The horrors of mass shootings have shocked America so frequently, it is left in a state of paralysis when trying to properly address this issue.
The latest killing spree occurred last week in San Bernardino County, CA. as U.S.-born Syed Rizwan Farook and Pakistan national Tashfeen Malik, donned in tactical attire, heavily armed, and carrying an arsenal of ammunition and pipe bombs in their Redlands home, shot up Inland Regional Center, a facility for disabled people.
It's at least the second high-profile mass shooting in a week. Just days before, a man shot several people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, killing three, including a police officer.
Yet again, America is left to grapple with another gruesome, gun-driven carnage and debate when is the appropriate time to have a serious conversation about this issue that is claiming too many innocent lives.
Although gun violence and household gun ownership in the U.S. is facing a gradual decline, half of the 12 deadliest shootings in the country occurred after 2007, and active shootings (defined as "an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area") have increased from an average of 6.4 per year between 2000-2006 to 16.4 per year between 2007-2013.
Americans aren't calling for an end to our cherished 2nd Amendment Rights.
However, at the very least, sensible, responsible gun owners, concerned parents and everyday citizens just want a reasonable discussion on how we can curb this senseless, depraved bloodshed without impeding our ability to self-protect.
But each gun casualty triggers an outburst from our sensationalist media, detached politicians and hardline gun enthusiasts, whose erotic passion for assault weapons not only borders on ammosexuality, but also makes reform grossly improbable.
Americans seeking modest regulations have sunk into a constant state of blasé cynicism as zealous defenders fire off cliche, regurgitated gun-rights talking points, as their trigger-pulse reactions are as automatic as the guns they defend.
Many of these predominant arguments have no basis in reality, as we continue to talk in circles, spinning like a bullet in the chamber of a Colt 45.
If Americans want to reach a middle ground where gun violence is less frequent and our Constitutional rights left intact, here are the most common gun perceptions that need to be shot down.
The first two will target gun arguments that are either factually incorrect or simply defy reality
1. "More Guns Make Us Safe"
This age-old rationale is grounded in the belief that if everyone owns a gun, no one will want to shoot each other because someone will return fire on them. However, any empirical research that tracks the correlation between gun ownership and gun violence reveals the exact opposite.
This chart from the Guardian's Simon Rogers, shows America far and away leads other developed countries when it comes to gun-related homicides, with six times as many as Canada and 15 times as many as Germany.
Extensive reviews of the research by the Harvard School of Public Health's Injury Control Research Center suggest the U.S. is an massive outlier on gun violence because its gun ownership is starkly higher than any other developed nation.
This statistic isn't just exclusive to America; this chart from Tewsbury Lab reveals any developed country with higher gun ownership experiences increased rates of gun violence.
Additionally, Mother Jones assembled a chart revealing states with more guns tend to have far more gun deaths. This is supported by data from a study in Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
David Hemenway, the Harvard Injury Control Research Center's director, wrote in Private Guns, Public Health, "Within the United States, a wide array of empirical evidence indicates that more guns in a community leads to more homicide."
Turns out giving people the capability of killing each other leads to more violence, who would've thought?
2. "Chicago Has Strict Gun Laws and the Most Gun Violence"
The Windy City has become the go-to punching bag for gun-control opponents, citing its alarmingly high crime rate and strict gun laws.
This is true: In 2013, 414 people were killed in Chicago; with more than 80 percent of those deaths attributed to gun violence.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the number of people shot in Chicago so far this year is at least 2,300 -- or about 84.5 per 100,000 residents. New York City has seen 1,041 so far in 2015 -- 12.3 per 100,000 people.
However, while Chicago has a troublesome murder rate, it isn't the most dangerous city in America: it ranks 10th in murders per 100,000 people (metropolitan area); 14th in murders per 100,000 people (city only); and 10th in murders per 100,000 people (gun crimes only), according to a 2010 and 2011 FBI Crimes Report and CDC's Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Report.
But gun-rights activists neglect the more nuanced propellants of Chi-Town's gun violence:
- Chicago's homicides have taken place mostly in neighborhoods in the west and south of the city, where high rates of poverty and unemployment are prevalent.
- Chicago has an extreme poverty rate of nearly 10 percent, with more than 260,000 households living in extreme poverty (i.e. $10,000 or less for a family of three in 2012).
- High school graduation rate for black males in Chicago is 39 per cent and a staggering 92 per cent of all black males aged 16-19 were unemployed in 2012.
Poverty and gun violence seem to be inexorably linked, as these despotic environments present a bleak socio-economic future for those who toil in systemic oppression, who have nowhere to turn to but daily violence in order to make ends meet.
USA Today reports Alaska, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Montana have the highest gun violence rates by states, but also place in the top half of the nation in poverty rates (besides Alaska) and all don't require a permit to buy a handgun.
The article states, "Economic factors also appear to be related to firearm deaths. The poverty rate in eight of the 10 states with the most gun violence was above the national rate of 15.8%. Mississippi, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Arkansas, the states with the four highest poverty rates in the country, were among the states with the most gun violence."
Additionally, "Educational attainment rates also tended to be lower in states with the most gun violence. The share of adults with at least a bachelor's degree was lower than the national rate of 29.6% in all 10 states on this list."
Additionally, the three cities with the highest homicide rates (Detroit, New Orleans and St. Louis) are all prohibited by state law to enact any new gun ordinances. They also have poverty rates considerable higher than the national average: Detroit's poverty rate stands at 38 percent, 27 percent in New Orleans (as of 2013) and 29.3 percent in St. Louis (as of 2014).
It's no coincidence that gun violence thrives in impoverished areas lacking in social and economic mobility.
Dororthy Stoneman, founder and CEO of Youth Build, Inc., offered her opinion on curbing gun violence by reducing poverty, citing her organization's programs in improving these communities through building strong networks and a loving, supportive community while providing a pathway to education and a decent-paying job.
It's strange how offering broken people a hope of a better future makes them more likely to pursue their ambitions rather than violence.
The second part of this series will scope in on three arguments that are misguided.