For three weeks American politicians have been fulminating about the peril posed by Syrian refugees, even though in the last dozen years no refugee in America has killed a single person in a terror attack.
In the same three weeks as this hysteria about refugees, guns have claimed 2,000 lives in America. The terror attacks in San Bernardino, Calif., and at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs were the most dramatic, but there’s an unrelenting average of 92 gun deaths every day in America, including suicides, murders and accidents.
From Michael Luo’s 2011 series on guns and public safety, this gets at the heart of the political limitations on doing research into the health risks of guns in America.
C.D.C. financing for research on gun violence has not stopped completely, but it is now mostly limited to work in which firearms are only a component.
The centers also ask researchers it finances to give it a heads-up anytime they are publishing studies that have anything to do with firearms. The agency, in turn, relays this information to the N.R.A. as a courtesy, said Thomas Skinner, a spokesman for the centers.
Invariably, researchers said, whenever their work touches upon firearms, the C.D.C. becomes squeamish. In the end, they said, it is often simply easier to avoid the topic if they want to continue to be in the agency’s good graces.
Emphasis added. I’m curious if these circumstances have changed much in the past 4 years.
The cell phones in the pockets of the dead students were still ringing when we were told that it was wrong to ask why. As the police cleared the bodies from the Virginia Tech engineering building, the cell phones rang, in the eccentric varieties of ring tones, as parents kept trying to see if their children were OK.
Gopnik’s Comment piece ends just as strong.
There is no reason that any private citizen in a democracy should own a handgun. At some point, that simple truth will register. Until it does, phones will ring for dead children, and parents will be told not to ask why.
Also, here is Michael Luo’s Medium post about his role in provoking Oregon’s state legislature to restrict public access to gun license records.
I had planned to cross-match the data of license holders with other records on criminal convictions. But Oregon officials repeatedly delayed turning over the records, and I wound up focusing instead on the licensing process in North Carolina, where officials released the gun permit data to me right away. I discovered that about 10 percent of permit holders in North Carolina over a five-year period had gone on to commit felonies or misdemeanors. Perhaps more disturbingly, I found that the authorities had failed to revoke the permits of many of those who had been convicted of felonies.
Stone-walling journalists from uncovering these kinds of legislative oversights is dangerous—not just in the rhetorical sense—it is literally endangering citizens.
President Obama’s speech is worth watching in its entirety. Starts at 23:18.
We are not the only country on earth that has people with mental illnesses, or want to do harm to other people. We are the only advanced country on earth that sees these mass shootings every few months.
Somehow this has become routine. The reporting is routine. My response, here at this podium, ends up being routine. The conversation in the aftermath of it, we’ve become numb to this.
Have news organizations tally up the number of Americans who’ve been killed through terrorist attacks in the last decade and the number of Americans who’ve been killed by gun violence, and post those side-by-side on your news reports.
And now, quietly, by dint of both cash infusions from the gun lobby to legislators and scant attention from a hollowed-out press corps, this cautious standard is gone in twenty states. Now, anyone—regardless of their role, training or ultimate purpose—can bring a gun to an argument and take a life. And then, if they can manufacture enough of a threat to their person, they can justify the act. Maybe witnesses will be present to contradict their version of events; maybe not. Maybe there will be physical evidence to invalidate their claims; maybe not. But now, the baseline for responsibility lies not with the shooter, but with the state.
Guns don’t kill people, people do—this is the mantra that for generations has defined the prevailing ethos of the firearms lobby. But now, the argument has moved on: Guns don’t kill and neither do people; now, folks are just killed. Shit happens is the new credo for this quiet, epic revolution in our country–one that has already led to many more homicides that defy prosecution in the affected states.