If there is one issue that has been kept alive for long with no definite resolution, it is gun control. The gun control debate has been going on for several years and even several decades. The gun control pros and cons have been so extensively debated that there seems to be nothing more to discuss. But the issue of gun control still remains only in the realm of consideration with no decision taken on strengthening gun control laws.
If we look at gun control facts with an open mind, we will realize that gun violence continues to be a problem. The opponents of stricter gun control laws will like us to believe that we can control crime by allowing people to own guns, which people can use to defend themselves and their family members from possible attacks by criminal elements. But gun crime statistics show the real picture to be something entirely different.
Studies have established that in regions which house a larger proportion of gun owning population, the suicide rates are high. Thus, gun ownership seems to help people with suicidal tendencies to carry out their suicide plans by making guns readily accessible to them! So, how can one say that allowing people to own guns will bring down crime? Comparison of gun death statistics for different countries shows the United States in an unenviable position. If we compare the ratio of gun deaths to the population for different countries, US ranks below South Africa. This is another proof that high rate of gun ownership leads to higher incidence of gun deaths. In fact, the damage caused by gun crime extends even to the economy. The US has been suffering an economic loss of 3.7 billion dollars every year as a consequence of gun deaths.
In spite of such overwhelming evidence in favor of gun control, the pro gun lobby is unrelenting. The NRA (National Rifles Association) which has been spearheading the anti gun control movement has made no secret of its adamant attitude by openly saying that it will not accept any compromise. Gun control facts are of no concern to the NRA and its supporters. The NRA is known to be threatening the legislators that they should either support the stand of the NRA or face defeat in the primaries. With so many odds against it, the issue of gun control continues to remain a dream.
Are gun death statistics barometers of the extent of gun crime? One will be inclined to think so. But there are some groups lobbying for unrestricted gun ownership that refuse to accept this linkage and maintain that people need guns to protect themselves. They are nonchalant about gun death statistics. They refuse to realize that these are not tragedies affecting our own countrymen. And if such tragedies occur to someone close to us. can we afford to assume the same kind of indifference to gun death statistics at that time?
We can find gun death statistics on the newspaper pages, television news reports and panel discussions. People engaged in a gun control debate cannot but use gun death statistics though these statistics may be interpreted in different ways by people taking opposite positions in the debate. Unless we understand that gun crime statistics seek to convey a message and use our common sense to understand what that message is, these data will remain a part of the vast data that is stored somewhere but is never used.
Can we afford to ignore the fact that guns are used in about 60 percent of the homicides? A superficial reading of gun death statistics may make a person feel that there is nothing odd about guns being used in homicides. But if we look at this fact a little deeper, we will know that guns come handy to people who commit crimes. Another fact relating to homicides is that in regions that have a larger number of gun owners among the population, the chances of children becoming homicide victims are much higher.
While gun control facts like the ones mentioned above will instantly evoke a strong response in our minds, we may be inclined to underestimate statistics relating to gun ownership. The information that for every hundred Americans, there are 89 guns also carries a serious message if we take a careful look at the figures. This will happen if we understand that this data simply means that there is almost one gun (0.9 gun, if you want to be very precise)for every American. Now, we will realize that this is an abnormal figure.
When we find that anti gun control groups like the NRA (National Rifles Association)are not concerned about gun death statistics, we will be justified in considering the NRA not as an association of sportsmen but as a lobby.