In 2010, the U.S. had 30,470 firearm-related deaths: 19,397 (63.7 percent) suicides, 11,780 (36.4 percent) homicides.

According to the Guardian, our rate of civilian gun ownership, at 89 per 100 people, exceeds that of every other nation.

Our homicide rate is 2.97 per 100,000. By contrast, England and Wales ownership rate is 6.2 per 100 with a firearm homicide rate of .07 per 100. Canada, France, Germany and Norway, with ownership rates around 31 per 100, each have firearm homicide rates below 1 per 100,000.

Correlation doesn’t mean causation, but I can’t avoid the sneaking suspicion that, at least in developed countries, death by firearm is connected to the availability of guns, and our enduring world domination in gun ownership doesn’t seem to make us feel any safer.

Though I believe that reasonable restraints on firearm possession, as allowed by the Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller, would bring at least a marginal reduction in gun deaths, I do agree with the NRA that we should look more to mental health issues.

I think we can believe its sincerity when the NRA comes out urging member support for more research in this area.

As suggested by many recent mass killings, we urgently need mental health programs on how to identify and treat children and adults who feel excluded or angry and/or may be deluded and help them before they get to the homicidal or suicidal stage.

The NRA mantra should be modified: “Guns alone don’t kill people, but disturbed and angry people with guns kill people, and more disturbed people with higher capacity guns can kill more people.”

Charles W. Acker


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