The 30,000 or so gun-related deaths (64 percent suicides, 36 percent homicides) that occur annually in the United States, suggest to me that up to 80 people on any given day, in the interest of public safety, probably should not have had access to firearms.

Not counting the Newtown tragedy, since 1982 there have been 61 mass murders, five of the deadliest occurring from 2007 onward. Nevertheless, mass murders comprise but a small proportion of gun homicides. Most criminal shootings involve people who knew each other.

The Harvard Injury Control Research Center has found that, across countries or states, more guns mean more homicides. Economist Richard Florida found that states with tighter gun control laws appear to have fewer gun-related deaths.

The NRA asserts that guns are necessary for self-defense. Of the homicides in 2010, however, only 2.7 percent could be considered justifiable.

The NRA claims that firearms are used for personal protection more than 2 million times a year. The Violence Policy Center, however, states that an annual average of 68,000 claim to have used firearms to thwart violent or property crimes. That’s a lot, but it’s only 2.7 percent of the number cited by the NRA.

In a study by David Hemenway of HICRC, based on 1996 and 1999 data, where victims provided descriptions of how guns were used, a slight majority used a gun for threatening and intimidation rather than self-defense, actions that a panel of judges thought probably were illegal under the circumstances.

We don’t need more guns or people with guns. We need more effective ways of keeping firearms out of the hands of those who should not have them.

Charles W. Acker


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