, 31,593 people died from gun violence and 66,769 people survived gun injuries. These statistics are from the Brady Campaign that has even more shocking numbers with documentation at its website, www.bradycampaign.org.

According to data compiled by the United Nations and reported in daily newspapers, the United States has by far the highest per capita rate of firearm related murders of all developed countries.  The United States has four times as many gun-related homicides per capita as do Turkey and Switzerland which are tied for third. Americans are 20 times more likely to be killed by a gun than is someone from another developed country.

Guns and cars have long been among the leading causes of non-medical deaths in the United States. According to a report by Bloomberg, firearm fatalities will probably exceed traffic fatalities for the first time in 2015. The number of traffic deaths dropped 22 percent from 2005 to 2010 as a result of safer vehicles, seat-belt usage required and enforced, and tougher laws on the driving of motor vehicles. 

Comparing the laws related to cars and guns, Garen Wintemute, director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California at Davis, found with gun laws, “we’ve made policy decisions that have had the widest array of firearms available to the widest array people under the widest array of conditions.” At the same time car deaths have been declining, the number of gun deaths has been increasing since 2000.  About 85 Americans are shot dead daily—53 of them suicides, and at least one person shot is 14 years old or younger.

As we are often reminded, guns do not kill people but clearly people who kill others are most likely to do so with a gun. There are five times as many deaths from gun assaults as from knife assaults. The shots heard from these guns clearly cry out for an adequate public policy response.

Congress should reinstate the ban on assault weapons that previously was in place.  Congress should fund the gun buy-back program proposed by Rep.  Gerald Connolly and others, and local governments need to be incentive to start such programs.

In Virginia, we need to reverse the trend of weakening the laws we already have on gun control.  I voted against repeal of the one handgun per month law last session and other bills that weakened our laws. I will support a bill to close the gun show loophole and require background checks for all gun purchases. I will also support full funding of the mental health services proposed after the Virginia Tech shootings. 

I will not support guns in our schools.  As Virginians for Responsible Gun Laws concluded, “The solution to protecting our children is not to place them in the middle of shootouts between ‘good guys’ and ‘bad guys.’ The goal of this policy discussion should be to prevent the first shot from ever being fired.” 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Laura Ramon January 30, 2013 at 01:37 PM
I really don't see the issue with regulations related to safety. We do it for all kinds of industry. Cars manufactures are required to meet certain safety standards, you can't drive as fast as you want, we all life with limitations on our personal freedoms. Want a hand gun for protection, fine own one, want to hunt, no problem. Need a weapon that has been designed for the sole purpose of mowing down as many people as possible? Why? Because you fear your Government may go rouge on you? Sounds like you're gotten on the slippery slope of paranoid delusion- exactly who we don't want owning a gun. But here's the thing; in many cases mental illness is progressive. Paranoia can begin as a small worry and over time bloom into a full blown delusion that the Gov't is watching your every move and controlling your wife and children. In time in between you could have built up an arsenal that would let you wipe out a neighborhood. There is NO reason for non-military people to own such weapons. If you're seriously concerned about the stability of Gov't get involved not armed,
DGeorge January 30, 2013 at 03:00 PM
Laura, were the founding fathers also paranoid? They are after all the ones that drafted the constitution. This is from a study made by the Dept of homeland security. " The report takes its definitions from a 2011 study entitled Profiles of Perpetrators of Terrorism, produced by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, in which the following characteristics are used to identify terrorists. - Americans who believe their “way of life” is under attack; - Americans who are “fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation)”; - People who consider themselves “anti-global” (presumably those who are wary of the loss of American sovereignty); - Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority”; - Americans who are “reverent of individual liberty”; - People who “believe in conspiracy theories that involve grave threat to national sovereignty and/or personal liberty.” A D V E R T I S E M E N T The report also lists people opposed to abortion and “groups that seek to smite the purported enemies of God and other evildoers” as terrorists.
Java Master January 30, 2013 at 03:43 PM
Sounds exacly like the far-right loonies who fear that "jack-booted government agents" are going to confiscate their personal armories! Paranoid fantasies of "tyrants" (would that be King George or Obama?) are part of the rhetorical nonsense perpetrated by the extreme radical 2nd amendment crowd. Don't flatter yourselves--pro-guns-at-any-cost advocates are not patriots, you are extremists now reduced to fighting a (losing) rear-guard action against even the most tepid reforms of our current firearms legislation. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
Virginia Harlow January 30, 2013 at 09:20 PM
Java Master, if you really believe that, you need to study a bit of recent history. The "it can't happen here" school of thought is so foolish! It has already happened here. If it were rhetorical nonsense, explain how you can justify interning all the Japanese Americans...justify Wounded Knee, justify Waco and Ruby Ridge. Those were all actions of government against the people, and they were here. Lets not forget Nazi Germany, the good old USSR, China, North Korea, Cuba. We "extremists" are trying to hold a line you don't even see. Of course, if you like the way those countries went, feel free to go live under one of those regimes! Our Constitution, including the Bill of Rights happens to be the SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND. Feinsteins bill is extreme. It's unConstitutional.
DGeorge January 30, 2013 at 09:55 PM
Java, you have taken a page out of Obamas' book, or more rightly Saul Alinskys' book. I have no doubt you have read it for what you do is chapter and verse. Rules for Radicals. Marginalize your opponents with outrageous claims. Perhaps you would be happier in a more "Controlled" environment, such as Cuba.

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